Pretty and Powerful Corporate Chic

Jeffrey Neira/CBS

"The Good Wife's" costume designer, Daniel Lawson, explains how to execute exceptional executive style.

Her clothing is elegant, powerful and classic," says costume designer Daniel Lawson of the wardrobe for scorned political wife-turned-power lawyer Alicia Florrick (Julianna Margulies) on The Good Wife. The CBS drama, which earned nine Emmy nominations this year (including lead actress for Margulies), showcases styles that wouldn't look out of place at a law firm or in a studio's executive suites -- they're just more luxurious. "We want the look authentic, so you won't see Ally McBeal hemlines, but it's still aspirational," says Lawson, who mixes pieces by such labels as Akris, Max Mara and Michael Kors. "Women, especially lawyers, stop Julianna on the street and ask where they can get that dress or that skirt."

Lawson says professional women like Margulies' Alicia shouldn't be afraid to dress up. He says invest in classics like a black skirt ("a style that flatters your shape") and a three-piece suit (jacket, pants, skirt) that can be worn over and over. "Everything should be tailored," he adds. He also thinks every woman should have a signature piece, be it a pair of earrings or a handbag she carries all the time. Alicia's include pencil skirts, peplum jackets and a Longchamp leather bag that's big enough to haul work papers but can't be mistaken for a briefcase. Lawson says to avoid wearing men's-style button-downs: "It's too masculine; a beautiful silk blouse is better."

For the show's third season, which bows Sept. 25, Alicia's look is even sharper, with body-conscious silhouettes and added color ("anything not black, beige or gray is color"). "There's a nod to the 1940s with strong hourglass shapes and higher heels," says Lawson, who can't wait for fans to see a red Dior suit shown in episode three. "We usually wouldn't pair a red jacket with a red skirt, but we just went for it."