Best fashion and costume moments
Wonderful Mrs. Maisel is a show that is unique at its core. The show follows housewife Midge Maisel, a woman whose life is being turned upside down by decisions made by those around her and who is left with only one path: to get what she wants. Which turns out to be a standup comedian in a time (late 1950s) when it wasn’t generally accepted by society.
Midge’s love of fashion can be seen from the first episode to the last available episode. The show won an Emmy for Outstanding Period Costumes in 2019. She has been nominated a number of times for Outstanding Production Design for a Narrative Period or Fantasy Program (One Hour or More). Donna Zakowska is the production design lead for all of the characters on the show, and there are some with very different styles. “I used color to represent [Midge’s] emotional landscape and emphasizes moments when she needed to be particularly funny or heroic or even proactive,” Zakowska wrote in her book Insanely wonderful: The costumes of the wonderful Mrs. Maisel.
It’s almost impossible to pick just a few fashion and costume moments from the show, but here are a few that were significant not just for their phenomenal importance, but for their importance to the character and her journey. Here are the most memorable.
8/8 bedtime routine
Season 1, Episode 1
How Midge prepared to sleep next to her husband, especially in season one, says a lot about who she is and the worldview she was instilled with from an early age. That she waits for him to sleep to take her makeup off and wakes up before him so she’s “perfect” changes quite a bit over the seasons. It’s a nice progression of the character, shown in a very simple way and accompanied by beautiful outfits that were very popular in the era she lives in.
7/8 A working lady
Season 1, Episode 5
When Midge starts working as a makeup counter girl at B. Altman, she finds that she’s pretty good at it because she knows so much about makeup. Her uniform might not have been a choice she otherwise would have made, but it’s still reminiscent of that period and is quite cute.
It was also an interesting side to the character, who had previously only worn high-end clothing and hadn’t worked before. It was one of the first times Midge became truly independent and understood what that meant. Her uniform might normally be overlooked, but it is an important milestone for the character and the time.
6/8 A true patriot
Season 3, Episode 1
There’s no denying that the stand-up comedian knows how to dress to impress. When Midge went to speak to the military, it was no different. Using the colors of the United States flag in different parts of her outfit created a fun and original look that complemented not only her silhouette but also her performance. This choice gave her a patriotic look without being boring or ugly. When audiences see her in this outfit, it’s so clearly a part of her character that it’s hard to imagine her wearing anything else.
5/8 time of revenge
Season 4, Episode 1
Midge’s outfits directly correlate to how she feels. So when she rants about revenge and how unfair it was that her career was ruined, in a great Wonderful Mrs. Maisel stand-up scene, she couldn’t just wear a pastel blue dress. Instead, she wears a dark blouse and pants combo that emphasizes her feelings. Midge mourns everything she dreamed would happen to her while touring with Shy. There’s a seriousness to her fashion choice that reinforces the character’s new tone and plot line.
4/8 A pink introduction
Season 1, Episode 1
The first time the audience sees Midge is very important. Her outfit should convey everything that is important to her: class, fashion and, above all, to draw everyone’s attention. Her pink-on-pink ensemble is an incredible way to introduce this one-of-a-kind character. It also says a lot about what she likes about fashion as she wears many different pink outfits throughout the season.
3/8 Catskills fashion
Season 2, Episode 4
Midge wore some incredible costumes while spending her summer at the Catskills resort with her family and ex-husband. It’s nice to see the character in a more relaxed and casual outfit, with more pastel colors, but very thoughtful and flattering. Midge loves to color code her accessories and her summer resort ensembles are some of the best. It’s almost impossible to pick just one outfit from this episode.
2/8 Red Yom Kippur dress
Season 1, Episode 2
After her husband admitted the affair with his secretary and left, Midge was heartbroken. Her mother decided not to turn down Midge’s in-laws’ invitation to a holiday dinner, even after everything that had happened. At her mother’s urging, she wears a beautiful red dress that seems too much for the occasion: and that’s exactly why she’s wearing it. Not all plans for the night come to fruition (most don’t), but Midge still wears one of the prettiest costumes the show has seen to date.
1/8 First standup as Ms. Maisel
Season 1, Episode 8
The black Givenchy Breakfast at Tiffany’s inspired dress has to be the best. At the end of season one, Midge is banned from performing at all comedy clubs except the Gaslight. She dresses elegantly and calls herself Frau Maisel for the first time on stage. The only thing that can be called stylish in the performance is the outfit, as she tells a story about how she calls a Girl Scout the B-word because she doesn’t have the cookies she wanted; including extremely funny but inappropriate jokes. It was the outfit that showed how much she embraced herself, not allowing labels like “housewife” or “comedian” and just allowing herself to be who she really is.