'Suits' costume designer on the show's tailor-made wardrobe
With a show named Suits, you know the wardrobe department must put in a lot of overtime. Perfectly tailored clothing is a key element of the USA Network legal drama, and the cast’s attire will be as sharp as ever in season three — thanks to costume designer Jolie Andreatta, who says she keeps “upping the game” to meet fan expectations.
For each episode, Andreatta not only dresses male leads Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams, she also stocks more than 100 suits for the show’s day players. “Suits are like medieval suits of armor. [They] tell us who the person is, what kind of background they [come from], what kind of status they have,” Andreatta explains. And though Harvey’s protégé Mike once asked, “Why does it matter how much I spend on a suit?” he has learned a thing or two about getting dressed from his former mentor. This season, Mike can be seen in an array of classic Burberry silhouettes. “It’s funny, because Mike is actually going more towards textured suits and pinstripes. We’re not using as skinny a tie as we did the first couple of seasons,” Andreatta says. “He’s maturing in the way of how the lapels are being cut and the collars. [His look is] becoming more ‘executive,’ but because he has that young flare, it’s fresh on him.”
While much has been made of the men’s fashion on the show, Andreatta pays equal attention to female characters Rachel Zane (Meghan Markle), Jessica Pearson (Gina Torres), and Donna Paulsen (Sarah Rafferty). “The women are the ones who really [reveal] the wealth of the show,” says the costume designer, who outfits the women in labels like Dior, Victoria Beckham, Prada, and Burberry. “Men have classic [attire], but when you’re trying to portray that 1% it comes from the fashion forward look [of the women].”
Click on to see how Andreatta dresses the cast of Suits.
“It’s all about texture and color combinations,” Andreatta says of the men’s aesthetic. Harvey’s confidence is expressed through “beautiful classic pieces,” while Mike embraces a “fun and younger” look. To compliment their Tom Ford (Harvey) and Burberry (Mike) suits, both characters wear bespoke accessories to show their individual identities. “The network is very aware of how important cross marketing is with fashion, so they do allow us to purchase quality pieces. It definitely comes across on camera.”
Macht’s personal closet holds around 30 suits — his character typically wears up to 10 different looks each episode — with new styles constantly being added to keep up with current menswear trends. “We’re cycling out a lot of stuff from the first and second season and are going for fresher looks,” Andreatta says of Harvey’s wardrobe, which is heavily influenced by Steve McQueen. “I’m using more solids on him. I no longer want to use pinstripes. I’ll still use some plaids and stripes, but I’m going to be much more particular about it.” One thing that won’t change in season three? Harvey is still loyal to designer Tom Ford.
Next: THE WOMEN
For the women, “it’s all about collecting [things] from different places,” says Andreatta, who starts each season by shopping in Los Angeles — where she’s based — before heading to shoot the show on location in Toronto. Among her favorite retail haunts — consignment stores like L.A.’s Decades and The Address, and Toronto boutique The Cat’s Meow, and department stores like Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Barney’s, and Bloomingdale’s. “I have a tendency to mix contemporary pieces with vintage,” she says.
Next: THE ACCESSORIES
“It’s a collaboration,” Andreatta says of working with actors Gabriel Macht and Patrick J. Adams. She purchases shirts for both men at Harry Rosen, a Toronto-based men’s clothing store, typically dressing them in greys, blues, taupes, and reds to create on-camera dimension. “I believe in [an] old masters kind of coloring.” The guys’ cuff links are vintage, their shoes are A. Testoni, and their array of ties bear labels like Armani, Etro, and Hermes.
When the cast shoots close-ups, they’ll sometimes ditch the handmade Italian shoes in favor of a more casual footwear, as long as it won’t be seen on the small screen. “They will wear Vans just for comfort, but only if they’re framed up,” the costume designer explains. ” [But] most of the boys are suited up and in full uniform.”
Next: SANS SUIT
“Both the boys’ [off-duty wardrobes] are based on their backgrounds,” says Andreatta. “[Mike] is from a less wealthy background, so I keep it simple with hoodies, t-shirts, a good pair of jeans, Converse or desert boots.” Harvey Specter’s look is inspired by “his father being a jazz musician… stemming from the 50’s, 60’s, 70’s era. I take iconic pieces from those eras to influence him.”
Andreatta notes that both Macht and Adams have also stepped up their style game off camera. “From watching dallies and episodes, both men have become so insanely aware of tailoring now. They say they regret the next person that has to tailor them after this because they’re so aware of how things are cut,” she laughs. “I love the way Gabriel puts his outfits together. It’s so nonchalant. He’s got a great personal style with a little bit of a bohemian vibe to it. And Birkenstocks! I don’t know if anyone else could pull that off except for him!” While costume design is often a collaborative process, Patrick recently became more than routinely involved in what his character wears. “After watching, he decided he wanted to change the collar up a little bit, so we took that concept and went forward on it. It has a younger take on it, but it is a spread collar,” says Andreatta.
Suits airs Tuesdays at 10/9 central on USA Network.