Parker of 'Leverage'

tvfashw110.jpgMany actors talk about donning a costume and slipping into character. Usually, though, one look - even if that represents many costumes - makes a character.

Then there's Parker (Beth Riesgraf). She shifts looks on each episode of Leverage, which returns to TNT Wednesday, Jan. 13.

The modern Robin Hood-type gang, of which Parker is the accomplished thief, steals from the bad guys and helps the victimized. So what if a few felonies are committed along the way? And because each episode takes the high-tech, brainy and brazen con artists into new situations, each week Parker gets to change into new guises.

Riesgraf sees Parker essentially as a tomboy with few possessions.

"I thought whatever she had would have to fit in a duffel bag," Riesgraf says. "She's very tomboy, but she has sort of like these animal instincts. She can get what she needs when she needs it. It has to be comfortable and has to be like her second skin."

Few costume designers are allowed the freedoms Nadine Haders enjoys. When the con artists pretend to run a wedding-planning business, Parker crashes as a bridesmaid in a ridiculously hideous dress of pink satin with blue roses.

"Most of the time they have to rein me in," Haders says.

"I have a serious budget. It is a no-no to go over it," Haders says. "A lot of time I embellish what I find."

For costumes for capers, Haders shops everywhere and customizes her findings. Parker's everyday attire, however, "is part an element of her that is very immature and an element that is very unaware of anything."

"She is the most unaware of how she looks," Haders says. "She really is her own person. She is completely unaware of how beautiful she is. She doesn't dress for anyone else. She dresses for herself."

She shops for Parker in Portland, Ore., where the show shoots, but also wherever she happens to be. Favorite stores for Parker's wardrobe include Forever 21 and H&M. She also finds tops and pants at Local 35 in Portland, Lizard Lounge and Mario's 310.

She wears J Brand jeans, and what looked like leather pants were actually pleather from H&M. Some types have come from Urban Outfitters. Her shoes are the sort one expects from someone who jumps from rooftops, and Parker wears Dr. Martens and Converse. Haders is a huge fan of embellishing basics, and she scours 99-cent stores and craft stores such as Michaels.

"You could walk into Forever 21 or H&M and get the basics and look that way," Hader says. "It is just the way you put it together. With embellishing - there can't be enough of it. You have to know when to rein it in, and you have to know what you want to achieve."