Caroline Aaron, who plays Shirley Maisel in The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel joked about how one of the biggest challenges to returning to the set after a two-year-long hiatus was getting used to the costumes.
Set in the 1950s and 1960s, the women actors, in particular, endure the same complicated and restricting garments worn during the era. That means girdles, stockings, and bras with extreme architecture. Aaron said once she got into costume, having to use the bathroom became an immense chore.
‘Mrs. Maisel’ characters are always well dressed
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel is authentic down to the underwear. “It was like getting back to those costumes because we have to wear, not only the costume but all of the architecture under the costume that women had to go through,” Aaron told Showbiz Cheat Sheet.
“Garter belt and girdles and pointy bras and slips. And I thought I guess women just never went to the bathroom,” she joked. “I guess that’s the way it was because going to the bathroom is really a three-act play with all of that on. And I don’t know how they did it. But we were always dressed up. Lots of hats and bags. You know, in the first season when Midge sets her alarm to get up early to put on make-up before her husband sees her. Wow.”
‘The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel’ writing helped Caroline Aaron get back into character
While costumes helped her back into character, transforming into Shirley after being away from the show wasn’t that difficult because the writing is so good.
“When we started filming this season, but particularly when we started season 4 and we had been off for so long, everybody said, we’re so rusty, we’re so rusty,” she recalled. “But I have to tell you something when you have great writing, you sit right down into it in a way that there is so much support from the production design, the costume design.”
“These are all things that are a gift to your imagination as well as the writing,” she added. “And when you have all these gifts coming at your imagination, it just starts to fire in a certain way. I think for everybody. And these characters are so authentic and recognizable that you can find these people, you know? I mean, I have to say I had been in ‘hag mode’ for about two years, you know what I mean?”
Costumes are inspired by color
Maisel’s costume designer Donna Zakowska takes great pains to ensure the series is outfitted with authentic flair inside and out. She told NPR each costume is inspired by color. Then, “I begin to see the rhythm …” she said. “Having had a dance background and being a lover of music … rhythm is what it’s all about for me — the rhythm of the color and the rhythm of the texture.”
Rachel Brosnahan, who plays Miriam “Midge” Maisel said that while the undergarments are restrictive, she believes designers cut the actors a few breaks. “I’m certainly not wearing corsets that are as tight or uncomfortable as I’m sure someone like Midge would have been wearing,” she said. “But there are many layers of foundation garments. You know, I have pantyhose on and sometimes two petticoats layered together.”
The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel Season 4 is currently streaming on Amazon Prime.