Mary Beth Peil’s Jackie Florrick, the closest thing American television has to Downton Abbey’s Dowager Countess, is both meddlesome and gorgeously dressed on the show, her looks connected to both political iconography—first ladies, anyone?—and even royalty.
“I went to school at Northwestern, so I saw these women all the time in the suburbs and on the north side of Chicago, and they were just so perfectly put together, and you just felt like if you just touched them they would just shatter into a million pieces,” said Lawson. “Her hair is just so, and every single strand is in the right place. We haven’t seen her in a few episodes and I really wanted her to start off the episode with a big splash of color. She’s wearing this huge white blouse with a big bow on it. The neck was a standing ruffled neck, and I just wanted her to feel just royal. We treat her almost like royalty, and the way I dress her sometimes is sort of Elizabethan, things at the neck and things standing.”
“The next time that we see her in the episode, she’s been demoted to speaking at a community center to about 10 retirees, and so we took all of the color out of her. We made it very neutral toned and sad colors…When she ends up at the straw poll, I made her very red, white, and blue. When her son was running for state attorney at the very end of the second season, I dressed her very red, white, and blue, and I wanted to do it again. She knows how to dress for an event.”