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Buffy Fashion Roulette: “After Life”

July 5, 2010

Hi. I first want to take the time to apologize for taking such a long time to update the blog, and for making you guys wait a good three weeks in between Buffy Fashion Roulette updates. Hopefully, it won’t happen again. Bad Buffy fashion is far too important to neglect for so long.

In honor of commenter Kris’ memory of what he described as “the red, furry [shirt]” that Willow wears in the episode “After Life”, I’ve decided to tackle that episode today. I didn’t remember the shirt off-hand, and wanted to see if it was familiar to me. Keep reading to find out how hideous it may or may not be.

First though, the results from the “Ted” poll. Jenny Calendar was the somewhat surprising winner; she edged out Cordelia, who edged out Giles. Way to go, dark horse Jenny!

The loser by a ridiculous margin was Willow with her white tights and her bucket hats and her argyle everything.

So yeah, “After Life”. Let’s begin. The disclaimer of sorts, which you’ve read before:

How the game works: I choose an episode of Buffy, pore over it carefully, and judge compelling examples of the characters’ fashion by today’s standards. At the end of every episode, fashion winners and losers are nominated in a poll. The winners are announced in a future entry.

The rules: I only have three so far, although that is subject to change. Uniforms (work, military, etc) do not count. Neither do “period pieces” (i.e flashbacks to Ye Olde England, Ireland, China, etc) or costumes (sorry, Halloween episodes fans). Most of the dressed monsters on the show wore regular clothing, so their wardrobes are up for debate just like anyone else’s.

A little exposition, also known as “Previously, on Buffy The Vampire Slayer” in Giles’ voice: Willow and the grown-up Scoobs brought Buffy back from the dead, except that they forgot to dig her up and she had to claw her way out. Then there was this demon biker gang, which looked like a bunch of Hells Angels in rubber Halloween masks, and Buffy saved her friends from them.

In this episode, Dawn has found Buffy and takes her home. Buffy can’t take blame or praise for her outfit, as she was buried in it. Dawn looks okay. It’s not her fault her clothes got all ripped up while she was being attacked by biker demons.

The funniest thing by far about Buffy’s back from the dead look is her hair. Basically, in order to achieve what they thought was the proper look for someone who’s been dead for a few months and then had to dig her way out of her coffin with her fingernails, they put too much product in her hair, gave her a blowout and teased it a bit. It reminds me of the episode “Beer Bad”, where Buffy makes friends with a bunch of drunks at her school and they’re all poisoned by evil beer that turns its drinkers into cavemen. All her new buddies turn into actual cavemen; Buffy just gets fake dreadlocks. Hijinks ensue.

But yeah, back to this episode. Dawn takes Buffy upstairs and helps her clean up, and changes her own clothes in the process. Dawn comes downstairs in a pseudo-jersey t-shirt, black pants and tween hair.

This reminds me that season 6 was the year of the numbers shirts. In almost every episode one or more characters wore a shirt with numbers on it, prompting eagle-eyed viewers to look for a mathematical or an episodic pattern that would lead to clues, spoilers, something of that ilk (these folks, of course, were the future viewers of Lost). I remember reading an interview with Joss Whedon or Marti Noxon during that time where they denied that there was any pattern to or significance behind the numbers shirts; the explanation was that numbers shirts were cool, and they were just keeping up with the times. The trouble was, numbers shirts were actually not especially cool at the time, so the conspiracy theory only grew. Was there a pattern to the numbers on the shirts, or were the fashion department just helplessly clueless as usual? I guess we’ll never know for sure, although I suspect the latter.

But I digress.

Spike comes to the door wearing the same-old same-old.

Buffy’s wearing a crisp white button-down shirt and cozy jeans, and her hair’s pulled back. It’s a nice and comfortable post-grave escape outfit.

Xander, Anya, Tara and Willow come in to gawk at Buffy for awhile. They’re wearing the same clothes they raised Buffy from the dead in, and that they fought off demon bikers in. Somehow they don’t look all that disheveled.

Xander’s outfit is pretty boring, but it’s safe. Anya’s outfit is baffling. Her jacket is either denim, corduroy or velvet; the fact that I can’t tell which is troubling to me. Beneath that jacket she’s wearing a turtleneck. There’s also the gigantic, sideways-tilted white grommets belt. But one can’t blame her for the belt alone; she had to buy something extra-wide to fit into those belt loops. I mean, LOOK at them. My god.

Tara and Willow fare as they usually do. Once again, poor Tara is dressed in garish, unflattering colors. You can’t see it so well in this photo, but her belt buckle has this flashy red stone on it. (Why?) Willow’s wearing her ceremonial deer-slaying, zombie-summoning dress. It’s typically unflattering.

