Breaking Down The Weird But Compelling Style Of The Gilmore Girls

Photo: Matthias Nareyek/Getty Images
When pictures and video started leaking from the Gilmore Girls revival, A Year in the Life, we had so many questions: Why is Rory still hanging out with various men she met as a teenager? What was up with Lorelai’s mirroring of Luke, wearing dingy plaid in the bright outdoors? And most importantly, why was St. John fan Emily Gilmore, the very definition of a sharp, tailored Chanel suit, in — the horror! — jeans?

Whether or not you’ve spent the entire six hours with A Year in the Life just yet, you’ve likely had the chance to reminiscence, catch up, or introduce yourself to the Gilmore girls in all their twee sartorial glory, and its shades of Connecticut, all things prep school, or that period in Taylor Swift’s life when she was dating a Kennedy. But what does it really mean, all these years later, when Lorelai is in florals? When Rory is a vision in navy blue? When Emily is a regal queen? Ahead, we broke down some of the series' most significant fashion moments, and boy, did we have some thoughts. Spoilers, naturally, ensue.
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In this scene, Emily, Lorelai, and Rory — while living very separate lives — have reunited at the graveyard, to oversee an update of beloved patriarch Richard Gilmore’s gravestone. And the style in this scene is very telling. Navy blue is bringing all our Gilmore girls together in the bottom, but where it’s out of sync is in the tops. Emily and Rory complement each other with a cardigan and shirt that have hard, slashing red and navy blue patterns. Lorelai is visually clashing with them with a button-up shirt of muted gray-scale florals. Not surprisingly, Rory and Lorelai have their biggest showdown in the series, as Rory tells her mother she’s found a way forward in her mess of a life — writing a book based on their life in Emily and Richard’s Hartford mansion (see: Emily and Rory, on the same page). For once, Lorelai tells her daughter no, and a mother-daughter blowout ensues.
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If Rory’s ex-boyfriends and current secret lovers (although, let’s be real, Rory is the side chick), have anything in common, it’s that time has been good to their buff arms and abs. (See: Jess and Logan; Dean in his long-running role on Supernatural.) But we still managed to notice the clothes. Jess’ trademark leather jacket had changed into an older-guy bomber with a sweet fur trim (pretty Steve McQueen). Logan was dressed in standard rich-guy tailoring, changing into the world’s silliest steampunk outfit for a proper lovers' goodbye. But it was Dean, all along, who looked the best. His locks worked, complementing his shy smile. His long, black wool duster looked dashing on his 6-foot-plus frame. When he said he had a million kids, you understood exactly how that happened. Jess’ arms and longing looks in the mirror aside, when it comes to sheer physical attraction, oh man: I think I’m team Dean.
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A pretty good visual joke is that Rory’s totally forgettable boyfriend Paul is dressed up just like Max Medina.
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How do we know that Rory is not fit for a hip young millennial website? Her lucky dress is an old-fashioned red shirtdress from Anthropologie. Next to Julia Goldani Telles, former bunhead, current bratty teen on The Affair, Rory’s look is a little too Audrey Hepburn. Sandee is hip. She is in a culotte jumpsuit, and her languid frame lopes across the photo. It’s tied tight with a fancy leather belt that makes you think about embellishments. She is basically Emily Weiss. And so: Rory blows it.
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I was actually really fascinated to see how Rory would dress in the revival series. In the original Gilmore Girls, she is in dorky American Eagle. She wears her school uniform. Once she starts dating Logan and embracing that fancy life, she switches it up to expensive Marc Jacob dresses for Friday night dinners. Thematically, A Year in the Life is about Rory in a very lost period before her life changes completely. For much of it, she’s dressed oddly. This outfit — a strangely formal skirt paired with a see-through-ish black henley top, most likely vintage — is all over the place. It’s not particularly journalist-inconspicuous, it’s not particularly coordinated. It’s good enough to fuck a Wookiee in, apparently? It’s just a bunch of pieces looking off together, which is the way Rory behaves at 32.
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No. Just, no.
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And...why?
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Over the evolution of Gilmore Girls, Lorelai’s style evolved from early 2000s teenage excess (there really were a lot of rhinestones) to boss inn-owner. And the key to that evolution? The DVF wrap dress. That tradition continues throughout A Year in the Life, with Lorelai wearing lovely floral prints throughout, and they reach their apex on this flirty little pink number. Naturally, it mostly clashes with Emily’s black suit.
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Do you know how to wear a power jacket? Paris, beautiful Paris, knows how. The strong lines reflect her power and halo her strong hair. It’s a look that could work along any powerful woman on Shondaland or the world of The Good Wife (or the upcoming The Good Fight), and it has me pretty sure that Paris could be the first woman president, someday.
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The first glimpse of our Gilmore girls after nearly a decade away takes place at the Stars Hollow Gazebo. Lorelai is in full New England winter coziness, with a signature Pepto-pink coat (in the original series, it was Guess) and a luxe-looking winter hat with a pom-pom that’s just indulgent. Rory, on the other hand, looks fancy and classic: simple black dress, tan Burberry coat, and hair that is entirely too glossy for having “just got off a plane” and driven a good while to a small town.
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I’m not quite sure what Rory’s new love of floral leggings really means in the revival. But in the iconic final scene, we have an interesting mirroring of the beginning. This time, Lorelai is in a black dress, with floral lace. It’s cheerier than anything she’s worn throughout the grief-driven series. It has a white collar, and that bit of white ties her to Rory’s schlumpy outfit — a large cranberry sweatshirt over white floral leggings. Rory has been mostly in navy, black, and white throughout the series, but every time she sees Logan, mind you, she’s wearing cranberry. In this scene, her big schlumpy shirt is cranberry — so let’s call this a tell. Lorelai is tied to her, even subtly, through the complementary white and the mirroring flowers. And this — whether or not it leads to more episodes down the line — is a great pause in the story, in the ongoing lives of our Gilmore Girls.
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