Phoebe Waller- Bridge’s emotionally bruised, sexually confused, did-she-really-say-that Fleabag, is not only the love-object of the moment but also the current style pin-up.
If it’s good enough for Fleabag, it’s good enough for a great many of us, looking at the sales figures of products that featured in the BBC show.
Waller-Bridge both wrote and starred in the comedy series about a young middle-class woman and her family.
It’s a sell-out: Fleabag’s jump suit worn in the series two premiere has flown off the racks
It was an unexpected success when it hit screens in 2016 and had an audience of millions for the second, and final series, which concluded last week.
From episode one, Fleabag confirmed a taking-no-hostages approach to her wardrobe. An appealing mixture of out-there sexy combined with a plain Jane girlishness.
Confusing – but in a good way. Just like her character. Fleabag’s appeal is that she is so wrong she is right. She says and does the things we might all consider – and would usually discard.
Flirting with (and bedding) a priest, tormenting her freakishly uptight sister, waging war with her ghastly stepmother-to-be. If there’s a dodgy place to put your foot, she finds it.
Waller-Bridge is a classic English beauty; tall, slender, swan-necked, porcelain-skinned – a Mitford Girl with millennial attitude.
Fleabag, who is less patrician in style than her creator, nonetheless benefits from Waller-Bridge’s inescapable good looks.
She carries off 24/7 red lipstick, manages a gorgeous wavy bob, and what about those gleaming white teeth?
So it was a shrewd move by costume designer Ray Holman (also responsible for Jodie Whittaker’s original style in Doctor Who and the clothes in domestic chiller Apple Tree Yard) to keep Fleabag relatable with a wardrobe we can all identify with.
A book could be written on That Black Jumpsuit of the first episode alone. Halter-necked and plunging to the waist, it was a masterpiece of silent positioning. It announced Fleabag as the self-obsessed, scene-stealing character she is, by wearing something so inappropriate and over-the-top for a family dinner to celebrate her father’s engagement.
But at the same time she looks bold, captivating and irresistible, even more so by wearing it with a pair of grubby sneakers.
Despite backless jumpsuits being a tricky look to carry off, the £38 item by small London-based brand Love sold out immediately.
Holman also makes a feature of Waller-Bridge’s endless legs, giving her hemlines like that of the red ruffle Reformation dress she wears for the last episode’s wedding party. Or her denim and leather mini skirts which are always a smidgeon too short for her height, permanently risking up-skirting (a dominant feature of her many appearances waiting at the bus stop) but simultaneously giving her a coltish carelessness.
She wears sheer black tights with her knicker-grazing minis. Is that referencing the Saint Laurent catwalk staple – or just weird? It’s up to us to decide.
She has a penchant for dungaree straps that are decidedly unglamorous but on Fleabag have a naughty schoolgirl touch.
That jumpsuit aside, Fleabag is a trend-free zone. Unlike Waller-Bridge’s other screen-heroine Villanelle, the designer clothes obsessive from Killing Eve, who wears outfits straight off the catwalk.
Not for Fleabag the wafting dresses and handkerchief hems of Instagram influencers or the saggy paper bag trousers, brightly coloured trouser suits and knife-pleat midi skirts currently flooding the shops.
Instead, because we love the woman – even the mismatched mundanity of her clothes has become as aspirational as a Balenciaga trainer.
Flaunting her legs: Her tea dress shows off her shapely legs in the series
There was a 38 per cent spike in online searches for red dresses after Fleabag wore this floral mini in the series two finale.
There are three reasons Holman got this so right. First, the shape, which showcases Waller-Bridge’s enviable legs.
Then the tea-dress style, which – thanks to brands such as Rixo – has shaken off its frumpy reputation to become a spring must-have.
Third, Holman chose sustainable label Reformation (inset), which has the Duchess of Sussex among its fans.
Denim twist: She even has made the denim mini a fashion hit
From micro hemlines to cut-away jumpsuits, we’ve seen how Holman expertly mixes daring items into Fleabag’s mundane, everyday style.
The back-of-the-wardrobe item here is undoubtedly the denim mini. It’s something many women own, but are never brave enough to wear, thanks to its unflattering length and bulk.
However, Fleabag – with her simple knit, quirky tights and popular Superga trainers (£50, superga.co.uk, top) – makes it look laid-back and stylish.
Strange combo: But the TV star makes it work leading viewers to follow in her footsteps
Unlike Jodie Comer’s fashion-forward wardrobe for Villanelle in Killing Eve, which was made up of mostly high-end labels, the pillars of Fleabag’s outfits feel far more wearable (and affordable).
But it’s the subtle styling tweaks that seem to resonate most with viewers and fashion fans alike.
Here Holman has taken a short printed floral dress — another item found in almost every hard-working wardrobe — and paired it with a classic £45 Levi’s denim jacket and those on-trend Saint Laurent-inspired sheer black tights.
Breton top: Fleabag’s style twist has proved to be a hit
While some might team a basic jersey Breton top with jeans, Holman chose to layer a black pinafore-style jumpsuit over the top instead.
It’s an off-duty styling move which will undoubtedly be picked up by Fleabag fans in the not-so distant future.
Holman headed to high street hero Benetton for the striped top, which comes in at just under £20.
Comfy but chic, like most of Waller-Bridge’s looks, this is the ideal outfit to recreate for the weekend.
Classic trench: It is a firm favourite of the character as it can match everything
There is no denying the appeal of a trench coat, and over the show’s two series, this has become a staple item in Fleabag’s wardrobe.
For Waller-Bridge’s character, the trench-of-choice is chic, black and classic in both shape and fit, which – unlike those printed floral mini dresses and well-worn trainers – feels timeless and classic.
It looks every bit as stylish buttoned-up and belted, or worn loose over her striped tops, jeans and knits.
More importantly, it’s something that we can all work easily into our wardrobes.