In its five seasons, Younger has grown up quite a bit. Lies have been told, truths have been revealed, and relationships have spiraled out of control, but one constant has remained: the show’s commitment to giving its characters a uniquely colorful sense of style.
Whether it’s Liza (Sutton Foster) dressing the way she thinks a 25 year old should dress, her ex-boyfriend Josh (Nico Tortorella), so decked out in his vintage tees and Vans he's almost a parody of himself,Charles (Peter Hermann) in his bespoke tailored suits, or Kelsey (Hilary Duff) serving some boundary-pushing office looks, every character on Younger has a specific sense of style that gives the viewer a taste of a fantastical version of New York life (“fantastical” because, really, how many publishing assistants do you know with a full designer wardrobe?).
Costume designer Jackie Demeterio has worked with the cast for six seasons, taking a colorful approach to building character against a realistic New York backdrop. "The original approach was that there were two groups: the millennials at the office, and then the older executives," Demetrio said. "The young, trendy Kelseys of the world are out hitting the new spots in New York, so it was figuring out how they would dress in the workplace as opposed to the '80s, '90s power-dressing."
The series is a balancing act of exploring tensions: tensions between truths and lies, millennials and boomers, and highbrow and lowbrow culture. "On Younger, there are intellectual threads that run throughout and deal with things that are quite serious, such as last year's depiction of the Me Too movement. "We’ll slip on a banana peel, but we’ll be reading Proust," Miriam Shor, who plays Liza's boss Diana Trout, said. At the end of season five, Liza’s age has been revealed to nearly everyone, including Charles, her current boyfriend and quasi-boss, Kelsey, her right hand at Millennial Print, and Josh, who may or may not have gotten his Irish ex-fiancée pregnant. It also becomes clear that rather than simply recirculating simple plots and re-playing out the lies the characters tell one another about their ages and abilities, Younger is committed to growth.
That gradual character development is thanks, in part, to the measured shift in the characters' clothes over the course of many seasons, or as Foster puts it, "As the show grows up, the wardrobe grows up a lot too. It’s sophisticated, yet fun." And while it may have initially garnered a cult following for serving up lighter fare reminiscent of going to Coney Island for some cotton candy and good-natured fun, Younger has progressed to the point where it successfully handles sensitive subjects like ageism and workplace harassment.
Now, for its sixth season premiering June 12, photographer Norman Jean Roy gathered the cast in the stately stacks of the Brooklyn Historical Society for new promo images, debuting exclusively on W, where Liza and co up the ante on the show's dedication to a high fashion wardrobe. Here, the cast outlines their characters' connections to couture, their favorite looks, and if they’re ever envious of any of their peers' costumes on set.
Liza Miller (Sutton Foster)
How would you describe Liza’s style?
Sutton Foster: Liza’s style has definitely evolved. She has a playfulness, but she doesn’t lean into trying as hard. Lately, it has an ease to it, but early on there was a lot of effort. I never change the jewelry, though. Everything I try on, feels so right. The show has marinated so much. There are fewer questions and a lot more certainty.
What about your personal style—is there any Sutton in Liza’s wardrobe?
Not really. I wish I had Liza’s style and wardrobe. I always tell Jackie, you have to take me shopping! Because there are certain outfits Liza wears that I would wear, especially this season. My style is much more t-shirt, jeans, comfortable shoes. If anything, I tend to disappear. When I get dressed up, I lean towards Liza’s style, but not as “fashion” because I don’t have that fashion sense.
What’s your favorite Liza look?
In this season, I wore a Missoni dress that leans more towards the sophisticated Liza. It’s a long sleeve, low, deep v-neck in the front. It’s a vertical striped, shimmery dress that was pretty bad-ass.
Kelsey Peters (Hilary Duff) and Zane Anders (Charles Michael Davis)
How would you describe Kelsey’s style?
Hilary Duff: I think Kelsey has had such a fun metamorphosis into the fashion world. She started off wearing everything too tight and a little too short, and just maybe slightly inappropriate, but she didn’t mind using that element to get where she needed to go work-wise. Not that she’s not also brilliant! Now, she’s really sweat her way to the top and worked really hard. Her fashion has evolved and she’s the boss. I’ve worn a lot of suits this season so it’s very sophisticated. I think what makes this show is that it’s nothing that anyone in New York actually dresses like. It’s color, vibrant, dressed to the nines. It’s total New York fantasy. It sets a tone for this life that has a lot that people can relate to, but visually you’re like, who wears that? What are they doing? It’s exciting! We’re like holed up in an apartment in Williamsburg living with six people, but we’re wearing Gucci.
