Style Icon: Elaine Benes

Seinfeld Elaine Benes fashion

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.

Seinfeld Elaine Benes fashion

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.

Seinfeld Elaine Benes fashion

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.

Seinfeld Elaine Benes fashion

Seinfeld Elaine Benes fashion

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!


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  1. Avatar
    Sarah 01/26/2012 at 11:25 am #

    Seinfield is one of my all time favorites thanks to my boyfriend! I love Elaine, her style is as unique as her wall of hair and sarcastic personality. I think her explanation for the water pick and down comforter showcase her style at its best! Such an iconic character can never be a faux pas, although I enjoy her outfit choices today a little more.

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    Color Me Blue 01/26/2012 at 12:07 pm #

    Amazing. Especially the hair! Huge Seinfeld fan – I grew up with a dog named Kramer.


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    Yvette Adams 01/26/2012 at 1:31 pm #

    I love Elaine but I’m sorry – her style is SO nineties! It improved towards the end of the show tho.

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    Amanda 01/26/2012 at 2:44 pm #

    Oh my! I am just tickle pink you recognized one of my all time favorite shows, Seinfeld on here. The best blog ever! I have grown up with Seinfeld. Initially, introduced to it by my older brother. We still watch it and laugh hysterically at all the wonderful characters. Elaine is the best! I thought her style was motivating. Even though she is petite like me we wear clothes as we please not because of the “right size” for something. In addition to her long, flowery skirts and oversized coats or blazers. I actually still quote the show with friends and I love that it’s like code. Nobody knows what I am talking about. This post has really made my day. Thank you and have a fab day!

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    Sushi 01/26/2012 at 4:23 pm #

    GET. OUT. we all know elaine is hysterical and gorgie!

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    Pink Salt 01/26/2012 at 6:23 pm #

    Awesome Thanks for Excellent post.

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    Al 01/26/2012 at 6:41 pm #

    Hated the show, but we were ALL trying to look like her in the nineties! It was the hair! That style where it’s looped back away from your face. In Jr. High I think my hair was permanently stuck like this from all the hair spray and barrettes.

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    Dana 01/26/2012 at 8:25 pm #

    Lol YES!! I love Elaine!

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    Martiel Beatty 01/27/2012 at 6:08 am #

    To answer your question more directly, it could influence style trends. I believe anything popular does. However, it seems that modern fashion, in my humble experience and from my personal observation is that it is the time when anything goes. So, the long and the short, sure, for some people I think her style does influence. For others, not so much. Either way, This was a great article. It got me thinking about a show I haven’t watched in a while… think I may have a little nostalgia creeping up right now. It also made me realise how much of a rebel I must have been in my younger days – as I never wore my hair in that way. Again, thanks for the post, great content as usual and appreciated the trip back to the 90s!

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    Christina 01/27/2012 at 8:23 am #

    Fun Fact: When the show ended, the actors took home parts of the set/props for memories. Do you know what Julia took? Her wardrobe!

    Just made some pineapple upside down cake. Check it out!


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    Georgia 01/27/2012 at 8:51 am #

    If you guys think Elaine is a 90’s style icon, I’d like to hear your opinions on Dana Scully from the X-Files.

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    Carolyn 01/27/2012 at 9:14 am #

    I think its absolutely time for the 90’s to come back: floral skirts with jackets, un-ironed hair, and rayon dresses. I would, however, have to pass on wearing a leotard to the gym. It worked for Elaine, but I just don’t see giving up yoga pants for a leotard these days. Maybe if they had one of those “skinny mirrors”

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    Lydia 01/27/2012 at 2:11 pm #

    I love this show and her! i always loved her wardrobe too ^-^

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    Mish 01/28/2012 at 8:52 am #

    Haha, are you serious? Elaine had the frumpiest style of all time!

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    Brianna 02/07/2012 at 5:45 pm #

    Second Mish’s comment. Leave the 90s fashion where it belongs–in hell.

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    Yvonne 03/30/2012 at 8:29 pm #

    I would love to know where you can get the 2 leather jackets she wore on the show.

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    louise 08/20/2012 at 10:08 pm #

    Bless this post

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    Naes 10/01/2015 at 4:01 pm #

    Elaine dressed down / 99% No sex appeal… tho there were moments…tho the “pilot episodes” & a rare few others did show a spark of hotness potential….alas as the script went written…we got . . .Elaine…..some of Jerrys’ dates were way off mark too.

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