ALICIA FLORRICK (aka Julianna Margulies) has endured her ups and downs in law, love and politics on the popular and award-winning CBS TV series “The Good Wife.” But through what is now the show’s seventh season, her wardrobe has never let her down. For that, thanks goes to the series’ costume designer Dan Lawson (who also oversees costume design on the new show, “Limitless“). We recently talked to Lawson about dressing the main characters — Alicia, Diane (Christine Baranski) and newcomer Lucca (Cush Jumbo) and how to apply his wardrobe wisdom to our own everyday dress decisions.
MLB: What are the key elements in dressing your characters for the show?
DL: First things first. Clothing must fit well. Alter everything. Then, costume designers think about what the day holds for the character — where will she go, whom will she meet? The same applies to a businesswoman. Is she in the office all day, does she have to attend meeting, go for cocktails after work? Anticipating makes a psychological difference and gives you confidence that you’re wearing the right garments for the day. I also make sure that my characters have good staples — pencil skirts, A-line skirts, shells.
MLB: How important are accessories?
DL: Shoes, handbags and jewelry finish the look. They all should be in as perfect condition as possible. People notice a worn and scratched bag, which leads to an impression that says rough around the edges rather than polished. If your look is all “wrapped up,” power and strength are what comes across. Something else is key — once you find shapes and fabrics that work on you, use them to death. Repeat it, repeat it, repeat it.
MLB: Do you incorporate current trends in your characters’ wardrobes?
DL: A TV show has longevity; it can still be playing 10 years or more down the road. I stick to a classic look that doesn’t date us, with a bit of trendy thrown in. I watch “I Love Lucy” reruns; that mid 1950s Dioresque feeling is still appealing. The jackets are beautifully classic, emphasizing the feminine figure. And that’s very much what I do in my shows — focus on the female form.
MLB: Talk a little about the psychology of fashion, and your thoughts on high heels.
DL: Boots were a silhouette that repeated for Kalinda (Archie Panjabi), who left the show last season. When we got to a scene in which she wasn’t wearing boots, she said, “I don’t feel like Kalinda. I have to put the boots on.” Likewise, Julianna was playing an emotional scene and she said to me, “This is a great outfit, but I don’t feel right in it for this scene.” I’m a believer that a heel changes your stature and your posture and makes people look at you differently. You command the room a little more. You become a little more formal, serious.
MLB: Who are your go-to designers for clothing on the show?
DL: Narciso Rodriguez, Akris, Escada, Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Lanvin, Armani. Also Alexander McQueen and a bit of Dior. I have an ongoing relationship with Lafayette 148 New York; I recently teamed with the brand for a show at Saks Fifth Avenue in Chevy Chase showing how I would style the clothes for Alicia’s character. I also choose clothing from my small custom line, 35DL, a collaboration with Andrea Cohen, designer and founder of British brand number 35 (now available at Julia Farr).
MLB: How do you make distinctions among Alicia, Diane and Lucca?
DL: Alicia has become more classic and more sophisticated through the years. Diane is Madison Avenue meets Park Avenue. She’s not afraid to wear a big necklace, but she wouldn’t wear a sleeveless dress to court. Lucca is very playful with her clothes and likes color. She’s in the 20-something world and she’s looking for deals. Her clothing is from Karen Millen, Escada, Tahari, Millie, Alexander McQueen and Theory. She doesn’t wear suits.
MLB: For the new season, how are Alicia’s looks changing now that’s she not on the campaign trail or going to a formal law office?
DL: She’s wearing more blouses and skirts and more comfortable clothing because she’s working out of a home office. As the story unfolds, expect more color additions to her mostly neutral palette.