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Buffy Fashion Roulette: “Welcome To The Hellmouth”

July 25, 2010

Oh, LAWD. Today my trusty roulette wheel (errr, Red Sox hat with a bunch of slips of paper with episode titles written on them… Go Sox!) gave me a dangerous task. In fact, it’s downright hellmouth-y. That’s right, I’m about to fashionably recap the very first episode in the entire Buffyverse. Welcome To My Own Personal Hellmouth, friends. I expect that the fashion within the episode will be very symbolic, very indicative of who these characters we’d just met would eventually reveal themselves to be. Of course, I also expect that the fashion will be very, very horrible. Fun!

In last week’s recap for “Bad Girls”, it looked like Faith was gonna run away with a win, hands down. But Cordelia kept inching up on her, and bam! Eventually she won by one stinkin’ vote, 20% to Faith’s 19%.

Buffy garnered her first Worst Dressed win with a resounding 42% of the vote. No one else came close, not even Willow.

We open the episode with the iconic scene of Darla and some sleazy guy who is trying to bone her in the halls of Sunnydale High. We think bad stuff is gonna happen to Darla, but surprise! She’s the baddie, and the sleazeball gets sucked dry and stuffed into a locker. Darla’s wearing that schoolgirl getup, of course. She never really comes out of the darkness long enough for us to get a good look at what she’s wearing, but we get some flashes of it here and there. As far as sexy schoolgirl outfits go, this one is pretty timeless.

The next morning, Joyce drops Buffy off for her first day of school. Due to her choice of shoulder-padded graph paper suit and a grandma perm, she looks a good twenty years older than she probably is. Oh, that Joyce.

Hey, it’s Xander on his skateboard! He falls off almost immediately, but lands on his bottom very gracefully. If the whole “Buffy” thing hadn’t worked out, Nicholas Brendon could have had a career as the guy in the Kool-Aid Man costume. Meanwhile, we encounter Willow and her infamous plaid jumper, which is easily one of the most (in)famous ensembles in the show’s entire run.

This shot is great because we can see Willow’s shoes. They’re suede Bass loafers, methinks. Odd. Here’s a dark shot (sorry, it was the best I could do under these pilot grainy film circumstances) of Buffy, Willow, and Jesse walking into school. Xander and Jesse look like typical kids who skateboard both recreationally and clumsily. I still can’t figure out exactly what I want to say about Willow’s outfit. I think I’ll wait til we get to the water fountain, ‘softer side of Sears’ scene. But first, a little point of continuity error: she has a sweater tied around her waist that was not there when she was walking into school.

Look at how cute our Buffster is here! I thought I’d be positively retching over her looks in this episode, but this one is not half bad. It’s dated, especially on the hair-and-shoes front, but I don’t hate it.

While Cordelia has been fairly solid in her BFR appearances, she fails miserably here. This is one of those “costumers, WTF were you thinking?” moments I have fairly often. I can’t imagine that any uber popular girl would have ever worn this outfit to school in any decade. A sheer, diagonally striped top? Pants that ride the fine color line between lime and mustard-tinged chartreuse?

Cordelia’s choice of clothing becomes that much more offensive during the scene where she derides Willow at the water fountain, showing Buffy her true colors in the process. Really, lady? You’re gonna mock the nerdy girl’s outfit when you’re wearing bile-colored pants?

So yeah, Willow’s outfit. I have to say, now that I’m 30 instead of being a year older than the age these characters were meant to be, I find it really refreshing to see a character on television who, instead of looking like a twenty-five-year-old portraying someone who’s not old enough to drive, looks like an actual fifteen-year-old who’s wearing something her mom picked out for her. I understand why this ensemble makes a reappearance in “Restless” as a symbol for all that torments Willow about herself; in “Welcome To The Hellmouth”, Willow is hiding inside of it. It is an outfit that no self-respecting teenage girl would wear in a non-ironic manner, and deep down, Willow knows this. It’s part of the closet she lives in, and I don’t mean that strictly in the sexuality sense. So does that make it a good outfit? A bad outfit? I’m not really sure.

(Wow, I got so serious there for a minute.)

Giles is really freaking creepy in this episode. He hovers over Buffy’s shoulder all heavily breathing and seriously, never cracking a smile. I get icky pedophilia feelings from every scene they’re in together, which may come from the fact that Buffy is clearly skeeved out by him, too. The very ye old timeyness of his tweed doesn’t help, either. I wonder if we were supposed to think that Giles could possibly maybe be a vampire? He fits all of the criteria that Buffy lays out for us: creepy, doesn’t come out in the sunlight, possesses a very dated wardrobe…

Ooh, it’s that part where Buffy holds up two polar opposite dresses and says snarky things about them! I know how she feels. Here are the outfits, neither of which looks like anything Buffy has ever worn in her Sunnydale life.

Below you see the “I’m a total slut” dress, which appears to be a vinyl dominatrix uniform. I would pay money to see Buffy wearing this dress, but I’m not quite sure how she ended up possessing it at all.

