How Mr. & Mrs. Smith Nailed Aspirational Millennial Dressing

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Photographs: Amazon; Collage: Gabe Conte

In the new Prime Video series Mr. & Mrs. Smith, aimless 30-somethings played by Donald Glover and Maya Erskine get inaugurated into a shadowy spy organization and, with that, are treated to a major life upgrade. The pair are moved into a primo Manhattan town house complete with a private pool, a deluxe horsehair mattress, and—as a cherry on top—a closet full of luxury fits.

The series’ costume designer talks about carefully selecting a superspy’s worth of drool-worthy timepieces—from rare Rolexes to sporty Royal Oaks.

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine
Donald Glover and Maya Erskine

Everything we know about a second season of Donald Glover and Maya Erskine's scenes-from-a-marriage spy reboot.

If the original Mr. & Mrs. Smith, the 2005 movie on which the 2024 series is ever-so-loosely based, had but a few memorable wardrobe moments (Angelina Jolie in Brad Pitt’s oversized white dress shirt is burned into the culture), the TV show keeps the looks coming over its eight-episode run. And thanks to the costume designer—and former GQ fashion director of 20 years—Madeline Weeks, we get some truly enviable style on display. John and Jane Smith embody aspirational millennial dressing, or exactly what you want to wear when you’ve made it to adulthood. Despite their unusual line of work, they also provide a blueprint for good business casual (even if your day-to-day involves fewer shoot-outs and more sitting in front of a screen).

Weeks told GQ that she looked to quintessential ’70s thrillers like Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor and Serpico with Al Pacino as inspiration for John. Jane, meanwhile, was informed by womenswear icons Jane Birkin and Carolyn Bessette-Kennedy.

Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor.

THREE DAYS OF THE CONDOR, Robert Redford, 1975

Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor.
Everett Collection

That swaggering ’70s influence is most seen in John’s fitted jeans—tailored vintage Levi’s 517s—and skintight Margiela tanks. “I always wanted to see his body through his clothes because he's so, so, so physical and such a beautiful man,” Weeks told me. “I just always wanted to have that sexy, kind of smoldering, thing going as the undertone throughout. Anytime you see him, you want to kind of feel that.” Even the scenes where it seems there isn’t much clothing were carefully considered. “When Donald walks into [Jane’s] bedroom in that first episode and he doesn't have his shirt on, I was like, ‘Who makes the sexiest pants?’” They went with Dries Van Noten.

Donald Glover as John Smith.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Donald Glover as John Smith.
David Lee

Off-camera, Glover is known for his bold, risk-taking style. “When he walked in every morning at six, he looked insanely cool,” Weeks said. “He has the flyest looks, he's got the latest everything. He loves to shop. He loves color, he loves trendy things, he loves Bode, and he loves bright colors.”

John Smith is notably more muted than his creator. “We wanted to make a distinction between his own style and John Smith's style. And John Smith's style's a little bit more iconic and a little bit retro,” she added. “And also the colors were more subtle: navy and black and gray and ivory.” Though he does tend to take more risks and peacock more than Jane.

“Jane, she's wearing that same watch [a Cartier Tank] the whole time. She doesn't need a new watch. She wants to be cozy and wear soft, comfortable, elegant things like The Row or a Saint Laurent silk shirt or a Celine tweed blazer,” Weeks said.

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine as John and Jane Smith.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine as John and Jane Smith.
David Lee

This difference in the couple’s style philosophies, they imagined, would create some gentle ribbing in their relationship. “Jane would roll her eyes,” Weeks said. “She might buy a painting, but he might buy himself a watch. The watches are the most expensive things. He loves nice things, and that was a way we could show it. But he's not a snob.” (The watches include a Rolex Peps and Daytona; a Patek Philippe Nautilus and rose gold Chronograph; and an Audemars Piguet Royal Oak.)

The most outwardly posh outfits in the series come when the pair absconded to Lake Como to kidnap a character played by Ron Perlman. John is wearing a sleek black Saint Laurent mock neck, gray Prada pants, and Manolo Blahnik moccasins; Jane opts for a Loewe silk shirt and flowy black Azzedine Alaïa pants. “We were kind of looking for subtle but beautiful shapes and lines that would kind of catch your eye, but wouldn't be distracting,” Weeks said. “They'd have to be able to run or defend themselves in the middle of whatever they were doing. So that was important, too, that they had to be able to run and they had to be able to move, which was a great challenge.

Donald Glover, Ron Perlman, and Maya Erskine.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Donald Glover, Ron Perlman, and Maya Erskine.
David Lee

Take the all-ivory look John sports in the bloody finale. “We tried on a lot of jeans, and those jeans were from Standard & Strange, because the cut is incredible. Because they're slim, we had to add stretch,” Weeks said.

Before.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Before.
David Lee
And after.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

And after.
David Lee

Off-the-clock and in less high-stakes situations, the two are still never seen in schlubby athleisure. Take the episode where they embark on the classic New Yorker weekend-morning ritual of the farmers market visit. “When they go to the farmers market, they're feeling really good in their new lives. Now they've kind of really embraced who they are. Their closets are just the extension of them,” Weeks said. For John, she sourced a Japanese shirt from Blue in Green Soho and paired it with Wales Bonner track pants and a rare Audemars Piguet.

Maya Erskine and Donald Glover.

Mr. and Mrs. Smith

Maya Erskine and Donald Glover.
David Lee

Even their trips to the couples therapist were considered through a keen eye. “First, they're kind of nervous, so he's wearing this striped polo from Dries Van Noten,” Weeks said. “And then he's kind of feeling pretty good, so he's wearing this silk viscose cam shirt from Dries. Then they're a little over it, and he's in a bad mood, so he's wearing black.”

Donald Glover and Maya Erskine.
Donald Glover and Maya Erskine.
Courtesy of Prime

Ultimately, we could all learn a thing or two from John’s fashion philosophy: Look good even when there’s negative work-life balance, and never pass up the opportunity for a little treat.

“He buys himself things and he likes nice things,” Weeks said. “So every time he does a mission, we were thinking John might go shopping.”

Originally Appeared on GQ


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