Costume designers discuss signature looks

Whether Jeremy Piven’s power lunching in Prada or Steve Carell’s pushing paper in a suit from JCPenney, costume designers make sure these Emmy-nominated actors are always dressed appropriately for the job. See how the suit makes the man.

THE HOLLYWOOD AGENT
Jeremy Piven as ‘Entourage’s’ Ari Gold
Costume designer: Amy Westcott

“The show is based in L.A. and we’re in L.A., so there are a lot of agents to inspire us,” says Westcott. “Ari Emanuel is the top gun over at Endeavor, and we had (the character) loosely based on him. We base it on reality but just crank it up a notch.” Piven’s looks let others know he is ahead of the curve, not only in fashion but also in business. He wears mostly Italian designers such as Gucci, Dolce & Gabbana and Prada. For a splash of color, Westcott often chooses shades of purple, which she says really complement Piven. Westcott’s main goal is to keep Ari Gold looking “fresh and powerful.”

THE LAWYER
James Spader as ‘Boston Legal’s’ Alan Shore
Costume designer: Shelly Levine

Alan Shore spends a lot of money on his clothes. “He has to look good, especially in the legal profession because when you’re going to court there’s a certain decorum that must be followed,” says Levine. Shore’s look began on “The Practice” but evolved for “Boston Legal.” Levine began adding more color but kept him in the same style of suit — single breasted, double side vent, two buttons. “All of his suits and shirts are custom-made by Ermenegildo Zegna,” says Levine, who advises to always use what looks best on the actor. “James Spader has blue eyes, so blue works for him,” he says.

THE TV EXEC
Alec Baldwin as ’30 Rock’s’ Jack Donaghy
Costume designer: Tom Broecker

In the show’s pilot, a tuxedo-wearing Baldwin says, “Well, it is after 6 o’clock. What do you think I am? A farmer?” Jack Donaghy is pure businessman. “He’s more of a GE corporate person — more of a Jeff Zucker,” says Broecker. “And he has a narrow idea of what’s acceptable in dress.” Jack’s suits are conservative. There is nothing flashy about them. He dresses in two-button navy or dark gray Ermenegildo Zegna, Brooks Brothers, Dunhill or Hickey Freeman. Shirts are either white or pale blue. His tie palette is narrow. “It tends to border on the conservative/Republican,” says Broecker. “We stick to our solids and our stripes.”

THE REGIONAL MANAGER
Steve Carell as ‘The Office’s’ Michael Scott
Costume designer: Carey Bennett

JCPenney is the place that suits the purpose for the top dog at Dunder Mifflin’s Scranton office. “It’s the haven for the middle management guy where you can get a whole outfit for a hundred bucks,” says Bennett, who refers to the look as “kit clothes” since they don’t take a lot of thought. “There’s nothing stylish about it and everything matches,” says Bennett. “His ties are hideous, but Michael thinks they’re cool.” The character’s uniform is variations on navy blue. “You can’t really mess it up,” Bennett explains. Except, of course, if you accidentally shop in the women’s department, as Michael famously once did.

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