TV Style Lessons: Buffy

What the vampire slayer and her crew can teach us

Words: Scott Dodds | Images: Scott Dodds' VHS collection

Looking back at the myriad of influential and childhood-defining TV shows that littered the 90s and early 2000s, notably without the nostalgia-tinted glasses we tend to perceive them through, you’ll have to dig to find some fashion advice that has either stood the test of time or, at the very least, become ironic enough for it to still have some use. That’s not to say it’s not a rich vein worth mining, just that the further you dive in, the more once-loved trends you’ll find that should not only be avoided, but buried for at least a few more decades. To save you some time, we’ll be taking a series of looks at our favoured shows from childhood, combing through to find just what you need.

We’ll touch on that which shall not be worn below, but primarily the focus will be on what was done right, what’s worth clinging on to and which characters were ahead of their fashion time. This time, with the help of Joss Whedon’s seminal Buffy The Vampire Slayer (the spin-off Angel does not exist in this house), we’re breaking down the do’s and don'ts that not only shaped many a childhood, but also the fashion landscape in the years following.

Denim and leather

This is comforting to see. If 80s biker looks are good enough for Sarah Michelle Gellar, they’re good enough for you. Thankfully it seems as if the denim-and-leather jacket combination is something that has the legs to last, while still being open enough to interpretation to allow for more personalised looks – you just can’t go wrong with blue denim and black leather for the jacket and boots.

Bardot tops

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

We knew we were drawing on the past with the off-the-shoulder and Bardot-style tops you’ve seen more and more of late, but Buffy’s approval presents opportunities to draw even more inspiration. If you’re opting for something loud like prints, your accessorising should be minimal. On the other side of the coin, a plain, neutral-coloured piece is just crying out for a statement choker. 

Chokers and cardigans

Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Speaking of chokers, here’s the queen of the choker-and-cardigan combination, Alyson Hannigan as Willow, sporting her signature look. As well as being Weird Celebrity Crush #4 (if How I Met Your Mother didn’t, understandably, ruin it all), she’s a good example of the much-used cardigan costume device used to evoke the idea of a “conservative girl”. Take inspiration from her attention to detail then, contrasting textures of a loose-fitting knit with a delicate satin slip or cami that’ll add new layers of depth to a look. Add a velvet choker for a more grown-up and contemporary take on this style.

Leather jackets (again)

Here’s that leather jacket again! Replace it with a more modern option, with a few more zip details and a lapel for example, and this look is ready for fashion week. Layering roll- or polo-neck knits under jackets is all the rage right now, as my mother would say, so don’t worry about feeling a little old-fashioned when you give it a try. 

Short-sleeve shirts

Either men in the 90s were incredibly bad at dressing or the styling department working on Buffy thought so. After weeks (All seasons, baby!) of research, I did find this relatively contemporary style from Spike (James Marsters), easily the most unusual character on the show. The aesthetic, whether it’s the slickback peroxided hair or the family-friendly short-sleeve button up, is seeing a resurgence at the moment, and this feels like an archeological discovery so it’s worth including.


The two heroines of our story (screw those other guys), nailing a contemporary duo look without even trying. Willow is doing her best colour-blocking, while both are using windbreakers as a layer to great effect. The sneakers are questionably 90s, but substitute them for a pair of Vans Old Skools and these two are festival-ready.

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