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Buffy Fashion Roulette: “Tabula Rasa”

May 27, 2010

Today I’m breaking down season 6’s “Tabula Rasa”, which is more commonly known as “the episode right after the musical”. Willow’s ‘addiction to magic’ (ah, still such a heavy-handed metaphor all these years later) brings Tara to a breaking point, Giles heads back to England, and Spike tussles with a shark in a pimp suit. However, I’ve gotta say that despite all the big plot twists, from this day forward what I’ll remember most about that episode is that it is full of sweater bathrobes.

But first, the results are in from the “Pangs” poll. Best dressed, in a landslide vote, goes to Giles in his baggy sweater and casual pants, which says a lot about the overall Fashion Fail of the episode. Worst dressed, in a huge landslide replete with casualties: Anya, with her wardrobe full of ill-advised printed pants. Since this is the first poll result, our tally has Giles in the lead with a solid 1 point, Anya in last place with -1, and everyone else breaking even at 0. The poll for “Triangle” is still a little too close to call; please help me out by voting!

Which is shinier, hair or pants?

Alright. So. “Tabula Rasa.” We open in the graveyard with Buffy, Spike, and the loan shark, who is actually a shark. Buffy is sporting the first of many sweater bathrobes in this episode, along with some really shiny leather pants. Her sweater bathrobe is white and very loose, which, like so many of her fashion choices, doesn’t seem very conducive to fighting demons. Her hair is tied back very casually.

Spike is wearing a very typically Spike outfit: black t-shirt, jeans and The Duster. This particular Buffy still reminds me of why Spike’s punk-ness always seemed so affected to me: besides the fact that the only punk songs he knew were by obvious bands like the Ramones and the Sex Pistols, no self-respecting punk would ever pull their jeans up so high and belt them with some giant cheesy belt buckle.

Spike's bulge is massive! WTF!

Meanwhile, the Scoobz are hanging out at Anya and Xander’s place and they are mightily concerned about the ramifications of having brought Buffy back- which, you know, they thought about AFTER they went and did it. This is a table shot, so it’ll be mostly tops-focused, although the fact that Xandanya have a glass dining room table helps matters some.

Anya and Xander are looking perfectly awesome. Anya’s pleated blouse is one of those rare pieces that always looks classic and authentically vintage, and somehow she’s pulling off those khakis. Also, her hair looks gorgeous. Her outfit is very, “Jackie O visits her cousins at Grey Gardens and is appalled.” Xander’s blue shirt is equally classic, free of the show’s typical trendy trappings like extra pockets, weird trim, ugly graphics, et cetera. Also? He”s unbuttoned for the ladies. (You’re welcome.)

Good show, Sc00bz.

Tara and Willow don’t fare as well. Willow cannot let go of her Fuzzy Sweater Persona, which should have disappeared right along with whatever remnants of her heterosexuality were left by the time she and Tara officially became a couple. Her hair looks nice, although I am conscious of the fact that she dresses herself magically, making it a lot easier for her to curl her hair in the morning. Tara’s outfit is slightly better; her hair is not. The hairstyle ages her, but the kimono-esque top/glass necklace combination fits her personality to a t. Good thing she’s racking up points now, because Tara’s got one monster of an outfit coming up later in the episode. Readers, brace yourselves now.

Willow's famous Withering Stare Of Death

Giles breaks the news to Buffy that he’s heading back to England. She is PISSED. Maybe she’s pissed because Giles looks fine as hell and is set to destroy her in Robin’s Pritty Outfit Contest….

…because, you see, Buffy is wearing another sweater bathrobe, and this one is made of both leather and cotton. The pants? Perfectly respectable. The blouse? Eh, but maybe passable on a good day. The hair? A little unkempt in this still, but perfectly fine otherwise. Unfortunately, all of this okay-ness is negated by her Leather Sweater Robe.

Who wears these things for two days in a row?!

Back at the house, Dawn and Tara are trying to get Willow out of the house so she’s not late for the Scoobies meeting. Dawn once again looks age-appropriate and cute in her bedazzled jacket, graphic t-shirt and jeans. The blue sneakers add a bit of weird kid personality to the ensemble. Tara, on the other hand…

Why do they do this to her??! She's a beautiful woman!!

Let’s look at this from another angle.

I mean, REALLY.

First of all, they put her hair in about eight ponytails, which is just cruel, especially when you consider that they twist in many different directions. Then they gave her a sweater bathrobe, and hers is gold and sparkly. THEN they put her in a dumpy top that makes her boobs look awful, which is a shame because she normally has really nice boobs. WHY DO THEY DO THIS TO TARA?! It doesn’t make any sense! Why would any self-respecting earth hippie mama type subject herself to this outfit?

Meanwhile, Willow uses magic to throw on this ensemble.

magic sleeves!

Minus the sleeves, which look like something the Lost Boys of Never Land would wear crossed with a sweater my cat chewed on, this outfit ain’t half bad. The color, fit and shape of the top are nice, as are her jeans. But ugh, those sleeves…

Back at the Magic Box, Anya has gotten dressed in the dark.

Basically, in three seasons Anya has gone from being horrifically matchy-matchy to wearing two clashing prints at the same time. Her hair looks gorgeous, and she’s wearing some open-toed cream pumps that are unfortunately cut out of almost every shot, but YEESH! This outfit!