It’s late and everybody’s going to bed. Even Willow’s pajamas are hideous…

…and accordingly, Tara’s pajamas are matronly and ill-suited.

Before Buffy goes to bed she stares at a photo collage of her and her family and friends. Suddenly, their faces all turn to skulls. I know, it’s not fashion-related. I added this because I think it’s hilarious that the band members on the Filter postcard she randomly has attached to her collage don’t have the same skull face issue going on.

Over at Xander and Anya’s, Xander might be sleeping in the same shirt he raised Buffy from the dead, fled through the woods and battled the demon bikers in. If so, that’s nasty. Anya looks cute in Xander’s vintage silk pajamas. She really looks good in red….

…except when she’s possessed and cutting up her face with a kitchen knife. BOO!

The next morning everyone gathers in Buffy’s backyard to discuss the previous night’s demonic activities.

Xander, Xander, Xander. Where to begin? His shirt looks like a hillbilly meemaw’s curtains.

Anya doesn’t fare any better. The top is like some bizarre clown costume throwaway. It’s clownliness (yes, I made that word up) is made more apparent by the ringmaster pants she’s wearing… with heels.

Still no sign of Willow’s red shirt. Here she’s wearing a blue peasant shirt of some sort. I guess on the Willow scale of atrocities, it’s not all that bad. Plus she’s paired it with basic black pants and boots; both those items are a little dated now, but they’re not that bad. The necklace is yucky, though. What’s up with this show thinking that lesbians have to match their ugly beaded necklaces with their shirts?

And poor, poor Tara. She gets messy Sarah Palin hair and a more bohemian counterpart to Willow’s peasant top, except hers has an intentionally bogus-looking neckline and it gathers in odd places. (Why?) Pair that with gigantic jeans and we’ve got a full-blown fashion disaster on our hands.

Buffy comes along and she’s looking lovely in a simple black button-down and jeans that still hit the mark ten years later. Buffy rises from the freaking grave and manages to look good the next day. Take a hint, Scooby Gang.

Later the gang meets up at the Magic Box to figure out how to defeat the demon. Dawn’s there. Sometimes I wonder why I bother talking about her clothes, because everything she wears looks pretty much the same. A shirt with some stupid shit on it, jeans or corduroys, brightly colored sneakers, a jacket if it’s cold, and Disney Princess Hair. Exhibit A.

BOO!

Then we notice the lovely apparel sported by…

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

.

BOO AGAIN!

THEN, BOO WITH FIRE COMING OUT OF THE MOUTH!!!

Ha ha ha, I totally tricked yous.

Buffy walks off to Spike’s. He’s wearing the Spike Uniform.

And Xander’s all, BOO!

Maybe he’s possessed by the ghost of Meemaw’s re-purposed polyester curtains.

Finally the ghost is defeated. The next day, all is well (until the next episode). Dawn heads off to school. Ooh, she’s wearing a skirt! And a pair of those mary jane sneakers. Oh man, I totally had a pair of those, except the toes of mine were all exaggerated and balloon-like and made me look like Minnie Mouse. Good times.

Now friends, we’ve come to the moment you’ve all been waiting for. The red shirt. And man, is it a doozy. Willow, will you turn around and show it to us?

Yes, please put that book back on the shelf. We want to see you front and center.

Hmmm. Willow, please step over here where we can see your shirt in a more flattering light. And bring your tie dyed girlfriend with you.

Alright, now if you could just sit down at the table and pose for us, that would be wonderful.

This shirt is so bad. It’s so ugly that there are no words. It’s disco caveman ugly. I do remember the shirt from its original airing, and I do remember thinking that it was hideous. In fact, if someone were to make a top ten list of Willow’s Worst Looks, it would definitely make the cut. The long mismatched plaid quilt-y skirt is the second-worst fashion decision in this episode, but I can’t get past the shirt. Tara’s tie-dyed blouse is so terrible there are no words for it, yet I can’t criticize it because next to Willow’s shirt she actually looks good in it.

Is there any point in describing the rest of the outfits? Xander looks boring, but he passes. Anya looks like Marcia Brady.

However, I’m still stuck on Willow’s shirt. It’s so bizarre. Even Spike and Buffy look depressed about it.

20 Comments leave one →
  1. Kris permalink
    July 5, 2010 3:19 PM

    Yep. That shirt. Just as bad as I remembered it. Thanks very much, and can’t wait for the next one!

  2. July 6, 2010 3:43 AM

    I’m so conflicted! I feel sorry for Willow and Tara because they were always intentionally terrible at fashion, but I can’t stay away from the witty commentary! Although you’re right, they go too far with Tara sometimes. Don’t give her a dramatic sob scene with a ridiculous hairstyle, that’s cruel. Luckily the classic “Can we skip it?” scene doesn’t have distracting hair (and I liked the leather jacket at the time, so.)

