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Four 'Sisters' and Four Distinct Looks

July 28, 1994|BETTY GOODWIN

The Series: "Sisters" (NBC, Saturdays at 10 p.m.).

The Setup: Four tightly connected siblings--the Reed sisters--live in Winnetka, Ill., and share the dramas and minutiae of their daily lives in this comedy-drama.

The Costume Designer: Rachael Stanley, costume supervisor on "The Colbys" and "Falcon Crest."

The Look: Imagine the challenge: Take four lead actresses with fairly extraordinary faces and figures, and dress them as four average Midwestern women. Never allow one sister's clothing identity to invade another's. One more thing: Never let their colors clash.

Yes, the concept mostly works--there's not a glamorous over-stepper in the bunch. When the four of them are together, their colors are amazingly harmonious. But blandness frequently rears its ugly head in the form of too many baggy sweaters and blue jeans. OK, so Winnetka is not St. Tropez.

The Breakdown: Alex (Swoosie Kurtz, pictured below second from left), the eldest sister and a small-town talk-show hostess, is a cross between June Cleaver and Barbara Walters in her bright, polished suits and frozen-hair helmet. It's not easy to buy Teddy (Sela Ward, below third from left) as a fashion designer as she schleps through Winnetka in a big old varsity jacket. Better are her occasional kimono jackets and artsy jewelry. Georgie (Patricia Kalember, below right) is the stay-at-home type, but let's call her the boring-looking sister. It's conceivable that a woman can look average and domestic in something other than jeans and plaid shirts, plaid shirts and jeans.

The individualist is really Frankie (Julianne Phillips, below left), a fast-track business type who dropped out to run a malt shop. Now and then she dresses to show off her amazingly muscular body--well, that's a fashion statement, too--in tight leggings and form-fitting dresses.

Hit: Since she shed her granny bun for a short, frosted haircut, Mom--Beatrice (Elizabeth Hoffman)--is one of the zippiest golden girls on television. Her collection of antique pins is a nice touch, and the way she wears them at the collars of her loosely tailored shirts has style. Sometimes she wears the shirts open over camisoles, sometimes she adds an antique-y-looking shirt jacket.

Quoted: "Every once in awhile, one of the actresses will say to me, 'I saw this great outfit I'd like to wear,' and describe it to me," Stanley says. "I'll say, 'It sounds great for your personal wardrobe, but I don't think it's right for the show.' Swoosie, for instance, has her own sense of style that's very California and very cute and very hip, but Alex is very East Coast, upper-class money. I have to remind her that leggings are not part of Alex's life. Every once in awhile, they all get a little adrift and I reel them in, but they never complain."

Sources: Georgie's clothes come largely from the Gap, Banana Republic and Eddie Bauer. Alex's wardrobe includes Ellen Tracy, Anne Klein, Anne Klein II and Armani. Beatrice's blouses are almost all DKNY, and her loose trousers are Ellen Tracy and Jones New York. Much of Teddy's and Frankie's clothes come from boutiques on Montana Avenue in Santa Monica including Sara, Jana's, Moselle and Harari.

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