Detective Casey Shraeger from 'The Unusuals'
When actors wear a relatively simple outfit, say a plain suit and tailored blouse, it's not as if they reached into the closet and threw on whatever was handy. Costumers and actors discuss outfits, and a small staff checks the tightness of each button, the sharpness of each crease.
On ABC's The Unusuals, Wednesdays, Amber Tamblyn's character, Casey Shraeger, could be wearing haute couture as the daughter of an extraordinarily wealthy family. Instead, Shraeger is a detective.
In the pilot, her mom (Joanna Gleason) tells her that she looks "like a lesbian."
"I'm not sure what a lesbian looks like," Tamblyn says while cameras move behind her. "It's just real generic suits," she says. "She enjoys the simplicity of a suit, practical shoes. Even in scenes where she's off duty, she'll wear a cardigan sweater and Converse. She doesn't have anything very luxurious."
Shraeger's closet -- characters on shows have closets from which their outfits are chosen -- is in the wardrobe trailer on the show's set. There, a few Gap tags hang from shirts in cramped but perfectly organized rows. Plain button-down blouses hang next to unobtrusive blouses in muted colors.
"We are dealing with detectives here," says Victoria Farrell, the show's costume designer. "It's not a fashion thing; it's a little more relaxed."
Farrell describes Shraeger's look as "a bit softer. I looked at real detectives to get a good idea. She has good suits -- a little better than most detectives would buy."
Shraeger's suits are from Theory.
"I like their fabrics and the cut," Farrell says. "They are cuts that work, a longer jacket and a shorter jacket. They also stretch; they're beautiful fabrics that hold their shape."
Beautiful as they are, the linings of Shraeger's suits are filled with nicks, tears and runs -- from her badge.
Farrell, a Canadian, describes the show's palette as "New York for everybody -- blacks, grays, blues, navy blues, plum."
"I try to sneak Aerosoles in there as much as possible," she says of the comfy footwear.
Shraeger's jewelry is subtle. Her chain is a rose-gold vintage charm of the number 13 by the jeweler Hannah Clark.
Farrell laughs as she ticks off all the shopping she does, then points to her own tattered shoelaces, which her dog had gnawed on. That was going to be her shopping spree -- a pair of shoelaces. But first she was off to find new duds for Shraeger.