Better Off Ted: Interview with Veronica’s Stylist

veronica palmer fashionAfter last week’s 360 Review of Linda Zwordling on Better Off Ted, we got a ton of comments about how beautifully dressed Portia de Rossi’s character, Veronica Palmer, is — and how much folks would love to chat with her stylist.  We did some poking around and, lo and behold, found our way to Brandy Lusvardi, the costume designer for Better Off Ted.  We just got off the phone with her, and thought we’d share our conversation…

(She is the NICEST person on the planet!!)

How would you describe Veronica’s style at the office?

She’s in a powerful position at work, so her style was sophisticated, no nonsense.  We always saw her in skirt suits — no pants.  Her suit is her armor.  Her character is kind of cold and quirky, and we tried to play with that as well.  It made shopping somewhat easier, in that we were always looking for skirt suits.

However, it’s very hard to find skirt suits!  They aren’t out there all the time.  Sometimes the look is shorts and a blazer, which isn’t that practical for corporate America.

Part of the reason she looked so good is that we had an amazing tailor — he can make anything look good.

We’ve noticed that a lot of designers have been showing miniskirts with skirt suits.  Did you ever try to work with those?

We had to eliminate miniskirts because Portia’s so tall and there’s only so much fabric in the hem of the skirt.

veronica palmer suitWhat did you look for in a suit for Veronica?

It is not easy to find a smart sophisticated skirt suit that doesn’t look frumpy that also has a nice pattern or color that you like!  It was like a full time thing for us.  A lot of her suits were designers — Dolce & Gabbana, Gucci, Theory, Tahari.

You mentioned the importance of tailoring — what would you advise women to think about while shopping for a suit?

The trick is to fit the widest part of your body — which will often be your shoulders and bust.  Then you can get a tailor to take the waist in, or add darts in the back.  It’s so worth it — just a little nip gives you a shape that looks powerful and sophisticated.  In terms of finding a good jacket, you may need to figure out what the best stance for buttons is — what looks right with your proportions.

It’s the same thing with the skirt — figuring out what kind of skirt you can wear.  Can you wear a pencil skirt, or is straight or A-line a better look?  It’s a pretty simple alteration to take it in at the waist.

If it’s going to be a too major of an alteration with the tailor, you might want to look somewhere else — some things might not translate to what you’re trying to do.

veronica palmer portia derossiHow did you choose Veronica’s base layer?

We wanted something interesting to show her personality.  The ruffly blouses can look intimidating, but feminine — makes it pop without being “look at me.”  Nothing’s wrong with a shell, but it was part of the character’s personality that she is into fashion and wanted to show some of her personality in her clothes.  You can find blouses at all price points — $30 through $2,000.  And if you don’t like the sleeves, you can always have them removed — that’s a really simple alteration at the tailor.  Just find which colors and which palettes work with your wardrobe and your coloring.

better off ted fashion suitsWhat were some of your favorite suits of Veronica’s?

I thought the white/cream/pale gray ones looked really beautiful on her, and complimented her skin and hair and makeup.  I also thought that they made her pop — there’s a lot of black and navy out there, so it was good to be a little different.

What’s your top advice to women to avoid looking frumpy in a skirt suit?

I really can’t emphasize the tailoring enough — it is the most important element.  Almost everything you see a character wear on television has been tailored to fit right — t-shirts, jeans, everything.  And it’s tailored to fit all shapes and sizes, and for all characters, from the principal actor to the guy playing the janitor.

Another tip is to take photos of everything — sometimes you think things look great and you look at the picture and realize it really does not look good.  Or, sometimes you think something doesn’t look that great, but the color on you is amazing.  We take photos at every fitting.

Also, the other important element is shoes.  Comfort is really important — and it takes a long time but you can find shoes that look good and feel good if you’re really persistent.  A good pair of shoes changes your posture, your mannerisms, your mood — and there are great shoes at all price points.

Comments

  1. Corporate Tool :

    THANK YOU!

