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Five workwear fashion lessons from The Good Wife

Lesson one: office power dressing is stuck in a massive rut

We can say what we like on the fashion desk about how a polo neck is so alpha right now and thus constitutes modern power dressing. But actually, when you have a job in an office, power dressing for women is incredibly restrictive. And it hasn’t changed for three decades now. Just ask Diane Lockhart, the poster girl for a classic Armani skirt suit – simple and elegant, but not exactly original. Luckily for Chicago’s finest, she manages to look like a tall glass of vodka tonic (in a good way, of course), notching it up several levels with little tweaks and details.

Lesson two: workplace jewellery doesn’t have to be nice …

Diane Lockhart, played by the fabulous Christine Baranski.
Photograph: Myles Aronowitz

… but it has to be big. Again, it is Lockhart who has power accessorising down. Big dragonfly brooches, multi-string pearl chokers, chunky gold bracelets, massive earrings – if it looks like it gets stored in a large, padded, velvet box, then it’s bossy (a good thing). None of it is particularly pretty, but all of it would win a closing argument.

Lesson three: no one should wear a squeaky leather jacket to the office …

Kalinda Sharma, played by Archie Panjabi, here in quieter clothes.
Photograph: CBS/CBS

… not even the majestic Kalinda Sharma. Granted, no one is saying that her clothes – biker jacket plus miniskirt plus sheer tights and knee boots – are meant to look professional. Kalinda is a maverick investigator, after all – and Archie Panjabi said recently that she can only play her in boots, and the zipped-up business is to emphasise that she is closed and private. But I think the lesson here is: don’t wear noisy clothes to the office; it’s annoying. One Kalinda style caveat – having a signature notebook is the last word in chic in any office.

Lesson four: unless it’s awful, no one will even notice a man’s suit

Cary Agos, played by Matt Czuchry.
Photograph: CBS

Depressing but true. Cary Agos, Peter Florrick, Will Gardner, Eli Gould. None of them dresses particularly well, none of them dresses particularly badly, and guess what? No one cares. Which is basically exactly how it goes in the real world. By contrast, it is so easy as a man to stand out in the office by wearing something slightly left-field. Look what happened when Alan Cumming, who plays Gould, wore a buff-coloured suit. Yep, everyone commented. Especially us.

Lesson five: if all else fails, look to Michelle Obama

Alicia Florrick and Michelle Obama have similar taste in power suits.
Photograph: CBS/Getty

Flotus’s workwear game is strong. A tailored overcoat, a good suit, the right-height heels. So thinking WWMOD (What Would Michelle Obama Do)? as you get dressed for work is never a bad idea. Although, when Michelle wore the same Michael Kors suit that Alicia Florrick wore in season five to the State of the Union address, we realised that actually the first lady is thinks WWAFD? every morning. So now we know: any workwear fashion lesson begins and ends with Alicia Florrick.

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