That Collarless Suit

In more than one episode in Season 1 of Remington Steele, Paula Giokaris (costumer for women) dresses Laura in a collarless suit.

Hello! Today at Laura Holt's Closet we notice a fashion pattern.

The silhouette of this recurring suit boasts a soft scoop neckline, one button and a tea-length pencil skirt.

It's worn in cream for "Vintage Steele" and "Signed, Steeled and Delivered," and in navy blue in "Steele's Gold."

In "Vintage Steele," the cream suit is worn with a stiff shirt collar and a scarf at the neck in scenes where she meets an ex-boyfriend, has fun at a winery and pretends to be a sommelier's assistant.

In "Signed, Steeled and Delivered," Laura wears the same cream, collarless suit with a causal, light, crew-neck sweater, just before the weekend.

In "Steele's Gold," the detective is going to meet a braniac in a room filled with computers. The wardrobe designer not only makes Laura's collarless suit a darker color (navy blue), she pairs it with a red and blue collegiate tie. This creates an air of authority that Laura needs while investigating the evasive scientist.

Click to enlarge

What was whimsical, gorgeous or casual in one episode becomes all business in another. It's amazing what colors and accessories can do to the same suit.

Designer for Remington Steele -Carole Little- has died

The New York Times reports that Carole Little, noted fashion designer and wardrobe supplier for the hit TV show "Remington Steele,"  died on September 19, 2015. Ms. Little was 80 years of age.

  • We here at Laura Holt's Closet have recounted Carole Little's career and what it means to the TV show. You may read that account here: Carole Little and Remington Steele

The New York Times

A Steele at Any Price: Butterscotch Brownies

Laura greets a client wearing deliciously comfortable separates in "A Steele At Any Price" (Season 2, Episode 6 of "Remington Steele").

Hello and welcome to Laura Holt's Closet.

The Outfit
The champagne silk top with epaulets and breast pockets paired with a chocolate brown belt and brown tweed skirt screams cozy, comfy office chic. Let's call this ensemble "butterscotch brownies."

Let's recreate the look.

1.Victoria Ruffle Crew by J. Crew  |2. Crosshatch Tweed Pencil Skirt by Nordstrom |3. Brown Suede Belt by Once Upon a Belt

Buy  Season 2 of "Remington Steele".

What will Laura wear next?

Steeling the Show: Black Jacket, Red Turtlenececk, Grey Slacks

Laura helps a classic movie star determine whether she is hallucinating about assassination attempts.

Hello! Welcome to Laura Holt's Closet where we glean wardrobe inspiration from our favorite sleuth. Today's episode is "Steeling the Show" (Season 1, Episode 11 of  "Remington Steele").

In one scene, Laura is ready for action in an unstructured black jacketslate gray slacks and a vermillion turtleneck - just a pop of vibrant red.

The unstructured jacket was a big fashion statement in the 1980s and is a style usually attributed to Giorgio Armani. However, it's  Laura's color combination that we're going for today.

Let's recreate the look.

1. Anthracite Shawl Collar Cocoon Jacket  2. L.L. Bean Pima Cotton Turtleneck    3. Loft Grey Boot Jeans

This is one of the more casual ensembles that Laura wears outside of the house in Season 1. Perhaps by the eleventh episode the wardrobe designer decided to change up a bit from the usual suits.

What will Laura wear next?

Opening Credits, Season 1: Plaid Shirt and Jeans

Laura Holt wears business casual most of the time in "Remington Steele" (1982-1987).  Today, she deviates from her norm.

Hi! It's time to delve into Laura Holt's Closet again.

On rare occasions you might find our heroine in blue denim jeans - when investigating a farm, or when casually mulling over a case at home. Usually, she wears pants in corduroy, plain cotton, gaberdine or wool.

However, you also catch a glimpse of denim in the opening credits of Season 1.

The Outfit
The jeans appear a little faded. She has paired them with a black, orange and white plaid shirt. Looks comfy. Accessories include a simple gold watch for our busy detective. You'll see the watch a lot throughout this season of the show.

Let's recreate the outfit.


The opening credits of season 1 give you a sense of who our detective is and what she does. Love the enlarged fingerprint on the wall.

