• Fashion

Fashion of “The Diplomat”

Keri Russell in "The Diplomat"

The Diplomat is a political thriller on Netflix created by Deborah Cahn who was behind such Golden Globe-winning TV shows as Homeland and Fosse/Verdon.


The 8-episode series stars Golden Globe-winning Keri Russell as Kate Wyler, the new United States ambassador to the United Kingdom who is faced with the challenge of defusing international crises, forging strategic alliances in London, and adjusting to her new place in the spotlight while also trying to keep her marriage together to fellow career diplomat Hal Wyler, played by Rufus Sewell.


From Episode 1 to Episode 8, Kate is continuously forced to make crucial decisions that would be life-changing both for her career and personal life, and her character arc is brilliantly built not only by the script itself and Russell’s acting but also by means of the costume design created for the show by Roland Sanchez.

Keri Russell and Ato Essandoh in "The Diplomat"

Interestingly, Kate stands out against the rest of the female characters of the show, her peers in politics, including Billie Appiah, White House Chief of Staff played by Nana Mensah. From her very first White House appearance, she sticks to black pantsuits, T-shirts or crewneck sweatshirts and low-heeled boots.


When she moves to London as the newly appointed US ambassador to the UK, she slightly changes her style, adding silk button-up blouses of various colors in neutral tones of white, blue, brown, maroon, and grey. In London, she meets Stuart Heyford, deputy chief of mission of the US Embassy in London, played by Ato Essandoh, who has the assignment of upgrading her style, apart from his other duties.

Keri Russell in "The Diplomat"

In the very first episode “The Cinderella Thing,” Kate admits that she is “not a dress person” when she is given a cape-effect midi dress and silky pump shoes for a Vogue spread and formal portraits, and complains to her husband: “How is this a $1,600 piece of clothing? It does not even have pockets.”

Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell in "The Diplomat"Keri Russell and David Gyasi in "The Diplomat"

Kate’s black suit seems to be her lucky charm, if not a career talisman protecting her from evil and bringing her good fortune. She rarely lets it go, making an exception only for such huge events as US President William Rayburn’s visit to London when she wears a navy blue tweed ¾ sleeve midi dress, or for a reception when she wears a Victoria Beckham-like short-sleeve black cocktail dress with matching black pump shoes. And the same relates to her hairstyle: instead of the stylists’ recommendations, she sticks to messy hair, letting her hair be perfectly done on very rare occasions. 

Keri Russell and Rufus Sewell in "The Diplomat"

Even when Kate needs to pick a dress from the whole rack of gorgeous evening gowns she chooses the black one, or when she heads for a meeting with Austin Dennison, Foreign Secretary of the United Kingdom, she prefers a black suit with a pencil skirt.


Once Kate yields to her stylists and agrees to wear a grey suit with a white satin blouse instead of her favorite black pantsuit in Episode 7 called “Keep Your Enemies Closer,” she experiences her only career failure and flies back to Washington, D.C. to hand-deliver the bad news to Rayburn in the Oval Office though she’s not even given a chance to talk.

Keri Russell in "The Diplomat"

In “The James Bond Clause,” the final episode of Season 1 of The Diplomat, Kate and Hal travel to Paris. While packing her outfits for the trip, Kate can’t make up her mind which gown to wear for the important gala at the Louvre. Her husband advises her to pack both red and black gowns. Her surprising choice of the flowing red satin halter back-sash gown instead of her usual black evening dress is a sort of signal to the audience that she is ready to change her life.


It will be interesting to observe Kate’s further fashion evolution in Season 2 as The Diplomat was officially renewed for Season 2 a few days ago.