‘This Is Us’ Star Chris Sullivan on Dressing ‘Very Loudly’ and Challenging Gender Norms

This Is Us” star Chris Sullivan loves bright colors, playful patterns and challenging gender norms: “I’ve always dressed very loudly,” he says.

“The goal for me, always, is to have fun, and to kind of intentionally be unexpected and go against the dress code a little bit,” says first-time Emmy nominee Sullivan. For an early screening of “This Is Us,” he wore asymmetrical glasses, a Bailey hat and floral pants from Loudmouth, “which I think is an appropriate title for a favorite clothing company of mine.” The series instantly sparked a reaction. “There’s a level of flawed-character that this show uncovers. And jumping back and forth between storylines is exciting because it makes the show unpredictable: You never know which way we’re going to go.”

When the freshman drama scored 10 Emmy nods, Sullivan started at Brooks Bros. He found the navy jacket, navy pants and custom purple bow tie — “They cut up an actual necktie,” he recalls. But once they decided to select a cummerbund, “the look started to shift.” Sullivan never imagined he’d wear a hat with a tuxedo, but he fell in love with this vintage design from the Bollman Hat Co. in Santa Monica. “The people at Brooks Bros. were like, ‘Well then, if you’re wearing a top hat, you definitely need a cane!’ And to throw the whole thing into another era, the shoes are black rhinestone.”

Sullivan loved the Loudmouth fishbone suit and bow tie he wore to the Critics’ Choice Awards. “Those shoes were on a mannequin at the G-Star store,” he says. “The person had to call their manager to see if I could buy them.” He added a Bailey hat, shades and black nail polish — which triggered questions on the carpet. Sullivan says he identifies as a “a cisgendered middle-aged white man,” but he often wants to make fashion choices that “might go against the stereotypical ‘straight white male’ fashion choice.” He explains: “I think now it’s an important time for all of us to challenge those tropes, or what is ‘normal,’ or what is ‘male’ or ‘female.’”

Sullivan wears a padded suit to portray Toby, who struggles with weight. “To take up space in the world and move through it in a different body is very helpful,” says Sullivan, who wanted to experience the Emmys with different hair. “Our hair and makeup team at ‘This Is Us’ had made me a mohawk to wear,” he says. “I couldn’t apply it correctly.” He accessorized this metallic Mr. Turk suit with bracelets, gold nail polish and a seahorse lapel pin. Since he couldn’t have a mohawk, “on the way out the door, I had [my wife’s makeup artist] give me a smokey eye, which I think brought the whole thing together.”

More TV

  • Netflix backed animated films “Klaus,” left,

    'Klaus,' 'I Lost My Body' Top 47th Annie Awards as Netflix Dominates

    Netflix dominated the 47th Annie Awards on Saturday, Jan. 25, picking up 19 trophies, including the top prizes of best feature (“Klaus”), best feature-independent (“I Lost My Body”), best TV/media production for preschool children (“Ask the Storybots”) and best general audience TV/media production (“BoJack Horseman”). Disney TV Animation’s “Disney Mickey Mouse” won best TV/media production [...]

  • 'SNL': Watch Adam Driver Deliver 'Star

    'SNL': Adam Driver Delivers 'Star Wars' 'Undercover Boss' Sequel (Watch)

    When Adam Driver hosted “Saturday Night Live” in 2016 he went viral for a “Star Wars”/”Undercover Boss” mashup sketch that saw his Kylo Ren put on a disguise in order to observe his employees ala the CBS reality show. Four years later, he has done it again. While hosting the Jan. 26 episode of “SNL,” [...]

  • Hillary Clinton Hulu Documentary

    'Hillary': Clinton Docu-Series on Hulu TV Review

    As both Hillary Clinton and the team behind “Hillary” know very well, it’s nigh impossible at this point for someone to approach her with total objectivity. Throughout her life, Clinton has been a uniquely polarizing figure both in her own right and because of her marriage to former President Bill Clinton, himself a perpetual lightning [...]

  • Baldvin-Z

    Iceland’s Baldvin Z Crime Series “Black Sands” Added to All3Media Slate (EXCLUSIVE)

    GÖTEBORG, Sweden  All3Media is to handle international rights on Icelandic crime series “Black Sands” which, currently in development, is to be pitched at the Göteborg Festival’s TV Drama Vision confab on Thursday. “Black Sands” marks the first crime thriller to be created by Icelandic helmer Baldvin Z (“Trapped”) since the hit series “Case.” Commissioned by [...]

  • Justin Timberlake performs onstage during the

    Fox's Super Bowl Ad Time Was Sold Out. Until it Wasn't

    Fox declared in November that it had sold all the advertising time available in its looming February 2 broadcast of Super Bowl LIV. But just this week, it found a little more. After holding nearly two months’ worth of discussions, Fox and the National Football League have devised a way to add commercial inventory to [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content