And here’s the dress she believes that Watchtower-hawking Jehovah’s Witnesses wear. I do not disagree.

Joyce comes in to ask her, once again, to please not get into any trouble. She’s going pretty easy on her, methinks. She is dressed completely different from how she was earlier in the day. Turtleneck t-shirt, coiffed hair, thin watchband…

…she looks kind of stereotypically French.

Buffy finally settles on this outfit, which is a relief because it’s probably a heck of a lot easier to fight vampires in a loose shirt and pants than in a tight vinyl minidress. It’s kind of a weird fashion choice, though. This oddness is made more apparent by her accessories, hair, and dagger nails. The gigantic purple plastic bubble ring is very age appropriate- I can certainly remember wearing those when I was fifteen- but everything else seems very soccer mom-y, which is a costuming trend I have noticed before. I’m trying to place myself in a time when high school sophomores dressed in this manner, but I’m just not remembering any of this.

Angel, meanwhile, is wearing a hilarious crushed velvet blazer. And it’s not some subdued, classy, barely-velvet velvet, either. Angel is wearing a cheap, shiny velvet jacket. Why? Why would any self-respecting man, human or not, wear this blazer, particularly someone who likes to be all incognito and hide in the shadows? It makes zero sense.

Ha ha ha, look at this long-shorts-and-long-haired grunge band! The singer’s moustache kills the sour mood Angel’s velveteen mess put me in.

Willow borrowed Buffy’s Jehovah’s Witness uniform. Oh, Willow.

Giles is back, and he’s still being creepy. Creepy! Look at how he’s breathing down Buffy’s neck. She’s probably thinking, “you smell like mothballs, and I know that are about to put your hands on my ass.”

Meanwhile, Jesse is macking and Cordelia is drinking. Drinking! They didn’t really show them drinking out of rocks glasses anymore after the pilot, did they? I seem to remember lots of those ridiculous gigantic wide-mouthed coffee mugs a la Central Perk on Friends. This just seems like an endorsement of underage drinking, and that is problematic, even if the one who’s drinking is the one we’re supposed to despise.

Anyways, Jesse looks exactly how we’d expect him to look and Cordelia looks kind of tacky, although I guess it’s not all that bad.

Look, Cordelia has a gigantic cell phone!

Xander shows up to call Buffy on having some delusional issues regarding vampires. His outfit is not terrible, but not awesome. It’s just very teenage Xander.

Except, psyche on you Xander, vampires are real and they are evil and they wear sexy tartan plaid getups and people totally want to bone them sometimes! How’s that for confusing? Man, you don’t even know. But you will. Oh, how you will.


18 Comments leave one →
  1. July 26, 2010 12:11 AM

    Lols at Angel’s jacket, I never noticed that it was velvet. And the gigantic pointy collar! Lordy. He looks like that SNL sketch with Christoher Walken, where he tried to lure ladies into his apartment?

    • msjacks permalink*
      July 26, 2010 12:15 AM

      The Continental!!! Yes indeedy. Between Angel and Giles, this episode is just dying for some To Catch A Predator intervention.

      • July 26, 2010 12:25 AM

        Right? Coincidentally, I’m watching “To Catch a Predator” RIGHT NOW.

    • msjacks permalink*
      July 26, 2010 12:36 AM

      Buffy’s just gonna go change into something a little more comfortable; Giles and Angel can help themselves to something to drink; she’ll be right back!

  2. Beth permalink
    July 26, 2010 8:35 AM

    Ha! I thought I was the only one who noticed that Cordy was dressed way, way worse than Willow!

  3. Joey permalink
    July 27, 2010 8:08 AM

    Bile colored pants. Perfect. Lol

    I felt oddly inclined to vote Willow for both best and worst dressed, because of how iconic her outfits were

  4. July 27, 2010 8:40 AM

    You know, I’ve never thought that Giles may have been portrayed to be a possible vampire at the beginning. I just thought he was insanely creepy at the beginning. But it makes perfect sense that he could be a possible vamp at the very beginning *world rocked*

  5. July 27, 2010 3:00 PM

    The drinking thing is weird, yeah. Are we to assume it’s always coffee or pop in those red, plastic cups? So bizarre…

    • msjacks permalink*
      July 27, 2010 3:09 PM

      juice, maybe? Wholesome, tasty juice for teens. I like your website! Adding you to my google reader.❤

  6. July 27, 2010 6:39 PM

    Perhaps more creepy than Giles in this episode is Darla in that school girl outfit. I don’t know why but I’ve always found it hard to believe Darla was a high school student (sorry Julie Benz), even if she is a vampire high school student. That outfit seems so age inappropriate it screams adult film star to me.

    Which leads me to my unsubstantiated observation of the week:
    Maybe the Master’s nefarious scheme isn’t to open up the Hellmouth, but really to set up a web cams in his secret underground lair and make a nice living off of supplying movies for pay per view. Darla sires a few new stars vampires and there you have it, “Sunnydale After Hours.”

    This would also explain Angel’s Hugh Hefner attire in this episode.

