That final check in the mirror, before we present ourselves to the world, says so much about who we are. Frankie (Patricia Heaton), of ABC’s Wednesday comedy The Middle, grabs a brown marker on her way out the door to touch up her roots.
In honor of Mother’s Day, we turn to a woman who is more like most American moms than many on TV. Indeed, Patricia Heaton has four sons, so she knows the routine of driving to games, tossing sandwiches into the back and being dimly aware that she is supposed to be someplace else but can’t remember where.
Her Frankie is real because real moms dress up in embarrassing costumes if our kids ask us. Sure, Frankie looks better than most in tights and shorts – dressing as a superhero for her son’s report – but no one would accuse her of being a fashionista.
“I have to tell you, myself and Julia (Caston, the show’s costume designer) laughed our heads off when we got the call about the fashion of ‘The Middle,’ ” Heaton says.
“Today, I am wearing the ugliest thing I have seen,” Heaton says, laughing. “It’s short sleeves with brown spots. It’s purple with brown something splattered on it and a green T-shirt and a pink Pepto-Bismol sweatshirt jacket. It’s horrifying. It’s pretty amazing how bad I look in it!”
For the majority of mothers who work outside the house, however, she looks just fine.
“She is the all-American busy working mom with three kids,” Caston says. “She is colorful, accessible and relatable. Other women in the country can say, ‘I know how that feels. I know who that is.’ “
For jeans, the staple in any mom’s wardrobe, Caston admits to “cheating a little bit” and buying Frankie some pricier brands such as AG Jeans and Citizens of Humanity. She also wears Gap.
“We try to keep it real,” Caston says. “Most of the time I use brands she would use.”
Frankie wears brightly colored tops from Steven Alan, other tops from Sears, and Gap shirts and skirts.
Her jewelry is simple, a pair of Carol Lee earrings and other pieces from Ralph Lauren, Macy’s, Kenneth Cole and Target.
Given how petite Heaton is, she wears a lot of heels from Jessica Simpson and Nine West, and other shoes from Gentle Souls (by Kenneth Cole) and Sofft.
Her purses are from Target and Kenneth Cole.
“A lot of television is aspirational, like ‘Gossip Girl,’ ” Heaton says. “Not this show. It’s supposed to be real people.”