Working on a tight schedule, most costume designers often have to come up with dozens of outfits for every episode. While some costumes are made from scratch, other designers become personal shoppers to the characters they dress.

Discover a few TV costume designer secrets from the biggest shows this year and find out how designers manage to contribute to the intricate world in each show.

Mad Men

Nominated three times for her work on “Mad Men”, costume designer Janie Bryant is responsible for some of the most praised wardrobe choices on TV. In the first half of season 7, baby blue crept in her palette, from Megan’s stunning dress in the season premiere to dresses worn by Peggy, Betty and Joan.

Mad Men Costume Design Behind The Scenes

When it comes to TV costume designer secrets, Bryant’s method includes everything from altering vintage clothes to creating her own clothes. “I buy vintage and I do a lot of rentals from the amazing costume houses here in Los Angeles. I will also buy vintage and redesign it, depending on what needs I have for each particular character,” she told Smithsonian magazine.

Game of Thrones

Emmy winner Michele Clapton had a lot to for season 4 of “Game Of Thrones”, including Brienne’s new armor, but her favorite pieces include Joffrey’s wedding crown and Margaery’s wedding gown. 

Game Of Thrones Purple Wedding

“With the crowns, Joffrey has his Baratheon antlers as usual and there are roses creeping within it. And then the other way around, Margaery’s is all creeping roses. So the idea was that Margaery was slowly wrapping around him and controlling him”, she explained.

Game Of Thrones Costume Design Behind The Scenes

Taking traditional elements and putting them in a new light is one of the TV costume designer secrets, and that’s exactly what Clapton did with the roses on the wedding gown. “Roses can be so pretty and I didn’t want it to be pretty, I wanted it to be slightly dangerous, because I think she is. And then it literally grew from there.”

More: Game of Thrones Fashion and Hair

The Good Wife

Costume Designer Daniel Lawson also had a lot to do in season 5 of “The Good Wife”, since Alicia continues to grow as a character and the show keeps putting her in new situations. “The thought of starting her own firm is empowering, and it forces her to push herself to be less self-conscious about her look and be powerful,” he explained to InStyle magazine.

The Good Wife Costume Design Behind The Scenes

Introducing new design elements as a character changes is one of the most effective TV costume designer secrets, and Alicia Florick’s wardrobe includes less traditional looks and more daring detailing for season 5, including fringe, zippers and more sexy red.


Christopher Hargadon, the costume designer for “Hannibal”, has dressed a lot more men on the show than women, but his inspired choices are based on a unique vision for each character.

Hannibal Costume Design Behind The Scenes

“Keeping every character distinct in their silhouette, texture and color palette becomes a challenge as the number of players increases, as well as finding sufficient multiples of a costumes for Special Effects (each take of blood spattering requires a fresh wardrobe change…),” he explained, showing that one of the most important TV costume designer secrets is consistency.


While Olivia Pope wears a lot less white than people think, costume designer Lyn Paolo has a preference for lighter colors when it comes to the character. One of the interesting TV costume designer secrets is making sure that the jewelry isn’t just suitable, but also unique.

Scandal Costume Design Behind The Scenes

“You’ll notice that her jewelry is always pretty and evident and very much part of the outfit, but it’s delicate, not heavy. We had the jewelry shipped in from Aspen so that Kerry wouldn’t be wearing the same jewelry as everyone else in town, usually pearls or tiny little dangles to carry on the lighter theme with the clothes,” Paolo told


Unlike other shows, the characters in “Girls” always need to look trendy and costume designer Jenn Rogien finds inspiration in Brooklyn street style. Rogien explained that staying away from designer collections is part of her TV costume designer secrets.

Girls Costume Design Behind The Scenes

“It’s mostly a mix of vintage, thrift, and very accessible retail. There is the occasional designer piece but it’s usually on a character that you wouldn’t guess because it makes sense for that character,” she explained to The Daily Beast.

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