Warning: Spoilers ahead for Sunday night's Season 3 premiere of Succession.
Two years have passed since we last saw the Roys debating which member of the inner circle would become the “blood sacrifice” while hanging out on a luxury superyacht in Croatia. The time for vacation attire might be over, but Sunday night's long-overdue third season of Succession picked up in the immediate aftermath of Kendall’s (Jeremy Strong) bombshell press conference, and the show's fashion statements remain on point. Closets packed with tailor-made and high-end garments ensure the Roys and their cohort are never going to be caught looking sloppy — even when a trip is cut short to deal with the latest crisis.
The pieces preferred by those in Succession's media dynasty are not meant to become headline news. This is corporate dressing at its finest with nary a thread out of place, and while Logan (Brian Cox) is ready to go to war against his “number one boy,” he will do so in a traditional bespoke suit. As opposed to a real world that 's only recently begun to embrace back-to-the-office attire, there is no such thing as work-from-home fashion for this clan. Even on the New York City-bound private jet in the premiere, Shiv (Sarah Snook), Roman (Kieran Culkin), and Gerri (J. Cameron-Smith) are ready to hit the ground running without a costume change.
Costume designer Michelle Matland immediately set the tone by switching out the soft linens of the season two finale for familiar business suits. While there was nothing as eye-popping as Shiv’s media executive makeover from last season (which, not for nothing, turned her into a fashion icon), there were plenty of notable fashion moments. Here's what the best (and worst) looks from Sunday night's premiere tell us about each of the show's characters as they enter another season of backstabbing, strategic partnerships, and trying to survive this cutthroat world.
After being told by Logan that he lacked killer instinct, Kendall Roy delivered a knockout blow when instead of offering himself up as the “blood sacrifice” he turned on his father. Dressed in a muted grey suit and striped tie, Kendall has left the trilby hat in the Balkans and returned to the powerful executive uniform. “The truth is that my father is a malignant presence, a bully, and a liar, and he was fully personally aware of these events for many years and made efforts to hide and cover-up,” he told the cameras as his family watched from the other side of the world. It is in this same suit that we see the now-ostracized sibling laying in an empty bathtub as he grapples with the ramifications of this moment. Unlike the confidence he exuded as he tore his notes in half, he now looks like a kid playing dress-up.
It isn’t long before Kendall reverts to “plant a flag” and “changing the climate” faux peppy statements, and his formal attire doesn’t mesh with his attempts to sound cool. Sure, the sunglasses are a strong visual, but Kendall can’t escape his cringe aura when he says things like “that would be the straight leg chino way of putting it.” He is that chino guy no matter how hard he tries to be otherwise. The tie is removed as soon as he enters ex-wife Rava’s (Natalie Gold) apartment — which he's temporarily commandeered as his emergency war room — but he still looks out of place.
After getting berated on the yacht for the condition of his bare feet — “Sails out, nails out” — Greg (Nicholas Braun) has hitched his wagon to the Kendall cause. Long gone are the resort-ready khaki shorts and casual sweater, replaced by a navy suit and striped tie, which mirrors his cousin’s neckwear. If Kendall looks temporarily out of his depth at the start of the episode, Greg journey of awkwardly hovering in the background continues. His short-lived role checking the online cultural climate goes in typical Greg fashion, and at Rava’s apartment he soon finds himself surplus to requirement. Juxtaposed with the private jet brainstorming sessions, the Architectural Digest-ready home only makes Greg look more out of place. After his wine-opening faux pas, it is unlikely that he'll be invited back anytime soon.
Nothing hurts more than Rava telling Kendall she hasn’t seen his big mic drop yet because she has been busy with work. He can’t get too bent out of shape as she's letting him turn her apartment into Team Kendall headquarters. Do we even know what Rava does for a job? Regardless, she is the one person wearing something close to the WFH uniform trend, although her jeans don’t come with the requisite stretchy waistband, and her cozy cashmere cardigan is probably equivalent to most people’s rent. This classic outfit gives an effortless aesthetic against the splashy butterfly wallpaper, and there is no reason why she needs to defend her choice of budget razors to her prying ex.
