I still remember being a sophomore in college, having just been accepted to the Student Ambassador program. It was a moment of mixed emotions: excitement at being the newest member of the prestigious organization; horror at having to buy a navy blue pantsuit (the required uniform). There’s something about a business suit that will simply never be cool. It’s enough to make even the most math- and science-savvy coeds sprinting for a liberal arts degree with a much more lax dress code.
So imagine my surprise when a show called Suits was pumping out avant-garde style on its leading lady, Sarah Rafferty. Rafferty’s character, Donna, is a well-dressed alpha female with quick wit, impeccable timing and a super-stocked wardrobe.
I recently caught up with Rafferty to learn more about her red hair, red carpet style and why her purse is usually full of cheddar bunny crumbs.
Julie Bensman: Suits is now in its 4th season (congrats!). Why do you think the show resonates so well with viewers?
Sarah Rafferty: I am always surprised by the range of the Suits demographic. I meet college kids who watch with their parents and grandparents. So there seems to be a little something for everyone. Our writers do a great job of creating compelling storylines that always deepen our understanding of the characters. It’s a law show less about procedure and more about people.
JB: Talk to me about Donna’s style. Is it similar or different from your own?
SR: It’s very different in that I personally don’t go to the park or drive carpool in Valentino [laughs]. My style is more relaxed and functional; Donna has a flare for the dramatic and colossal self-esteem, so she steps into the office like she’s stepping onto a runway. Every detail for her is crucial.
JB: As a redhead, how important is color to your style choices?
SR: Very! I’ve learned a lot about color from our costume designer, Jolie Andreatta. She actually loves to put me in pink, which I once thought was a no-no for redheads. I’ve stocked up on cute pink sweaters and tops for my personal life.
JB: How do you choose outfits for red carpet events?
SR: Lately, I’ve been trying to embrace relaxed outfits that are more of a departure from Donna’s silhouette. After you hit the red carpet, the party is more fun if you’re comfortable. Recently, I wore a lime green pantsuit by Rachel Zoe, a bright blue Escada gown with pockets (yay, no clutch necessary!) and a maxi dress by Paper London.
JB: Which items can we always find in your purse?
SR: I’m currently in a diaper, cheddar bunnies, crayons, stickers and lollipops phase.
JB: What’s the last thing you googled?
SR: Marcus Samuelsson’s gravlax recipe