Living Single set the precedent for a new era of television where Black women in particular were shown in a light that centered on friendship and independence. The show revolved around Khadijah, Sinclair, Maxine, Regine, and their two friends Kyle and Overton. Legendary costume designer and stylist Ceci is responsible for the iconic outfits that empowered and elevated the Black women on the show: Queen Latifah, Kim Cole, Erika Alexander, and Kim Fields. It also provided poignant menswear moments for TC Carson and John Henton.
Ceci had previously worked on other shows like the excellent series A Different World and after Living Single she led costuming for the beloved Disney sitcom Sister, Sister. With her prowess, she was able to world-build with each show through her distinctive eye. Each character’s wardrobe reflected who they were with bold, colorful ensembles, oversized blazers, quirky accessories, and iconic hairstyles that have since become emblems of the ’90s fashion scene. Ceci’s background is what sets her costuming apart from other shows. She thrifted as a kid living in Los Angeles to Panamanian parents, and soon enough developed her own style through that.
In a previous interview with Huffington Post, she shared: “Black shows did not get the same budget as white shows. There was a big disparity and people were always stuck. You were forced to be more creative, which once again goes back to my upbringing.” She also noted, “I think it had a lot to do with how I grew up, and that informs my style, tastes and sensibility.”
Living Single being based in the heart of Brooklyn where style has always been at peak, is another reason for the show’s influence. The show didn’t get its flowers at the time for the mainstream but it became a staple for the Black audience. The ups and downs of city life and figuring out how to be an adult while doing it in style is what set the series apart from others.
The creator of the Instagram page formerly known as @everyoutfitinlivingsingle, Fabiola Ching told i-D, “I re-watch the show at least three times a year, so it was only fitting.” On the stylish looks Ceci pieced together years ago she added: “My eyes are always roaming up and down the characters’ outfits and around the apartment. There’s a lot to take note of when you watch it, so you’re almost compelled to take a picture.”
The show played a pivotal role in showcasing a diverse cast and stories on primetime television, paving the way for greater representation in the entertainment industry. There would be no Insecure, Harlem, or Twenties without Living Single. The timeless relevance of the themes in the ‘90s era series continue to make it a beloved classic that remains cherished by fans still to this day. “It was resonating and validating to see a Black sitcom that had really smart, colorful and unique costuming,” Ching tells ESSENCE.com.
Take a look at the best looks on one of the best ‘90s sitcoms to exist: Living Single.