Hollywood actresses are known for adhering to strict diet and exercise regimes in order to keep their bodies super slim so they can wear extraordinary costumes in extra-small, single-digit sizes. So, one can only imagine the shock two TV stars recently felt when they discovered some of the clothes they would be wearing for their new series were a size 12.
Alicia Silverstone and Mena Suvari were reportedly “horrified” when they saw the tags on some of the pieces they would be sporting for their 1970s Los Angeles-set show American Woman. But, according to the Paramount Network series’ costume designer, they really didn’t need to be all that worried.
“Sizing was different then,” Judy Gellman explained to the New York Post, adding that a size 12 back then is roughly the equivalent of a size 6 today.
To set the actresses’ minds at ease, she told them to simply look at the measurements of each garment.
The dramedy American Woman is loosely inspired by series co-executive producer and Real Housewives of Beverly Hills star Kyle Richards’ childhood. Silverstone plays Bonnie, a trophy wife who leaves her cheating husband and then has to join the work force to take care of her two daughters, and Suvari plays her friend, Kathleen, who opens a casting agency while trying to lock down a husband.
“As a costume designer, you want your work to be as accurate as possible,” Gellman told the Post. “So I would say 98 percent of the clothes [on American Woman] are real vintage.”
Gellman found pieces for the cast to wear by visiting vintage stores in Los Angeles, going to estate sales, and borrowing from fashion collectors. She got her inspiration from old issues of Vogue and reviewing what style icons wore during that time period. Some of the designers popular back then that she was able to use in the show included Diane Von Furstenberg, Yves Saint Laurent, and Holly Harp, who was said to be a favorite of music stars Stevie Nicks and Janis Joplin.
Have you seen #AmericanWoman on @ParamountNetwork? Costume Designer Judy Gellman brings ‘70s style back to life while still creating distinct identities for each of the characters. Check out the full interview on @Variety. #CostumeDesignersGuild #CDG892 #JudyGellman #AliciaSilverstone #MenaSuvari #KyleRichards
As for the clothing’s color palette, she told the Post that she used a lot of pastels for Silverstone’s Bonnie, including corals and mint, and chose prints and bright colors for Suvari’s Kathleen.
“We used a ton of polyester,” Gellman added. “It was very big then. When it came to things like bathing suits and jeans, they didn’t have a lot of give. The bathing suits that the girls wore didn’t have the same level of flexibility and stretchability that we have now.”
The 68-year-old has worked in the costume and wardrobe departments of movies and television shows since the mid-1970s. Her credits include the 1987 Elisabeth Shue film, Adventures in Babysitting, the 2013-2014 Rebel Wilson TV series, Super Fun Night, and Kate Walsh’s 2014-2015 show, Bad Judge.
Gellman and the show’s stars get into more detail about the series’ fashions in featurettes, titled “The Fashion of American Woman,” on the Paramount Network’s website. In one clip, which can be seen below, she talks about a sexy purple dress with bugle beads Silverstone’s character wears in an episode.
In another clip, Gellman talks about maxi dresses being a staple in Suvari’s character’s wardrobe.
“Kathleen’s style is really fun, and effervescent, and vibrant, and trendy but still individual to her,” explains Suvari.
American Woman airs Thursday nights at 10 p.m. ET on the Paramount Network.