Ted Lasso costume designer Jacky Levy discusses her work dressing the characters for season 2, including styling the show’s stunning funeral episode and putting occasional glimpses of colour on Roy Kent.
Every element of the award-winning Apple TV+ football comedy Ted Lasso is swiftly becoming iconic The show is a cultural phenomenon, and the costumes are no exception. The visual imagery associated with many of our favourite characters is not only instantly recognisable, it’s somewhat easily replicable, making dressing up Lasso style a popular new theme for costume parties and fan conventions. Halloween saw countless Teds, Rebeccas, Trent Crimms, Roy/Keeley couple costumes, Jamie Tartts and other Richmond footballers in full uniform.
Well, they say imitation is the sincerest form of flattery, and this particular side of Ted Lasso’s success largely down to the work of Jacky Levy, Ted Lasso’s head costume designer. The Ted Lasso main cast provide a broad canvas for her line of work, from Ted’s fish out of water visors and chinos to Keeley’s high-low, slightly chavvy It Girl looks, Jamie Tartt’s satin and tie-dye in contrast with Roy Kent’s black on black on black.
And that’s all before we get to the football kit element. Richmond’s uniform, with its red and blue shirt, white shorts and yellow socks has quickly become ubiquitous, and looking forward, the biggest news that we know for certain in regards to Ted Lasso costuming is that AFC Richmond will have a new kit, sponsored by Nike, for the 2021/2022 football season that season 3 will cover. The updated kit, still featuring the team colours in a new pattern, was announced on March 7 and previewed on both Apple TV+ and Nike’s social media, to celebrate the start of Ted Lasso season 3 filming. On-location pictures have caught glimpses of the club’s newly designed orange away kit and blue training gear as well, all with the Nike swoosh replacing the fictional Verani Sports wing as Richmond’s official kit manufacturer.
This kit announcement marks an important milestone I never dreamed would happen: me using “kit” correctly in a sentence. https://t.co/uIkNnU5OW7
— Ted Lasso (@TedLasso) March 7, 2022
This brings the show a new level of realism, as Premier League clubs update their kits annually — keen eyes will have spotted Man City’s real, purple-trimmed 19/20 kit in the Ted Lasso season 1 finale, and the fractured-line 20/21 pattern in season 2, episode 8 — but Richmond’s uniform saw no change between Ted Lasso season 1 and season 2. That’s not due to the relegation — the Championship League teams generally update as well — but rather a choice made by the Ted Lasso team, when season 2 began filming before the world had taken notice of the show, and in June 2021, after much demand, official Richmond shirts and merchandise were made available by Warner Brothers.
How this new Nike sponsorship came about for Richmond may be a plot point, as Levy was not at liberty to say much about the new design, despite it having been officially launched by Apple and Nike. Levy was not involved in the design of Richmond’s first kit — she joined the production a week into filming season 1 — but she was somewhat involved in this one, and has been responsible for coming up with the plethora of varied Richmond merchandise we see on fans at the games throughout the series, from baby clothes to shirts from 20 years ago.
“What I would say is that from season 1 to season 2 it was a decision — it wasn’t my decision, it was a decision by the producers and Jason and so on to keep the kit the same, just because I don’t think they knew at that point how popular it was going to be, and I think they wanted to give also fans time to be able to buy the old kit. From season 2 to season 3, the kit looks much more professional.”
Read on for more from Ted Lasso costume designer Jacky Levy in regards to her work in season 2.
What is the most specific note you’ve ever gotten from a script or a writer or director in terms of what they envision for a certain character or scene, in order to invoke a certain feeling for the show? Is it often there’s quite a specific brief that you need to fill, or is it a lot more freedom than that?
Occasionally there will be a specific reference to something very, very specific, like there might be a reference to a particular bag by a particular designer that you have to get, or a specific pair of shoes or a specific t-shirt with a specific rock band on it, or say, a watch make or something like that, but to be honest it doesn’t come up that often, so I am given quite a lot of freedom, although I will ask for a brief.
I will always ask either Jason or the director about any new characters that are coming in and how they see them, particularly Jason because he oversees all the writing and everything. I always like to check in because sometimes he’ll say “Oh, I’ll just leave it to you,” and then sometimes he’ll say very specific things of how he sees that character and if he doesn’t, then I’ll ask the director if they’ve got any very specific ideas about how they see a character and then go from there.
What about the element of mood, or character personality in the costumes? I’ve read a bit about what you’ve said about the progression of Keeley’s wardrobe as she becomes sort of more professional, and about Rebecca’s as she became less severe, but I actually wanted to ask about Jamie’s wardrobe, because he had this redemption arc in season 2 that begins almost immediately. Did that affect how you dress him, or were asked to dress him — to make him look softer in any way or more likeable? Or if not Jamie, just in terms of any of the characters where, rather than being asked for a specific item, you’re either asked specifically, or you decided, to change their look in a way that makes us feel a bit differently about them?
