Uncovering the demure look of the sex-fueled drama

The main characters on Masters of Sex (Sundays at 10 p.m. on Showtime) are surprisingly buttoned-up. Six episodes in, though, that’s starting to change. Says costume designer Ane Crabtree, “Everybody is covered up in millions of layers, but what we’re trying to do is get their clothes off.”

Virginia Johnson Lizzy Caplan
The secret to Johnson’s style is what’s underneath her sweaters and pencil skirts. “It’s scary and overconstructed, five times the power of Spanx,” the designer says of the vintage foundation garments Caplan wears. “It makes it hard for her to use the bathroom between takes, but it gives her a beautiful bust-to-waist-to-hip ratio.”

William Masters Michael Sheen
During early fittings Sheen requested that his character’s clothes be custom-made, “because that’s what the real William H. Masters did,” explains Crabtree. “Michael told me that Masters’ mother made all of his bow ties. It’s a little sick and very intriguing, but as you get to know her [on the show], it makes perfect sense.”

Libby Masters Caitlin Fitzgerald
“I can’t find a picture of her…. She’s a woman of mystery,” Crabtree says of the real Mrs. Masters. Instead Libby’s cinematic wardrobe is inspired by the leading ladies of the 1950s. “I looked at Grace Kelly and all the Hitchcock blondes. Libby is like the Cheshire cat; she has a lot of secrets.”

The Real-Life Inspirations
“The intention was never to make Masters and Johnson more glamorous, but Lizzy is beautiful and Michael is so sexy,” explains Crabtree. “In the beginning I’d think, ‘How are we going to make them into people who are all about science?’ ” The answer: Look past the clothes. “Masters had a uniform; he wanted to appear as normal as possible because of his controversial work. Virginia Johnson was zaftig, sexy in a ’50s sort of way. There was an underlying tension in her clothing.”

Episode Recaps

Masters of Sex

This Showtime drama tells the steamy story of real-life sex researchers in the 1950s.

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