Had "I Love Lucy" been in color, flaming-red dye jobs would, in all likelihood, have spread across the '50s world like a salon-generated wildfire.
Trendsetting through television shows was, perhaps, inevitable. From TV's earliest days, the crossover potential became clear: All those regular viewers, so many of them young and, in their hopes and dreams, hip, trendy and popular. Fashion and television were a natural match.
Sometimes it's intentional, with fashion-plate-ism written into the role; other times the sparking of a trend is an unlikely result of an eccentric character proving exceptionally popular.
Either way, the stylists and costume designers working behind the scenes in TV have an ability to guide fashion trends that few others possess.
Here, 10 of the fictional characters who've made history with their styles. First up is one of the unlikely ones -- surely no one thought this character's bizarre getup would catch on …
10: B.A. Baracus ("The A-Team")
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A huge, muscled-up guy with a scowl, a Mohawk (actually a "warrior" cut, to be more precise) and maybe 50 pounds of gold around his neck is perhaps not the most obvious of style icons.
Who knows if "The A-Team" people thought they'd spark a trend with Sergeant First Class Bosco Albert "B.A." Baracus. But the tough guy, played by Mr. T, became a sensation.
The show began in 1983, and the look, especially that mass of gold chains that looked like it would topple a normal human being, became a popular one among the "urban" set, if for only a short time. It was tough to pull it off like Mr. T.
Up next: The girl at the center of the drama …
9: Blair Waldorf ("Gossip Girl")
Resident "Gossip Girl" fashion plate Blair Waldorf spends more on clothing and accessories for a single appearance than some of us make in a year. Luckily, the most noticeable trend that character has sparked so far is a fairly attainable one.
Headbands. Sometimes retro-plastic, but more often satin-wrapped and sporting bows.
Before Blair, bulky headbands were a thing of the preppy '90s, most often seen on Polo-clad, straight-haired country club girls wearing tennis skirts or khakis, or else on 8-year-olds. Now (or at least a short time ago), they top the heads of the trendy, paired with everything from school-girl-chic ensembles to teenage-only (please) mini-mini dresses and 4-inch heels.
Blair, you've made a difference.
Up next: Early boho-chic, with an edge …
8: Denise Huxtable ("The Cosby Show")
Considering the stunning beauty that is Lisa Bonet, it was perfectly understandable when women starting emulating the style of Denise Huxtable, her character on "The Cosby Show."
Denise was young, hip and gutsy, pairing wide-leg, bohemian-style pants and flowing shirts with lace-up, almost-combat boots and men's hats, tilted back just so. The punk-crossed-bohemian look became an '80s staple for those who (smartly) rejected slashed tees and acid-wash denim.
Up next: Tall, handsome and fresh …
7: Will Smith ("The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air")
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The Fresh Prince made us laugh, rap and wear our baseball caps all lopsided. Often with the oversized brim turned up.
Will Smith, played by, you guessed it, Will Smith, showed up on "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air" wearing baggy pants, graffiti-print jackets and bold-colored caps, a look that became something of a uniform for cool kids who just didn't care. The kids who hung out on street corners. Or at shopping malls.
Even those oddly buttoned-up shirts looked somehow laid-back on this happy-go-lucky character who couldn't help but get on his stodgy uncle's nerves with his rapscallion ways.
And you never know -- it may simply have been the contrast with Carlton's bow ties that made Smith's style so trend-worthy. It was tough to look uncool next to Carlton.
Up next: You may know her as "L.C." …
6: Lauren Conrad ("The Hills")
Slightly less fictional than Will Smith's Fresh Prince, slightly more so than anyone not on a reality show, the fresh-faced beauty from MTV's "Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County" and "The Hills" was positioned from the start as a trendsetter. Her style was something of a storyline on "The Hills," as viewers got to watch Lauren Conrad pursue her dream career in the fashion world.
And then they got to see her on the covers of fashion magazines, in the pages of her nonfiction book "Lauren Conrad: Style" (and her three novels centering on a very fashionable young heroine), all over her various style Web sites and on the labels of her two fashion lines.
