TV Fashion: Bree Van De Kamp from 'Desperate Housewives' (ABC)
These are easy questions for the character of Bree Van De Kamp on "Desperate Housewives." She may or may not be the best-dressed woman on television, but there's no doubt that she's the most appropriately dressed.
"My feeling with Bree was that part of her armor in life, part of her shield, was that if she could keep her world tidy, organized, contained and controlled then it would be so," says Emmy-nominated costume designer Catherine Adair, who's in charge of dressing all the residents of Wisteria Lane. "And we all know people like that. The character is a testament to that. That is why the dinner parties are just so and the baking is just so and she needs the right manure in the garden. It's the desperate need that 'if I can keep it all neat and tidy, my world won't fall apart.' "
That's certainly Bree in a nutshell. But psychology aside, there's no denying the girl's got style. Her classic silhouette and nod to a retro time and place have made her iconic in just two seasons.
"Bree would definitely be a customer," says a laughing Unger, who happens to be a fan of the show and gets besieged with phone calls and e-mails every time Bree is shown wearing one of her creations. "She has a beautiful body, she's very appropriate, but there's a seductiveness to her that's more subtle. She's buttoned up but still where you might think there might be black lace underwear under there somewhere. That's kinda my customer."
Aside from the ease of a Kay Unger dress or something from Nanette Lepore, another favorite of the Housewives, how can you build the Bree look? Adair suggests layering a very tailored crisp cotton shirt in either pure or winter white that contours to the body with a thin V-neck cashmere sweater with the shirt's collar and cuff sticking out.
"Pair that with a great pair of lightweight stretch wool and Lycra pants," says Adair. "I'm very fond of the chocolate brown that is around right now. That lovely deep chocolate is beautiful if you pair it with a coral or a pale cashmere sweater with a crisp white shirt underneath. That looks fantastic. Then coordinate that with a beautiful classic 3 1/2-inch pump or brown suede boot. Then she would add a Burberry raincoat with that.
"And if you're Bree, you can't leave without your gloves. There are those public handles. It's not based on Bree being prissy, it's based on being practical; it's cold season."
Adair uses classic Cole Haan for shoes and clutches as well as classic Tod's, and leans toward Armani and