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Usually, your characters need to wear clothes. If your show is set in modern times (and sometimes if it isn't), you'll dress the characters in appropriate clothes for the time. After all, it would look weird if a modern character wore last decade's styles, right?
Unfortunately, fashion is highly context-sensitive. There are only a few fashions that have stood the test of time (like tuxedos, T-shirts and jeans [though they were strictly the purview of menial labors prior to The Fifties], and The Little Black Dress), and odds are, yours didn't If a character from a show that supposedly takes place in the 21st century has Eighties Hair, he's going to look weird... almost as if he's from the eighties.
In other words, fashions that don't just tell you what year the show was made, they scream it loudly enough to deafen your eyes.
Since most costumers aren't psychic, this happens a lot when old shows are rerun. It can also cause Fridge Logic if the show is set in the future. "Wait... why do people in the year 2800 wear clothes from the '70s?" Fashion Dissonance isn't completely restricted to shows set in the future, though - in fact, it can also be obvious if they're set in the time they were made, or even if they're set in the past (see Gorgeous Period Dress for one example of this, but a more specific example is the question of why no one in Higurashi no Naku Koro ni has Eighties Hair).
Frequently appears in an Unintentional Period Piece.
Compare Outdated Outfit, X Called. They Want Their Y Back., I Was Quite a Fashion Victim, No New Fashions in the Future, Hollywood Costuming. For those who are immune to fashion dissonance, see Awesome Anachronistic Apparel.
There are many eras with regrettable fashion trends. Here are a few:
The Sixties are justly famous for mini-skirts, tie-die and pyschedelic colors. Hair was big and eye-make-up laid on with a trowel. Shows associated with Sixties fashion:
- Star Trek the Original Series — the original series: Justly famous for its mini-skirt and go-go boots uniforms, and William Ware Theiss' famously titillating costumes. And for the ladies, James T. Kirk's tearaway shirts.
- UFO: Set in the eighties but made in the Sixties featuring regrettable Nehru suits and, on the plus side, delightful peek-a-boo uniforms for both sexes.
The Seventies were polyester heavy. Hair was worn thick and often frizzy; men wore bushy mustaches and beards. Trousers were flared, and there was too much corduroy. Sixties features like beads were still hanging on. And eyeshadow was bright blue, regardless of the wearer's skin tone. Here are some of the examples of shows associated with Seventies fashion:
- Pick up any anime or manga from The Seventies, especially if it's Shojo, and you'll see bell-bottom pants everywhere.
- Legion of Super-Heroes had a number of different eras, but Phantom Girl's bell bottoms and Tyroc's afro stand out.
- Starsky and Hutch.
- Charlie's Angels.
- The Mary Tyler Moore Show
- The Brady Bunch
- Most of the 70's Sci Fi shows, including the original Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in The 25th Century, but most notably Space: 1999.
- Later seasons of Adam-12.
- The Bob Newhart Show — exceptionally funny writing and delivery, and the fashions just add to the funny.
- Gemini Man — all six episodes of it.
- Many of the very chic fashions in Annie Hall look dated and silly by today's standards, notably, Tony Roberts's perm and white leisure suit. Ironically, Hollywood Nerd Alvie's rather dowdy wardrobe seems inoffensive by comparison.
- The James Bond movies with Roger Moore.
- Alan Chan of The Amazing Chan and The Chan Clan was truly a product of his time, right down to the striped bellbottoms and groovy shades.
The Eighties were almost as silly as the Seventies, but are looked back at with marginally more fondness (mainly because many of the looks from the era fetishized the Cool aesthetic). Note, in particular, Eighties Hair.
Here are some series strongly associated with Eighties Fashion:
- Ah! My Goddess is a particularly weird example. Since the series has been ongoing for more than 20 years but only a few years have passed in the story itself, it seems like fashion progresses from its 80s starting point to the present at a tremendous pace. There's also been a couple of art shifts and Keiichi gave up smoking without it ever being mentioned, possibly showing the changing attitudes about smoking over the past couple of decades.
- Yu Yu Hakusho. Just look at what the girls are wearing. It's so frighteningly eighties.
- Knight Rider, particularly David Hasselhoff's Eighties Hair.
- Miami Vice.
- Dynasty, particularly the Shoulders of Doom on the Nolan Miller-designed outfits worn by Joan Collins, Linda Evans and the other actresses.
- The early seasons of Highlander the Series were very eighties.
- The A-Team.
- Moonlighting with Maddie Hayes' 80s-tastic shoulderpads.
- Saved by the Bell, though it ran from 1989-1993. (The early parts of a decade often have fashion holdovers.)
- The Cosby Show: Particularly jarring when you see Denise or Vanessa fussing over shiny, loud, beaded, or otherwise eye-searingly hideous outfits when trying to look their "best". Even Claire was not immune.
- Degrassi Junior High/ Degrassi High.
- Similarly to Saved by the Bell, the earlier episodes of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air (which aired from 1990-1996) had a lot of fashion holdovers from the 80's, especially with Vivian and Ashley.
- A deliberate aversion was done by New Wave band The Human League, with the cover for their breakout 1981 album Dare!. The cover was intended to resemble that of Vogue magazine, and featured photos of the band members' faces - with their hair styles cropped from the picture. In the words of backing vocalist Susan Ann Sulley, "we wanted people to still be able to buy the album in five years, we thought that hair styles would be the first thing to date. We had no idea people would still be buying it 25 years later."
- For a kid's show, Jem and The Holograms are more or less textbook examples of eighties fashion.
Live Action TV
- The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. In fact, the first seasons even had some 80s fashions still hanging around.
- The Nanny
- Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, especially in the case of Tommy Oliver going from a mullet to a ponytail look in the course of the show's run. When a photo of him with the latter look is mocked by the Rangers in Power Rangers Dino Thunder, airing 11 years later; Tommy retorts that it was the style at the time.
And finally, peculiar examples...
- Al's fashions in Quantum Leap were truly bizarre, even for the Eighties, and even if he was from Twenty Minutes Into the Future. A surprisingly knowledgeable homeless lady once warned him that his chances of getting into heaven were poor, as they had a Dress Code. (This serves a purpose from a narrative perspective, though: Al's bizarre fashion sense makes him stand out, no matter what decade the episode takes place in.)
- In Penny and Aggie, the former of the titular characters is normally fashionable-to-a-fault. So when Penny shows up at the airport to greet her friend wearing a top that looks like the shape of a "Y", fans raised eyebrows. The writer, T. Campbell, assured them that there was a reason for it. It turned out to be Foreshadowing: She was intentionally dressing a bit more like Aggie in order to signal her interest.