Looking at the Timeless and Classic Fashion Behind ‘A Different World’

by Jhanaya Belle

September 23, 2022

Photo by: Gary Null/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

When it comes to the impact that A Different World left on the world 35 years later, there’s one thing that everyone still loves about the show. The fashion!

Because of its wide-ranging diversity and positive portrayal of HBCUs worldwide, many people still recall the popular television sitcom A Different World.

The multicultural Hillman College campus stood out amongst the fans, due to the revolutionary style that the key characters so admirably depicted.

The outfits were able to fully embrace the 1980s and 1990s fashion era because of the character identities and individual style choices of each character. Some of these fashion trends, such as mom jeans, crop tops, embroidered jean jackets, and high-neck blouses, are still influential to fans to this day.

Let’s take a look at the main cast’s chic attire!

Whitley Gilbert Wayne

Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

When it comes to Hillman College’s IT girl, Whitley Gilbert, played by talented Jasmine Guy did not disappoint us with her outfits!

Whitley was a strong woman who exuded bourgeoisie taste on campus.

The show’s costume designer, Ceci typically shopped at Neiman Marcus and dressed the southern belle in tailored business suits, fur coats, pearl jewelry, and other goods since she loved name brands and thought she was simple to dress.

Let’s face it, Whitley was the epitome of the bad and bougie lifestyle.


Dwayne Wayne

Photo by: Ken Sax/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

Now if you are an A Different World fan, you already know that Dwayne (played by none other than Kadeem Hardison) was one of the fly guys on campus!

With his collection of brightly printed Cosby sweaters and patchwork bomber jackets, he supplied the ’80s connoisseur swag. Not to mention, Dwayne’s sneaker collection was impeccable! Have you looked at his Jordans?!

And to seal the look, we all remember his famous flipped glasses, which everyone still wants to rock nowadays.


Ronald “Ron” Martin Johnson

Photo by: Bob Gersny/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

When it comes to Ron, aka the ladies’ man on campus, he was another character that had swag.

Played by Darryl M. Bell, Ron had a style that lived between being a dapper gentleman and 1980s and 1990s urban wear.

Ron wasn’t afraid to experiment with his outfits. Sometimes you’d see him rocking a throwback football jersey with a black turtleneck underneath, etc.

What we liked about his fashion sense is that Ron showed his support for HBCUs by wearing different campuses’ shirts.


Kimberley Reese

Photo by: Vinnie Zuffante/Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images

Representing for the straight A students with goals of being a doctor, Kimberly Reese (portrayed by Charnele Brown), not only display #BlackGirlMagic, but Kimberly also was the epitome of the girl next door at Hillman College.

The Alpha Delta Rho Sorority pledge had a basic, flirtatious flair, which many of her fans loved and could relate to.


Winifred “Freddie” Brooks 

Photo by: Joey Del Valle/NBCU Photo Bank

Among the group of students, Freddie (played by Cree Summer) was one of the more socially conscious ones.

Freddie was often seen wearing an unusually eclectic mix of trendy and spiritual clothing.

And she wasn’t afraid to rock her natural hair! We love it.


Jaleesa Vinson-Taylor

Photo by: Ron Tom/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images via Getty Images

If you watched A Different World from the first season, then you know that Jaleesa (portrayed by Dawnn Lewis) was a no-nonsense woman/Hillman College student.

After her divorce was finalized in her mid-20s, she realized she needed a complete change of focus and resigned from her demanding schedule to give education her whole attention.

Jaleesa displayed her strength, charm, and intelligence through her clothing. Ceci, the show’s costume designer  understood the character and added bright details to her outfits.

Mom jeans and high-waisted pants were her favorites. To complete her look, Jaleesa frequently matched her short hairstyle with Afrocentric graphic t-shirts.


Denise Huxtable

Photo by: NBCU Photo Bank

Last but CERTAINLY not least, you know we must talk about the girl who started it all, Denise Huxtable!

For at least a year, Denise Huxtable’s role, played by the incredible Lisa Bonet in this The Cosby Show spin-off was the initial focal point of the series.

She was often sidetracked from her schoolwork and concentrated more on the exciting aspects of college life.

She often dressed in mom jeans, jumpsuits, layers, oversized sweaters, and other ’80s-inspired garments to emphasize her grounded spirit.

And although Denise didn’t complete her studies, we still love and appreciate her great fashion sense at Hillman College.

Which character did you identify the most with? Let us know down below!

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