    And if you could only get her to post every week where Veronica’s outfits are from, I’d be in heaven…

  2. This is really cool….maybe you could get tips from stylists every week?? This information is super helpful.

  3. AlmostPh.D. :

    Thanks so much for this! I love your blog. I’m a young academic and find it very helpful for suggestions as to an appropriate look for the classroom.

    I’d love to see a feature on/evaluation of Adelle DeWitt’s clothes from Dollhouse: she radiates power and good taste and I find myself wondering how much I could get away with copying her style in real life.

  4. This is great! I love that pale grey suit – great with her coloring, and unique in a sea of black/ navy.

    The solids are so elegant… what do people think of this?
    http://www.toryburch.com/toryburch/browse/productDetail.jsp?icProduct=23092409&cid=SITM#
    Too busy for work (university teaching)?

    • I don’t think it’s too busy, but I also don’t like it at all.

    • Not too busy – but the fabric (silk) might be tricky. I’ve found that even with a busy pattern, silk isn’t very forgiving of any lumps or bumps that you dont’ want to advertise. If you’ve got the figure for silk (or, a solid set of spanx) I think it’s great.

    • the pattern is a little busy, but probably fine. i think it’d look better with a button or two undone–very uptight in that picture. but, i love the blouse featured below it!

  5. angeinT.O. :

    the grey suit is a stunner….

  6. His advice on getting Veronica’s sophisticated style were so helpful. These tips were great for all of us busy working women who are still interested in fashion. Another place I sometimes like to look is here:

    http://what2wearwhere.com/Workplace/Corporate/Corporate-On-the-Job.html

    • Why is the link to the site also in the poster’s name – is that because the poster is the one whose site it is? I’m confused.

  7. awesome!!

  8. C, you are my hero! Great advice!

  9. Hm. Clearly time for me to find a good tailor and set up an on-going relationship with them. Find out how much they will typically charge me for the alterations I’d need on yer basic suit, and factor it in when I buy stuff.

    The tip about fitting the widest part of your body, and doing your tailoring from there, is invaluable. I’d always wondered about that, when faced with a suit that fits ok here, but not so much there.

    I agree about the photo-taking. Candids are good, too. I still catch myself sometimes with my taller-than-everyone-else-in-high-school slouchy shoulders, and nothing looks worse.

    C: thank you so much for finding this person and getting an interview with her. I know it must have taken some doing.

  10. Great interview!!! Veronica always looks fabulous and so put together.

  11. How about a post on how to find a good tailor? I’m sure word of mouth is the best way but none of the women in my office seem to use one. The nearest one had good reviews on Yelp but I didn’t love the alterations they made to a bridesmaids dress which I obviously only had to wear once. I’d be bummed if I wasn’t happy with alterations to a suit I intended to wear frequently.

    • I agree! I tried a local one, started off with a couple of smaller alterations which went okay…then I brought in a few things that were now a size or two too big and ended up with things I still won’t wear. I’m paranoid now about bringing something brand new to get altered after that experience.

      The other question is how do you visualize what a (good) tailor can do with something? Making something a little more fitted seems obvious, but beyond that I’d be lost.

      • I found mine through word of mouth, and she is fantastic. I would try asking around. The shorter women you know who wear suits are probably the most likely to have some recommendations–at 5’2″ it is extremely rare for me to find a suit that I don’t have to have altered in some way. Or if you say where you are, someone on here might have a recommendation.

    • I found mine through a high end menswear store. That might be someplace to try if you can’t find a word of mouth recommendation.

    • I’ve had great luck with the in-store tailors at Nordstrom, but obviously don’t buy all my clothing there.

      Also, heads up, J.Crew and Banana and a few other stores will do free basic alterations on regular-price suits. They don’t have in-store tailors at the mall shops, but contract out – I’ve really liked the J.Crew tailor and go to him directly with non-J.Crew stuff as well.

    • I tried a tailor near my first house. Both tailor and house were in a gentrifying, ethnic neighborhood, and the tailor specialized in that ethnicity’s styles. I didn’t realize that until he had fit my linen pants skin-tight, which is how many of the women preferred theirs. He did a very good job, but I was way too modest to ever wear those pants to work again!

