How ‘The Dropout’ Costume Designer Dresses Elizabeth Holmes

Disgraced Theranos founder Elizabeth Holmes is identified by the unique picture she sculpted herself in: a deep-voiced, very-mannered CEO decked out in black turtlenecks to emulate her role product, Steve Employment. But in the Hulu miniseries “The Dropout,” which follows her trajectory from founding the business that would make her popular to getting indicted by the U.S. government, viewers really do not see her in her perfectly-recognized get-up right until the conclude of the 3rd episode, when she helps make her comprehensive heel turn into a fraudster and grifter.

Throughout the initial act of the present, the viewers sees a very various Holmes, 1 who attire like a regular faculty student of her time time period, with a wardrobe manufactured out of mid-2000s retail merchandise. As she struggles to obtain her footing in the experienced world, her outfits replicate her perfectly-deserved imposter syndrome, conveying that she’s a teen desperately seeking to participate in the component of a manager.

“She’s starting off the firm, it is like she’s however form of dressing the same way she dressed in significant faculty,” costume designer Claire Parkinson suggests. “Maybe she’s wearing a slack that she bought or a trouser, maybe she place a heel on. So it is definitely like thrown jointly in this awkward kind of unwell-fitting, not fairly qualified way.”

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Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes in Episode 2 of ‘The Dropout’ wore preppy clothing in early episodes.

Parkinson is close to the identical age as the two Amanda Seyfried, who portrays Holmes in the miniseries, and the fraudulent entrepreneur herself. As a outcome, she was really acquainted with the garments Holmes would have worn in the course of the span of time depicted in the sequence, which starts in 2001 and ends all over 2016, when Theranos ultimately collapsed subsequent a collection of investigations that uncovered the ineffectiveness of its blood-screening technology.

Although researching the designs of the display, Parkinson designed positive that the outfits worn by the people fit the evolving styles and trend tendencies via the yrs. The earliest episodes element puka shell necklaces and cargo pants in the type of classic Y2K trend, which Parkinson pulled from Etsy and eBay. When the demonstrate flashes ahead to 2007, characters get started carrying skinny denims and other parts of the era.

For Holmes, Parkinson dressed Seyfried in preppy, intentionally-primary apparel in the course of the to start with couple episodes. Some parts had been lifted specifically from the variety of outfits Parkinson herself wore for the duration of the time period in the scene where by Holmes initially satisfies her foil Phyllis Gardner (Laurie Metcalf), Seyfried sports activities an orange Abercrombie and Fitch sweater with a yellow truthful isle that Parkinson owned in high school. Parkinson also designed confident that Holmes was not wearing any fashionable fashion from the time period of time, like reduced-slung denims, and gave her a muted color palette in comparison to her classmates, numerous of whom wore pinks and teals and lime greens.

“Elizabeth specially, I was on the lookout at outfits that her mom may possibly purchase her from a minor more preppy skewing outlets like J Crew,” Parkinson states. “But then Elizabeth desires to don some items that were being a small little bit more in trend, but kind of lacking the mark.”

In “The Dropout,” Holmes’s adoption of the turtleneck as her signature appear is depicted as a important action in her asserting ability more than her firm, immediately after floundering as its chief for two episodes. When wanting for the turtleneck, Parkinson regarded recreating a classic Issey Miyake turtleneck, which Work famously wore. Inevitably, nevertheless, she settled on using lookalikes from Austrian firm Wolford, which developed the merchandise applying recycled products. Parkinson created alterations to the layout, extending the neck and making it longer in the bodice and stretchier in get to emulate the tightness and length of the real-everyday living Holmes’ turtleneck.

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Amanda Seyfried as Elizabeth Holmes in Episode 5 of ‘The Dropout’ transitions to sleeker turtlenecks

Aside from the turtleneck, Parkinson also recreated quite a few famous appears to be Holmes wore in excess of the class of her organization globe ascension, numerous of which were hand-designed. For a quick scene the place Holmes attends the Time 100 Gala, Parkinson hand-designed the genuine black costume she wore. One particular of the vests she wears in the collection, with a light-weight-colored hood, was established primarily based on 1 that the authentic-daily life Holmes wore in pictures of when President Joe Biden visited Theranos. And for a sequence at the stop of episode 6 established at a Theranos Halloween bash, the designers recreated a wizard costume that Holmes dressed in, entire with the same velvet color schemes.

Throughout all of the variations in Holmes’ wardrobe, one of the constants is that her clothing are often slightly uncomfortable and askew. Even when she’s putting on her black turtleneck, there are refined miscalculations, this sort of as poorly-shaped pants that are not appropriately customized to her system, that result in it to sign up as staying off. In accordance to Parkinson, the intention driving this was to express that Holmes was enjoying a portion in her community existence and that the persona that men and women are acquainted with is a thing she wished to create instead than who she actually was.

“Every costume I ever do, I generally want it to sense definitely correct to the character, but this is the initial time I’ve at any time worked on a thing where by I wanted it to be like ‘this is even now a costume,’” Parkinson suggests. “Like she’s wearing a costume herself. So that’s really a bizarre distinct problem as a costume designer, it doesn’t essentially feel organic to her.”

Throughout the collection, that awkwardness in Holmes’ costume is contrasted with the outfits of the men and women all-around her, who have a tendency to put on greater-fitting garments. Her very first major critic is her neighbor, inventor Richard Fuisz (William H. Macy), who wears comfy but high-priced garments, this sort of as cashmere sweaters and Brioni and Ralph Lauren things, that established him apart from the much more standard apparel Holmes wears. 1 of the major contrasts is with her other key critic, Phyllis, who is dressed in set-collectively pantsuits with an array of gorgeous scarves. In producing the outfits for all those who oppose Holmes, Parkinson focused on generating the objects experience lived in and authentic to them, in get to distinction that feeling of fact with the purposefully made search that Holmes confirmed to the environment.

“The black turtleneck, it’s like an armor,” Parkinson claims. “It’s a facade in opposition to the fakeness of what’s going on in Theranos.”