Episode 4 in Season 2 gives a three-second glimpse of of Claire's closet, as she selects a dress for a climactic TV interview, not one bright colour in sight. She considers a dress, and murmurs, "Too neutral?" Her advisor, looking on, says "Whatever you wear, you'll look great", and I thought, Well, who wouldn't, in Zac Posen custom-fitted to a fabulous body? (See the Washington Post feature here on the character's clothes.)
What can the average woman learn from Underwood's haute armor?
The key message is that fit, always a requisite on camera, counts in real life, too. I see some lovely women in uneven hemlines and baggy busts. It's not that they don't care, but the bridge or "better dress" offerings are more carelessly made year by year.
To do better than an approximate fit, we have to upgrade via sales or consignment, sew very well, or find a pro. Tina Chow had one designer piece copied in many fabrics by a local tailor, for years.
We also need to reclaim fit relative to our bodies. If you cannot feel your body in a dress, it's not earning its keep. I don't mean garments should be tight; Robin Wright's are, but "House of Cards" is entertainment. However, the piece ought to define something: shoulder, waist, hips.
Then, there is the matter of cut. Wright's dresses are longer than what is shown on e-shop or catalog models; the length is in proportion to her frame, but also a more elegant, grown-woman effect. With legs like hers, she could wear a much shorter skirt—and she does not.
In shops, women are often told, "Oh, you can wear it that short", but I believe that's often a sales line: that's the skirt the shop has. (And dadgummit, I am so tired of the suggestion that I put leggings under a too-short dress I could just shreik.)
Whether you have a figure like Wright's or not (is there anyone who wears a pencil skirt better?) we all have collarbones; showing even a glimpse of that feature reinforces the vertical.
And finally, don't ever sit down (kidding). Wright attended the premiere party for the current season in a black silk outfit that devolved to a lapful of wrinkles by the evening's end. In real life, even a star is not followed by minions with steamers.
There is hardly any jewelry on the character; the lack of adornment is a visual reference to her high control. When we see Claire Underwood in Anna Wintour's collet necklace we'll know something's up.
Just one piece of distinctive jewelry, like a pair of antique-style earrings or a horn bracelet, warms up a woman. (Shown, silver, 18k gold, diamond and white sapphire fleur de lis earrings from Beladora, $795.)
Pearls? She wears a calm and collected version:
But for those women who want a looser, lighter image, I'd choose the "Lavender Queen" keshi necklace from Kojima Company; price, $630. (And Kojima Company has a 20% off sale from today to June 1 with discount code KOJIMAPEARL).
In real life, I've met a few "Claire Underwoods", their intelligence evident, their humanity compromised by smiles that don't involve the eyes, and I try to get out of there as soon as I can. But I do admire the wardrobe!