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in different outfits (a rare occurrence in television fashion) and shared between Lorelai and Rory,19mirroring the reality of a budget-limited wardrobe as well as reinforcing the closeness of the bond between mother and daughter. Lorelai’s fashion ingenuity and fiscal responsibility is also seen through her sewing. In the pilot episode, Lorelai offers to hem Rory’s skirt for her school uniform, but the resulting argument over how to short it should be is the opposite of what one would normally expect of a mother-daughter fashion conflict, with Lorelai wanting to “hem it a lot” while Rory worries about it being too short. This reversal of the typical mother-daughter interaction serves to codify Lorelai as a “hip” mom, while also indicating Rory’s more conservative sense of style, reassuring viewers that Lorelai is not raising Rory to follow in her pregnant teenaged footsteps. 19One blue sweater is seen over the course of several seasons, worn not only by Lorelai and Rory, but also Rory’s best friend, Lane, and even appeared in the promotional photos on one season’s DVD set.
108 Lorelai also makes Rory’s dress for a school dance (“Rory’s Dance”). Emily protests, first offering to pay for a dress and then insulting Lorelai, asking her, “You’re not using the curtains, are you?”, referencing Scarlett O’Hara’s fashion frugality in Gone with the Wind. Emily assumes that Lorelai’s decision to make a dress rather than buy one is born out of the same fiscal desperation experienced by Scarlett instead of being freely chosen by Lorelai and approved by Rory. Emily’s referencing of the classic film is intended as witty comeback but also as a not-so-subtle jab at Lorelai’s decision to abandon the Gilmore family fortune in favor of creating an independent life for her and her daughter. The resulting dress is beautiful, prompting Emily to assume that the dress was store-bought and inviting compliments from Rory’s (very rich and label-conscious) classmates. When Rory proudly tells them that her mother made it, the girls are impressed, and one of them can’t stop negatively comparing her own mother to Lorelai, mumbling throughout the conversation, “My mom can’t make anything.” Rather than devolving into a kind of Dolly Parton “Coat of Many Colors”-esque story of the girl who doesn’t fit in because of her home-sewn attire, Rory is envied because of her mother’s fashion creativity, even among her wealthy classmates. Through the series’ valorization of a traditionally feminine task, it is acknowledging Lorelai’s creativity as a legitimate, if necessary, art form and positioning her within a twenty-first century do-it-yourself (DIY) culture. While her sewing of Rory’s dress can be seen as an expression of Lorelai’s creativity and Rory’s individualism, Lorelai’s sewing is grounded in her desire for self-sufficiency. When her friend Sookie is pregnant, Lorelai shows her Rory’s “baby box,” which includes a jumper Lorelai made for the infant Rory out of one of her old t-shirts.