What will Laura wear next?

A Steele At Any Price: Black Turtleneck, Black Pencil Skirt

Laura and Remington recover paintings from thieves in "A Steele At Any Price" (Season 2, Episode 6 of "Remington Steele").

Hello and welcome to Laura Holt's Closet.

The Outfit
What would a detective wear to recover stolen artwork in the night? All black, of course.

This is the first time that our detective Laura becomes a bit of a cat burglar. (Remington was well-versed in thievery before joining Laura's agency.)

The costume director wisely dresses the character in anything you might imagine Laura has in her wardrobe - a black turtleneck, black pencil skirt with matching belt.

You might recall it's the same belt from "Steele Framed," in which we noted that a buckle which matches the belt is less noticeable, more refined.

Let's recreate the look.

1. L.L. Bean Interlock Turtleneck 2.  Orion Leather - Black Latigo Belt with Black Nickel Buckle    3. Ann Taylor Ponte Pencil Skirt

While this is outfit is purposely severe, it might still be worn with bright accessories to liven it.

What will Laura wear next?

Wardrobe Supplier for Remington Steele: Carole Little

Carole Little supplied wardrobe for "Remington Steele" from its second season until its fifth and final season. Here are a few facts about the designer.

1. Ms. Little is a west coast designer whose clothes were "for women intent on scaling the corporate ladder," according to a 1982 People Magazine interview .

2. Ms. Little's Saint Tropez-West line of clothes were "sleek, sexy and all mix-and-matchable." They were also affordable.

3. Ms. Little's career began when she...
 "...landed her first big job at Jasper Bros., a junior sportswear house in California. But she wasn't happy designing miniskirts for teenagers. 'Everyone had forgotten about women like me who wanted quality clothes but couldn't afford $150 for a pair of wool gabardine pants.'"

4. Though Ms. Little's line of clothes still exists, it has been sold to another company and has changed its design vision.

5. Saint Tropez-West of the 1980s is exactly the line of clothing  that Remington Steele's chic private detective Laura Holt would wear if she were real. Laura is ambitious, lives on the west coast, runs her own business and must account for every penny.

  Vintage Carole Little

The Carole Little- Laura Holt partnership works well for us today with timeless ensembles for our sartorial inspiration.

Further Reading

Let's Go for Indigo

... or purple or lavender...

... just because.

Steele Fashionable: Clinton Kelly's Top 10 Closet Staples for Every Season

It seems cruel to compare the wardrobe of a show from the 1980s -"Remington Steele"- with the standards of a fashion article written this year. The past lies there so limp and helpless against examination from people in the present.

However,  that's exactly what Laura Holt's Closet will do today - examine past fashion through the lens of the present. 

How does the wardrobe of our prime-time heroine, Laura Holt, stack up against the Top 10 Closet Staples for Every Season by fashion consultant Clinton Kelly?

1. Dark Wash Jeans
Mr. Kelly states that "denim is how we live." This seems true.  Dark denim today has taken over where plain slacks left off.

However, in the '80s, when "Remington Steele" aired, denim pants, even dark wash jeans, were often relegated to the most informal activities. Laura does not wear jeans very often. When she does, it is usually at home or when she's investigating a farm.

2. Simple Blouses
Blouses do not have to be silk ("that’s just an outdated fashion dictum"), according to Mr. Kelly.

Laura doesn't stick to one kind of top and has quite an array of blouses. She can be seen in a standard button down or in more fussy blouses with ruffles at the neck.

Of course, our favorite blouse is the white cotton shirt with vertical satin ribbons on the bodice and lace-trimmed high collar that our dainty detective wears in the episode "Steele Flying High."

" look lovely in the morning."

3. Structured Jackets
Jackets finish an outfit. Laura's jackets are always carefully tailored. In another article, Mr. Kelly gives four reasons to wear a jacket.

4. Trench Coat
To "lend an air of sophistication," wear a trench coat, the fashion consultant says. So far we've seen our delicate detective in two trench coats -a classic khaki and a burnt orange.

5. Ballet Flats
Ballet flats are just a suggestion. The author of the article simply encourages ladies to wear a pair of flats rather than athletic shoes with your everyday ensemble.

