Haute Couture, TV and Reality

During the pandemic, lots of people watched a lot of television and soothed their fears with lightweight fluff. The Netflix series “Emily in Paris” satisfied that need admirably. If the show were any lighter, it would have risen into the air and drifted away.

The Urge to Travel

Hotel Portofino, Masterpiece

The Hotel Portofino

I watched it for a different reason. Being a fan of travel, I enjoy shows that take me to a foreign country and make me feel like I’m on vacation. Whether watching “The Hotel Portofino” or “The White Lotus,” I like to kick back and immerse myself in vicarious travel. “Emily in Paris” took care of that, as well.

One thing about the show amazed me, though: Emily’s outfits. How, I wondered, can an entry-level employee in a marketing agency, who is living in a notoriously expensive city, afford to wear haute couture every single day?

Tallying the Cost of Haute Couture

Emily in Paris, Netflix, Emily Cooper, Lily Collins, Worn on TVNow, if I had a staff, I would assign them to researching all of Emily Cooper’s haute couture outfits and tallying up the cost of what she wore in every season. Unfortunately for me, however, my sole staff member is curled up on the hassock with his nose in his fluffy tail. I am on my own.

The Wall Street Journal came to my rescue on Monday with an article by Chavie Lieber called, “Where Did She Get That? ‘Worn on TV’ Finds Out.” It turns out I’m not the only person to wonder about Emily’s outfits. A successful blog with a real human staff exists to track clothing that appears on television shows and reports on where to get it and how much it cost.

Price and Curiosity

Now, most people who follow Worn on TV do so because they want to buy – or at least price out – clothing they’re seen on their favorite shows.  I just want to know how much it cost. Why? Because I’m just curious.

Emily in Paris, Zebra Dress, haute couture, Dolce+GabbanaI certainly have no interest in wearing any of Emily’s haute couture. That requires a figure significantly younger and thinner than the one I see in the mirror every morning. Plus, she mixes patterns, which was strictly forbidden by the fashion police when I was her age. It still annoys me like fingernails on a blackboard.

Plus, Emily wears outfits to work that I consider totally unprofessional: too short, too much cleavage, too much midriff exposure. It sometimes seems like the less fabric there is, the higher the price.

In every company I ever worked in, she would have been a laughingstock. Alors, Emily works in Paris, the capital of haute couture, where no one wears boring business suits of any kind.

5 Lessons from Worn on TV

So, off I clicked to Worn on TV to see what I could find.

First, Emily is dressed by Patricia Field, who was also the costume designer for Sex and the City.  Let me just say that we do not share a fashion vibe. I fear my taste is far too conservative for Ms. Field. And I can’t unsee the picture of braless Carrie Bradshaw in that leotard-and-tutu combination on Fifth Avenue.

Second, many of the outfits – along with their prices – are no longer available. Others have the NLA label for the designer but prices and availability for prêt-á-porter, or off-the-rack versions. They differ.

Emily in Paris, pink bow top, birthday dress, haute coutureThird, totaling the cost of every season would, indeed, require a staff. The web site has 17 pages of fashion photos for the show, which includes all of the characters. But clicking through it confirmed my initial reaction: there is no way, Emily could have afforded these outfits.  Here are a few samples:

Fourth, men with fashion sense can also scan the website for the outfits worn by the fashion-conscious male stars of “Emily in Paris.”

Fifth, I had fun researching these outfits; I really did.

Beaucoup de Plaisir

I’m sure that Ms. Field had even more fun, beaucoup de plaisir, flitting around Paris, shopping in boutiques, attending Paris Fashion Week, and hobnobbing with haute couture designers as she assembled Emily Cooper’s wardrobe.

Don’t be fooled, however: these outfits are not for the faint of heart or thin of budget. Ms. Field has Netflix bankrolling her fashion sense and that bears no relation to what bourgeois, non-billionaire folks can spend on their workday outfits.

And if Emily were really spending that kind of money on clothes, she would be sleeping under bridges and eating out of dumpsters. Okay, she shares a cramped garret apartment with an up-and-coming singer and they trade clothes. But, still, Emily is spending too much money—trop d’argent—for whatever her job pays her.