Tonight, FX premieres The Americans (10 p.m. ET), starring Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as a pair of Russian spies posing as married travel agents living in suburban Virginia in the year 1981.
The Cold War-era series presents an interesting challenge for costume designer Jenny Gering, who joined the show after the pilot episode (where we see Russell wearing a pair of Guess mom jeans).
“Yes, we want to create a sense of place and time and feel like we’re there, but we don’t want to have crazy clichés running around that will take you out of the story,” Gering says. Something that helps: This is the transitional early ’80s. “It’s a completely opposite silhouette to what people consider to be ‘the ’80s.’ In most people’s heads, it’s big and boxy on top and slim on the bottom, and the ’70s are more slim on top and fuller on the bottom. It was just a chance to really show women’s figures and beautiful tailoring. Everything’s very tactual — there’s a lot of leather and suede. And the palette is lovely — there’s very little black and grey, it’s very autumnal.”
Read on to find out how Fast Times at Ridgemont High and vintage Victoria’s Secret catalogs helped Gering establish the show’s early ’80s aesthetic.