Meanwhile, Xander and Willow enter the shop.

Xander let Willow borrow his jacket, which is really sweet of him. It lends a sort of butch authenticity to her. Xander, meanwhile, looks like he stepped right out of season one. I am not feeling that shirt on Grownup Xander one bit. It is ill-fitting and ugly.

Randy Giles! With dramatic smoke effect!

Then Spike comes in wearing an odd disguise. The sun is shining brightly in the sky, yet he’s only a bit smoky. If it were this easy to be a vampire in the sunshine, someone else would have figured it out by now. Really, Joss? But, I digress. I love this outfit, obviously.

So then all this Crazy Vampire Stuff happens, because Willow has cast a spell that made everyone lose their memories and forget who they are. This forces Tara to dump Willow, and there’s a montage of different characters doing different sad things while Michelle Branch plays an acoustic version of her song “Goodbye To You” at The Bronze. Were that not hilarious enough, we are forced to take Tara’s sadness seriously as she’s packing all of her belongings while sporting that glittery sweatered, many ponytailed disaster of a look. Most of the outfits are the same, although Spike has changed back into his black shirt, dark jeans uniform. We do watch Giles waiting for takeoff on his plane to England, and he has changed out of his suit. We can’t see much, but we get this.

Jolly good show, Gilesy.

Vote below!

10 Comments leave one →
  1. Kris permalink
    May 29, 2010 9:49 PM

    LOL! I absolutely love this – I never really noticed the fashion when watching the show, but now that you’re pointing it out: ouch! Please keep it up!

  2. FoundOnWeb permalink
    June 27, 2010 7:17 PM

    Loved it. Had to go back and read the earlier ones. You’ve hit some of my non-costume favorites, and your comments are bang on. Now I have to go back to S1e1 and start watching it all over again. WRT “Pangs”, someone has pointed out that each of the characters picks out one of the traditional interpretations of Thanksgiving, plus Anya, who comes up with one you don’t normally hear about on the ads – it’s a ritual sacrifice, with pie.

    Keep it up, please.

  3. Fiona permalink
    July 6, 2010 11:34 AM

    I love this!! And this episode totally reminded me that you should do Once More With Feeling (just think of Tara’s heinous sweater/skirt at the end: and how cute Anya looks throughout…plus, Sweet…enough said…it is begging to be done😀

  4. Fiona permalink
    July 6, 2010 11:36 AM

    sorry, that link didn’t work… here is another of the same picture :

  5. August 18, 2010 6:24 PM

    i’m watching this episode right now and i’ve just gotta say, i always wondered whether willow magic’d herself into the towel or the outfit. y’know, maybe she took hours and did her hair and coordinated the outfit only to realize she wouldn’t have time to tabula rasa everyone so *zap* she glamours herself into a towel to show she’s not ready and then *zaps* the outfit back on. huh, huh?

    • msjacks permalink*
      August 18, 2010 9:31 PM

      Maybe she zapped BOTH! Heck, maybe she zapped taking a shower in general! Having that many magical powers means you get to break ALL the rules. No showers, no traffic, no waiting in lines, no late subway trains.

  6. December 2, 2010 7:34 PM

    Hey, I just found your blog and I’m reading all the Buffy posts from the beginning. I had to laugh when I read this one. Tara’s hair! It’s so awful! And I remember that Michelle Branch song, too–I can’t stand her voice. She’s like “Goodbye to yooooueua,” adding vowels where there is no need for extra vowels in EVERY LINE she sings.

    I remember that 2000 seemed to be the Year of the Sweater Robe, or Swobe. I owned only one but I was SO PROUD of how trendy and hip it was. Ha.

    Anyway, love the fashion roulette! Off to read more.

  7. April 23, 2011 10:33 AM

    I love this blog! I’m so happy to see you’ve returned and am revisiting your posts through my recent re-watch. I never noticed before, but your screen cap of Spike above (and the fact that I just tore through Season 4 last week) are making me realize: isn’t Spike wearing the same outfit in Buffy’s dream in Restless? I totally think he is:
    (scroll down about 3/4 of the page for Spike in Restless pic)

    I love that both the times Spike wears this old timey Randy suit he’s got an otherworldly-induced kind of relationship with Giles. It makes me really want to pick your Fashion Roulette brain –what do you think the suit consistency in those two eps might mean? Do you think it connects Restless and Tabula Rasa, and if so, how? I would love, love, love to read what you have to say about what it means when characters revisit specific outfits like that. And welcome back!

    • msjacks permalink*
      April 23, 2011 2:07 PM

      Hi Mary E! Thanks for your thoughtful comment. You have oodles of Buffy insight.

      I remember hearing somewhere down the line that Joss Whedon knew that people obsessed over every minute aspect of “Restless,” looking for meaning and attempting to find references later in the series. Therefore, Joss would refer back to it from time to time, rather than having planned it out from the beginning. The suit repetition was one of those things. I don’t know how specifically serious or meaningful the reference was, but I always assumed that the suit repetition was an a reference to the odd relationship between Giles and Spike- they may not be like father and son, but they do sort of fight like father and son. I remember seeing “Tabula Rasa” as it aired and being like, “OMG! THAT’S THE SUIT FROM RESTLESS!” The whole internet saw the same thing, apparently.


  1. Buffy Fashion Roulette: “Flooded” « The Bitter Buffalo

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