Tuesday 6 December 2016

The Good Wife style guide

Jessie Collins

Published 29/04/2015 | 02:30

The Good Wife: Alicia's clothes echo her strength and prowess
The Good Wife: Alicia's clothes echo her strength and prowess
Archie Panjabi as Kalinda Sharma and Christine Baranski as Diane Lockhart in The Good Wife
Cary Agos is all about sleek Italian styling
Kalinda has a sexy look
The slick Eli Gold

Where to begin on the lesson in powerful dressing that is The Good Wife? A show where the sartorial finishes are not just an added layer of pleasure to enjoy, but an essential part of the underlying narrative, of every character's essence and evolv ing arc.

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And no one gets to demonstrate this more then Alicia Florrick (played by Julianna Margulies), whose style prowess continues to echo her growing strength and confidence from season to season.

Her wardrobe reads like a working woman's dream, so perfectly is she sculpted in everyone from Elie Tahari, Burberry and Max Mara to Alexander McQueen and LK Bennett.

And what's better, the more chaos is in her life, the tougher and more tailored her outfits become. Her wardrobe says, 'there is nothing you can throw at me that I can't handle'. But it also achieves the Holy Grail; it speaks volumes about confidence but is never dull. It is feminine, authoritative, sexy, contemporary. It, like her, kicks ass.

Which brings us to her part-mentor and the all-round style muse Diane Lockhart (played by Christine Baranski). Has there been a better example of ageless alpha-elegance on TV in recent years?

I certainly can't think of it. Diane's look has borrowed heavily from the Anna Wintour school of style - namely that great shapes and statement jewellery go a long way. (Lockhart's character has also managed to reinvent the brooch for the boardroom). Her embellishments are big and bold and it speaks to her confidence.

She's not fussing about with the odd trinket - this is strategic accessorising. Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Prada, Givenchy, YSL - you name it, she gets to wear it. But that's just it, she wears them, not the other way round.

And then there's Kalinda, the private investigator who no one can unlock, who eludes at every turn. From the get-go her look has been tough, sexy, tight - can you imagine her character in a pair of jeans or A-line skirt?

Nope, me neither.

Archie Panjabi, who her plays her, says she doesn't feel like Kalinda unless she is in a pair of boots (they are Via Spiga boots by the way, but tailored to fit Panjabi's exact leg shape), while her regular leather jacket armour is always zipped up so as to say, 'no one's getting in here'. Her clothes seem bulletproof and reflect her outsider/insider status perfectly.

That's not to say we should overlook the men. Sure, they might not seem to have quite the same amount of vocabulary in the sartorial dialogue, but the detail in their expertly-crafted suits speaks volumes.

Peter Florrick (played by Chris Noth) gets well kitted in the likes of Brooks Brothers, while Cary Agos (Matt Czuchry) is all Italian designer sleek, but it is Eli Gold (Alan Cumming) you have to look at to really see how the styling so brilliantly upholds his character.

Here is a man so uptight you'd be afraid to touch him in case he shattered, donned in a perfect mix of Dolce & Gabbana, Versace and Paul Smith all buttoned up to within an inch of their lives and, like his hair, immaculate. His tie is so tight you wonder if he can breathe. And if it came to it, you'd imagine he'd find a way to extract oxygen through his ears if it meant winning great political sway. Everything about Eli, from collar to cuff, crackles with precision and hypertension. To see him in a sweater would tear down the man, such is the prop his suits provide.

But the real brilliance of what the show's creators have realised is: women particularly don't just want to see women kicking ass and owning the (court) room, we want to see them kicking ass in extremely well tailored, beautifully-finished clothes that reinforce their undeniable excellence in what they do. It's a joy - it is new power-dressing post noughties, understated but saying so much about self-possession, ability, confidence, all without an eye-grazing shoulder pad in sight.

Irish Independent

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