Sesame Style

11 Nov

erniebertIn celebration of New York City & Sesame Street’s 40th Anniversary this week, guest blogger,  Andrea Marpillero-Colomina explains her perspective on the evolution of style on 123 Sesame Street.

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Fashion & Feathers on Sesame Street

Yesterday markesesamevintage1d the 40th anniversary of Sesame Street. The longest running children’s show on television has survived four exciting decades of fashion. Despite the radical changes in style for everything from jeans to jewelry, the characters and children of our favorite street have remained remarkably contemporary.

But there also certainly some fashion mysteries on Sesame Street; let’s get down to the details:

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The original cast of Sesame Street (until 1972) only featured five monsters— Big Bird, Bert, Ernie, Oscar, and Cookie Monster – who are all boys.

Why are Bert and Ernie the only ones who regularly wear clothes? And who decided on the striped shirts? And why is that the only outfit they wear other than their pajamas (which, considering Bert’s nightcap, probably deserve an entire post to themselves).

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Today Sesame Street has added many new characters who have joined the stripe-clad couple in their choice to wear clothes. But today the classic lines of Bert and Ernie’s casual wear, the occasional tie or tuxedo worn by Big Bird, and shiny cape Grover sports only for his most important adventures, are being eclipsed. Gone is the yesteryear of neutral with room for creativity….

The newest feature character, an excitable pal of Elmo named Abby Cadabby, proclaimed to be “a fairy in training”, has introduced a new paradigm of fashion to Sesame Street:

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To my 1980s-children’s-television-trained-eyes, she seems just a tad overdone. The dress is lovely; the wand I can support; the wings are pretty; the sparkly pink circa 1993 poufy hair scrunchies seem like a stretch, but alone could be justified—I owe Sesame Street a few favors after all. It’s just that together, there’s nothing left for us to imagine; Abby’s accessories make her inaccessible. The commitment to detail in Abby’s look has left us with a character in a dress that we cannot fully embrace.

This may seem silly but fashion advice is not unprecedented on Sesame Street. Both well-established and new designers have sought out our favorite Muppets for advice:

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Diane Von Furstenberg talks fashion with Big Bird

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Derek Lam and Thakoon Panichgul sit down with Bert & Ernie

We can only hope that as Sesame Street enters its fifth decade, it continues to inspire innovative fashion choices and active imaginations.

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For Andrea’s reflection on the Urbanity of Sesame Street, visit The Planning Farm.

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