‘Veep’: Why Do the Show’s Characters Dress Like That?

There are so many pieces that go into making a successful television show. Some of the most obvious ones include the quality of the actors, the writing of the plot, and the cinematography. One element that’s easy to overlook is the costume choices. 

Sure, a period piece like Bridgerton has flashy costumes that draw viewers’ attention, but the impact of well-done costumes isn’t reserved for shows set in time-specific locales. Wardrobe and jewelry selections are part of what makes a character come to life, and these choices are important for every single series on the air, including sitcoms with contemporary settings that don’t necessarily focus on fashion as a plot point. 

When it comes to the show Veep, the characters’ wardrobe choices are certainly noteworthy — but not for their fashionability. Why do the characters look so outdated?

‘Veep’ is a political comedy starring Julia Louis-Dreyfus

Politics and pop culture go together like bread and butter, but many of the most popular political shows have been heavy-hitting dramas. Series like The West Wing and House of Cards took a look at the dark and somber side of politics with a frequent exploration of scandal and deals behind closed doors. Veep was a fresh take on the topic because it included the scandals and subterfuge but set them in a comedic story. 

The central character of Veep is Selina Meyer (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus), an optimistic and hopeful up-and-coming politician who lost a bid for the presidency but ended up second in command. At the start of the series, Meyer is relegated to a figurehead, powerless in the face of an administration that doesn’t value her perspectives or efforts, but over the course of the show’s seven-season run, Meyer gains control, loses it again, and claws her way back into the White House with determination and gusto. 

‘Veep’ takes aim at real-life politics

Julia Louis-Dreyfus poses in black outfit
Julia Louis-Dreyfus | Gregg DeGuire/FilmMagic

Comedy is often a site of biting satire and commentary on real-life scenarios. Perhaps this is why medical professionals have called Scrubs  — rather than many of its dramatic counterparts — the most realistic medical show. There’s something about comedy that allows us to tell the truths we otherwise tend to ignore, and Veep brought that kind of perspective to real-life politics. 

In fact, many of the show’s references were obviously allusions to actual politicians. When Veep included a line about aide Amy Brookheimer (Anna Chlumsky) shaving Meyer’s legs for her, it was a ripped-from-the-headlines reference to rumors about Amy Klobuchar’s mistreatment of staff. Hillary Clinton was also an obvious source of inspiration and jokes throughout the series, and Meyer herself had many elements modeled after Clinton. 

The clothing in ‘Veep’ is intentionally outdated

One way that Veep took a jab at real-life politics was much subtler, and it involves the wardrobe choices for the cast. Many have noticed that the characters are wearing clothes that look outdated, and that was actually by intentional design. 

As Mental Floss reports, both the offices and the characters were dressed to look “10 years behind New York.” This was a direct request from creator Armando Iannucci — who left the show after Season 4. Iannucci felt that this choice would make the characters better mirror real-life politicians living and working in Washington, D.C. as they tend to not keep up with the latest fashion while doing their political work. 

One character, however, was allowed to be (a little) more fashionable. Dan Egan (played by Reid Scott) was given wardrobe choices that were three years ahead of everyone else, putting him just seven years behind the current trends. 

RELATED: The Cast of ‘Veep’ Will Be Presenting at the Emmys Together After the Show’s Finale