How The Good Wife Taught Women to Dress for Work

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Photo: CBS Photo Archive

The Good Wife’s costume designer Daniel Lawson and the show’s star Julianna Margulies were jointly recognized as “style influencers” at the Accessories Council’s ACE Awards on Tuesday. At the event, the two (who have become close friends) described how looks from The Good Wife have influenced what the rest of us wear, and particularly what women wear to work.

Margulies said she has felt the show’s sartorial influence in a direct way. “I get a lot of people stopping me and saying ‘Thank you,’ and I’m like, ‘Why?’ I always think they’re about to say, ‘Because I loved your show,’ and they say, ‘Because I learned how to dress for work,’” she told the Cut. “And I take that as such a compliment, because it is hard, when you have a powerful job, as a woman, to still be able to celebrate your femininity, and not be called — I don’t want to be rude, but a ‘slut,’ because your skirt was tight. But to look streamlined and feel sexy, and still be powerful, I think, is important.”

Lawson specifically mentioned peplums, which his team started showcasing in season two. “There were jackets that we used on the show by LK Bennett or Dior — we used a lot of Dior pieces that actually had peplums on the jackets, which I loved, because it emphasized Julianna’s tiny waist on camera, and just gave her such a gorgeous silhouette,” he said. “I also think it harked back to, like, the old Hollywood style and feeling, and I love that. I’m very much about the classic, but put in a modern way … By season three it was like peplum-palooza,” he laughed. “I feel like after using the peplums on the show, we started seeing it more out there.”

Lawson recalled that one of his assistants, Jenn Rogien, who now designs costumes for Girls and Orange Is the New Black, came into work one day and said, “I think they’re noticing what you’re doing on these women, because I’m seeing it more and more when I look at these runway shows, or I’m seeing it out on the street or in the stores.”

He said the increasing popularity of styles from the show also benefited his staff because they were suddenly available — previously, they occasionally had to hunt down looks or completely recut jackets for the right effect. Another example: long jackets ending about an inch above Diane Lockhart’s dresses on the show. “Obviously, somebody was doing it somewhere, because we found them,” Lawson explained. “But it became more and more popular, I felt, out there. And then it became easier to find them.”

Diane’s big statement necklaces also became popular: “I started using those more and more the second half of the series, because I felt like she was just stronger, and more confident of herself,” he said. “I started to see it more and more, people wearing big pieces. Not even necessarily outside their clothing, but sort of inside, as like an under layer, what I call secret jewelry to kind of add depth to a look.” (Which is why he used it on Diane.)

Even inside show business, he found people were noticing what Kalinda wore. “I peppered in leather jackets at very key moments, and shorter skirts, and knee-high leather boots, and that became really all the rage out there,” Lawson said. “And I had costume designers calling me, actually, saying, “Okay, can you stop, because every actress comes in and says, ‘I want to look like Archie Panjabi.’”