The Roy Family’s Greatest Fits: What Fashion Means In ‘Succession’
The sartorial uniform of the ultra-wealthy Roy family on HBO’s “Succession” does not include herringbone vests from J.Crew or Patagonia quarter-zips seen on bankers across Manhattan.
The Roys are too rich for that.
Unlike the searing ad hominem attacks and brilliantly callous insults they spew at each other, the characters’ clothing choices, while extraordinarily expensive, are subtle. When PGM heiress Naomi Pierce (Annabelle Dexter-Jones) wears a pleated white two-piece ensemble reminiscent of pajamas, it’s Proenza Schouler and costs about $2,000. That brown T-shirt Kendall Roy (Jeremy Strong) often wears isn’t just any T-shirt; it’s a $340 top from Maison Margiela.
For costume designer Michelle Matland, who was unavailable for an interview, “Succession” is an exercise in dressing the uber wealthy. From Roman (Kieran Culkin) to Willa (Justine Lupe), the manner in which each character is presented is not only a marker of class — with a tinge of their purported personalities — but an indicator of their status in relation to patriarch Logan Roy (Brian Cox) as they compete to replace him as the next CEO of media conglomerate Waystar Royco.
Since Season 2, numerous social media accounts — like @successionfashion, which has amassed nearly 30,000 followers — have archived and documented the clothing on the show. Tiffanie Woods, the woman behind @successionfits, uses her account to bring together her Google and Reddit discoveries about different pieces featured on the show.
“I just started the Instagram the day before the premiere of Season 3,” said the social media manager from Buffalo, New York. “When they were on the yacht in the Season 2 finale, I was like, everyone was just bringing it. It just felt like such an in-your-face-but-not showing of wealth.”
The characters wear pieces from Club Monaco, Tom Ford, Max Mara, Cartier, and more. Woods, whose love for fashion began on Tumblr, said that a casual observer wouldn’t be able to identify those brands in “Succession” without prior fashion knowledge. The unassuming yet unattainable nature of the Roys’ clothes is what appeals to Woods.
“It’s very much the whole, ‘Oh, [Mark] Zuckerberg only wears the same shirt and pants’ [thing],” said Woods. But they’re like Kendall’s Maison Margiela shirts: “You could not afford it. It’s also why rich people don’t like to talk about money, and it’s because they do not want the underlings to know the amount of wealth that they have.”
Woods continued: “I might have read it on like a Reddit thread where Shiv changes between like three watches within two scenes. It’s thinking about how she’s doing that as different power moves; it’s the same outfit, but who she’s talking to at the moment is changing. Those are the ways that they like to show off their wealth.”
According to W Magazine, Zuckerberg’s incredibly dull gray T-shirt is from Brunello Cucinelli and retails for upwards of $300. The Meta CEO said that he has “multiple” of the same shirt so that clothing options are rarely decisions he has to make.
“Succession’s” disgruntled youngest and family “sicko” Roman Roy has a similarly understated look. Roman is a no-tie, popped collar kind of guy who is rarely in a blazer. What he is, ironically, desperately trying to project to his father is a sense of being cool, calm and collected — unlike his hungry siblings. Of course, the reality is that he isn’t; Roman might actually be the most concerned with getting Logan’s approval.
Woods said that Roman’s style is static, similar to his position in the competition. As Shiv noted in the Season 3 finale, Logan will likely never take Roman seriously because he perceives him as a sexual deviant. Meanwhile, Kendall’s highly curated image fluctuates according to his position in the family hierarchy.
“It’s very interesting because he takes pride in it, like he thinks about it,” said Woods of Kendall’s presence. “I think he uses his clothing, even though it’s not that in your face, as a way to process his emotions. The color choices in Season 2 after the Season 1 finale, he’s dark. It’s the grays, the dark browns — very neutral compared to the crisp white button up.”
After committing vehicular manslaughter at the end of the first season, Logan’s “number one boy,” Kendall, slowly leaves behind his staid suit and tie, becoming a dynamic dresser. We have seen him wear everything from vintage baseball jerseys to Gucci bomber jackets, the latter serving as armor against the constant critiques of his father. In Season 1, Episode 8, Kendall sports “dopey sneakers” — as he calls them — from Lanvin as he embarks on a short-lived stint as an art connoisseur.
