When it comes to men's fashion on the hit Fox TV series Glee, there are really only two contenders for the style crown: Kurt Hummel (Chris Colfer, left) and Blaine Anderson (Darren Criss, right). (I'm not including Matthew Morrison's teacher character, Will Schuester, because he pretty much looks as though he's bought every vest, cardigan, button-down shirt, and knit tie that J.Crew has ever produced, and has nothing else whatsoever in his closet. He's a great example of the dangers of dressing like you just stepped out of somebody's catalog: it might look good once, but if that's all you ever wear, it becomes incredibly tedious.) Kurt and Blaine also happen to be the two primary gay male characters on the show. Coincidence? I think not. For while the most exciting thing that football-playing Finn ever puts on his back is a Ralph Lauren rugby shirt, Kurt and Blaine regularly dress like a stylist's wet dream—especially Kurt, who often looks as if he's stepped directly out of the pages of a European fashion magazine, or, as his father puts it, "like you own a magic chocolate factory." Kurt perfectly sums up his own style philosophy in the third episode of the first season: "Every moment of your life is an opportunity for fashion."

“Acafellas,” season 1, episode 3
As the only openly gay student at the fictional William McKinley high school in the non-fictional city of Lima, Ohio (two hours northwest of Columbus, population 38,771), Kurt is the victim of constant harassment; his outlandish clothes, effeminate mannerisms, countertenor voice, and porcelain-doll looks make him an obvious target. Up until the middle of the second season of the show, while he is unable to outwardly express his sexuality in the sense of having a relationship with another man, he finds an outlet for it in another way: his clothes. Kurt has a penchant for tight pants, scarves, "form-fitting sweaters that stop at the knee," and just about any other style of clothing at the bleeding edge of fashion, often those that blur gender boundaries. But Kurt's philosophy on that? "Fashion has no gender."

They're keys! “Born This Way,” season 2, episode 18
Blaine, introduced in the sixth episode of the second season, is a member of the Dalton Academy Warblers, a rival choir to McKinley's New Directions. For most of the second season we only see Blaine in his school uniform, though there's a handful of times when we see him in regular clothes. But then in the third season, he transfers to McKinley, and starts wearing regular clothes all the time—though his clothes are anything but "regular." Blaine has a predilection for clothes that hark back to the Mod era of early 1960s London. Drainpipe trousers that end inches above the ankle, skinny suspenders, brothel creepers, labels like Ben Sherman and Merc... his wardrobe is a virtual stroll down Carnaby Street. And the bow ties! He wears them with polo shirts, for God's sake! I really don't know what to make of it. And I cannot for the life of me figure out why Glee's costume designer decided to make Blaine so modish. I really would have expected him to be more traditionally prep in a Ralph Lauren sort of way, but I guess they were going for something a little more... flamboyant. Perhaps they decided that conventional, straight-up prep would be a little too boring for the outgoing showman that Blaine is?

“The Purple Piano Project,” season 3, episode 1
Now, when I was originally planning this post, I thought it would be neat to go through Blaine's outfits, episode by episode, and try to track down where each piece could be found in real life. Then I discovered that there already exists an entire site devoted to this: Fashion of Glee. And once you've seen that site, you really have to work even harder than you otherwise would have to suspend your disbelief that Kurt, the 17-year-old son of an auto mechanic, could somehow be wearing a $660 Comme des Garçons shirt, $675 Paul Smith boots, or a €1,470 Vivienne Westwood suit, among any number of other ridiculously expensive designer clothes.

Also, I was disappointed that my idea, which I'd thought was so original, turned out not to be; such is the curse of the Internet. But then I realized I had a couple of items they didn't! So, here they are:

From "Prom Queen," season 2, episode 20: Ben Sherman Shawl-Neck Polo, $79


From "I Am Unicorn," season 3, episode 2 (also seen in "Prom Queen," season 2, episode 20): Ben Sherman Tipped Button-Down Collar Polo, £32

I've seen this shirt available online in two versions, one with the logo tag on the chest pocket and one without; for the show, they either had the latter, or removed the label from the former.

Kurt's outfits are always fascinating to look at, even though there's very few of them that I'd be likely to wear myself (much like a European men's fashion magazine). And, while I'm not really a fan of Blaine's modish skinny-suspender/bowtie looks, I'm really digging the preppy elements in his wardrobe from last week's episode, "Pot O' Gold", and this week's upcoming episode, "The First Time." Costume designer Lou Eyrich has been heavily favouring sweaters from Thom Browne, both from his eponymous line and, more predominantly, from the Brooks Brothers Black Fleece collection. And I gotta say, it seems a lot more plausible to have private-school-attending Blaine wearing $500+ pieces than it does Kurt. So, without further ado...

From "Asian F," season 3, episode 3: Unknown Thom Browne tipped sweater-vest

Blaine's vest is similar to this Black Fleece vest ($150), but the tipping pattern matches the white version instead of the grey. But it's almost certainly Thom Browne: note the signature "locker loop" at the back neck.

From "Pot O' Gold," season 3, episode 4: Black Fleece Zig-Zag Tipped V-Neck Sweater, $350

Worn while performing Katy Perry's "Last Friday Night." Note that the red tipping around the V-neck is almost invisible against the red polo shirt that Blaine has chosen to wear under the sweater.

From "The First Time," season 3, episode 5: Thom Browne Shawl Collar Cardigan, $580

From "The First Time," season 3, episode 5: Black Fleece Argyle Button-Front Cashmere Vest, $750

From "The First Time," season 3, episode 5: Black Fleece Striped V-Neck Cardigan, $350

In this promotional photo we can see quite clearly the pants that Blaine wears with the cardigan, in a grey Prince of Wales check shot through with pink. They're actually very similar to this pair by Brooks Brothers Black Fleece ($450), except those are shot with blue. Perhaps Blaine's are from a past season's collection?

Anyway, that about wraps things up for today. In the near future, I'll tell you how to make your very own replica Dalton Academy Warblers uniform, just like the one that I made for my Hallowe'en costume!


Anonymous said... @ March 27, 2012 at 12:05 PM

I am in love with this whole post. Entertainment Weekly named Blaine as one of TV's best dressed characters and there really is something to how well put together he is on a regular basis.

michael johnson said... @ November 19, 2014 at 1:44 AM

I enjoy coming here every so often and yet we still haven't found kurt's acafellas jacket.

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