An Homage to the Style Influence of Black TV and Movie Icons


(Image credit: Everett Collection)

For years, costume choices have impacted how characters' legacies are carried on to the future. Trends have been born and shared through the characters we've seen on-screen, and while many fashion folk will refer to Rachel Green or Carrie Bradshaw as TV's best dressed, they end up erasing Black creatives who have been the trendsetters of every generation. Spanning decades of entertainment, Black characters have given us the best of fashion, from classic sitcoms to heavy-hitting dramas. Actresses such as Issa Rae, Karyn Parsons, and Tracee Ellis Ross have not only entertained their audiences in their roles, but they've also inspired many with their characters' striking ensembles. 

Below, look at eight iconic style moments from Black characters in TV and Movies.

Hilary Banks, The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air


(Image credit: Everett Collection)

The entirety of The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air consisted of striking fashion moments, but Hilary Banks's looks stand out the most. Every outfit relayed confidence with her streamlined and color-coordinated aesthetic. All the elements of Hilary's style remain on the trending list today, from strong and tailored suiting to dramatic color pairings. 

Shop pieces inspired by Hilary Banks's style:

Raven Baxter, That's So Raven


(Image credit: Disney)

Yes, Raven Baxter could see in the future, but we think her best skill was her fashion sense. Considering that she made most of her clothing, we're deeply impressed. Her fur collars, printed jackets, and bedazzled jeans have taken up permanent space in our brains, and with the Y2K renaissance still running among Gen Z, elements of Raven's style still serve as inspiration.

Shop pieces inspired by Raven Baxter's style:

Dionne Davenport, Clueless


(Image credit: Everett Collection)

While Cher Horowitz does indeed have a fabulous wardrobe, we think Dionne Davenport's looks are worthy of just as much attention, if not more. After all, just take a look at that hat. If the movie didn't provide enough looks for you to peruse, the spin-off TV show is filled with even more '90s goodness. 

Shop pieces inspired by Dionne Davenport's style:

Zoey Johnson, Grown-ish


(Image credit: Disney/Hulu)

Yara Shahidi has major fashion strengths both off-screen and on-screen. Her Grown-ish character is almost always making a statement in bold prints, saturated shades, and layers galore. Despite the questionable decisions her character might make, she'll always make the right choices in the style department. She continuously proves that she's willing to experiment with her look and aesthetic.

Shop pieces inspired by Zoey Johnson's style:

Issa Dee, Insecure


(Image credit: HBO/Warner Media)

When Insecure first was released in 2016, it quickly became a fan favorite for its authentic storytelling. Stylist and costume designer Shiona Turini brought each character to life, including Issa Dee, with realistic takes on a modern-day Los Angeles wardrobe. Throughout the seasons, Issa's fashion sense sees incredible shifts as her character evolves. While her character prefers comfort, she moves into more put-together looks with her personality shining through each.

Shop pieces inspired by Issa Dee's style:

Moesha Mitchell, Moesha


(Image credit: Everett Collection)

Moesha showed effortless '90s style, which is more on-trend than ever, and continuously celebrated Black designers. Brandy's character Moesha had multiple looks to love that featured micro bags, monochromatic color schemes, and next-level layering.

Shop pieces inspired by Moesha Mitchell's style:

Olivia Pope, Scandal


(Image credit: ABC)

Olivia Pope is strong-hearted, bold, and determined to get what she wants. If anything, her clothing exudes the same energy. Olivia's style is powerful, from sleek trench coats to full Prada suits.

Shop pieces inspired by Olivia Pope's style:

Toni Childs, Girlfriends


(Image credit: Everett Collection)

When we asked others who was the best dressed character on Girlfriends, the majority said Toni Childs. We get it. How can one not be considered the best when their top looks include vintage Jean Paul Gaultier? 

Shop pieces inspired by Toni Childs's style:

This post was originally published at an earlier date and has since been updated.

Associate Fashion Editor
Yusra Siddiqui is an editor who resides in New Jersey but bounces between the suburbs and NYC. (She's a Jersey girl at heart.) After interning at Who What Wear in 2019, she found her way to the team after graduating from LIM College in 2022 with a fashion media degree. She's also spent time writing and working for publications such as Fashionista, Coveteur, and Nylon, but she always knew that Who What Wear was where she was meant to be. When she's on the job, she's perusing runway shows, analyzing the latest thing fellow Gen Zers are up to on the internet, and sharing what she can about the modest-fashion market. You can also catch her dabbling in entertainment, talking about the costume choices of the latest Netflix series or diving deeper into how the plotline affects the viewers in a myriad of ways. Lastly, she likes to create content for Who What Wear's TikTok. Her personal time is spent doing similar but also different things—deep diving into almost every new TV show (Bridgerton, Gilmore Girls, and Stranger Things are favorites), planning her next local getaway (whenever that may be), and reading the latest Emily Henry or Sally Rooney novel in one sitting.