Very few sitcoms hold the same cultural relevance as Seinfeld. For over 27 years, the show has managed to sustain one of the most potent legacies in the history of American television – pretty impressive for a show that essentially derives its humor from nothingness.
But even more astonishing is the show’s impact on the fashion industry. The tragic glorification of all things boring, mediocre and dad-brand, otherwise known as #normcore, was all the rage back in 2014, while Jerry Seinfeld – who endorsed stonewashed high-waisted Levi’s, bulky white Nike Air’s, turtlenecks and fleece jackets like no other – being deigned as the unofficial patron saint of the trend.
Sure, normcore may be declared dead in the fashion blogosphere, but traces of it still linger (unfortunately). Over the past few years, designers have been piercing together collections that hark back distinctive fads that made their debut decades ago – the early-mid ’90s being a focal point of reference.
Aside from their everyday dress, the cast of Seinfeld occasionally ventured into more avant-minded sartorial territory – some being hits, while others (or most) being downright misses. But these “misses” which made for some truly chuckle-worthy episodes seem to be seeping into the current fashion vernacular, which had me thinking, was Seinfeld actually ahead of the game?
In light of Jerry Seinfeld’s 62 birthday, I’ve pulled together 12 moments throughout the show’s nine-season lifespan to prove how Seinfeld‘s fashion is still relevant today.
The Oversized Topcoat
Cosmo Kramer, easily one of Seinfeld‘s more beloved idiots, never ceased to amaze viewers with his outlandish sartorial bangers. Characterized by his frizzy upright hair (which always gave me the impression that he may have just lost a battle between his hair dryer and an electrical socket), Kramer’s unkempt appearance and ill-fitting apparel is actually very au courant with today’s style zeitgeist.
Take this oversized topcoat, for example, which billowed alongside the character whenever he’d unexpectedly barge into Jerry’s apartment. Well, a near Xerox of said topcoat was recently spotted on the catwalk during Paris Fashion Week at Maison Margiela’s FW16 show, raising the question, “who wore it best?”
The Puffer Jacket
Puffer jackets were a huge vibe this past fall/winter season (*cough* “Hotline Bling” *cough*) and they don’t show any signs of fading out next season – especially when you have design don Raf Simons delivering his own version of the winter wear, as seen (can’t really miss them TBH) in his FW16 collection.
But you know who was rocking gargantuan puffers before the models at Raf’s show? George Costanza, as seen in 1994’s “The Dinner Party” episode, where he was seen wearing this bloated Gore-Tex number that proved rather cumbersome when strolling through the tight corners of a liquor store.
Seinfeld is far from a sneakerhead as the term is defined today, but over the course of the sitcom, Jerry brought out a range of low-key heaters like the Nike Huarache, Air Tech Challenge II, and more than just one pair of Jordans, including Vs and VIs. Surely the show’s main character never aimed to portray himself as a fashion icon, but certainly during the peak of the normcore trend last year, many were looking at Jerry’s sneaker game in a different light.
The Velour Tracksuit
Though I begrudgingly admit it, Kanye West did play a significant role in resurrecting the velour tracksuit in recent times, which had its glorious heyday during the early-mid 2000s (rhinestone-encrusted logos across the buttocks and all).
In 1995’s “The Doodle” episode, George, upon the advice of his girlfriend Paula, showed up looking like a straight-up G in a pair of black velvet sweats and matching track jacket. I wonder if Kanye, KITH and the like took inspiration from the episode.
The Pimp Coat
J.W. Anderson’s Grindr-broadcasted FW16 collection at LC:M had us completely spellbound with its surreal graphics, unorthodox cuts and lush fabrics. The line’s standout piece, however, goes to this snowy white, snail-emblazoned faux fur number, which reworks the illustrious pimp coat for the modern-day “urban vampire,” as Dazed dubbed it.
Kramer also revolutionized the coat when he sported this dazzling, multi-colored piece in the 1996 episode “The Wig Master,” which the character borrowed from a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.
The Denim Ensemble
Before Katy Perry and RiFF RAFF or Britney and Justin were championing top-to-bottom denim outfits on the red carpet, there was Elaine Benes, who was spotted any number of times donning the getup across Seinfeld‘s nine seasons. We can easily see her strutting down the catwalk in one of OFF-WHITE’s FW16 denim-clad looks; she’d probably even give the fatigued models a few pointers on how to wear it with conviction, too.
The Plaid Shirt
Ok, so plaid shirts never really left fashion; there were just moments where they were deemed a tad less stylish than others. But between normcore (RIP), #grungewave and this whole ’70s revivalist theme going on right now, checkered prints are definitely here to stay for the long-end. Kudos to the entirety of Seinfeld‘s cast, who continuously boasted plaid more than once over the span of the show’s 180 episodes.
The Statement Hat
It goes without saying that Gucci’s newly-appointed creative director, Alessandro Michele, breathed some much-needed new life into the storied luxury house this season. The Italian label left audiences in awe with its visually-arresting FW16 collection, so much so, perhaps, that the peppering of those God-awful Pharrell hats was completely forgivable. In fact, they actually looked pretty dope. Elaine’s “urban sombrero,” which made its debut in 1996’s “The Foundation” episode, however, was a bit more questionable.
The Hawaiian Shirt
Kramer sure did have a penchant for Hawaiian shirts; between palm trees, sail boats, hibiscus flowers and lobsters, the neurotic nutter owned a myriad of them. Swedish label Our Legacy also seems to have a fondness for the tropical-tinged tops – just head over to their online shop to see for yourself.
So this one’s actually a double whammy. Baseball caps (aka “Dad caps”), in all their curved-brimmed mediocrity, were all the rage in 2015. But with 76% of y’all saying that they’re here to stay, it appears as though we’ll still be seeing them for the majority of 2016.
Another big player in the current style vernacular is baseball-themed fashion, with jerseys, team logos and, as noted, caps popping up left and right on the streets and runways. Seinfeld actually purveyed both trends throughout its seasons, especially during George’s stint working as an assistant to the traveling secretary for the New York Yankees (his longest running job, actually).
The Bra Top
Who could forget the “braless wonder,” aka Elaine’s old arch nemesis from high school, Sue Ellen Mischke, who became an heiress to a vast candy bar fortune. In 1996’s “The Caddy,” Elaine snickeringly gifts Sue a bra which she turns into a fashion trend by wearing it as a top, much to Elaine’s chagrin. Look no further than PUMA’s Rihanna-collaborated FENTY FW16 collection to see how the brasserie-related trend is still, indeed, a thing. Sorry Elaine.
The Suede Jacket
Of the many, many anecdotes that unravel in each Seinfeld episode, none hit closer to home (at least for me) than 1991’s “The Jacket.” To sum it up, Jerry splurges on a very pricey suede jacket and feels like an unconquered fashion deity whenever he wears it. Hyper conscious about its welfare, Jerry wears the jacket inside out to avoid any precipitation damage, revealing its pink candy stripe lining and making him subject to a furor of mockery in the process.
Embarrassed, Jerry wears the jacket back to normal, sadly ruining it (le sigh). Sure, there’s a moral there (don’t follow the crowd, embrace your personal style, yada yada), but let’s talk about how on point Jerry was with this jacket. Pink, unconventional design features and not to mention the suede bomber itself have all been recurrent fads within the menswear landscape in recent years. Also, the unashamed desire to look and dress nicely has been en vogue for guys more than ever. We’ve got your back, Jerry.
- Cover Image: MTV