'Elementary': Dressing Dr. Watson as a woman and the secret to Sherlock's quirky style
- TV Show
In this week’s issue of Entertainment Weekly (click here to buy the issue), we investigate the wardrobe of CBS’ hit Sherlock Holmes series, Elementary.
Costume designer Rebecca Hofherr says she knew that turning Dr. Watson (Lucy Liu) into a woman — a woman living in a man’s world, to be precise — was going to be a challenge. That’s exactly why she took the job.
“It is, for all intents and purposes, a crime show, and the usual thing is to have the characters on crime shows in uniforms and suits,” Hofherr says. “But Lucy’s character is not a detective, so I was really excited to know that every week I could put her in way more exciting clothing than you’d see on a standard detective show.”
And while Hofherr points out that the dynamic between Watson and Sherlock remains true to Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s vision, she admits it’s fun to play dress-up with the good doctor.
“We have the opportunity to go completely the other way,” she says. “No woman is going to watch the British version of the show [Sherlock, starring Martin Freeman as Dr. Watson] and go, ‘Ooh, I really like that coat Watson is wearing!’”
Click through the gallery to find out where Hofherr shops for Watson’s chic separates, how Liu helps decide what her character should wear, and why Sherlock insists on buttoning his shirts all the way up to the top button.
NEXT: Favorite labels
“Watson wears clothes from a lot of stores that we all shop in, like Zara, J. Crew and H&M. Sometimes we’ll use a couple of pieces from department stores like Barneys and Bloomingdale’s,” says Hofherr of mixing less expensive pieces with higher-priced things from brands like All Saints and Rag & Bone. “I know that the trend this year was bright colors, but they’re not very TV-friendly, especially on a crime drama, so I use most of these brands because the clothes are fashionable but not too trendy.”
NEXT: Stylish instincts
Hofherr says she’s glad Lucy Liu gives input on what Watson should wear. “Lucy has a great sense of style. There was an episode where she had to dress a little more conservatively and we had a really great dress. She said, ‘I was looking through fashion magazines the other day, and I saw this crisp, white blouse underneath this dress and it made it look a little more buttoned up.’ So we tried it and it worked,” the costume designer explains. “She’s got to be in these clothes for 14 hours a day, and it’s always nice when an actor likes the clothes they’re wearing.”
NEXT: Method dressing
Hofherr also works closely with Jonny Lee Miller to develop Sherlock’s style aesthetic. “He’s the one who actually came up with the idea of buttoning the shirts all the way up to the top. Even though sometimes he looks disheveled, his clothes fit him the right way. He has style, he’s just not obsessed with fashion,” she says of the character’s sartorial choices. His one designer indulgence? “A Tom Ford coat, which would be far too expensive for the character to own. I just said, “Who knows, maybe it was a gift from his rich dad!'”
Elementary airs Thursdays at 10 p.m. on CBS. For more on the costumes of Elementary, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, on newsstands Feb. 8.
–Reporting by Nakisha Williams
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