I have to once again admire the skill of the people who devise wardrobes on these shows in sync with the scriptwriters, as these are the details that do make the characters credible in a sitcom, and make the viewers identify with one character over another.
One important thing in this credibility business, is that in this series, Mary and Rhoda get to wear the same outfits and accessories in the very same way a normal person would wear their own garments. For example Mary mixes and matches various items of clothing, even over several seasons - this amazing pastel shade tweed skirt with gold tassle belt for example.
The way Mary's wardrobe works is transparent and even faithful to the letter to what women's magazines tells us to do time and again, that is-own a few staple pieces and accessorize or make them work with replaceable items. Mary's wardrobe is built around the colour red.
Below you see how Mary applies that rule with red and yellow. The yellow breaks the monotony of the all red outfits, and gives it that "spacy-cosmonauty" feel which was one of the style inspiration for couture in the 1960's and 1970's.
For an excellent article about the way the wardrobe was designed in the Mary Tyler Moore Show, read Fashioning Mary and Friends.
Let's do a test:
Is your favourite colour : a) red, like Mary above or b) purple like Rhoda below?
or b) a poncho ?
Is your hair: a) neat and tidy
Would you rather wear: a) a sassy little dress like this one
I am definitely a Rhoda in all her failures and glories, and could never be a Mary, although my best friend would have been a blond Mary.
I am constantly surprised when looking up a popular subject such as sitcoms - whether it's Frasier or The Mary Tyler Moore Show - how few studies there are of these monsters of cultural ideology these things are, in order to judge to what extent sitcoms are really a canvas for us to hang our own constructs on... For example Rhoda's self image, and Mary's insecurities deserve a complete doctoral thesis as these themes are linked to so many issues which were, and are still crucial to women's identity.
But girls and boys, a much more difficult choice for you...
Are you ... a) a Lou grant?
or b) a Ted Baxter?
Until next time.... :-)