You know you’re obsessed with a show when you have to watch every behind-the-scenes special feature on the DVD. That’s where I’m at right now with The Good Wife. There’s one feature on the final disc of Season 1 called “Clothing the Characters,” that I highly recommend. It focuses on the show’s costume designer Daniel Lawson and how he develops the looks for each character – including the jewelry they wear.
You’d be amazed how much thought goes into the jewelry on this show, even for the background players. The only ones who get short-changed are the guys. Lawson discusses his approach to the fashion of each male character but not one watch or cufflink enters the discussion, not even for Cary, known as the clotheshorse of the men.
The women, on the other hand… If you’re a fan you’ve probably noticed that the females on this show have very distinct styles. They all work in a law firm – not known as the most creative halls of fashion – and yet all manage to look stylish and individualistic, as well as professional.
The first season opened with Alicia Florrick, a politician’s wife played by Julianna Margulies, re-entering the work force after a long hiatus. With her husband in prison, she’s rediscovering her individual identity, thrust into the limelight by her husband’s much-publicized affair with a prostitute. At the firm, she dresses elegantly but conservatively, doesn’t wear much jewelry but isn’t afraid to wear some serious stiletto pumps – four inches high at least. They lend her authority while showing off Margulies’ impressive gams.
“Julianna and I had a big discussion about her jewelry and we felt like the last thing she’s going to think about is jewelry,” Lawson says. In the first few episodes she wears nothing but diamond studs in her ears. But by the end of that season, she’s wearing necklaces, usually multi-strand silver or gold chains, sometimes a bracelet, varying her pieces from outfit to outfit. “She’s starting to think about it a little bit,” Lawson says.
Kalinda, my favorite character on the show, gets to wear the most outrageous ensembles, but the boldness is in her clothes, not her jewels. She favors a pair of boots you don’t find too often in a law firm: roll-down, knee-high black boots with stiletto heels – sort of streetwalker-meets-Pirates-of-the-Caribbean. She also wears mini-skirts, sometimes ruffled, fitted waists with wide belts, lots of black leather. Black works with the glossy hair piled on her head and her dramatic, black-rimmed eyes – definite hints of sixties-Mod with Kalinda – and is often paired with fitted tops in rich colors like violet and saffron.
With a look this bold, Lawson was probably right to go easy on the jewelry. Kalinda wears the same diminutive silver pieces in every scene, a small circle pendant on a delicate chain, small earrings, one bold ring on the middle finger – a finger I’ve never seen her lift but you know she would if this show was on HBO instead of CBS. The jewelry emphasizes Kalinda’s femininity – she’s tough but in an all-girl way. “She knows she looks fabulous. She doesn’t have to add anything to it,” Lawson says.
Kalinda defies so many clichés. She’s a loner, tiny but capable of destroying a car with a baseball bat in five strokes, or deducing the evil scheme of a foe and formulating a counter-scheme on the spot. She does whatever the situation calls for, is always right, and always gets her way – which is very satisfying. I love her relationship with Alicia and hope they make up in the next season or I’ll be very sad. (New season begins September 25.)
Archie Panjabi, the actress who plays Kalinda, says in the special feature that her character “is already so larger-than-life,” that she wanted to avoid clichés. Kalinda is a woman of mystery. “I felt the costume, to some extent, heightened her a little bit,” Panjabi says. “Just from seeing her, you can tell a story about who she is and where she’s from.”
Christine Baranski who plays Diane Lockhart, a partner at the firm, gets to have the most fun with her jewelry. “She’s more fashion-forward, her finger is more on the pulse of contemporary fashion,” Lawson says, adding that he had covered several tables with jewelry when she came in for her first fitting. “Oh! I see we have a lot of jewelry,” she remarked.
“We didn’t want to make her foolishly accessorized,” Lawson says. “We wanted to tell the story of who she was and she does pay attention to accessories.” She often wears the same ring, a three-band platinum and diamond number, but sometimes trades it for big chunky opaque stones in dark neutral colors.
She never wears the same necklace twice and they vary from long Chanel-like chains to dramatic pendants, chunky colored stones, and multi-strand pearls of every variety. She’s not afraid to throw in costume pieces by Kenneth Jay Lane or Trifari if they works with her outfit.
Diane is the only character who rocks the lapel brooch, often forgoing a necklace for a buttoned up jacket with a big vintage pin, forties and fifties styles – mid-century modern abstracts, bird motifs, a dragonfly. Lawson says the vintage pins were Baranski’s idea. Diane is supposedly Old Money, so the idea is that the brooches were passed down through her family.
“You’d think that a pin would read very old school but somehow it reads very modern and chic on her. That’s my goal for her: business and chic and elegant,” Lawson says. “All three women really do have very different sensibilities when it comes to their jewelry.”
Related products (buying through links on my site costs you nothing extra but puts a few pennies in my blog fund):