I have a very distinct memory of being at a slumber party when I was about nine years old and being entranced by a show that came on called “Murder, She Wrote.” It was very clearly not for small children, but rather for an audience of older women. I was down for that though, since I mainly watched TV at home with my grandmother, and our tastes veered towards “The Antiques Roadshow,” TV broadcasts of ballets, and whatever low key travel documentary was playing on PBS when we turned on the TV set. None of the other girls at the slumber party were interested in the show, so despite my mild protests, it was quickly turned off in favor of discussing which American Girl doll was the best one. (My vote was always for Molly, because she had coke bottle glasses, and seemed like a sort of weird kid who did a lot of tap dancing and crafting, and that made me feel seen and understood.)
Years later, at the age of 25, I rediscovered “Murder, She Wrote” via an Instagram account called @murdershelook, which documents the many looks of the show’s heroine, Jessica Fletcher. Jessica Fletcher is an elderly widow turned murder novelist from a tiny town in Maine played by Angela Lansbury, so she may seem like an unlikely fashion icon, but she has a decidedly craveable aesthetic. Jessica doesn’t have to follow any office dress codes or look fashion forward or impress anyone with a sleek Everlane dress. Jessica dresses, as many old women do, for comfort and fun. She wears a lot of chunky cardigan and statement brooches and jaunty silk scarves, matched with enormous glasses and sensible shoes. She wears clothes to bicycle in, and snoop around crime scenes in, and cross examine Jack Russell Terriers in. (This honest to god happened in Season 1, Episode 6; I could not make that up.) Occasionally she’ll have to attend an event and will pull out the most delicious and theatrical getup you can imagine, as in one episode where she unexpectedly has to attend a costume party and pulls out a stunner of a Fairy Godmother costume on the fly, complete with tiara and magic wand.
I think what I most admire is that Jessica dresses exactly as she wants to dress. She is unafraid of looking gaudy or silly. She just wears whatever outfits seem fun and will allow her admittance into whatever shady situation she happens to be investigating at the time. With her loud prints and her large sunglasses and cardigans and fearlessness, she inspires me to be more confident in my own fashion choices, because if Angela Lansbury can wear heart shaped glasses and a watermelon hat, I can too, damn it! Or I can wear a sensible trouser and a trench coat and a button up shirt buttoned all the way up! Let me live! I am done trying to look elegant, I wish only to look like an elderly widow who writes mystery novels and could confidently investigate a small town murder.