Every office has one — you know, that person who walks by and makes you hiss at your cubicle-mate, “Dude, what is she wearing?” Which usually morphs into, “Thank God for her or else I’d be so bored that I’d staple my hand to the phone,” and then, finally, “Will I get fired if I secretly love her loud shirt?” On The Office, that girl is Kelly Kapoor, Mindy Kaling’s vibrantly shallow amateur shopaholic who often treats colors like they’re a car stereo, cranking up the volume with reckless abandon. But has the scene-stealing Kelly always been so, you know, Kelly? Join us as we spotlight her sartorial journey through seven seasons of The Office, and rate her most noteworthy outfits on a one-to-ten scale of retina-searing hideousness — on which one is fairly attractive, and ten means you’d best put on your sunglasses and avoid direct eye contact. Note: We did deploy an eleven. You’ve been warned. (For more from the Fug Girls, visit GoFugYourself.com.)
Episode: “Diversity Day”
Outfit: In the series’ second episode, the show clearly had no idea what it had on its hands with Kaling’s Kelly, and so put her in the world’s most boring gray paisley, bow-necked blouse, tragically paired with a wan and sexless bun. This is not the Kelly Kapoor we now know and love; this is the crabby receptionist at your podiatrist’s office.
Retina-searingness: 5. Beyond being hideous, this is absolutely no fun at all. In fact, it could use a little ocular heat.
Episodes: “Office Olympics,” “The Client”
Outfit: And suddenly, we are awash in color. This blue button-down evokes something we once saw on a microscope slide during a biology lesson about paramecia; the other, a picnic table that has every condiment known to man spilled and smeared on its paper tablecloth. Where did Kelly buy them? In a catalogue of hilariously loud nursing scrubs for hospital Funky Fridays?
Retina-searingness: 8. Although, honestly, almost worse than the shirts are those drab Bingo Night slacks, which never met a pair of orthopedic shoes it didn’t try to romance.
Episode: “Drug Test”
Outfit: The best thing about The Office is that despite its success for NBC, its characters still repeat outfits. You know, like normal people. This shirt has recurred throughout the series, but its debut was the most amusing: stashed under a cropped pink angora sweater that’s the bastard love child of a pashmina and a Mr. Rogers cardigan, making Kelly weirdly look like a cross between Donna Martin and Fergie.
Retina-searingness: 9. Oddly, the pattern isn’t what screams at us; it’s that damn off-the-shoulder ode to Big League Chew. We can’t figure out if she’s wearing it as nature intended, o r… well, would nature intend anything about that sweater?
Episode: “Grief Counseling”
Outfit: Usually Kelly’s patterns are up top (to draw attention to her pretty face, presumably), but here she flipped the script and wore a paisley skirt and a plain shirt — and it totally works on her. Also, that cheerful coat is completely adorable, the kind of thing that makes warm-climate dwellers wish for a proper winter.
Retina-searingness: 3. Frankly, in this moment, we’re less concerned about Kelly than dealing with poor Meredith next to her, who looks as if she’s literally wearing a sad sack. We would offer her a hug, but given her lascivious history, she might interpret that as a come-on and then we’re in trouble.
Episode: “Phyllis’s Wedding”
Outfit: Only someone as self-obsessed as Kelly Kapoor would show up at somebody else’s wedding dressed as a bride — right down to a tiara.
Retina-searingness: 4. Just because it’s inappropriate and potentially insane — like Kelly’s hoping she and date/stalkee Ryan will trip and fall into some legal vows — it doesn’t automatically rate on the sartorial blindness scale. However, we must note that only a truly crazy person would miss that this dress is about two cup sizes too big. Give the girls some support, Kelly.
Episode: “Ben Franklin”
Outfit: Nothing says “party with plastic flutes filled with Champagne-substitute” like fuchsia flowers and a matching sweater.
Retina-searingness: 6. Listen, we’re just grateful the cardigan at least plays off the colors in the shirt, rather than being of some other family entirely. We don’t trust Kelly with separates.
Episode: “The Negotiation”
Outfit: An oversize purple sweater, pulled way down over what we believe may be a relic from a touring production of Fiddler on the Roof. Why is everything about this outfit about six sizes too big?
Retina-searingness: 7. This burns our eyes … with sadness.
Episode: “Safety Training”
Outfit: This look is very proper-girly, as if Kelly’s heading to meet Ryan’s parents at a gospel brunch rather than what she’s actually doing (taking two minutes and 46 seconds to explain to him the nuances of Netflix).
Retina-searingness: 3. It’s gentle, but still, the pattern here reminds us of what flashes across your closed eyelids when you walk into a sliding glass door you thought was open.
Outfit: We believe this is a repeat of Kelly’s Sad Sweater from “The Negotiation,” this time paired — thank God — with something a bit more cheerful, albeit a shiny, pleated, patterned skirt. We’re dying to break into her house, steal that top, and shrink it two sizes. Too bad she’s all the way in Scranton. And fictional.
Retina-searingness: 6. We’re pretty sure that skirt is flammable. And if it’s not, it certainly looks it, which is almost as bad.