We haven't seen Laura in ballet flats yet, but we have seen her in espadrilles in Acapulco. It seems she rarely wears flat shoes.

6. Killer Heels
Laura lives in high heels. It's great for the character, not so pleasant for the actress' feet since she must escape crooks or pursue them at a fast pace. And if you enjoy extra high heels, Clinton Kelly recommends thinking of these as "mostly sitting" shoes.


7. Pencil Skirt
Just as Laura lives in heels, she also lives in suits with pencil skirts, especially in the first season of  "Remington Steele."

These skirts tend to complement any body type.

8. A Little Black Dress
The little black dress is meant to take you straight from the office (with a jacket) to an evening out (with jewels). Laura never seems to need this. Though she's a busy investigator, somehow Laura finds the time to change clothing, hairstyle and full makeup at a moment's notice.

9. A Day Dress
A day dress is informal, quick to put on and is worn when the sun is shining, obviously. It is distinct from a suit, which is more formal. It also differs from garments worn later in the day, such as cocktail dresses or evening gowns, which tend to have more fussy details and more sparkle to reflect whatever light is around.

In the first season, Laura dresses in suits in the morning. Her cavalcade of day dresses begins in the second season of the show. They were loosening the character, it seems.

10. Bags
Mr. Kelly encourages us to invest in purses since a good bag never goes out of style. We would add that it's also the one piece of your wardrobe which you can still use regardless of your weight fluctuations.

Laura carries many kinds of bags from totes, to briefcases to evening clutches. To be frank, she looks freer when she's using just her pockets to keep clues, without a purse.

It seems our heroine has all the wardrobe staples she needs for any decade. That's why we love Laura Holt's closet.


A Steel at Any Price: Wisteria Shirtwaist Dress, Skin Tone Peep-Toe Pumps

A simple shirtwaist dress can be appropriate in many places.

Welcome to Laura Holt's Closet. Today, one dress does triple duty in "A Steel at Any Price" (Season 2, Episode 6 of "Remington Steele").

The Outfit

Laura spends most of this episode in a light lavender/medium violet, Wisteria silk shirtwaist dress.
This dress must take Laura from the office with clients, to a garden party, to some running and jumping.

She pairs it with a black belt with black buckle, creating an uninterrupted block of color around her middle, cinching the waist. Belts with contrasting, metallic hardware tend to draw attention to the belt and chop up the outfit. The eye has so many places to look in that case.

But if you want to draw the eye line into a continuous loop,  keep belt and buckle the same color to accent the waist more. Also, shiny hardware on belts is attention-grabbing which would not best complement this  understated look.

Laura also wears her signature slingback peep-toe pumps. This time, the color on the pumps is very near that of her skin tone which makes her legs appear longer. The eye line is not interrupted by a different color on the foot.

This dress was not meant for running and jumping, but that slit on the side is clearly ready for action.

Let's recreate the look.

1. Halston Textured Woven Dress Astral Blue  Alternative: Coldwater Creek Belted Knit Dress Purple  2. Orion Leather - Black Latigo Belt with Black Nickel Buckle        3. Jimmy Choo Nova style Slingback Peep Toe Heels in Latte


Laura is dealing with art critics in this episode, so she goes a bit demure and upscale in a soft fabric and a genteel color.

What will Laura wear next?

Steele Flying High: Double-Breasted Black Suit, White Blouse with High Collar and Deep V

Laura's office wear is often an array of suits in the first season. In later seasons, she mixes things up a bit even when interviewing clients.

Hello and welcome to Laura Holt's Closet! Today we explore another ensemble from "Steele Flying High" (Season 1, Episode 12 of "Remington Steele").

The Outfit

Laura wears a black, calf-length, double-breasted suit with her signature peep-toe pumps, also black. As we've said before, this color is a tad too severe for Laura in a plain suit. Her petite frame looks a bit weighed down. 

Black works best on her as the dominant color when there are metallic or jewel tones involved to catch the eye. When we finally get to evening wear you'll see.

What stands out on today's outfit is the blouse. 