How do you define Zane’s style?
Charles Michael Davis: He’s always suited up. Dapper. All the suits! This show has taught me about fashion; I learned a lot about suits.
What about your personal style?
Duff: Kelsey's and my style is very different because I’m a mom and I have spit-up on my shoulders most days, but a lot of the things she wears I would wear if I was getting dressed up, or if I had to be sharp for something. She’s a little bit louder than I am. I like to be a little bit cleaner, but the shapes and the style are very similar to my own.
Davis: I own some suits, but don’t get to wear them unless I’m in New York or going to a function. I spend most of the time in California, so it’s real relaxed. I finished another show where my character wore hoodies and Timbs so I started wearing those in real life. I’m a minimalist. I’m all about the Marie Kondo method.
What’s your favorite Kelsey look?
Duff: I just wore the most insane Givenchy gown. It was crazy. It was in one scene for like 20 seconds, but it was kind of a fanned material where it’s been pressed into an accordion. It was stunning, shiny black and gold, iridescent.
Is there any other character whose wardrobe you wish you had?
Duff: If I could pull pieces from anyone’s wardrobe, I think I would choose Liza’s. It’s a little more quirky because they’re trying to keep up with the “younger lie” so I like the quirk of the high fashion mixed with vintage, or a casual beanie. I prefer it more but I’m not envious because at the end of the day, we all just want our sweatpants on.
Davis: Hilary gets great stuff, but I’ve never wanted to dress like her because the shoes look really uncomfortable.
Have you incorporated any of your personal pieces into your character's wardrobe?
Davis: The only thing that’s mine is my watch. My character wears a two-tone Rolex, and at the end of last season as a gift for myself, I bought myself a Rolex. My dad would always wear a watch, and when he came home from work he took it off and put it in the same spot in his drawer. I always watched that and was like, that’s the sign of being a man. No matter what I wear, the watch is a little nod to me.
Maggie (Debi Mazar), Lauren Heller (Molly Bernard), and Diana Trout (Miriam Shor)
How would you describe your character's style?
Miriam Shor: Diana’s style is the highest level of couture to the nth degree, and when you think you’ve finished, add one or two more layers. We’ll finish a look, and then add another necklace on top of a necklace. I think Diana loves fashion, but she uses it as her armor. You can tell she’s protecting something vulnerable by the suit of armor she wears. There are a couple necklaces I could joust with.
Molly Bernard: Lauren would not be Lauren if not for the clothes that Jackie puts me in. Even when I don’t need to wear high heels for takes where they don’t see our feet, I have to wear them or else Lauren doesn’t make sense to me. She’s someone who insists on heels, which is the opposite of me! I would describe her style as bold, fearless, and very quirky.
Debi Mazar: I find her to be organic, lively. Even though she’s a lesbian, she doesn’t dress particularly masculine or feminine. She mixes it up with things from flea markets and a traditional uniform of high waisted pants, boots, a good coat. She’s not always trendy. We’re in New York, so I always ask for a coat because when you step out you want that extra layer to cover. I like the idea that there’s mystery.
Do you bring any of your personal style into your character?
Bernard: I dress kind of like an androgynous tomboy. I do like to get cute! I get cute in a very “cute” way and Lauren gets cute in a, well, she uses lines and structure. Jackie has introduced shape and structure to me. Things never really fit me off the rack, they’re always a little too big, but I like it like that because I’m used to it. We couldn’t be more different! Lauren is a drag queen. I’m like a cute little French toddler.
Mazar: I bring some of my own stuff to work: props, earrings, belts, shoes. I do my own hair and makeup. I don’t like to bring too much of my stuff to work because then I get sick of wearing it and it doesn’t feel special anymore. As an actress, you have to make it look like your own. I never want the outfit to wear me.
What's your favorite look your character has worn?
Shor: There’s a big red dress with a giant flower that I put around my neck after I broke up with my boyfriend. It was a suggestion I made because I thought it would be hilarious to have her put on a giant flower, and then they made this beautiful piece. It was really symbolic. She was open and vulnerable before that and then she put this on because she was reclaiming herself. That was really fun. I also really like the necklace I wore in the first episode of season six.
Bernard: I really liked what I wore for the promos last year. That little, weird baby jumpsuit onesie. I think it was Chanel or Miu Miu. I would wear that, though, with tennis shoes.
