In perfect form,the cast of legal drama series Suits are kitted in suitable but sexy attire matching the mood of each episode. writes June Thomas
The legal drama Suits, which has just begun its fourth season run on M-Net, Saturdays at 8pm, features the most fabulous fashion on television. Set in an elite New York law firm, the well-paid attorneys of Pearson Specter are exactly the kind of people who can afford the clothes top designers send down fashion-show runways.
We spoke with the show’s costume designer, Jolie Andreatta, about using clothes to reflect the characters’ personalities, how to make office attire sexy, and matching outfits with the mood of the episode.
When I think about the work of a costume designer, I imagine someone sketching clothes for someone else to make, but on Suits a lot of the clothes are designer items. How does costuming work on a show like this?
Designers work all kinds of ways. On Suits, it starts with me going out and finding clothes, especially for our main cast. I go out, look on websites, look at fashion shows, see what’s coming into the stores. I probably shop and pick 90 percent of the show, and then I have a really great team that helps me facilitate getting the pieces that I find in the right sizes, and doing the day-players that I can’t |get to. But I’ve always been a hands-on girl.
Do you adjust the clothes for the characters?
Constantly. We tailor, tailor, tailor. I’ve been known to buy gowns and cut them into dresses. I’ve been known to cut sleeves. If something’s sheer, I’ll cover it. I’m not shy about that. With good tailoring you adapt the dress to the proportion of the body that’s wearing them.
Most of the clothes on Suits are worn to the office, so there’s not much cleavage, but they’re very fitted. They’re amazing from behind! Is that a way of sneaking in something that’s a little more sexy?
Again, proportions and how things photograph are my main goal, but on this show tailoring is a way to show how sexy everything can be without it being vulgar.
As you’d expect from a show with this name, the male characters wear some very nice suits – Harvey (Gabriel Macht) is dressed by Tom Ford – but the guys’ clothes are almost a uniform. With the women, you can reflect more of their personality in what they wear.
Let’s start with Jessica Pearson, played by Gina Torres. She’s the boss, the firm’s managing partner.
I’m sensitive to the mood of the script, and the particular case that’s being addressed. I feel like I can always be a little more sexy, a little more elaborate, when it’s dealing with corporate takeovers. If it’s a more emotional case, I don’t want to distract from what’s going on. Jessica is very comfortable in her own skin, so even if I put her in a really fitted dress, and she’s got to go to court, she’s going to be comfortable in it. Gina can pretty much pull off anything.
Wearing and re-wearing things is something that people do. How do you calibrate that for television?
When I do shows, they’re laid out like editorial. So the first day would be like the first page of an editorial, the second day would be like the second page, and so forth, so it needs to have a flow to it. If I need something I’ve already used to continue that flow, then I will reuse it. I also know that if I don’t use it one year, I can maybe skip a year and then use it again.
Let’s move on to Donna, played by Sarah Rafferty. Donna isn’t at the same level of income or status as Jessica. She’s Harvey’s secretary, but she’s a very powerful character because of her close relationship with her boss. Is there something you do with the costumes to express Donna’s atypical state?
Sarah has brought a lot to the character, and part of it is that she’s got a guy who knows a guy who can get her anything. Donna has expensive tastes. She’s a New Yorker, and she knows how to get what she wants. So she does wear designer clothes. She’s a fashion plate, too.
She’s a redhead with very pale skin. Is that something that you factor in when picking out her clothes?
With all of them that’s a major factor. Donna’s spunky. Her personality is able to pull off a lot of prints and bolder stuff with character to them. I’ve had her in pink, which I don’t think Sarah had ever worn before, but I think redheads in pink are outstandingly beautiful.
Rachel, played by Meghan Markle, is the youngest of the three women, and as a paralegal and now law student, she’s the most junior. But she’s from a wealthy family, and she often wears beautiful clothes.
Quality does show on camera: the fabric, the way it stands up.
What’s the biggest challenge of working on the costumes in this show?
Art pieces, the structures everybody’s doing, the bolder colours, they aren’t quite right.
Is it that bold, structural pieces don’t really work with a work environment?
It’s more who the characters are. Gina could pull of anything, but New York characters are pretty classic. As long as it’s not too powerful… because then it starts to take it away from what’s going on. The clothes really should be the co-star, not the star.
*This article was first published on the June 29th issue of the Sunday Tribune SMtv. It originally appeared in Slate, which we have lifting rights to.*