The romantic puffed sleeves, the satin ribbon contrasting with the matte of the rest of the blouse, the high collar trimmed in lace...this is one of the most flattering of Laura's blouses. It seems slightly Victorian; it certainly softens the severe suit.

Let's recreate this look.

1| Jones New York Devon Three Button Blazer & Pencil Skirt Suit  2| Laura High Neck Eyelet Trimmed Victorian Blouse   3| Bruno Magli Peep-Toe Pumps

Worn with an open collar, the vintage recreation of a Victorian blouse might do. Or else just wear a standard white oxford shirt and call it a day. 

What will Laura wear next?

Steele Flying High: Burnt Orange Trench Coat, Oxblood Sweater, Tall Boots

A naturalist is murdered. Laura investigates while Remington serves on a committee to save the bald eagle.

Hello! Today at Laura Holt's Closet we soar through casual chic in the episode "Steele Flying High" (Season 1, Episode 12 of "Remington Steele").

The Outfit

We've seen Laura in a classic khaki trench coat before. This time, Laura wears a jewel-toned, burnt orange trench coat over an oxblood sweater and beige, tea-length, wool skirt. Accessories today are an ecru fedora and eggshell, high-heeled boots.

Let's recreate the look.

|5. Tarnish Rib Knit Fedora at Nordstrom

It's not easy to find an affordable, full-length, metallic, burnt orange trench except at various vintage shops or online yard sales. These kinds of coats were in abundance in the opulent '80s.

What will Laura wear next?

Steele Flying High: Another (Gasp!) Non-Laura Outfit

Laura is not the only character on "Remington Steele" who is given a lovely ensemble. From time to time a guest wears a gorgeous dress. Here's a non-Laura outfit that we could not pass up.

Hello and welcome to Laura Holt's Closet. Today we revisit a dress from "Steele Flying High" (Season 1, Episode 12).

A shadowy figure (Francine Lembi) steals across a driveway to a backyard office. They haven't introduced this character yet and we do not know what she's doing... except that she's sneaking around... in an indigo sweater dress.

The costume suggests that trespassing is not a part of her chosen occupation (i.e. she might not be a professional burglar). This lady is driven to snoop around because -for whatever reason- she is desperate.

The plot thickens.

It's difficult to see the dark outfit (which makes sense if you're tipping around in someone else's office at night), but you can just make out, by the light of the lamp, a multicolored blue-violet, Persian indigo and olive green striped calf-length sweater dress. It seems to be made of light wool.

It's a shame this dress doesn't get more airtime. We need to see more of the detailing.

Let's go to a close up.

Her expansive, high-waist Persian indigo belt stems from just under the bust to just over the hips. Yet, her actual waistline doesn't get lost because it is accentuated by a rope or tie of some kind in  blue-violet.

What would you call this kind of waist accent? Is it a big belt? Is it an exterior, structureless corset?

Would love the sleeve to be a bit more tailored. Still, for once, that '80s trend of layer upon layer of fabric does not make this character look like a fugitive from a shoplifting spree. This outfit could be worn today in casual circles and would draw compliments.

Perfect cowl neck. Not too droopy, and just capacious enough to balance out all that business going on at her waist.

And -yes- the intruder is wearing gloves. What would the '80s be without glossy gloves? It could be made of soft lambskin or a man-made material. Any light-colored, wrist-length, feminine glove with a sheen is reminiscent of Jim Henson's puppet, Miss Piggy - another figure of the late 20th century that we enjoy.
Where can we buy this sweater dress?

Trying to buy anything like this outfit off the rack today seems futile. Most sweater dresses these days have a mini skirt hem up to mid-thigh. They are extra-long sweaters that are meant to be worn with leggings or tights or -if you're daring- without bottoms at all.

One would have to have this episode's sweater dress custom-made. To wit, we've searched through vintage patterns. This out of print Kwik Sew brand pattern 1542  from 1986 is available at an Etsy shop called Hard 2 Find Patterns.

It's not the same pattern as our inspiration dress, of course. You might just discuss your options with a tailor. Or eyeball it and make it yourself.

We wonder what Laura is wearing now....