Character whose wardrobe you're most envious of?
Shor: I love Molly Bernard’s outfits. She’s delightful in every way, anyway. I always feel like we’re two generational sides of the coin, character wise and wardrobe wise. And I would say the character I dress most like is Josh. T-shirt and jeans every day. He’s comfortable. But also, the men on this show can wear a suit. I do love a good suit. And I want to be Debi Mazar when I grow up.
Mazar: Sometimes I get a little bit envious of Charles. Because he has all of these bespoke, wonderful suits. In terms of the girls, my body is not like Molly’s, she’s a little hummingbird. I’m sometimes envious of what she can wear. Occasionally I’ll get earring or necklace envy from Miriam. But everyone dresses so great that I don’t want to dress like anybody but how my character has to dress.
Charles Brooks (Peter Hermann)
How would you describe your character’s style?
Peter Hermann: Old school elegance, updated with the help of the women around him.
How would you describe your personal style?
I would say probably tired dad elegance held together by the women around me.
Is there any other character whose wardrobe you wish you had?
Lauren showed up in something made out of feathers and I was like, "Damn, I want Charles to be in feathers." Nico had a leather jacket once, that you have to mortgage your house to buy, and I found myself being wildly covetous of that.
Do you have a favorite look?
The first time that Jackie put me in one of those Tom Ford suits I wanted to get it stitched to my skin and sleep in it forever because it was so nice. She’s gotten a bunch of suits made for me and that’s a whole other ball of wax, when you put something on that’s actually made for all of your physical quirks and idiosyncrasies. That’s an impossibly delicious feeling. So, I’m very very happy in the suits that I wear. There was one scene in the Hygge party episode where I wore a turtleneck and I liked the way it looked, but somehow out in the real world I just couldn’t pull it off.
Josh (Nico Tortorella)
How would you describe Josh’s style?
Nico Tortorella: Laid back but expensive. He’s wearing a lot of Saint Laurent this year, but with Vans and tube socks. Lots of leather jackets. It’s a bougier Brooklyn hipster who came from a trust fund and can afford all of these clothes. Josh definitely didn’t come from a trust fund, but that’s how he dresses.
Do you bring any of your own pieces into Josh’s wardrobe?
Yeah, Jackie and I have a really great rapport. We’re cut from the same cloth. I do a lot of vintage in my own life and always try to incorporate some pieces into Josh’s wardrobe. Shoes are a big thing. My buddy just started embroidering Vans so I’m trying to get those in.
How would you describe your personal style?
It’s kind of a cluster of sorts. A classic, vintage, tissue thin white t-shirt is my most prized possession. I have over thirty of those, and they’re all hanging perfectly in my closet. They’re like my children. I love them so much. A lot of vintage denim, but also new Japanese designers and streetwear vibes. I collect glasses, lots of hats. I always have a hat on, for whatever reason, literally always. It depends on if I’m staying in the city or in my house upstate, because if I’m in my house upstate, I look like I was raised on a farm and all I’m wearing is Harley Davidson and Carhartt jeans and trucker hats; I’m driving my pickup truck and I’m the happiest fucking person in the country. When I’m in the city, I raise the stakes a little bit. There’s a fluidity to my fashion that is important and we all have it. I think I have an ability to wake up in the morning and whatever energy I’m harnessing for that moment, whether it’s more masculine or more feminine or more streetwear or more bougie, I can tap into different things but also mix energies together. We don’t need to be one fixed label that we’re presenting.
Have you ever wanted to dress like any other character on the show?
Yeah, Lauren! Lauren has the best wardrobe on the show. Hands down. Every time Molly comes to set, I’m like, "Girl, I’d wear that in a second." She’s wearing a lot of Vivienne Westwood this year which is always fun.
What's your favorite Josh look?
This one right now is pretty good. Dior suit, Gucci tie, McQueen boots. Josh is usually in a t-shirt and jeans, and a flannel and I feel like when I’m playing Josh, my friends all make fun of me. We’re working with a lot of the big houses every day on set, but it’s pretty seamless. You would never look at Josh and be able to tell he’s wearing $7,000 worth of Saint Laurent right now because it just looks like it’s a jeans and t-shirt. But to raise the stakes and have this black-tie moment, it feels like it’s the right time for Younger. We’re growing up on this show, it’s been six years now. We’re all a little bit more mature. We’re almost all married. We’re getting older on Younger.