Occasionally a larger woman makes it to TV, though in the land of size double-zero, a size 12 is considered huge.
In CBS’ Monday comedy Mike & Molly, Molly (Melissa McCarthy) is smart, funny and pretty, and Mike (Billy Gardell), also obese, wants her.
Drop Dead Diva has Brooke Elliott, but she wasn’t initially the object of desire. Elliott is smaller, and her character is a lawyer, which gave costumers more leeway.
Molly is big and beautiful. She’s also a fourth-grade teacher, which means she doesn’t have much money to blow on clothes, and what she buys must be washable.
“We have to stay in a realistic price,” McCarthy says. “How am I going to pay, as I walk out with a Marc Jacobs bag? I am wearing clothes Molly would actually buy.”
Costume designer Simon Tuke, who was brought in because of his work on Everybody Loves Raymond, shops, for the most part, where Molly would.
He finds clothes at Target, JCPenney, Macy’s and Lane Bryant. He has also shopped at the more upscale Saks and Bloomingdales.
Molly usually wears jeans, and the brands Tuke likes most for her are Kut and Not Your Daughter’s Jeans.
“They have a nice waist and stretch and a modern shape and are tapered,” he says.
Molly often wears a cardigan from Eileen Fisher.
“It pulls together a look,” Tuke says of cardigans. “It is a good piece to make a more comfortable silhouette, a taller illusion.”
The show is set in Chicago, in the fall, so a sweater certainly makes sense.
Tuke has also bought tops from Elie Tahari, Alfani and Pure Energy. He’s also a fan of Converse One Star plaid shirts from Target.
McCarthy likes the wardrobe.
“It’s cute and comfortable,” she says. Sometimes, with her own wardrobe, she says, “It’s tough. I feel like I have to go on an archaeological search. Is there a cute T-shirt for someone who is not a size 6? Sorting through the grandma clothes is irritating.”
McCarthy has always been interested in fashion, and she studied textiles in school.
“I spent my whole high school (years) making clothes,” she says. “And I still sew. I kind of make these crazy things for my kids. I’m trying to make green clothes.”
For the show, though, she relies on Tuke, who says the key to Molly’s look is layering.
“With the outer piece being drapey and flowy and thinner fabrics that move,” he says. “Having a lower-cut neck and flares out under the bust, and that hides a problem tummy.”
He’s also using thin shoulder pads. Clothes that flow have a possible downside. “They can go schlumpy,” he says. “Sewing shoulder pads in right gives it a little definition and makes everything that much better.”