Steele Framed: Black Silk Blouse, Olive Tweed Pencil Skirt

Welcome to Laura Holt's Closet. Today's episode is "Steel Framed" (Season 2, Episode 4) in which Laura wears separates.

The Outfit

Today, Laura pairs a black silk blouse with an olive tweed pencil skirt. The blouse boasts voluminous sleeves. Note that the top has a rather daring decolletage to about the middle of her sternum. A small-chested female such as Laura can make this deep-v office appropriate and not noticeable.

Accessories include a black leather belt and the pendant from "Steele Trap." The belt pulls this outfit together. Its structured presence mimics the straight forward, no nonsense skirt, and its color is the same as the blouse. Since the belt, the buckle and the blouse are the same color, there is the illusion of the blouse continuing a few inches more. This keeps a high-waisted skirt from appearing to swallow the petite young woman.

Briefly, Laura plays about with a hat at a milliner's office. The fedora happens to complement her outfit, so we'll keep it in.

Laura usually introduces traditionally-masculine clothing -like this fedora- only one piece at a time.  For instance, our heroine not infrequently wears slacks (another traditionally-masculine garment), but rarely with a man's hat.

Let's recreate the look.

1. Etsy shop artaffect High Waist Tweed Pencil Skirt  Alternative: Nordstrom Pointe Pencil Skirt  2. Nordstrom TrouvĂ© Tonal Panel Silk Shirt   3. Orion Leather - Black Latigo Belt with Black Nickel Buckle     4. Hartford York Men's Grey Fedora   5. Grandin Road Copper Pendant

We just had to include this photo of Remington in this episode going to a computer store to get a free demonstration of email. He's using it to communicate with Laura back at the office.

The man in charge of Compuworld bears some resemblance to certain Californian computer businessmen of the day, especially with the beard.

Buy  Season 2 of "Remington Steele".

In the Steele of the Night: Gray Suit, Oxblood Sweater

An informal reunion turns deadly in Remington Steele's  "In the Steele of the Night" (Season 1 Episode 9).

Hello! Today at Laura Holt's Closet the theme is blood ... oxblood.

An old classmate from the detective academy invites Laura, Murphy and others to his house. But something goes wrong... deadly wrong. It's a perfect take on Agatha Christie mysteries.

The Outfit
Laura's travel ensemble is a button-down white blouse and gray suit with a-line skirt. She creates visual interest by pairing her neutrals with an oxblood sweater. This sweater boasts an open knit chevron pattern, a pointelle design, which suggests movement even when the person is standing still. Perfect for our on-the-go heroine.

Let's recreate this outfit.
The skirt on our inspired suit is a pencil skirt, but you can look for separates to find an a-line. 
In any case, this layered look is perfect for fall travel when temperatures fluctuate.

What will Laura wear next?

Signed, Steeled and Delivered: Collarless Suit, Striped Sweater

"Signed, Steeled and Delivered" (Season 1, Episode 4 of "Remington Steele") follows a long weekend where Laura and Remington solve a case on their off days.

Hello! This is Laura Holt's Closet. Today we're off to find great fashion ideas from our favorite TV detective.
The Outfit
Laura is finishing up paperwork before the weekend. She wears a collarless, one-button ecru, tea-length suit with striped, beige sweater.

This suit is used more than once in the first season of the show. So far, we've discussed this same silhouette worn with a scarf (for a whimsical look) and worn in a darker color (for a severe, no-nonsense style). It's amazing how accessories and color can totally change the mood of your clothes.

Today the mood  for the suit leans toward "casual Friday." It might have something to do with the comfy-cozy option of a sweater instead of a button down blouse. Also, horizontal stripes often give an outfit a sportive and informal style.

Here's how to recreate Laura's ensemble.

1. H&M Lace Jacket [Alternatives H&M Short Jacket and H&M Linen Blazer] |2. John Lewis' Kaliko Zip Back Pencil Skirt  |3. Ralph Lauren Lace-up Striped Sweater
Finding an affordable, pencil-striped sweater is not that easy. Most of the striped sweaters for women have athletic stripes, i.e. fairly wide horizontal lines. Think rugby shirt. Or a bumblebee. For a more refined look, stick with the pencil stripes.

What will Laura wear next?