How To Dress Like Fashion Icon Eric Effiong in Netflix’s ‘Sex Education’

You’d have to be living under a rock if you haven’t already watched Sex Education. It’s our generation’s Skins, a crass, dirty and entertaining coming of age comedy-drama about the ups, downs and soft and hard realities of sex, gender, dating and all at school. And it’s addictive as hell.

The show follows Otis Milburn (Asa Butterfield), the son of sex therapist Dr. Jean Milburn (Gillian Anderson), who runs an underground amateur sexual health clinic at school with stoic feminist badass Maeve Willey (Emma Mackey), and the messy dramas and clients that follows them and the people around them.

It’s a genuinely informative and comforting series about sex, relationships and identity in high school, but it’s best part? Eric ‘Effing’ Effiong (Ncuti Gatwa), Otis’ best friend, and our unashamedly camp, confident and charmingly cheerful fashion icon. 

We love him.

Why we love him

Generally, LGBTQIA+ characters in TV shows set in high school are written as if their sexuality defines them. Often, they’re struggling with their sexuality or are coming out to their judgemental parents, instead of just living life, awkwardly flirting with their crush, high school drama and being a teen. While that kind of representation is incredibly important and gives us a voice during one of the harshest and most universal experiences as a queer person, sometimes it would be nice to just watch a show with an openly queer kid who’s not only already come out but is killing it.

Cut to: Eric Effiong.

Eric is charming, funny, sex positive, proud and assertive. He’s a gay and queer teen who dresses up in drag, isn’t afraid to wear makeup or loud everyday clothes, is confident and sure of who he is as a gay man and gay sex practices, Ghanese and Christian. His journey in Sex Education is undeniably the best, seconded by Lily’s weird horny alien take on Shakespeare.

And, he best tells this through what he wears, which we’ve provided a handy guide for you to recreate.

Ya know, to live your confident and camp best self.

Get the looks: casual, camp and ballroom x prom

Eric’s fashion can be described as nothing less than fabulous. Mirroring his cheerfully charming and courageous personality, he wears camp and colourful clothes that reference Brooklyn’s popular ballroom drag scene (pls watch Paris Is Burning on Netflix, a quick PSA), his African background, ’80s geometric patterns and ’90s pastels, and, as Gatwa explains in a video on Eric’s journey through fashion, his journey to accept himself self-love. 

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eric effiong: a fashion evolution 👌

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This is best represented in his everyday casual wear (and season two promo look), what he wears camping and his ballroom prom extravaganza outfit at the end of season one. 

Here’s a sneaky little guide to get you to love yourself as much as we love you (and him).

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To 🍆 or not to 🍆

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For Eric’s everyday attire, he often wears striped business casual pants featuring a high waist, and a solid or patterned shirt. For his promo piece, while the actual pink leopard shirt is completely sold out on ASOS’ UK website, there are plenty of alternatives. He matches the top half with a pair of tapered black striped or checkered pants, a winning combo imo. Coupled with a blue quilted parka or bomber jacket, we have no choice but to stan.

When Eric goes camping with Otis and Otis’ dad Remi, he puts his own spin on camping gear with something a little bit…camp (I’M SORRY). 

A matching ‘80s geometric printed short sleeve shirt and short combo with a pastel multi raincoat and a pair of teal espadrilles? It may not be practical in the muddy Welsh woods but as far as we can see, it’s a slay. For the clothes, we recommend also checking out your local vintage store or op-shop, too.

Then, of course, we have Eric’s Ghanese-inspired ballroom look he wears to prom. Contextually, this outfit serves a lot of narrative importance. In season one, Eric, dressed in drag and waiting to meet Otis for an annual tradition to see Hedwig’s in drag, is attacked by a bunch of homophobic hooligans. Shortly after, he hides himself behind brown plain clothes that don’t show his personality, and struggles to believe his church group will accept him. 

His father, a Ghanese refugee who experienced a similar fear of alienation when he first arrived in Britain, begins to worry about Eric dressing up in drag. Not out of judgement but in fear that he will be treated differently. It’s here that Eric attends church and the school ball in open arms in perhaps his most iconic look yet.

Donning some rainbow meets teal glitter makeup (that’s hopefully eco-glitter), a Ghanese-inspired headpiece, African-made earings, vinyl high heel shoes and kente suit, and wielding a giant ass clack fan, this look is an homage to Eric’s African heritage and Brooklyn’s iconic ballroom drag scene. 

And, it’s an absolute fashion moment if u ask us. 

Quick side note tho: if you’re not of African decent, maybe opt out for the headpiece and be cautious of appropriating African culture, k thnx.

Sex Education is available to stream on Netflix. Currently, Netflix has yet to confirm a second season, but we would be genuinely surprised if they don’t. In the meantime, why not save up a few thousand dollars, hit up the group chat and book Otis’ three storey mansion home just because you can. Or check out our fashion guide to I Am Not Okay With This best boy and Syrup fave Stanley Barber.

And don’t forget, to wash your hands you dirty, dirty pigs.

Julian Rizzo-Smith is a writer and producer. He also claims to be a vine historian, avid connoisseur of low-fi beats, indie hip hop and Kermit memes. In a perfect world, he’d be married to Tyler the Creator, own an Arcanine and a Lapras, and don his own Sailor Scouts uniform. He tweets @GayWeebDisaster, which is also, coincidentally, how one might describe him.

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