      Choosing a tailor near a neighborhood filled with people whose style matches yours might be a better choice, even if requires driving across town.

  12. Oh thank goodness, someone else complaining there are just not that many good skirt suits out there. Some of us prefer skirt suits but would not wear mini skirts even if work appropriate. But we don’t want to look frumpy either.

  13. Taking photos is great advice. I’ve been photographing my outfits for about a year now and it really helps me decide what to wear, and also know if something’s not really working.

    • I am curious what is so great about photos vs. just looking at yourself in the mirror? Why go the extra mile…is it that much worth it?

      • Get a friend to take shots from side, back… angles you can’t see yourself.

      • I see myself in the mirror every day, but I didn’t realize how old I looked, and how much I needed more eye makeup, until I saw myself on t.v.

        • I don’t think TV is a great indicator of how you really look. There’s a lot of harsh lighting used while filming. Photos taken in natural light will be a much more accurate reflection of how you really look on a day-to-day basis.

          • Agreed. I think it’s important to learn how to apply makeup, dress, etc. for TV if you’re going to be on TV, but those “lessons” should not necessarily be applied to your everyday routine.

      • I think it’s worth it for 2 reasons:

        1. I can get photos of angles I can’t see in the mirror, plus with a 10-second delay on my timer, I’m usually not posing as I would for a mirror but standing in a more natural position. This helps me to see what the outfit really looks like.

        2. I keep a file of my outfits, so when I can’t decide what to wear, I can look at photos instead of trying on 6 different outfits. This saves a lot of time.

        There have been several occasions where I thought an outfit looked fine in the mirror, but when I photographed it I realized it didn’t look right at all. Try it for a few outfits and see if you want to keep it up.

  14. OOTD photos are a great way to see how your outfit looks. I love taking them, and they’re also useful for references when you’re stuck in front of your closet, completely unsure of what to wear, and you can look back and find something cute you wore a month ago

  15. To find a good tailor call the most expensive fabric store in your city and ask them to recommend someone to you. We encourage all of our clients to use the services of a tailor who knows their body well.

    I just found out I’m going on TV again. I looked so chubby last time, I’ll definitely be taking pictures before selecting the clothes this time.

  16. Great blog — So great that I am very happy to give you the Happy 101 Blog Award — http://shaynaleahk.wordpress.com/2010/03/08/my-very-first-blog-award/

  17. C is officially the best!

    I suggested this idea of contacting the stylist in the prior Better of Ted post, so I would like to take credit (rightfully or not, it made my day :) )

  18. What a great interview, thank you so much!

    Now I am in desperate need of some shoe advice. I will soon be wearing this as a bridesmaid in a cold-climate wedding [why yes it IS linen...?!], so I think something closed-toe is in order. The bride is indifferent about our footwear and the other bridesmaids are stumped too. I love my friend to death so I’m attempting to keep my thoughts to myself, but may I just note that it’s extra vomit-colored in person.
    http://gigisgoneshopping.blogspot.com/2009/06/j-crew-linen-watercolor-floral.html
    I am thinking nude pumps, but am open to any suggestions or brand recommendations. Thank you in advance!!

    • Aww, I feel for you.

      I think nude pumps sound great. A light pink might look nice too.

    • Corporate Tool :

      I like the gold, with the gold belt, if it’s allowed, although the belt does make it a little less dressy.

    • Wow. That actually made me say, “OMG hideous!” out loud. On a positive note, you WILL be able to wear it after the wedding, to clean the garage.

      Snideness aside, have a great time at the wedding, and many blessings on your friend. I’ve heard that rain on your wedding day is good luck. Maybe ugly bridesmaid dresses are as well?

    • Thanks everyone! I’ve dubbed it the ketchup-stained-tablecloth dress. The funniest part is that I am taller than the women modeling it in that link, so beyond the pattern, the color, and the inexplicable linen-in-the-cold, it’s also almost inappropriately short. I might use this as an excuse to buy myself some expensive self-pity pumps — will definitely try your suggestions!