Actually, with Jamie Tartt, I don’t think so. We didn’t dress him in a certain way for people to like him better or to warm to him or feel that he’s changed. I have done that with other characters, but not specifically with him. We’d kind of just try and always make him look, you know, just good, but with a slight kind of naffness or clash or something. But he still looks kind of a bit cool, do you know what I mean? So we’ve just sort of kept that with him.
People like Sam have gone on more of a style journey, from arriving as a sort of naive young man and then being around the footballers, obviously, we sort of talked about him being influenced by the other footballers, so he’s gradually grown in his fashion sense and got a little bit more experimental. Isaac is just unique, and Kola can really get away with anything, clothes-wise, so we can just have fun with him. I think we’ve just tried to just move on, from year to year, to just make them look like they’ve got a bit of money to spend on fashion.
I was actually wondering about that, how much of a factor that wealth and also class plays in terms of how the characters dress, for example Keeley has this chavvy background versus Rebecca coming from money. And then there’s Roy, who after twenty years as a professional footballer is loaded, but wears basically a uniform of nothing, because that’s his personality.
Roy, he’s not interested in brands. He just wants to put his clothes on at the beginning of the day and take them off at the end. He’s not bothered about looking… Actually, no, I don’t know, maybe he is secretly deep down bothered about how he looks. But he doesn’t… I think he thinks that any thought about clothes is not tough, do you know what I mean? It’s not manly enough.
Yeah, because he says at one point, when he’s going to retire, “I really like being Roy Kent,” and I think that for all that he might complain about it, he quite likes being recognizable as this figure that he looks like. Though I have to say one thing that I’ve noticed that I really love is that the only time we see a bit of colour on him is having funny socks. Every time we’ve seen his feet he has novelty socks. Where did that come from?
We imagine that Phoebe gives him socks for his birthday. He’s got a soft side deep down, so he feels he has to wear them. And also, regarding colour, the scene with the yoga mums was quite funny, because…
I was just going to say! He had a pinkish red shirt in that. I did notice that as well.
And you just think… [*shakes head*]
Right, that it’s one of the only times, he’s not performing in that Roy Kent kind of “armour.”
No, that’s right.
One of the most interesting episodes costume-wise was the funeral, where you’d think everyone would be quite samey, but you’ve got Rebecca and Keeley and Sassy and then the lead boys as well, the players, all having such different looks. What was that like, putting together those really unique funeral looks?
I loved doing that episode, because quite often you do get a funeral in a TV drama or comedy or whatever and it can be quite samey, you know, everyone wears a dark suit or or whatever, but the fun of this was the fact that they would all put a different outfit together and you could still keep their characters and I was determined to still keep their characters, even though it needed to be all black. That’s the director, they wanted it all black, I mean, you go to a funeral these days and not necessarily everyone’s wearing black, but I think on TV, it’s quite a visual.
Did you have a favourite of the looks put together for the girls or the boys for the funeral?
It’s like children. I can’t have a favourite.
That was actually another one that made me curious about Jamie’s wardrobe thematically, because it’s kind of the only time that he looks like a grown-up, and Keeley says to him like, “Nice suit,” in a way that feels like admiring his maturity, and then he goes on to have that kind of moment of being that accountable grown man “best version.”
I think with Jamie, we kind of actually choose — looking at the individual items that we have in his wardrobe, they’re all quite nice. They’re all quite stylish things, it’s just the way we put them together.
I know that you put him in long sleeves a lot because they don’t always want to put the tattoo on, but that has also resulted in this great character trait of him fiddling with his too-long sleeves, or tucking and pulling on them. He does a lot of “anxious hands,” he plays a lot with sleeves or pockets or wrapping his hands in the belly of his shirt and so that was another element I wondered whether you had to factor for with him, if that was a directorial choice or just the actor using the clothes as a prop of their own volition?
That would be a choice of his, yeah. I don’t think Phil [Dunster] has mentioned it to me, but I don’t mind him fiddling with the costumes! If he can use them, that’s fine. Phil is so dedicated to his work. He’s nothing like Jamie Tartt in real life, absolutely the opposite, and he’s really thoughtful about the character and he researched it and everything.
Of all the characters, we most often visit Keeley’s personal space, as opposed to work, and her house is filled with personality which often includes her clothes [as pictured in header, from ‘Midnight Train to Royston.’] How do you and the production designer work together to dress not only Keeley, but her space, given how much clothes are in her space?
Obviously I don’t have any say in what is in her house as far as ornaments and stuff like that is concerned, furniture and so on, but we do work together when it’s clothes, so if we are in one of the characters’ homes, I usually give the art department some of their costume items to place wherever they want. They probably get some as well, but we always provide a few other key things that people know that Keeley’s worn, so they’re recognisable.