ABC’s , the American version of the BBC hit, relies on fashion to take us back to the gritty world of New York City in 1973 after the show’s protagonist gets hit by a car in 2008 and finds himself thrown 25 years into the past.
While initial buzz on the show was weak and focused on concern that the ABC production wouldn’t live up to its British predecessor, Life on Mars has proven to be the right show for the right time here in the States. After all, with the economic crisis, New York City in 1973 doesn’t look quite as alien as it could.
That said, clothes have changed in the last 25 years, and even the show’s extras all need to be fitted for 1970s wardrobe for each and every episode. That said, while clashing patterns and wide ties may be over, Life on Mars is reaffirming certain 1970s looks that never went out of style.
Overall, though, presents a unique challenge for its costume designers who need to find a way to make the show look recognizably like the early 1970s while also making it attractive and appealing to a modern audience, many of whom may be too young to have any nostalgia for the era. Of course, having the central character originally be from 2008 helps, because he can react with us to some of the aesthetic horrors of the era.
Even so, Life on Mars does manage to have an overall pleasing look. Corduroy and sports jackets are big for the show’s male characters, as are trench coats and leather jackets . For women, wrap dresses with swingy skirts, denim and high waists are a feature of the show’s fashion sensibility, as are a number of hippie-influenced looks. Fur trim and a range of browns, tans and other natural colors also dominate and help to accentuate the grimness of New York City in one of its most financially depressed years.