Why Sex Education’s Jean Milburn Has One Of The Most Stylish TV Wardrobes

Gillian Anderson strikes again.

Gillian Anderson as Jean Milburn

by Natalie Hammond |
Updated on

Gillian Anderson has form when it comes to looking stylish on TV (her character in creepy serial killer drama The Fall, Detective Superintendent Stella Gibson, made an open-and-shut case for the power of the silk blouse). Now, she's reprising her role as Jean Milburn, Otis' sex therapist mum in Sex Education, a woman so unilaterally cool, when it comes to both character and wardrobe choices, that we know we're in for a treat with season three, which has already landed on Netflix.

Jean Milburn wearing an orange dress in Sex Education

Milburn's outfit go-tos range from figure-hugging jumpsuits paired with wedges (shoes that are problematic on most people, but somehow seem to not just work but actually look enviable on Anderson) to bohemian-style shirt dresses in colours like burnt orange that she tends to cinch with a wide leather belt. It's all a bit 2004 Sienna Miller - the gold bangles, the kimonos, the oversized shirts tied at her waist - if Sienna had a red-and-white clapboard house and guided people through vagina workshops from her living room, of course.

Jean Milburn wearing a teal jumpsuit in Sex Education

Her clothes simmer with sex appeal. Not so much in a, 'I just threw this on,' kind of way, but because she really doesn't seem to care about a) what people think or b) sugar-coating her feelings. She's reading the paper one morning on her balcony, wearing a mint-coloured hoodie instead of her usual wrap-around robe - when a man who stayed over the night before says awkwardly, 'I better go,' as she says goodbye to Otis. She barely looks up as she replies, 'I think that's best.' The next morning when he pops round to drop off some flowers and ask her out to dinner, she delivers what has to be the most direct and, when you think about it, emotionally-balanced response: 'Look Harry, I'm really sorry if I gave you the wrong impression. I'm not interested in dating anyone. I'm extremely busy with work and raising my son and I just have no room in my life for the kind of intimacy that you are clearly craving. But I really commend you on your directness and bravado and I really hope you find what you're looking for.' What she wears? It's basically the clothing equivalent of that sentence.

So what can you expect from season three if you haven't already binge-watched it? Well, (spoilers ahead), Milburn found out she was pregnant at the end of last season, which is a pretty path-altering trajectory for a busy sex therapist with a teenage son. How has her wardrobe changed as she navigates her pregnancy? If anything, it's just got better.


SEE: The Best TV Wardrobes Of All Time

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Lovecraft Country

Sci-fi and fashion can be happy bedfellows (as evidenced by Stranger Things). Lovecraft Country, the brilliant new show from HBO, is set in '50s America - cue cat's eye sunglasses and hourglass-accentuating shorts - against the backdrop of segregation.

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Emily In Paris

His last leading lady didn't fare so well in Paris, but maybe his next will do better. Darren Star's new show, Emily In Paris, stars Lily Collins. She's a wide-eyed marketing executive with a killer wardrobe because - go figure - Patricia Field, the famous costume designer of SATC, is also on board.

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The best six friends on earth gave us great clothes + comedy gold. Who could forget Joey wearing everything Chandler owned ('I better not do any lunges!'), Rachel's slip dress ('My boob popped out!) and Ross's leather pants ('My God, these pants, I'm burning up.')?

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Gossip Girl

The preppy plaid skirts and velvet hairbands made Gossip Girl compulsive viewing to coming-of-age teens circa 2007. Both are back, FYI, so dig yours out. XOXO.

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Sex And The City

Now's the time to dive headfirst into the famous foursome's wardrobes and, if you've got time on your hands, do a Carrie-style clearout in your own.

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Next In Fashion

Next In Fashion has drama, seriously impressive design and surprisingly heart-warming moments. If that doesn't have you hooked, stick around for Tan France and Alexa Chung's outfits. Our favourite? The latter's knitted bra and butter-wouldn't-melt cardigan. Delicious.

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Tessa Thompson's character in Westworld, Charlotte Hale, is an Executive Director at Delos Destinations (aka, a total boss) and has a read the rulebook on power outfits cover to cover.

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The Good Wife/The Good Fight

Diane Lockhart for President. Am I right? The lawyer's wardrobe of sharp-shouldered blazers is Oval Office stuff.

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Sex Education

Her penchant for silk blouses predated Shiv's (remember The Fall?), and now Gillian Anderson is bringing her celebrated je ne sais quoi to Netflix's Sex Education. Jean Millburn = our shirt-dress-wearing hero.

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The Marvellous Mrs Maisel

If you need cheering up - and fast - watch The Marvellous Mrs Maisel. It's set in 1950s New York, miles away from 2020's myriad worries, and features Rachael Brosnahan as Midge Maisel, a Jewish housewife who becomes a stand-up after her husband is unfaithful. Cue the most charming costumes - and comedy - of the century.

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The Crown

We still fantasise about the tiaras and ball gowns belonging to Princess Margaret. The Crown's fourth season is just around the corner and features a very stylish arrival in the form of Princess Diana. Mark your calendars for 15 November.

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Rainbow (Johnson) by name and rainbow by nature. Tracee Ellis Ross's character in Black-ish serves up feel-good fashion - and plenty of it.

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Killing Eve

The many faces of Villanelle never ceases to shock, awe and, frankly, make us envious that an assassin's salary gets you garms from The Vampire's Wife, Rosie Assoulin and Molly Goddard. Hurry up, season three!

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Issa, the loveable lead in Insecure, has a sunny-side-up wardrobe (that she occasionally buys and then returns, don't judge).

READ MORE: Sex Education’s Chinenye Ezeudu Gives Us The Tea On Season Three

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