whoever you want to be…

TV Style Icons: Diane Chambers

Thanks to the magical little box I have connected to my TV and some hocus pocus, I’ve been rewatching every single episode of Cheers, the American comedy set in a bar of the same name. And one thing that strikes me, aside from how hot Ted Danson was (is), and how many full drinks the customers who don’t have any lines leave sitting on the tables, is of course Diane Chambers’ style.

The premise, if you have never watched it, is that a little spoiled lady enters a bar she wouldn’t be caught dead in, gets abandoned there, and ends up deciding to take a job there, for many reasons including the fact that the bar owner is Sam Malone, a pig headed, chauvinistic, womaniser, and is pretty darn sexy.

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And Diane, for her dues, fits right in. She doesn’t let the ignorance of drunk customers change her, nor does she try to win friends by giving in. And more importantly, she doesn’t even change her style of clothes, despite the fact that she’s waiting tables in what others would call their Sunday best. And what’s more, she still gets the man, who previously would be more interested in a scantily clad buxom bimbo.

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From the frills, to the high necks, and the mid-calf skirts, Diane stayed true to herself. She was demure, yet smart, dressed for herself and no one else. She wore brooches, much like older ladies still do, on their buttoned-to-the-neck collars. Pearls and matching collarless jackets were a regular occurrence.

Her style was commented on in a few episodes. One where she tried to extol some knowledge to a passing customer, who simply commented how she wasn’t wearing a bra (she wasn’t), and in another when Sam nominated her for Boston Barmaid of the year, which she entered entirely as herself, prim, and sensible, but when seeing the competition, and hearing advice from Norm and the gang, she promptly pulled the shoulders of her gypsy top down, as she couldn’t win what was essentially a beauty contest on brains alone.

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Towards the end of series one (spoilers) she starts a relationship with Sam. On their first evening together, you get a glimpse of a different side to Diane, when she slips into “something more flimsy”. She does still have her stuffed animals allllll over her bedroom, which she introduces by name to Sam. To me, this more raunchy side didn’t suit her, but I guess it was needed to make their relationship have staying power, in the eyes of the public. There was no way Sam was going to stay with a prude for any length of time!

After their initial date, she actually started to dress a bit more risquΓ©. Whether this was as a result of viewer feedback, or perhaps from Sam’s influence, I’m not sure. Lower necklines, and higher hemlines perhaps became occasional, but still, typically Diane. Her hair remained a shocking, frizzy curled mess, that I find hard to believe anyone anywhere ever thought looked good. It was intended to make the look more frumpy, and it worked! Sam was forever lifting it to the side, to kiss her neck, and it looked as if it were a solid lump, fused with hairspray.

I doubt that many girls at the time aspired to dress like Diane, not like her eventual replacement of Kirsty Alley’s Rebecca, but I think that Shelley Long deserves a special mention for managing to be a very funny, independent, intelligent, individual character, quite opposite to many others on screen at that time. She described her perfect man, and it was exactly the kind of man my son is turning out to be. If he brought Diane Chambers home to meet me I’d be ecstatic. And not least because she would have no intention of stealing my clothes.

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About Emma Johnston

Sarcastic, procrastinating, crisp eater. Occasionally blogs at www.InTheseHeels.blogspot.co.uk. Owns too many shoes, and likes to wear crowns.

13 comments on “TV Style Icons: Diane Chambers

  1. Keris
    January 28, 2013

    I love this post! I’m rewatching Cheers too and I so love Diane. I actually *would* have aspired to dress like her at the time – mid 80s. Not everything, by any means, but there was a jumper with a bow neck I would’ve loved and there were actually a couple of dresses that I had! David’s forever saying “WHAT is she wearing?!” and I say, “I would’ve loved that at the time…” πŸ™‚

    • Emma Johnston
      January 28, 2013

      Hah, I was a child of the ’80s so I guess I wasn’t really aware of what people were actually wearing! I know my mum had a Diane-style perm….. and a pair of grey stilettos that I used to clump about in!

  2. Anne-Marie
    January 28, 2013

    Great post, we’re loving rewatching Cheers at the moment too πŸ™‚ Diane was rocking the jumpsuit in a couple of episodes the other week, made me remember the blue and white striped seersucker number I had when I was 12……

    • Emma Johnston
      January 28, 2013

      As the cool kids say…. POIDH. Pics or it didn’t happen πŸ˜‰

      • Anne-Marie
        January 28, 2013

        I will see what I can do….. pretty sure there is pictorial evidence at my parents house.

      • Anne-Marie
        January 28, 2013

        Oh, and I forgot to mention that it was made by my Nana πŸ™‚ (she was a professional dressmaker)

  3. diane
    January 28, 2013

    I kind of love her hair, it’s super ’80s, and of course Shelley Long is gorgeous so can pull anything off. But I too love that she wasn’t stereotypically glam or sexy (and neither was Carla, of course). Anne-Marie, I want pictures! I never had a jumpsuit. *sniff*

    • Emma Johnston
      January 28, 2013

      Her hair is epic. It just makes me laugh that Sam always seems to be touching at it, even though it looks like you could lose your hand in there!

      • diane
        January 28, 2013

        Ha, yes, there’s a lot of architecture goes into that kind of a do, I’m sure it didn’t feel soft and lustrous!

  4. Keris
    January 28, 2013

    We’ve been fascinated this time by Ted Danson’s wig. I remember my parents being really shocked it was a wig, but it seems so obvious now!

    • diane
      January 29, 2013

      I remember being shocked at the time, too! There was big excitement (I think it was even a news story) about the ep (spoiler alert) where his “piece” is grabbed off, and I remember I couldn’t wait to see it. It was a simpler time.

  5. Keris
    January 29, 2013

    Ha, see I don’t remember that. David was asking how I knew it was a wig (apart from the obvious), but I didn’t know. I do remember my parents saying “But he’s always been so proud of his hair…” πŸ˜€

    • diane
      January 29, 2013

      I have never been able to spot a toupee. I’m way too trusting!

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This entry was posted on January 28, 2013 by in Bea on TV, Bea Stylish and tagged , , , .
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