    • msjacks permalink*
      July 27, 2010 7:55 PM

      I don’t think she was supposed to be a faux-student; I just figured that was her weird sexy style of the moment, and she took it and ran with it once she realized her former man (Angel) had a thing for a schoolgirl (Buffy).

      I don’t doubt your theory about The Master. When he comes up out of the blood he looks like a particularly brutal leather daddy!

  7. Kris permalink
    July 27, 2010 7:27 PM

    I laugh at Darla’s school-girl outfit – doesn’t Buffy wear one later in Him (S7)? I wonder how they compare. And I just laugh at Willow’s outfits in general; I love the girl, but question her sanity.

  8. Nicki permalink
    July 27, 2010 11:03 PM

    I actually like Cordelia’s first outfit. I mean, I wouldn’t wear it, but it looked good on her. BTW, I❤ your Buffy fashion roulette. It must be the BEST online Buffy thing that I have ever read. It's so funny, and it makes me pay attention to things in the show that I never paid attention to before. So thanks.:) Keep posting!

  9. Chromde permalink
    July 28, 2010 4:26 PM

    I’ve been dutifully following your Buffy fashion roulette for a while now, and thought it was about time I left a comment to tell you how much I’m loving it. When I first went searching for someone who would give some commentary on the Buffy fashion, I didn’t expect to find anything, but I did, and it’s hilarious!

    You have a great gift for describing the outfits, and explaining perfectly exactly why they’re horrible. And your humour is top-notch. I laugh non-stop while reading your commentary, or appreciating the screencaps you take.

    As for this episode in particular — I just (re)watched it yesterday, actually. (I love the commentary because Joss talks of Giles’ creepy hovering and how he violates Joss’ “six inch rule” at the Bronze while breathing down Buffy’s neck.) It always drives me crazy when Cordelia picks on Willow while wearing that ensemble. The shooting script reads: “The girl next to her, CORDELIA, leans over […] Killer outfit. ” Killer outfit indeed, though I wouldn’t be caught dead in it.

    Also, Xander doesn’t look half bad in the first episodes (though later in the season he suddenly unearths a disturbing amount of ugly brown shirts of varying cuts and materials). Where was this wardrobe when those horrid sweater vests reared their ugly heads in season four?

    Speaking of season four, love the Riley hate. Goodness, do I hate him. So, so much.

    As for voting, I gave Xander best dressed — hey, it isn’t rhinestones — and after careful back-and-forth between Cordelia and Angel for worst dressed, gave the crown to Cordelia because at least Angel has been living in sewers for the past decades and not accessing the newest fashion mags. Cordy has no such excuse. (I read in the comments that you have no plans for doing this for Angel, but I do suggest if you ever rewatch the series to just do a Greatest Hits (Of Fashion Misses): Cordelia, because L.A. has a strange effect on her fashion sense.)

    So that’s all for now. I just want to thank you again for doing such a fabulous job in dissecting the strange, strange fashions of Buffy.:)

    (I can’t wait for you to do Two To Go/Grave for Anya’s hideeeeeeous outfit, by the way.)

    • msjacks permalink*
      July 28, 2010 5:56 PM

      Thanks for all of your sweet words! I do very much appreciate the encouragement. Looking at all this bad fashion can get pretty bleak sometimes.

      When the time comes, Two To Go/Grave will have to be done as one episode, methinks, since it’s one solid period in a day. I definitely have descriptors for what Anya is wearing, but I’ll keep it to myself for now. Heeeee hee!

      Thanks again for your comment! Hope to see you around again sometime soon!

  10. buffyanne permalink
    July 30, 2010 3:31 PM

    Love the fashion commentary. I couldn’t stop laughing at Angel:The Velveteen Rabbit.

  11. Kat permalink
    July 30, 2010 4:31 PM

    It’s funny how you say that Buffy looked mom like cause I remember reading that initially they tried to give the character a more, motherly, earthy feel and when they saw it they decided it was all wrong for the character.

    But I have to say I stumbled across your website by accident and I’m glad I did. Some of the comments you make are freakin hysterical and it makes me happy that I’m not the only one who was obsessed with the fashion on Buffy. Although, watching this show made me wish I grew up in CA. I have lived in New England my whole life and let me tell you, not only did people not dress like that here, those clothes weren’t really readily available anywhere. Damn you wintertime!

  12. Lucy permalink
    July 31, 2010 12:37 PM

    I have to be honest, I’m finding it hard to vote a Best Dressed! The one to settle on would be Darla, I suppose. But what’s stopping me is having to wear something similar to the uniform for 5 days a week for years. I’m totally sick of it.

    Ironically(is that correct?), I’m also finding it hard to choose a Worst Dressed! The obvious answer is Willow but I can’t bring myself to do that to her! D:

    Welcome To The Hellmouth/The Harvest are episodes I can’t stand too much, I tend to skip them when I watch through my DVDs. Well done on the Roulette though, I always find myself looking forward to it!😀 I know the episodes are supposed to be random but I recommend “Band Candy”, based purely on my memory of the long coat that Teen!Joyce wore.:)

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