Episodes: “The Deposition,” “The Chair Model”
Outfits: Kelly — perhaps seduced by a late-night marathon of What Not to Wear reruns — succumbs to a series of wrap dresses in season four (they are flattering on her), most often in what is quickly becoming her go-to color palette of pinks and reds.
Retina-searingness: 2. The beauty of dresses is that you are not required to match them with anything else — and clothing coordination is often Kelly’s Achilles’ heel.
Episode: “Crime Aid”
Outfit: Michael Scott is holding a benefit to raise money to fight petty thefts and the like; his first check should go straight to Kelly, because the hat and the Juicy Couture sweatsuit are a crime in and of themselves.
Retina-searingness: 8. The only excuse for attending a meeting wearing red on red topped with a houndstooth Newsies cap is if, in fact, the meeting is about the production of Newsies for which you are currently rehearsing.
Episode: “Casual Friday”
Outfit: Skintight denim overalls, an off-the-shoulder v-neck, that hat, and the kind of boots that symbolize everything that’s wrong about Xanadu and none of what’s right … this is what you wear on Casual Friday only if your boss is the contractor who builds Forever 21 stores.
Retina-searingness: 11. Try looking anywhere else in the photo. Just try.
Episode: “Customer Survey”
Outfit: Kelly is fond of this chartreuse top, mixing and matching (“matching”) it with several cardigans in her wardrobe — including a depressing brown one last seen on our aged sixth-grade math teacher. But this combination had the most going on, what with the purple sweater and that paisley skirt that’s not quite the same shade … but close … but, no, not really.
Retina-searingness: 7. The good news is, should Kelly be suddenly gripped with the urge to eat a grape jelly and mustard sandwich, she can spill it all over herself and nobody would notice.
Episode: “Dream Team”
Outfit: In this scene, Kelly is gazing up at her new supervisor and (rightful) object of lust, Idris Elba (a.k.a. The Wire’s Stringer Bell). So she obviously took great care to put on something that wouldn’t frighten him into a migraine or a coma — always a good move when attempting to seduce one’s boss.
Retina-searingness: 5. She apparently also dipped her nails in Pepto Bismol, which doesn’t jibe with an outfit whose color scheme more closely resembles a bag of M&Ms.
Seasons: Five and Six
Episodes: “Business Trip,” “Murder”
Outfit: Kelly is fond of this oddball printed top — with what appears to be a built-in accordion pleated bow — and wore it several times with a variety of brightly colored cardigans. The explosion of neck detail reminds us of the very first outfit we ever saw Kelly wear (slide No. 1), but the shiny fabric and bright colors bespeak her later passion for high-decibel clothes.
Retina-searingness: 8. The top itself is cute, if a little extreme (much like Kelly herself), but when paired with a yellow cardigan she does start to resemble an incredibly preppy Michigan football fan.
Episode: “Secret Santa”
Outfit: Kelly’s surprisingly cute purple skirt and ribbon belt, paired with the lighter-hued blouse, actually kind of …matches. Without being twee. It’s a Christmas miracle!
Retina-searingness: 2. Hark … is that an actual normal color palette we see?
Episode: “Body Language”
Outfit: In this episode, Kelly is up for a minority-management training program and decides to give herself a leg up by going traditional with a sari salwar kameez and a bindi. (It works, although she was also the only person who applied. Can’t blame the girl for going big, though.)
Retina-searingness: 1. The costume was in service of a gag, but our affinity for it is no joke: The hot pink is great on her, and she looks really pretty. It makes us wish she’d stuck with Darryl Philbin instead of squirrely Ryan. That man is worthy of her.
Episode: “Subtle Sexuality” (NBC Webisode)
Outfit: Lady Gaga meets Cher meets American Apparel meets Jane Fonda.
Retina-searingness: 10. This may be one of those instances in which actually putting an experience into words cheapens it.
Episode: “Andy’s Play”
Outfit: We’re not sure why Kelly owns this staid teal suit, because we’re pretty sure somebody’s great aunt gave it to Goodwill after she got sick of wearing it to church on Sundays. Yet we’re also pretty sure Kelly has never set foot in a Goodwill store, except possibly to assemble the pieces for the outfit in the previous slide (and even then, we think she probably secretly already owned at least half of them).
Retina-searingness: 3. Sure, this suit will be fine in twenty years, but we know Kelly too well by this point to believe that she’s currently paying rent on a condo in Dullsville.
Outfit: This is a much more polished office look for Kelly, a bright pop of color on a sharply tailored blazer. It’s actually rather flattering and smart.
Retina-searingness: 1. This outfit perfectly balances Kelly’s bubbly personality, while still looking somewhat more mature than the “Hey, everyone, there was a sale at Wet Seal” aura of many of her previous looks. Are we entering a new era of sartorial restraint from Ms. Kapoor? Only time will tell, but honestly, we’re torn: On the one hand, Kelly looks so nice when she plays it right; on the other, if she goes straight, where will we get our visual kicks? Somebody please slip John Krasinski a gift card to Hot Topic.