  3. Chris permalink
    July 6, 2010 4:21 AM

    Dear Willow, I love you so much, but your hair is unusually bad here and…OH JESUS THAT SHIRT.
    P.S. Buffy Fashion Roulette in general is utterly delightful, please keep it up! Thanks for brightening my day. :)

  4. Rayna permalink
    July 6, 2010 6:14 AM

    Bwaahahaha…..I literally laughed out loud and scared the shit out of my sleeping husband. Awesome, just so very awesome!

  5. Emmy permalink
    July 6, 2010 7:44 AM

    Poor Willow. It looks like she may of skinned a muppet. And it’s too bad because that skirt is almost okay.

  6. July 6, 2010 8:45 AM

    I’m here via Whedonesque. Thank you for tackling the most important thing about Buffy – the insane costuming ;-)

    Willow’s top is the worst thing she wore and that is some achievement.

  7. Tasha permalink
    July 6, 2010 8:49 AM

    I was crying with laughter reading this one. I love it! Keep it up!

    “Hmmm. Willow, please step over here where we can see your shirt in a more flattering light. And bring your tie dyed girlfriend with you.” LMAO!

  8. Tasha permalink
    July 6, 2010 8:51 AM

    I forgot to mention Anya’s ringmaster pants! So happy that someone else saw that – where is her super tall top hat?

  9. unless permalink
    July 6, 2010 10:09 AM

    I could honestly care less about fashion, but I’m loving these posts a lot. Keep going!

  10. Maddy permalink
    July 6, 2010 12:44 PM

    Once More, With Feeling, please!! :D

    Unless you already did it and I didn’t see it . . . this is the first time I ever heard of this site and it’s hilarious!

  11. darryl permalink
    July 6, 2010 1:06 PM

    What a great way to wake up in the afternoon! And yes, I really thought she killed and wore Elmo this episode.

  12. Rick permalink
    July 6, 2010 3:52 PM

    @Emmy: When I was rewatching Buffy (for the fourth time?) with a friend, I commented that Willow had killed Elmo and worn his skin as a trophy.

  13. Rick permalink
    July 6, 2010 3:54 PM

    Also? That scene with Anya and the knife still creeps the bejeezus out of me.

  14. July 6, 2010 4:17 PM

    While reading through these posts I’ve become both amused and a bit annoyed– I’m not saying the idea is bad, but judging fashion seems kind of ridiculous, especially with everyone’s sense of style being different. I don’t know, telling someone they look dumpy because they decided to wear something they like (I’m not saying that happened here as it was a show and all) seems counter-productive to the idea of individuality. That being said… as an opinion piece I’m generally loving this. :D This was actually one of my favourite Buffy wears something I think is cute seasons so yeah. :D

    • msjacks permalink*
      July 7, 2010 1:06 PM

      Ah, but the key is that I’m not hating on Tara’s or Willow’s sense of individuality, I’m hating on the costumers’ idea of what their sense of individuality must look like. It’s not that they’re dumpy people, it’s that they are consistently dressed in dumpy clothes. If anything, it’s a disservice to both of them.

  15. 1minionsopinion permalink
    July 7, 2010 12:20 AM

    It’s so great that after all these years, people are willing to look back at this icon of an era and mock the hell out of it. I never watched for the clothes before. Now I feel compelled to really focus on that. I do recall Buffy having some tye-died bulls eye shirt on once that seemed a very terrible choice, but I’m quite fond of Willow’s fuzzy sweaters. The softer side of Sears indeed.

  16. Christian permalink
    July 8, 2010 5:16 PM

    I love the commentary! Your writing is sooo good. This is my new favorite procrastination page =)
    I always thought they dressed Willow and Tara so ugly… that was sad.

  17. erin permalink
    July 9, 2010 2:44 AM

    I bet off screen the cast petted Alyson Hannigan’s red fur thingy

  18. Maurina permalink
    August 10, 2010 10:10 AM

    Oh man, as I keep reading each of these entries it just keeps getting better (wiping away tears from laughing so hard).

    Also, I agree that Buffy’s look is great in this episode. However one thing has always bothered me about SMG in the later seasons: She is painfully, painfully thin.

    Take another look at that screen capture of Buffy in the back yard with the Scoobies. She’s a stick figure. I mean, I know she was recently quite dead, but come on! Please eat a sandwich.

  19. Sydney permalink
    June 20, 2011 6:59 AM

    Why would you even put Willow in a shirt like that? It’s something absolutely no one could deny was hideous! I mean Willow’s no fashionista but that shirt simply crosses the line. What on earth were the costume department thinking?? Maybe they and Alison Hannigan had an argument and as revenge they stuck her in that.

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