I am a little obsessed with the hit ’90s show, Seinfeld. More specifically, I am a little obsessed with the sole female character in the ensemble cast, Elaine Benes. Quirky and confident, Elaine was always my role model, both in life (I’m not gonna lie — the fact that “Laney” worked at J. Peterman was probably one of the chief motivations in my becoming a fashion writer) and in style.
Seinfeld was a sitcom for the ’90s, and Elaine’s wardrobe of bohemian midi skirts, menswear-inspired layers, and, of course, Peterman staples like “Himalayan walking shoes” and “urban sombreros” captured the decade’s coolest in laid-back, downtown chic.
Sure, compared to those of other TV Manhattanites, Elaine’s wardrobe might not seem all that striking. Elaine Benes is no Carrie Bradshaw, bedecked in runway-ready fashions, nor is she Monica Geller, dressed in flirty, trend-perfect pieces. Her subtle style is, in part, a credit to Julia Louis-Dreyfus’s exuberant portrayal of the character — Elaine’s feisty, sarcastic, and endlessly-charming personality needs no help, nor distraction, from too bold an outfit. More importantly, Elaine’s closet reinforces her role as relatable everywoman. Elaine’s tax bracket might not allow for a new pair of Manolos, but that won’t prevent her from making a style statement that’s all her own.
I could go on about Elaine’s love of flowy, floral-print skirts. I could muse about her passion for slides and oxford-inspired flats… then again, Elaine once blew up at a woman for talking about her shoes behind her back, so I’ll lay off that subject. But the staple item in Elaine’s signature style is, without question, the jacket. Whether she’s wearing blazers, jean jackets, or a vibrant vest, Elaine knows her way around a layered look. At Elaine’s office jobs, structured, strong-shouldered suit jackets take center stage, but, even off the clock, Elaine can be seen sporting a myriad of awesome outerwear. Two-toned, embroidered, vintage-inspired, or sporty, Laney’s jackets are as varied and eye-catching as Cosby’s sweaters. And while her overall palette skews neutral, her pension for pairing muted-color jackets with pastel-toned separates gives her whole look a fresh, feminine feel.
Is Elaine set to be your new style icon, or are her ’90s fashions a total faux pas? Let us know in the comments below!