The New York Times
Online Fans of 'X-Files' Know It's the Clothes That Make the Show
Forget the aliens and the sinister government conspiracy. Now that the heart of the extraterrestrial plot has been revealed on "The X-Files," fans are chatting online less about the show's intricate story lines and subtle details and more about what the two lead characters are wearing.
Gillian Anderson's character, Special Agent Dana Scully of the F.B.I., who is often confidently dressed in sleek business suits by Calvin Klein and Emporio Armani, has garnered particular attention. There have been many posts on the Usenet newsgroup alt.tv.x-files with some variation on the subject line "Scully's Clothes" that contemplate the sartorial, from casual comments to shades of deeper meaning. The appearance of the character in a light-colored linen dress in the final scene of the season cliffhanger last spring brought many comments from Web and Usenet fans.
"There were a lot of people saying that with this whole past season's suits, she's been wearing a lot of black, really somber," Lesley Banez, a fan of the show, said. "And suddenly at the very end, she's in a light suit, so I don't know if that's going to be a herald of change for the next season." Ms. Banez runs a small Web site called the Scullywear Auxiliary Brigade (members.aol.com/scullywear) that dedicates itself to the celebration of Special Agent Scully's wardrobe. Two hundred fans have joined the brigade and the site has registered more than 15,000 hits.
Many fan-run Web sites offer loads of images, sounds and clips taken from the show for fans to download. This tends to invite a cease-and-desist letter from the Fox Network's legal department, which has shown concern that the homemade tributes infringe on copyrighted material and detract from the show's official Web site, www.x-files.com.
But the Scullywear site is a straightforward affair, focusing on original commentary about the clothes and where they can be purchased. There is also an episode guide that chronicles the clothing scene by scene. "Back at the Bureau on Monday morning, she looks great in a pearl gray suit with a white V-neck blouse," reads an entry about Special Agent Scully in "Chinga," a fifth-season episode.
The seventh -- and possibly final -- season begins Nov. 7, and for those who have been wondering since the summer about the real meaning of Special Agent Scully's outfit in the cliffhanger, Molly Harris Campbell, the costume designer for the "X-Files" quickly clarifies the meaning: "She was in a light-colored linen suit mostly because she was in Africa. If we're in Africa again, she'll be in appropriate clothes."
Ms. Campbell also took the time to provide enlightenment on the show's clothes in general. "A lot of what we're constrained by is the actual restrictions of the F.B.I.," she said. "This is very much a show that concentrates on being realistic." Guidelines provided by the F.B.I. itself provide detailed dos and don'ts. "Even right down to the ladies' hosiery," Ms. Campbell said. "No black stockings, and hemlines -- no 'Ally McBeal.' "
Ms. Anderson, although not familiar with the Scullywear Auxiliary Brigade specifically, is very familiar with the intense scrutiny of her fans. "There was a plaid outfit in the first season I'm sure they have a few things to say about," she wrote in a faxed letter. Although fans may be aghast, the actress doesn't quite share her alter-ego's taste in clothes. "A couple pairs of pants, shirts and jackets," she said, "but I will never wear a whole Scully suit in my real life. I'd have an identity crisis."