“What goes unsaid is that we don’t know if [the characters] are choosing this. They are straight billionaires; they themselves have stylists,” Woods said. Whereas with Kendall, “He’s like, ‘I just picked those up,’ but that is totally him because they’re like these gaudy sneakers. A stylist wouldn’t pick those out for him. Those are the little markers that they leave for interpretation for the viewer.”
By the end of the season, he’s back in knits and in the cold embrace of his father, who is yet again cleaning up his mess. Kendall uses his clothing as a tool of rebellion, often as a means to find identity and distinguish himself from Logan. Woods also noted that Kendall’s stylistic choices are typical of powerful white people capitalizing off of Black culture when it suits them.
“With the chains and the jewelry,” said Woods, “he throws in this weird AAVE that is so not him because he doesn’t have an identity that is not in the eyes of his father. He’s like constantly trying on what he’s interested in.”
The only woman competing in this family fight is Shiv, who has become one of the most controversial characters, style-wise. In Season 2, as a newly married woman, she transitions from long curls to a blunt bob, and ditches her borderline sloppy, political consultant outfits for a crisp rebirth.
The physical embodiment of the “gaslight, gateke
ep, girl boss” meme, Shiv wants her style and presence to be sharp in an effort to convince her father that she is a formidable threat. Her style evolution certainly makes Shiv stand out to the audience, but it’s unclear if that’s what Matland intended.
“She was trying to be more approachable [in Season 1], more liberal because she was in politics,” Woods said. “She was trying to distance herself from the family corporate culture, then as soon as she started to go back inside with the family, it switched.”
The fact that Shiv’s womanhood is so singular in the male-dominated Roy orbit also plays out in perhaps unintended ways.
“She also has a body,” Woods said. “In those roles of high-powered women, you usually have rail thin people, so that also affects how people comment on the way that they dress.”
Shiv and Naomi Pierce are almost fashion foils to one another. While Pierce is “this wild party girl and fashionista,” said Woods, Shiv will never occupy that role. “Shiv is just here to girl boss and do as little as she can to get to the top.”
Though Woods doesn’t think Shiv has a good sense of style, she admired a few of her pieces in recent episodes — such as the $2,490 Ralph Lauren halter cocktail dress in Season 3’s eighth episode. (In that same episode, Kendall wears a $5,975 suit from Brunello Cucinelli.)
As Shiv takes more risks in her professional pursuits, Logan grows frustrated with his daughter. Simultaneously, she’s also taking risks with her fashion — which has drawn more criticism from viewers.
“When people talk about women, they’re like, ‘Oh my God, I can’t believe they’re wearing like a $50,000 gown.’ Men’s suits are insane, but you don’t know because they’re not flashy,” she said. “It’s rooted in sexism and misogyny. Why is it wrong for a woman to wear this dress compared to this man wearing a $20,000 suit?”
The @successionfits creator remarked that in the world of the show, image curation is everything. However, the instances of poor cohesion often serve as plot devices. Characters on the periphery, like Connor and Willa, are just as out of place as their clothes. That has been most consistent with Cousin Greg, who had his own style evolution in Season 3.
Greg Hirsch is a fool and a shapeshifter, contorting to fit the mission. When we first meet him, he’s shown up on his Great-Uncle Logan’s doorstep in a utilitarian jacket, a button-down and slacks. Played by Nicholas Braun, who is 6’7”, Greg has only ever been in clothes that look as disheveled as his internal monologue appears to be.
That is, until the Season 3 finale, when he emerges in a slim fit Paisley & Grey polo. On the cusp of what seems to be his Lacoste era, Greg makes “a deal with the devil” (that is, Traitor Tom), slowly moving up the Roy family totem pole.
“Greg has evolved the most, hands down,” said Woods. “He literally was throwing up [inside a costume] at a theme park in Episode 1, and now he’s sitting pretty in between two women at an Italy wedding. He is like one of the sneakiest chameleons in the bunch. You see him feeling more comfortable and he’s leaning into the JFK Jr-esque outfit.”
Apart from the displays of opulence, Woods said that “Succession” fashion is personal and political. It’s a conduit through which these characters communicate and a mirror of the calculated, transactional choices members of the Roy family make.
Woods says that viewers would be remiss to neglect fashion’s impact on the broader scope of the plot.
“That’s exactly what I think about when I watch it. … You get so much more of a deeper understanding of the show through those fashion choices,” said Woods. “Shows like ‘Succession’ literally hand pick and choose it to make the entire story come together.”