30 TV Characters Who Don't Know How to Dress For Their Jobs

Willing suspension of disbelief is simply a necessary facet of the modern television series. How else can one justify a princess inhabiting an ordinary suburban town, or a group of witches who happen to be sisters and manage to hold down demanding jobs while keeping the universe from the brink of disaster? Fantasy is all part of the fun, and wardrobe is an integral part of the television illusion. That being said, when a character working an unpaid internship is consistently dripping in Gucci and Chanel, one's imagination doesn't seem like quite enough to justify the fabrication. From Carrie Bradshaw to Serena Van Der Woodsen, here are 30 TV characters who don't always dress the part for their occupations.

Lily Aldrin, 'How I Met Your Mother'

How I Met Your Mother’s Lily Aldrin is a school teacher turned art consultant whose designer-laden, on-trend wardrobe I would steal in a second. How does she justify such a disparity between her income and her career? A shopping addiction, of course.

Image: How I Met Your Mother/CBS

Phoebe Halliwell, 'Charmed'

Phoebe Halliwell’s character on Charmed bounces between job after job until she find her perfect fit: a position as an advice columnist. However, Halliwell’s wardrobe could use some serious counseling. From crop tops aplenty to plunging necklines and one very special genie getup, Halliwell’s closet is more befitting of a 21-year-old coed who has just discovered clubbing.

Image: Charmed/The CW


Far be it for me to speak on behalf of government officials who don disguises to go undercover, but I sincerely doubt many situations require a red bikini.

Image: Nikita/The CW

Rebecca Wright, 'Bad Judge'

Bad Judge has incurred the unexpected wrath of feminists who argue that Judge Rebecca Wright’s wardrobe is an incredibly detrimental depiction of the legal system and its personnel. It’s supposed to be incredibly inappropriate, as therein lies the comedy about a woman who doesn’t have her life quite together yet. However, no one I know wears a corset to the office.

Image: John Fleenor/NBC

Ally McBeal

Though Ally McBeal’s ensembles channeled the demure skirt suit silhouette which dominated the ’90s corporate world, some of those skirts certainly qualified as micro-miniature. In the law profession, mini skirts tend to be off-limits, or so I’m told.

Images: Ally McBeal/Fox

Sydney Bristow, 'Alias'

Yet another disciple of the sultry undercover agent look was television’s Sydney Bristow. Based on the abundance of questionable wigs and body con pleather sheaths, it appears Bristow’s employers had quite a bit of extra funding lying around for fashion. Perhaps the reason behind all of the last-minute missions and barely-resolved international issues has finally been revealed.

Images: Alias/ABC

Serena Van Der Woodsen, 'Gossip Girl'

I’m willing to give Gossip Girl’s Serena Van Der Woodsen a pass due to the character’s affluence, but in reality, film interns don’t show up to a film set in Louboutins, designer gowns, and intricate statement necklaces.

Image: Gossip Girl/The CW

Carrie Bradshaw, 'The Carrie Diaries'

The younger iteration of Carrie Bradshaw of the short-lived series The Carrie Diaries somehow dressed in a more adult fashion than the character’s older iteration. Additionally, I have yet to see a paralegal or lawyer dressed in as many clashing colors and patterns as Bradshaw during the character’s internship.

Image: The Carrie Diaries/The CW

Penny, 'The Big Bang Theory'

Though The Big Bang Theory’s Penny properly dons her uniform each time she proceeds to waitress at The Cheesecake Factory, the uniform itself is a uniquely bizarre amalgamation of garments for a service gig. A jean skirt, yellow knit vest and ruffled shirt? The look is highly suspect.

Image: Michael Yarish/Warner Bros. Entertainment

Abby Sciuto, 'NCIS'

Abby Sciuto’s technically trained character on NCIS is a human composite of countless diverse styles, many of which seem out of place in the world of crime solving. Sciuto’s Marilyn Monroe getup in particular is both unexpected and out of character.


Jessica Day, 'New Girl'

Though I adore the delightfully twee wardrobe of Jessica Day on New Girl, I would argue that few professionals, no matter what their field, have quite so many whimsical frocks in their wardrobe.

Image: Adam Taylor/FOX

Mindy Lahiri, 'The Mindy Project'

The Mindy Project offers a somewhat fanciful rendering of real life, combining situations millennial women face with extravagant and dreamy clothing millennial women wish they could wear 24/7.

Image: The Mindy Project/Fox

Hanna, 'Pretty Little Liars'

What high schooler could possibly live up to the impeccably styled, pattern-mixing look rocked by Hanna on Pretty Little Liars? And don’t forget her impractical penchant for high heels… Perhaps I’m only speaking from personal experience, but high school is not a time when teenagers have a perfectly defined sartorial sensibility.

