Why Murder She Wrote’s Angela Lansbury Is Still A Relevant Style Icon Today

As the show turns 30, we remember why Jessica Fletcher's as good at styling outfits as she is at solving crimes


by Laura Silver |
Published on

If you’ve ever skived school or procrastinated from doing uni work after lunchtime Neighbours, you’ll have a special place in your heart for Murder She Wrote, which turns the big 3-0 today.

Angela Lansbury, who plays the show’s star busybody-come-detective, Jessica Fletcher, is a total badass both IRL (she apparently had controversial photographer Terry Richardson wrapped around her little finger when he shot her for style bible The Gentlewoman) and when she solves crime in twinsets on screen.

Speaking of twinsets, her old-lady wardrobe is actually pretty bang on right now, since we come to think of it. Hey, it was only yesterday we were bigging up French actress Louise Grinberg for wearing a cardigan, pussy-bow blouse and smart skirt to the Miu Miu show in Paris. You know J-Fletch would approve.

Let us walk you through Jessica’s finer style moments in Murder She Wrote, that you’ll totally want to wear yourself...

The cardi-blouse-combo

This is hands down Jessica Fletcher’s signature look – it’s so polite and smart, yet comfy enough to scoot around town solving murders. This is no-nonsense fashion that still says ‘I excuse myself to powder my nose’, thanks the soft collar of a blouse-not-shirt. It’s a softer take on your old favourite sharp shirt and jumper, and you know it would look great with faded jeans and brogues.


Mohair wool-blend cardigan, £39.99 Mango, short sleeved soft blouse, £25 ASOS, faux pearl chunky necklace, £20 John Lewis

Glam-gela Lansbury

Solving murders sometimes requires Jessica Fletcher to get glammed up and suss out posh crims from inside their fancy worlds, and her go-to look is a turban. Of course it is – it’s got mysterious beauty written all over it. They’re easier than you’d think to wear IRL and are a total cheek-bone enhancer. Accessorise with pearl earrings.


Velvet hair turban with brooch, £10 ASOS, faux pearl front and back earrings, £4 River Island

The Deidre Barlow glasses

There’s a fine line between Corrie’s grande dame and Jessica Fletcher, but where Deidre’s narrowed her frames to the proportions of her fag-clutching lips over the years, Jessie’s stayed true to larger glasses. Maybe she knew their style would come full circle and leave her looking like an American Apparel model, albeit one without nipples or crotch on display.


Joyce glasses, £98 Baily Nelson

Gold coin earrings

Murder She Wrote might have been on air from 1984 to now, but its style has always mysteriously hovered around 1992. It is a murder mystery after all! The lobe-hugging gold coin style earrings once loved by Lady Di appear in practically every episode, and hey, the 90s are back, embrace them! Marc Jacobs is.


Marc by Marc Jacobs logo stud earrings, £40 Selfridges

Leather gloves

We reckon there’s an unwritten rule among TV wardrobe departments everywhere that says all crime dramas must feature leather gloves, and MSW is no exception. All the better for looking like you mean serious business when handling evidence. They wouldn’t half chic up a nice wool coat too.


Cashmere lined leather gloves, £39.50 Marks & Spencers

A drapey scarf

Unlike khaki-loving Saga Noren in bleako Scandi-drama The Bridge, Jessica Fletcher uses a soft, approachable style, often achieved with artfully draped silk scarves, to trick the baddies she’s trying to trap. Why wouldn’t you trust someone who looks as lovable as your Nan? You might not have a plot to foil, but we bet you’re looking for ways to tart up a boring jumper…


Andy Warhol print silk scarf, £106 Selfridges

The simple silk blouse

You can keep your Emmanuelle Alts and Carine Roitfelds – Jessica Fletcher has been rocking a silk blouse since before either of them could even say ‘Equipment’. Uniqlo have got some mega-cheap ones at the moment that you will not regret getting your hands on.


Silk long sleeve blouse, £29.90 Uniqlo

The skirt suit

Jessica Fletcher is a ‘lady’, in the politely dressed and demure sense, as well as biologically, so even when she starts power-dressing, it’s a skirt suit she turns to. Admittedly, with a knee-length skirt it’s a little bit bank cashier, but switch it out for an A-line mini and you’ll have Alexa banging at your door asking if you’ve stolen her style.


Wool blazer, £145 & Other Stories, A-line mini skirt, £35.99 Zara

Tonal pastels

She’s not shy of theme dressing, is Jessica Fletcher – she’ll take a shade and run with it. Even if you’re not ready to embrace her WI get-up, a pair of ombre jeans and matching jumper let you tap this look. PS: LOL Tom Selleck’s shorts.


Yellow boucle jumper, £28 Miss Selfridge, Vero Moda ombre jeans, £26.91 MonShowroom

Jess on tour

She’s in sunnier climes, so of course she’s wearing a Hawaiian shirt – in a sort of old-lady duvet print. Bravo for her commitment to the Deidre glasses when picking shades too. Jokes aside, you really can’t beat this look: print shirts and massive sunnies every summer forever please.


Urban renewal vintage surplus Hawaiian shirt, £15 Urban Outfitters, sunglasses with metallic detail, £12 ASOS

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Picture: Getty, Rex

This article originally appeared on The Debrief.

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