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The most stylish TV housewives of all time

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Donna Reed played the coolly capable stay-at-home mom who's only seen on TV
  • Kristen Davis wore classic Upper East Side favorites like Oscar de la Renta
  • Mary Tyler Moore modernized the typical TV housewife's wardrobe
RELATED TOPICS

(InStyle) -- The word itself -- housewife -- still seems almost shockingly retro. But it's having something of a renaissance, thanks in no small part to Bravo's now ubiquitous "Real Housewives" series. So the time seems right to salute the small screen's most fashionable female homemakers -- read on to see who made InStyle's top 10!

Donna Stone, "The Donna Reed Show"

From 1958-1966, Donna Reed played the kind of coolly capable stay-at-home mother who's really only seen on television: Always impeccably turned out -- the woman did housework in full-skirted shirtdresses and chic high heels -- she embodied a particular upper-middle-class ideal like no character before or since.

See all 12 of the most stylish TV housewives of all time

Laura Petrie, "The Dick Van Dyke Show"

Just 24 when she was cast in this 1961-1966 comedy, Mary Tyler Moore put a youthful spin on her traditional role ... and did her part to modernize the typical TV housewife's wardrobe, as well. "I had Laura wear pants," she has explained of her famous cigarette-style slacks, "because I said, 'Women don't wear full-skirted dressed to vacuum in.'"

Lisa Douglas, "Green Acres"

Gorgeous, glamorous Eva Gabor played to type in this goofy 1965-1971 series, starring as a New York City (by way of Hungary) socialite forced to swap her palatial Park Avenue pad for a run-down old farmhouse. Even after relocating to rural Hooterville, though, she dressed the part of an uptown girl, donning pretty peignoirs and chic dresses to collect fresh-laid eggs and coax milk from cows.

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Marge Simpson, "The Simpsons"

Certainly she's got style. Since 1989, Marge Simpson (voiced by actress Julie Kavner) has consistently rocked a signature look: her strapless green dress, paired with low-cut red kitten heels and a red beaded necklace, is timeless, and her bright blue beehive is almost literally inimitable, making Mrs. Homer one-of-a-kind.

Vivian Banks, "The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air"

Two different actresses played "Aunt Viv" during this show's 1990-1996 run, and both had their supporters. But Janet Hubert-Whitten (1990-1993) and Daphne Maxwell Reid (pictured above, 1993-1996) shared a wardrobe as restrainedly chic as you'd expect from a hip professor turned Bel-Air mom.

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Charlotte York Goldenblatt, "Sex and the City"

As the always-impeccable Charlotte -- who retired early from her gallery job after marrying Trey (Kyle MacLachlan) and then found lasting love and domesticity with Harry (Evan Handler) -- Kristen Davis wore classic Upper East Side favorites like Oscar de la Renta. Her look was slightly more adventurous in the 2008 and 2010 films than it was in the series' initial 1998-2004 run (she donned vintage Halston and YSL during the girls' trip to Abu Dhabi) but she'll always be remembered for her mastery of the three Ps: Prim, Pretty, and Proper.

Gabrielle Solis, "Desperate Housewives"

In this show's seven seasons, Gabrielle (Eva Longoria) has been through a lot -- three marriages to two different men, several affairs, and two babies (one of which she later learned was switched at birth). Despite the drama -- and having rebounded from a period during which she was forced to sell her designer clothes to keep the family afloat -- she's still perfectly capable of looking (and dressing) like the fashion model she used to be.

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Betty Draper, "Mad Men"

January Jones, the actress who has played Betty Draper (now Francis) since 2007, has said that putting on her character's early 1960's garments is a key part of her process. "I get into the girdle, the bra with the pointy cups, the stockings, the heels, the big dress ... and I'm halfway there." Ironically, the show's retro full-skirted ensembles have had a profound effect on current fashion, which is perhaps part of the reason January has said she hopes the action doesn't continue into the 1980's. "I don't want to see Betty in Spandex."

Gloria Delgado-Pritchett, "Modern Family"

"Latin women are very comfortable with their bodies and their sexuality. We aren't afraid to show that off a little bit more," actress Sofia Vergara has said. If so, her character on this current series seems to share that outlook. Gloria, a stay-at-home mom, wouldn't be caught dead in frumpy sweats or mom jeans; instead, she chooses slim pencil skirts and a series of colorful, cleavage-baring tops.

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Kyle Richards, "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills"

She's a little less flashy than her castmates (several of whom seem to have been lifted from the pages of a Judith Krantz novel). Instead, former actress Kyle prefers to keep it semi-real, although she still likes a little glitter. "I love the sparkles that are very much in style right now," she has said. "I tone it down with black pants and boots. I like to wear things that are feminine and sexy, but not too trendy."

See if your favorite stylish TV housewives made our list in our expanded gallery at InStyle.com!

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