Why You Should Always Invest in Outerwear
Costume designers dish on why it's the defining wardrobe item—plus how to find the piece that's the perfect fit.
Although we're in the home stretch of winter, it still feels never-ending—especially when it comes to unpredictable storms and seemingly sub-zero temperatures. While you may be long past caring about what to layer on at this point, your outerwear can make all the difference in defining your outfit—and overall personal style. In fact, it's the starting point for countless costume designers when putting together the wardrobes of fashion-savvy small-screen stars.
Salvador Perez, for instance, is recognized for the coveted colorful coats he drapes Mindy Kaling in week after week on The Mindy Project. However, he's also been behind the signature jackets of Veronica Mars' and Castle's (first season) leading ladies. We got the scoop from him, as well as 2 Broke Girls and Eye Candy costumers, on why outerwear is so important and how to find the piece that's a perfect fit.
1. Beth Behrs' Affordable Staple on 2 Broke Girls
"I selected this jacket because it looks chic, and the price point was something the girls could sort of afford," explains Trayce Field. "If you average how much wear Caroline gets out of the jacket, it's super affordable. This cream-colored gem can be dressed up or down—perfect for the girl who lives in Brooklyn and hangs in Manhattan. The best tips for selecting outerwear for me are: Is it cute? Does it fit well? Can the fabric handle different elements? Always think about durability. Will it work next season? If so, then splurge a little more!"
2. Kristen Bell's Suit of Armor on Veronica Mars
"A character on a script can [initially be] three lines," says Perez. "Veronica Mars, for example [was]: 'from outside the tracks was one of the in-crowd kids, then her father had a political fall-out and now she's one of the bad kids.' Within that, the character feels assaulted. Kristen Bell is this little tiny thing, and I [felt] that she needs to have armor—how can this character be who she is without a suit of armor? So I decided to put her in militaristic jackets with epaulettes and give a toughness to her. That show's ten years old, and people still remember that look. That was me, as a costume designer, that decided to make her tough and cool. It wasn't scripted that way; that was my interpretation of it."
3. Stana Katic's Leather Trench on Castle
"The biggest joy for me is to take an actor to the mall," says Perez. "I met Stana Katic at the Saks in Beverly Hills, where there’s like five floors of clothes. We went through every floor trying on things and then, at the same time, came across this green leather, double-breasted, wide-lapeled DVF trench coat. I put it on her, and we were both like, ‘Serpico!’ It was perfect because she's playing a detective in New York, and it just gave us a starting point for her character. The person that wears this coat: What blazer does she wear? Does she wear it casual? Does she wear it with slacks? It's such a defining point in the show."
4. Victoria Justice's Versatile Essential on Eye Candy
"We needed to find a staple jacket, which I think is true of all women in New York because of the weather," Elisabeth Vastola recently told us. "It’s like shield outerwear that you can wear from day to night in any situation. We went through a lot of leather jackets—I knew I wanted it to be leather because I wanted it to feel like a second skin for her—and we landed on this really wonderful Isabel Benenato piece that we found in a boutique on the Lower East Side. Once Victoria and I had that first fitting and knew that this was it, we based the rest of her outfit on that silhouette.
It was very different when we first bought it. We made some changes together to suit the character so that the jacket was really becoming her own; it wasn’t just something that we found and then forced on [her]. One of my favorite features—and I think what sold it for Victoria—is the sleeves extend into fingerless gloves. It’s the combination of being this underground hacker but also having an eye on what’s in fashion at the moment. I decided in the first fitting to add a zipper to make the gloves removable. In the beginning of the series, we were doing a lot more gloves on, gloves off. By the end of filming, it was becoming clear to Victoria that she really felt more comfortable and liked Lindy keeping the gloves on all the time. It was just a good example of how we let the item be informed by the character.
There’s so many options now and different directions you can go in. I think the most important thing is to look at what you do day to day: if you need something that can go from day to night [like Lindy], or if you’re someone more like Sophia [played by Kiersey Clemons], who can change it up based on how she's feeling. I think that with outerwear—and fashion in general—it should all start with getting to know yourself: looking at your own life, what you do, your schedule, what you like, what feels good and going from there. Allowing yourself that flexibility when you find something you love is super important."
Although the season is (hopefully) nearing its end, consider these comparable cover-ups when trying on styles to invest in for yourself: a military-inspired option like Bell's basics ($175), an emerald trench similar to Katic's classic coat ($100), Behrs' same muted moto jacket ($168) and an edgy everyday essential mirroring Justice's ($148).