Grown-ish costume designer breaks down the sitcom's unique style
Yara Shahidi isn't the only black-ish alum graduating to the college-set Freeform spin-off grown-ish (Wednesdays at 8 p.m.). Along for the ride is black-ish costume designer Michelle R. Cole, whose love of mixing patterns and styles affords each character a wholly unique (and enviable!) look. Cole walks us through styling the sitcom's chic cast.
Zoey (Yara Shahidi)
On black-ish, Zoey's style trended toward preppy. But in the transition to college, she's abandoned the collars and dresses in favor of a more fluid, eclectic aesthetic that ranges from a simple hoodie to a cheetah-print jacket. "She's trying to find herself," says Cole, who pairs high-end items from Barneys and Gucci with more affordable options from Target and Forever 21 for a look that's cool yet casual. "You want your audience to able to relate to that character."
Nomi (Emily Arlook)
Designing Nomi, Zoey's free-spirited bisexual bestie, meant creating outfits that captured both her tomboy side and her sexier side — necessitating a lot of mixing and matching. "I did In Living Color a long time ago, so I love mixing things," says Cole, citing the adjacent outfit as an example of finding that balance. "I think she looks really sexy here. Even though it's boyish, it's one of my favorite looks on her."
Aaron (Trevor Jackson)
Cole decided to break one of her cardinal rules while assembling Aaron's wardrobe. "With his closet, we recycled a lot," she says. "I don't like to do that." However, Cole figured the campus activist would be more concerned with convenience and comfort than standing out fashion-wise, so she gravitated toward cotton items — like crew-neck sweaters — from Urban Outfitters, Gap, and thrift stores. "His [look] was kind of sexy and soft, but it's kind of sloppy."
Ana (Francia Raisa)
Cole received specific instructions from grown-ish co-creator Kenya Barris when it came to Zoey's Cuban Republican roommate. "He wanted her to be a little conservative, but have a flair because it is college," says Cole, who punched up mature items from J.Crew and Theory with patterns from Alice + Olivia. "We still gave her short skirts and tight pants. We didn't want to make this character boring. She gives [Zoey] the [middle finger]. She's not a prissy."
Vivek (Jordan Buhat)
In the pilot, we immediately learn where pill-dealing Vivek's earnings go as he began the school year wearing pricey brands like Gucci and Givenchy. While his wallet could support his extravagant tastes, the same couldn't be said for the show, so Cole eventually toned down his look. "We went a little cheaper when we started to go to Burberry, because we still wanted the look but had to bring the price point down," explains Cole.
Grown-ish airs Wednesdays at 8 p.m. on Freeform