All the while, Lauren Conrad's California-girl-meets-high-fashion style (can we call it "surfer chic"? Probably not) has picked up a solid following. Perhaps it's sheer exposure.
Up next: She brought back an era …
5: Betty Draper ("Mad Men")
Beautiful, smart (yes, folks, she went to Bryn Mawr) and able to make a house dress look like it's walking down the runway, Mrs. Draper (now Mrs. Francis) of "Mad Men" brought '60s fashion into the 21st century. Modeled by the uniquely gorgeous January Jones, Betty's dresses, tapered capris, almond-toe pumps and flowered half-aprons are now very much in the present tense.
Tons of decidedly modern women are pairing a button-down, printed dress with a slim belt and low-heel pumps to have lunch with the girls, hit the mall or sit at a desk all day (and speaking of, Peggy rocks it, too).
Up next: She may just be the original …
4: Mary Richards ("The Mary Tyler Moore Show")
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Truly, the polyester jumpsuit never looked so good.
You laugh, but Mary Tyler Moore's character on "The Mary Tyler Moore Show," Mary Richards, was a style sensation in the '70s. She wore it all: bell-bottoms, polyester mini-dresses, jumpsuits, neck scarves, huge lapels -- and she made it look adorable.
Her pretty-girl-next-door looks paired with a '70s mix of hippie, disco and career girl created a look that was solely Mary's. And then solely every girl's growing up in the '70s who wanted to be Mary.
Or else Rhoda, with her bold head wraps and bohemian charms. But Mary really was the star.
Up next: The man without socks …
3: Sonny Crockett ("Miami Vice")
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It's amazing how many trends were inspired by '80s TV characters, considering the utter un-wisdom of so many of their styles. Case in point: Sonny Crockett, the pastel king of Miami law enforcement.
Don Johnson's character on "Miami Vice" made pale-pink T-shirts, sport coats and loafers, without socks, the most emulated look in the '80s. Sonny fought crime with flair, and women loved him. Men wanted to be him. A touch of pastel and oh-so-casual became the look of the trendy man.
And even today, a guy in pink -- that's confidence. We're down with it.
Loafers without socks, not so much.
Up next: Absolutely nothing matches, and it's fabulous …
2: Carrie Bradshaw ("Sex and the City")
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Before the late '90s and the style reign of HBO's "Sex and the City," women tended to match their handbags to their shoes. And their bags and shoes to their clothing. And then there was Carrie Bradshaw, and matching was so last year.
Clashing, handled with cash and panache (and, yes, accented by Sarah Jessica Parker's perfect figure), became the new matching. When Carrie was mugged by a fashion-conscious dirtbag in season 3, she was wearing a maroon-and-white print dress, pink suede (Manolo Blahnik) heels and an iridescent purple (Fendi Baguette) handbag, and as she lost the latter two to the dirtbag, she looked chic. And very sad.
During the series, Carrie's favorite shoe designer, Manolo Blahnik, became a household name among people who'd never spent more than 50 bucks on a pair of shoes. Who knows how many women went into debt emulating Bradshaw. And who knows, maybe it was worth it.
Up next: The hairdo heard round the world …
1: Rachel Green ("Friends")
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You'd have thought she invented layering. Rachel Green, the sexy, spoiled sweetheart played by Jennifer Aniston on "Friends," wore her hair in a rounded, face-framing, smooth and straight cut that was such a hit with viewers, women started walking into salons and asking for "The Rachel."
She was one of those intentionally fashionable characters, with a bit of a shopping problem and, ultimately, a job with Ralph Lauren. Her hairstyle was, therefore, deeply fashionable from the outset. And to its credit, it was also a pretty unique one at the time. It became Rachel's signature and one of the most popular haircuts in the country, and possibly beyond, during the "Friends" years.
That it was great-looking at the time probably didn't matter. Women would have followed Rachel off a fashion cliff, singing the "Friends" theme.
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