This past winter, despite my most valiant efforts, I found myself absolutely SUCKED IN by The Closer on TNT. The past few seasons, I would notice the show on and off, but never managed to devote a whole hour to it at a time. Usually, I prefer the harder-hitting crime dramas, your Laws and your Orders, your NYPD Blues, your old-school Homicides: Lives on the Streets. The Closer, on the other hand, incorporates intriguing homicide cases with human-interest stories, gallows humor, a fair bit of Southern charm, modern anxieties, and old-fashioned detective drama.
More to the point, though, Kyra Sedgwick's wardrobe as Brenda Lee Johnson is FABULOUS and I want it all. The ladies at the Thread are also big fans! She is at times a befuddling combination of practical (sun hat) and dainty (bright orange wedges at a crime scene). The New York Times calls Kyra Sedgwick's performance "a study in nuance" and I agree, although it took me a good long while!
Like a normal working woman, Brenda Lee carries a too-large black bag in which she can never find what she's looking for, so totally awesome and fitting that QVC offered for sale a mass-market version that is tragically sold out.
According to the show's wardrobe designer, her secret weapons are personally tailored, vintage deadstock jackets from the 1940s. I was just at the amazing Vintage Playclothes in Studio City, California, and I am here to tell you that a lovely, quality, non-musty-smelling vintage suit that fits the 21st-century body is a real gem to find! If you are lucky enough to find a great suit, it is often worth your money and patience to get it tailored just right. Vintage Playclothes has just started up their online shop, Brenda Lee would snap up this royal blue wool gabardine suit for the fall. If you are similarly wasp-waisted (unlike me), you are a winner for this shape of skirt suits.
One of Brenda Lee's preferred vintage brands is Lili Ann of San Francisco--talk about supporting local fashion! Etsy seller Archivia has a gorgeous 1951 colorblock suit in green and pink. For the more sedate amongst us, this grey wool suit with pleat detailing is perfect. Why don't they make suits that look like that anymore? All of my suits are blocky and lacking in personality, but THESE! Glorious.
For summer, Brenda beats the LA heat with little cotton dresses that I would be happy to wear all day, every day. This orange smoothie at the left is one of her more 1970s disco-tastic tablecloth numbers, but this is absolutely an easy look to replicate on your own. I often do the full-skirt/slim-cardigan combination at the office amongst co-workers in shirtsleeves or full-on suits. Etsy seller ChloeAndBoo has a fabulous navy and flower motif asymmetrical print semi-circle skirt for you! The black and white Jackson Pollock dress at ModCloth is a great way to do big, bold patterns without risking being mistaken for a swathe of wallpaper. For a straight from the 1940s, Black Dahlia-riffic look, ModCloth also has the Modern Recess grey and black trim dress. The slim-skirted dress is somehow perfect for running around solving crimes in Los Angeles, a la a particularly sassy noir heroine.
On to my most favorite topic, SHOES. Work pumps are always a problem. If they're fancy enough for the most businessy of business events, they aren't comfortable enough to wear all day. Comfortable pumps look like orthopedic wear all too often. I try to give television wardrobe designers the benefit of the doubt, because I know it's too much to ask to have a TV homicide detective wear functional, steel-toed running shoes that real homicide detectives probably wear. There is a line, though, between TOTALLY UNWEARABLE AT A CRIME SCENE and "mildly inappropriate if you think about it". Our Brenda often falls into this former category as she traipses about pools of blood and navigates canyons, but I'll be damned if she doesn't look like she's having a tough time, as anyone would. Below, I have assembled a Polyvore set of pumps for your enjoyment:
Clockwise from the top left, those are Chanel cap-toe pumps that Kyra Sedgwick has actually worn on The Closer--perhaps a teensy bit outside of the character's price point, but who cares? They are lovely. Top right, super-slick two-tone t-straps from Yesstyle.com, straight from Asia (ugh I loved all of the shoes in Japan and I only ever found a single pair that fit my massive mixed-race feet). Bottom right, a surprisingly fabulous pair of spectator pumps from Charlotte Russe to match the Jackson Pollock dress above. Bottom left, "Dainty" by Wanted with great Art Deco trim on the toe-box, because I am all about the combination of brown and grey lately.
To bring it home, I'll share the Feminist Spectactor's view on Brenda's wardrobe choices and how they reflect on her role as a leader in the workplace. What do you see on TV that inspires you in your daily fashion choices? Obviously, a lot of television and film wardrobe choices create a fantasy of what designers think we women WANT to wear to work--see Ugly Betty and Sex and the City for examples. As much as I want to be wearing Chanel and Marc Jacobs every day, it's just not possible. Don't you ever get excited when you see a character on TV wearing something you own, though? I nearly did of joy when I saw Mindy Kaling on The Office wearing a fuschia linen pleated dress I have. It is so refreshing to have visual fashion stimulation on TV that isn't sky-high heels and over-saturated neon a la CSI: Miami!
Images courtesy of TNT and Polyvore.com.