If you ever need a perfect example—actually,make that three perfect examples—of power dressing for the office, all you have to do is watch an episode of The Good Wife. (Also, because the show is just SO GOOD this season.) And for the flawless supporting players, in the form of costumes, we need to thank designer Dan Lawson for creating Alicia Florrick’s (Juliana Margulies) classic-meets-modern courtroom (and campaign trail!) style, Diane Lockhart’s (Christine Baranski) edgier “Madison Avenue” flair, and Kalinda Sharma’s (Archie Panjabi) badass, leather-infused wardrobe.
The veteran costume designer is actually bringing his keen eye for power dressing to the masses with a collaboration with London-based number 35 on a capsule collection of elegant, but stylish clothing for the professional woman (Alicia wore some of the looks in season four). He’s also branched out to chic accessories with New York-based jewelry line PONO by Joan Goodman with a six nature-inspired pieces. But I want to go directly to the source to find out what the secret to successful power dressing is—you know, in case we need to save our dreamboat colleague from prison, run for political office, or just make an impression with the boss at the next team meeting.
Dan is a font of sartorial knowledge—and incredibly fun to talk to—so here are his top tips and tricks and sometimes with a little The Good Wife dish mixed in. (Alicia repeats staples like Kate Middleton!)
Find a good tailor.
“What all Alicia, Diane, and Kalinda have in common is good fit to their clothing and I think that is really key to conveying your confidence. If your trousers are too long and your skirt’s too big and it’s droopy or your jacket is wrinkled. Look clothes are going to wrinkle don’t get me wrong, but you need to have a good fit.”
“This is something that I do on the show—and I do it with myself, too—is dress people in what I call ‘a column of color’ because that honestly, automatically makes you feel stronger. You’re wearing all black, you’re wearing all navy, or whatever color, but you’re coming across as a solid mass and that creates a strength to it.”
Rock a little detail.
This season, Dan has been dressing Alicia in monochromatic power suits with a touch of detail, like Andrew Gn’s monochrome wool suit with a bit of lace around the sleeves and a peplum jacket with studs on the edge. “It’s a masculine fabric but it has a feminine flair to it and I think that’s a really great way to that you’ve got it all put together; you’re the full package.”
Your bag says a lot about you.
“A really good staple for a business woman is a really good bag. A bag that will carry your files, carry your papers, carry your computer, pieces that you have to take back and forth. People can be dressed really well and then they’re schlepping around with some bag that’s beat and doesn’t look very nice and it just takes the edge away.The bag doesn’t have to be crazy expensive.” Go for an elegant, streamlined piece and keep it low on design details and, guys, take care of your bag. “Condition the leather, have it cleaned, just really take care of the pieces.”
It’s OK to spend a little more on one key wardrobe piece, as long as you’ll get your money’s worth.
“I have this great blouse on the show that Julianna wears and it is an expensive blouse. It’s a Pucci blouse, but that thing is getting a workout this season. It’s a great player and we know we can rely on it. It’s just such a good piece, it just doesn’t lose its shape and we just keep using it and using it. So find those pieces that are going to be the workhorse in your closet and invest in them and make sure that they’re going to last and look as good in the 15th wearing as they did in the first.”
Play with color, but not too much.
“I also think you have to be careful with crazy color. But some color is good. I try and get as much color as I can into the show. But I love to see when businesswomen or female lawyers have a little color—a deep red suit or a blue suit or rust—just colors that pull them out from the pack of men. Which, let’s face it, is a great tool in a woman’s tool kit. Stand out from the crowd. Guys pretty much wear dark suits and they get their color form their ties. But women, you can stand out a little bit. But you don’t want to stand out too much, just a little bit.”
And take it easy on the jewelry, ladies.
“Be careful with too much jewelry. I think a lot of times, women will think, ‘I’ve got a really big day, I really wanna be strong today,’ so they put on a lot of jewelry and it ends up looking overdone. It’s too much stuff. It breaks up the look and makes the outfit look frenetic, rather than pulled together and focused. It’s important to have one significant piece whether it’s a necklace or the earrings or the bracelet or the ring and let the others just fall away—don’t even use them.