Consider the influence stylish first ladies traditionally wield as they set the sartorial tone for whatever they are presiding over. Such is the power Claudia Joy (Kim Delaney) has over Fort Marshall, the fictional military base of Lifetime’s Army Wives, airing Sundays.
“People always go straight to Jackie O,” Delaney says. “I see a tiny bit of that, but more of Maria Shriver. I know her. Our kids went to school together in Brentwood.”
Though no one could dismiss first lady Jacqueline Kennedy’s enduring panache, the pillbox hat and gloves were 50 years ago.
Claudia Joy is a “modern first lady,” says Emmie Holmes, the show’s costume designer. “Over the years, Roxy and the others have changed a little, hanging out with Claudia Joy.”
The overriding look is “clean, and always put together, striking,” Holmes says. “She is the lady who walks by and you say, ‘How does she always look so good?’ “
Holmes buys Claudia Joy’s wardrobe in South Carolina, where the show is shot, and much of her clothing is from local boutiques, such as Gwynn’s and Luna.
She also frequents Aster Hall, which carries local designers’ hand-tooled accessories.
“Claudia Joy’s character is always polished, and we look at her in the fitting room and say, ‘What’s the one thing we need to add?’ ” Holmes says. She looks for “a dynamic piece to pull (an outfit) together.”
Blouses, though, come from “anywhere and everywhere” Holmes says. “She can pull off a fairly inexpensive blouse, and it will look like a million bucks on her. The first trick is having a talented shopper. It depends on topstitching and the saturation of the color and elements like that, that make it look rich. It can be a $14.99 shirt from TJ Maxx; as long as the elements are there, she can pull it off.”
This season, Claudia Joy returned to law school, which gave Holmes the chance to put her in more suits, predominantly by Theory.
“Claudia Joy always had that one polished, dynamic detail that sets her apart from everything else,” Holmes says. “We might add a special lining to a suit. When she rolls her sleeve up you see that. It sets her apart, or a belt around the outside of her blouse.”
Her jewelry is minimal, and the key to attaining the look, Holmes says, is making sure an outfit is “no frills – clean, simple lines; strong, deep, saturated colors; and one unique, striking piece.”