Saturday, January 5, 2013

Style Inspiration: Designing Women

I've recently been watching the show Designing Women with my mom. I used to watch it with her when I was little but obviously didn't understand what was going on half the time. My brother and I bought her the DVDs for seasons 1-4 for various birthdays and Christmases and she and I have been having a marathon while I'm off for break.

The show, which ran from 1986-1993, centers around 4 Atlanta women working at a interior design firm, Sugarbaker & Associates. The firm is headed by Julia Sugarbaker and her sister Suzanne. Julia and Suzanne are polar opposites. Julia is an elegant, out-spoken, liberal intellectual and Suzanne is a materialistic, self-centered former Miss Georgia World. Their co-workers are Mary Jo Shively, the shy, strong-willed decorator and Charlene Fraizer, the sweet but naïve office manager. Their deliveryman, Anthony, an ex-con trying to turn his life around after being wrongfully imprisoned brings some male perspective to the ladies conversations and problems.

Though it's a comedy, the show also covered many topical and controversial issues such as racism, homophobia, racism, AIDS, hostile societal attitudes towards the overweight, and spousal abuse. Feminism is also a big theme and it's interesting how the issues women faced 26 years ago when the show first aired like equal pay, are still being dealt with today.

Designing Women The Complete First Season

The show takes place in the late 80s/ early 90s and the clothing really fits the era. There is a lot of big hair and bright colors going on. I did notice that trends we see today, like peplum, were also popular at the time. I wanted to take each of the character's wardrobes and update them. Though the show takes place in Atlanta the women are often seen wearing jackets and coats so I included outerwear that I thought would fit each character.

Julia Sugarbaker

Julia "The Terminator" Sugarbaker (Dixie Carter) is the epitome of style and class. Though she's vocal about her convictions, her Southern, aristocratic background shows in the elegance of her walk and the way she dresses. I would describe her style as modern elegance since she's always in heels, pearls and rarely wears pants. Her entire personality commands respect and it's reflected in her power skirt suits.

ASOS Pencil Dress With Wrap Front
Aqua Dobby Plunge Neck Belted Pencil Dress
How Do You Duo? Coat

Suzanne Sugarbaker

Suzanne Sugarbaker is a former Miss Georgia World and would wear a tiara 24/7 if possible. Her role in the firm is to bring in potential clients since she's an Atlanta socialite. Her self-centered nature often causes the other women to be quite annoyed with her but she comes to their aid whenever needed. Suzanne's beauty is compared to that of Gone With the Wind actress Vivien Leigh and her personality matches Scarlett O'hara's in many ways. She is proud of her hourglass figure and emphasizes it with wrap dresses and plunging necklines.

ASOS Pencil Dress In Bonded Lace
ASOS Wrap Dress With Tulip Skirt
Meet in the Mezzanine Coat


Mary Jo Shively

Mary Jo is the interior decorator at the firm and a hard worker, mother, and a extremely loyal friend. When the series begins Mary Jo is shy and timid but as time goes on she's able to find her voice and express her opinion on subjects she's passionate about. Her wardrobe includes bold prints and she often wears jackets with shoulder pads following the masculine trend of the time. She's very petite but her clothes and hair more than make up for her small frame.

Graphic Print Jersey Dress
ASOS Pencil Dress With Buttons
Let's Call a Chartreuse Jacket


Charlene Fraizer

Charlene Fraizer is the office's resident dreamer. She has a huge heart is incredibly trusting partly due to the fact that she's from a small town where everyone knows one other. Her naïveté can be annoying and obnoxious at times but her gentle nature wins people over. Charlene's style is the most relaxed of everyone in the office, she wears soft colors but she dresses to emphasize her height & her curves. She loves WW2 and her favorite song is "I'll Be Seeing You".
Oasis Sheer Sleeve Dress
Warehouse Butterfly Midi Dress
ASOS Longline Blazer

Anthony Bouvier

Anthony is the only man in the office and often walks in on the women's discussions, sometimes giving them some much needed male perspective. He begins working at Sugarbaker's as a delivery man but eventually becomes a partner in the firm. After spending two years in prison for a crime he didn't commit he's eager to turn his life around, but always has a story from his prison days to entertain the ladies. Many of which feature, T. Tommy Reed, his sadistic cell mate. Anthony is often dressed for comfort since he's out most of the day delivering furniture. He wears flannel shirts, quilted vests and jackets and the occasional Cosby Sweater.


  1. I love this Segi :) Well written and I can say that the Designing Women will be very proud of this piece.

  2. Bet it's great to see all those 80s shoulder pads!!!
    Would love you to check out my latest post :)
    Happy Monday Hun xoxo