Tonight is the season finale of Hot in Cleveland (the new season starts November 5, set your DVRs) and what better way to wrap up a great season, than my talking to industry legend Lori Eskowitz-Carter, the costume designer for Hot in Cleveland (who also counts Whitney, Will & Grace among her resume.) about how she dresses four TV legends for the small screen.
Possessionista: How would you describe each character’s style?
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: Valerie Bertinelli’s character Melanie’s style is very feminine: current and simple. We use a lot of clean lines, solid colors, alittle pattern and we keep it pretty casual because she’s home. She wears a lot of jeans and a pretty tops by Joie and Theory mixed in with Michael Kors and Dolce and Gabbana. If she goes out she likes to wear dresses and she’s always in sky high heels by YSL, Prada and Louboutin. She wears tons of great boots from Barneys.
Jane Leeves plays Joy and her look is almost age inappropriate. She’s very boy crazy and into hooking the man and being paid attention to by male characters. She’s very sexy all the time. She wears short dresses and shorts, tight jeans and bright pattern tops. She’s the biggest risk taker and she pushes the envelope. She wear a lot of ALC, L’agence, Helmut Lang and always crazy, high heels.
Wendy Mallick plays Victoria, she’s the most classically dressed. She’s into very fitted shift dresses that show off her beautiful arms. She wears a lot of Tahari, Theory, Michael Kors. Her dresses are fitted, simple and clean and she always wears a kitten heel. She’s not comfortable in crazy high heels so we find pretty, simple pointy heels. She wears a lot of Stuart Weitzman, LK Bennett and Manolo Blahnik.
Betty [White] wears mostly track suits. You’ll see one in every episode. They’re perfect for her and they’re beautiful and sparkly in strong colors. Occasionally I’ll add sparkle or have the designer add something. My dream is to design a line of tracksuits for women of all ages. Besides Juicy, there’s no tracksuits out there for women over a certain age.
Possessionista: Where do you shop? Do you have specific brands you gravitate towards for each character?
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: We go to a lot of stores. Saks, Neimans, Barneys, theres a boutique called Switch. We go to Bloomingdales, J Crew, Banana Republic, Nordstrom. Our budget isn’t enormous so it’s different we don’t have a ton of money so we’re frugal and make better choices being able to use it again or buing a basic we can use again and again. On Hot in Cleveland we reuse jeans again or maybe a basic dress. The actors like it. It looks more real that way.
Possessionista: You’re dressing characters of different ages. What goes into the process in terms of dressing them age appropriately, but still complimenting one another.
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: The main goal for me picking out the outfits is where are they going and where have they come from and I want the clothes to stand out from each other but complimentary. So they’re all different solids or patterns but then how they work together. When I create a scene I start with a piece I’ve wanted to use and then build the other outfits around it. You don’t want one person to get all the attention. You want everyone to get equal focus.
Possessionista: What are some tips for women in their 30s, 40s 50s and beyond?
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: I think the most important thing kis that your clothes actually fit you and they never think does it fit right without going to the tailor. If women would let their tailor would hem their jeans or tailor their blazer they’d look better. And dressing their age – I do this for Jane but most women shouldn’t do that. It’s okay to dress for trends as long as you have classic pieces to play against.
Possessionista: How much input do your actors have when it comes to their costumes?
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: We’re so into the thick of the show 6 years in, they know how I’m going to shop. For the most part if it looks good on them they don’t have an opinion. If I like it they like it.
Possessionista: On Hot in Cleveland, you have the opportunity to dress TV legends. Have they ever shared any style philosophy or tips from their careers on screen?
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: When Carole Burnett was a guest on the show she tole me “never dress for the joke. Let the joke happen.”
Possessionista: How has the style on Hot in Cleveland evolved since season 1?
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: It’s definitely evolved. We’ve fine tuned everything. Now it’s just fun shopping because I don’t have to bring in 30 dresses becase I know what’s going to work. It’s become more easy.
Possessionista: Anything we should watch out for this season?
Lori Eskowitz-Carter: We did this crazy green screen and her body’s amazing and it’s funny to see her in this skintight morph suit. It was really a fun thing to do with her.
Hot in Cleveland’s season finale is tonight on TVLand. Season 6 returns November 5.