In the wake of Kendall launching a public battle against his father, the remaining family members and Waystar employees make their way to the closest Croatian airport. The empty bar becomes a makeshift boardroom dominated by a tableau of neutral attire: this war is fought in tailored armor made in Italy or on Savile Row. One benefit of sticking to a fuss-free executive palette is that it looks like Manhattan even when in Europe. Connor’s (Alan Ruck) sweater vest, Tom’s (Matthew Macfadyen) brick-red pants, and Shiv’s eye-catching sleeveless polo are the transitional garments that point to either the lack of business acumen (Conner) or one last vestige of the superyacht. Roman and Gerri are aligned in shades of grey, which speaks to the alliance they share. Sure, Roman is more than happy to shower Gerri with inappropriate comments — which she expertly bats away — but Roman’s choice to back her is what pushed him out of the race.
Shiv’s biscuit color suit fits with the rest of her cream-heavy looks from the Season 2 finale, managing to pair femininity with her new corporate ambitions. It is also notable that the subtle glen check elevates this suit from vacation to business with a nod to her Scottish heritage. Pattern is avoided by most of the Roys but Shiv’s fondness for plaids and tweeds was on display last season, and it suggests a loyalty to her father — or at least a superficial nod to his Celtic roots. When she returns to New York, rather than getting changed she heads straight to a meeting with in-demand lawyer Lisa Arthur (Sanaa Lathan). Sitting opposite Lisa (who is striking in classic pinstripe) suddenly makes Shiv look like an imposter in this executive space. This outfit isn’t the reason she didn’t land her father’s first choice attorney but it does point to her inexperience.
The ‘his and hers’ turtleneck sweaters of the Season 2 premiere have given way to two mismatched outfits that point to their internal conflict. With Shiv sent back to New York and Tom remaining with Logan, the pair part as awkwardly as their opposing attire look next to each other — although talk of Logan’s replacement puts them on the same page. Shiv wears her jacket nonchalantly on her shoulders and classic Ray-Ban aviators point to an effortless aesthetic that her husband will never achieve. Unlike the puffy Moncler vest that earned Roman’s scorn in “Argestes,” Tom's quilted number doesn’t draw too much attention in the safe haven of Sarajevo. Logan has far too much on his mind to concern himself with Tom’s lack of sartorial prowess.
Nothing says out of place quite like Willa’s (Justine Lupe) red leafy print ruffled dress, which is ideal vacay attire, but not for the airport summit she's found herself attending. Bold color and pattern set her apart and while everyone else is given a job to do, Connor and Willa are left on the tarmac wondering how they're getting home. On the bright side, Connor has decided to try to make a profit from Willa’s badly reviewed debut play by tapping into the hate-watch angle and marketing it with the “hipsters and dipshits” audience in mind.
Going full beast mode against his son doesn’t require anything as formal as a neck-tie for Logan Roy, and yet he is still dressed to kill. At the start of the episode, he exits the helicopter looking ready to head back to New York to face his former “number one boy,” but when a call to the top of the political chain doesn’t go his way he opts for a country with no extradition to the US. Considering how many times planes are fueled and redirected it's unclear where anyone’s luggage is, which may explain why no one has changed their clothes. But Logan doesn’t need a different suit as his main concern is Kendall sniping the lawyer he wants. When the latter happens in the final scene, Logan steps outside the hotel in Sarajevo looking more rumpled: there is a crease in his tailored armor.
Succession airs Sunday nights at 9:00 PM ET on HBO and HBO Max.
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Emma Fraser has wanted to write about TV since she first watched My So-Called Life in the mid-90s, finally getting her wish over a decade later. Follow her on Twitter at @frazbelina.