      And I wish I could say that this was my worst bridesmaid dress of the year. Two words : hoop skirt.

      • Poor thing! (Also, I hope your friend doesn’t read this blog :))

        If you are going closed-toe pumps, I would vote against the gold – I think a strappy gold sandal might be OK but a gold pump just doesn’t work, IMHO.

        Did this once for a tricky dress – ordered a bunch of pairs off of Endless (free overnight shipping, free returns), tried them on at home with the dress, and kept the one that worked best.

        • ha I had the same thought, but then I realized if she’d been reading this blog, she wouldn’t have chosen bridesmaid dresses like these ;)

          I think nude is the winner, thanks again everyone!

    • divaliscious11 :

      I’d go with nude…at least you’d get to use them again. The dress, not so much…

  19. I agree in theory with getting things altered. However, I recently took a pair of pants to a tailor to get altered and was shocked at how pricey it was. I could never afford to tailor more than a few pieces in my wardrobe.

    • I’m with you. Fortunately I have a seamstress in the family who doesn’t charge me, but the tradeoff is that she takes *forever* to get anything done (and there have been a couple of times when I told her I needed something by a certain date and it wasn’t done), so sometimes I have to suck it up and pay someone else if I want to be sure of having something by a specific time.

  20. I really enjoy the clothes worn by the female lawyers and the investigator in The Good Wife. C, would you be able to get us information on those ladies?

  21. NYC tailors – recommendations, anyone? And can you give price points with your recs? Midtown east would be easiest for me, but willing to get on the subway for someone good and reasonably priced.

  22. Legally Brunette :

    After reading this blog for the last year, I finally decided to tailor a few items that I love but don’t fit well. I’m very happy with my tailor, who I found through Angie’s List (unfortunately, you have to pay for membership). If anyone is in the MD area and needs a recommendation, let me know. I agree that it is pricey so I can’t afford to it too often, but I think it’s worth it if you know you’re going to wear the items for a long time. I had basic alterations done for 5 pieces (mostly lengthening or shortening hems, fixing zippers and pulling in a waistline) and the total came to $75.

    • $75 for five items sounds pretty reasonable to me, if those were investment pieces. If they didn’t fit right before and you rarely wore them, it really is the equivalent of $75 for five new clothing items.

    • I agree with the poster above – that’s a good price for altering 5 items. I have two tailors I use (actually 3). I will use the alteration services at Macy’s if I purchase something there, although due to cutbacks it now can take a few weeks. But generally, they do very good work. I have this amazing old Italian woman who is a true seamstress, does excellent quality work, but costs a fortune, that I use for really expensive investment pieces or trickier alterations (as an example, I paid $70 for a rush job to raise the hem and remove the pockets on a pair of pants). I have also occasionally used my drycleaner but ONLY for shortening a hem or replacing a button, and only for mid-range price items.

    • That seems reasonable–it must not be Voula, in Silver Spring, whom everyone raves about!

      • Try Mr. Yoo at the Air Rights Building if you’re in Maryland (Bethesda). He does terrific work. He’s taken good slacks, size 6, and made them fit a size 10! If you room in the seams of a garment, he can work wonders.

        I also agree with the concept of buying for your largest feature, then adjusting the rest. I have size 10 shoulders, size 12 waist and size 8 hips. Without Mr. Yoo, my clothes would never fit. The cost of tailoring is more than worth it. I just buy less, but make sure each piece fits beautifully.

  23. Watching ABC Nightly News, which most of you hard workers probably don’t get to do. C, consider getting info from Diane Sawyer’s stylist. She always looks fantastic — professional, and feminine. Of course, I have no idea what she wears below the waist, since they only show her sitting down behind a desk . . . .

  24. Hey!

    i wanted to know where can i buy Veronica’s suits! is there any list of every suit and where to buy it?

    thanx!

  25. So, pleased to see this. Anyone seen a episode to designer guide for these outfits?

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