The 12 Most Stylish TV Housewives of All Time
The word itself—housewife—still seems almost shockingly retro. But it's having something of a renaissance, thanks in no small part to Bravo's now ubiquitous Real Housewives series. We're saluting the small screen's most fashionable female homemakers—read on to see who made our top 12!
Lucy Ricardo, I Love Lucy
Lucille Ball played down her natural glamour, opting instead for a kooky, lovable dizziness and a wardrobe filled with patterned shirtdresses.
WHY WE LOVE HER:
Ironically, Lucille Ball created her breakthrough 1951-1957 sitcom in part so that she could move from B-movie queen to mom: "I wanted to get out of the pictures and stay home so that I could have children," she once explained. On-screen, opposite real-life husband Desi Arnaz (Ricky Ricardo), she inverted the equation, playing a marginally talented wannabe star, in a performance as colorful as her tangerine-tinted hair.
Donna Stone, The Donna Reed Show
Full-skirted shirtdresses and chic high heels-for ironing and dusting the vacuuming.
WHY WE LOVE HER: From 1958-1966, Donna Reed played the kind of coolly capable stay-at-home mother who's really only seen on television: Always impeccably turned out, she embodied a particular upper-middle-class ideal like no character before or since.
Laura Petrie, The Dick Van Dyke Show
SIGNATURE STYLE: "I had Laura wear pants," Mary Tyler Moore explained of her famous cigarette-style slacks, "because I said, 'Women don't wear full-skirted dresses to vacuum in.'"
WHY WE LOVE HER: Just 24 when she was cast in this 1961-1966 comedy, Moore put a youthful spin on her traditional role of Laura Petrie...and did her part to modernize the typical TV housewife’s wardrobe, as well.
Lisa Douglas, Green Acres
SIGNATURE STYLE: Even after relocating to rural Hooterville, urban ex-pat Douglas dressed the part of an uptown girl, donning pretty peignoirs and chic dresses to collect fresh-laid eggs and coax milk from cows.
WHY WE LOVE HER: Gorgeous, glamorous Eva Gabor played to type in this goofy 1965-1971 series, starring as a New York City (by way of Hungary) socialite forced to swap her palatial Park Avenue pad for a run-down old farmhouse.
Marge Simpson, The Simpsons
SIGNATURE STYLE: A strapless green dress, paired with low-cut red kitten heels and a red beaded necklace. And we can't overlook her bright blue beehive.
WHY WE LOVE HER: Certainly she's got style. Since 1989, Marge Simpson (voiced by actress Julie Kavner) has consistently rocked a signature look in the most literal way: wearing the same ensemble in just about every episode, making Mrs. Simpson one-of-a-kind.
Vivian Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air
SIGNATURE STYLE: Academic with a fashionable twist.
WHY WE LOVE HER: Two different actresses played "Aunt Viv" during this show's 1990-1996 run, and both had their supporters. But Janet Hubert-Whitten (1990-1993) and Daphne Maxwell Reid (shown left, 1993-1996) shared a wardrobe as restrainedly chic as you'd expect from a hip professor turned Bel-Air mom.
Charlotte York Goldenblatt, Sex and the City
While this housewife's look was slightly more adventurous in the 2008 and 2010 films than it was in the series' initial 1998-2004 run (she donned vintage Halston and YSL during the girls' trip to Abu Dhabi), she'll always be remembered for her mastery of the three Ps: Prim, Pretty, and Proper.
WHY WE LOVE HER: As the always-impeccable Charlotte-who retired early from her gallery job after marrying Trey (Kyle MacLachlan) and then found lasting love and domesticity with Harry (Evan Handler)-Kristin Davis was the classic Upper East Side lady who lunched.
Gabrielle Solis, Desperate Housewives
SIGNATURE STYLE: High fashion with a hint of boudoir noir: skin-baring, cleavage-enhancing designer pieces straight from the runway.
WHY WE LOVE HER: In this show's seven seasons, Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) has been through a lot--three marriages to two different men, several affairs, and two babies (one of which, she later learned, was switched at birth). Despite the drama, though--and having rebounded from a period during which she was forced to sell her designer clothes to keep the family afloat--she's still perfectly capable of looking (and dressing) like the fashion model she used to be.
Mrs. Ari, Entourage
SIGNATURE STYLE:: This super-toned socialite prefers chic, tight-fitted ensembles that showcase her slim figure and (literal) strong arms. She's the ultimate Beverly Hills Housewife.
WHY WE LOVE HER: Like her husband, the Hollywood agent Ari Gold, Mrs. Gold-played by Perrey Reeves since the show's debut in 2004-understands the importance of keeping up appearances.
Betty Draper, Mad Men
Retro charm. January Jones, the actress who has played Betty Draper (now Francis) since 2007, has said that putting on her character's early 1960's garments is a key part of her process. "I get into the girdle, the bra with the pointy cups, the stockings, the heels, the big dress...and I’m halfway there."
WHY WE LOVE HER: Betty's retro full-skirted ensembles have had a profound effect on current fashion, which is perhaps part of the reason January has said she hopes the action doesn't continue into the 1980's. "I don't want to see Betty in Spandex."
Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, Modern Family
Gloria, a stay-at-home mom, wouldn't be caught dead in frumpy sweats or mom jeans; instead, she chooses slim pencil skirts and a series of colorful, cleavage-baring tops.
WHY WE LOVE HER: "Latin women are very comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality. We aren't afraid to show that off a little bit more," actress Sofia Vergara has said. If so, her character on this hit series seems to share that outlook.
Kyle Richards, The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills
SIGNATURE STYLE: The former actress and accessories designer prefers to keep it semi-real, although she still likes a little flash. "I love the sparkles that are very much in style right now," she has said. "I tone it down with black pants and boots. I like to wear things that are feminine and sexy, but not too trendy."
WHY WE LOVE HER: Although she does love her fair share of glitter, she's a little less flashy than her castmates (several of whom seem to have been lifted from the pages of a Judith Krantz novel).