Fashion & Beauty · Film & Television

Power and Fashion in ‘The Good Wife’

Juliana Margulies in The Good Wife (CBS)

Much has been written about the final episode of CBS’ The Good Wife. And an equal amount of time and analysis have been dedicated to the show’s fashion choices, which have functioned as their own performance of larger messages, symbols, and ideas about women and power.

The Atlantic declared that the show’s costumes for its leading ladies spoke to “feminism and class and the complex interplay between the two.” The Wall Street Journal opined that the show’s fashion tricks  “amount to real solutions for mature women.” And The Washington Post dissected the heroine Alicia Florrick’s black Giorgio Armani jacket worn in the show’s last scene as a choice that “stirred up connotations of power and armor.”

The show’s leading women are high-powered lawyers played by Julianna Margulies, age 49, and Christine Baranski, 64. “The impact of these shows is that they’ve taught women over 50 that clothes are a powerful part of their identity—not to be so shy about clothes, to put themselves out there further and try new things,” said Betsy Fisher, whose namesake fashion line caters to executive women.

Over the past seven seasons, Margulies and Baranski’s stellar suit game has been curated by the talented three-time Emmy nominated costume designer Daneil Lawson. And how Lawson has dressed these Hollywood women over forty matters here. “The Good Wife is a later-in-life bildungsroman, a televised reassurance that one can come of age at any age; its clothes reflect those evolutionary impulses,” writes Megan Garber for The Atlantic.

Christine Baranski in The Good Wife (CBS)

The show’s costume aesthetic also speak profoundly to the intersections of power and femininity. In an interview for ELLE, Lawson talked about the importance of maintaining the feminine in the characters’ looks: “One thing we set out to have women look feminine in the workplace and not look like men. We didn’t want them to look masculine. We have three strong female leads on this show, why do we want to make them look like men? Or why do we want to dress them in a masculine style? We want them to look strong and feminine and elegant and powerful, all at the same time.”



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