Image: Pretty Little Liars/ABC Family

Aria, 'Pretty Little Liars'

Aria’s wardrobe demonstrates an eccentricity that is rarely seen in high school students.

Image: Pretty Little Liars/ABC Family

Blair Waldorf, 'Gossip Girl'

No matter what the occasion, Gossip Girl’s Blair Waldorf is dressed as if she is off to meet William and Kate. And more power to her; each ensemble is better than the last.

Image: Gossip Girl/The CW

Kate Beckett, 'Castle'

Though Kate Beckett’s wardrobe portrayed the type of professionalism and grit which I would imagine from a NYPD detective, Castle’s recent seasons have bent the rules. In a recent episode, Beckett donned a corset and cowboy hat to solve a western murder.

Image: Castle/ABC

Rachel Berry, 'Glee'

Considering that I was in fact the girl dressed in a plaid skirt and blazer in high school, I can attest that Glee’s Rachel Berry is a hyperbolic rendering of coed style.

Image: Glee/Fox

Emma Pillsbury, 'Glee'

Likewise, Emma Pillsbury’s wardrobe is a color-saturated, sparkle-laden magnification of the character’s sweetness and neuroses.

Image: Glee/Fox

Betty Suarez, 'Ugly Betty'

Though the concept of the show provides an endearing look at what it feels like to be the odd woman out in an appearance-driven industry, it always struck me as bizarre that Betty couldn’t match an outfit to save her life, despite working in fashion. We all have sartorial missteps, but Betty’s multitude of transgressions brought to mind the question: Does she really want to work in the design industry?

Image: Ugly Betty/ABC

Carrie Bradshaw, 'Sex And The City'

Until I’m closing in on my fourth decade, I won’t be able to attest what one can and can’t afford on a freelance writer’s salary. However, it is fitting that Carrie Bradshaw’s character on Sex And The City occasionally finds herself broke, as her incredible Manolo Blahnik collection comes at a steep price.

Image: Sex And The City/HBO

Samantha Jones, 'Sex And The City'

Though Samantha’s position as a PR executive allows her some freedom in her wardrobe selections, the character’s innate obsession with all thing erotic occasionally leads her to ensembles that are less than office appropriate.

Image: Sex And The City/HBO

Xena: Warrior Princess

Though I’m not a devotee of the cult television show, I imagine that as a warrior princess, Xena would have an easier time in combat if she were wearing, for example, clothing.

Image: Xena: Warrior Princess/Universal Television

Morgan, 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch'

Neon color-blocked ensembles and ultra-saccharine wares crowd RA Morgan’s closet, but the fashionista keeps marching to her own sartorial drummer until the bitter end of the show.

Image: Sabrina The Teenage Witch, The CW

Sabrina Spellman, 'Sabrina The Teenage Witch'

When Sabrina starts her job at the newspaper, her ensembles make a slight shift from idiosyncratic to slightly more sane — but not enough to truly fit the work environment. Luckily, no one seems to notice.

Image: Sabrina The Teenage Witch, The CW

Elsa, 'Once Upon A Time'

Though Elsa’s shimmering gown is a perfect translation of Frozen from cartoon to small screen, it is mind bending to fuse a formerly animated character with a quiet town in suburbia. I may be playing devil’s advocate, but the costume sticks out like a sore thumb next to fashions like Jennifer Morrison’s edgy leather jacket.

Image: Once Upon A Time/ABC

Paige Matthews, 'Charmed'

The last time I checked, social workers rarely wear fitted bustiers, hip-slung jeans or mini skirts to work.

Image: Charmed/The CW

Cordelia, 'Angel'

Despite encountering financial trouble in her senior year of high school, failing as an actress in Los Angeles, and taking odd modeling jobs to keep herself afloat, Cordelia somehow manages to rock a decadent wardrobe on Angel. Perhaps it’s a work of sorcery.

Image: Angel/The CW

Buffy, 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer'

As much as I admire the television show and the strides it took in providing viewers with strong female role models, Buffy The Vampire Slayer had a significant wardrobe flaw: the heels. If any woman were to sprint and engage in combat for hours on end wearing 4-inch heels, her biggest concern would be crumpling in stiletto-induced agony, not facing off with an army of Uber-vampires.

Image: Buffy The Vampire Slayer/The CW

Nancy Botwin, 'Weeds'

Though the premise explains away some of the curious wardrobe choices on Weeds, I still can’t comprehend the notion of a pot dealer who dresses in a blazer and pearls.

Image: Weeds/Showtime

Dorota, 'Gossip Girl'

Though the wardrobe eccentricity of Gossip Girl allows for running gags like Dorota’s traditional maid uniform, the last time anyone seriously dressed in a uniform such as this for a private family home was likely 1901.

Image: Gossip Girl/The CW