Gerri Is Using Fashion to Assert Her Power on Succession

6 minute read

Warning: this post contains mild spoilers for Season 4, episode 5 of Succession.

On Succession, personal style has always been less a means of self-expression than it is a forceful way to display—or in some cases, cosplay—power. Though the show’s fourth and final season is just halfway done, much ink has already been spilled about the show’s fashion so far and what it communicates about characters’ standing—a “ludicrously capacious” Burberry purse from episode 1 birthed a flurry of memes, while a meeting between the Pierce and Roy families in episode 2 sparked a discourse about “quiet luxury” and “stealth wealth.” But there’s no character who better embodies the relevance of fashion in the world of Waystar Royco than Gerri Kellman, the long-suffering but spunky general counsel and one-time interim CEO of the beleaguered legacy media conglomerate.

Gerri, played by the phenomenal J. Smith-Cameron, has long upheld the tightly controlled decorum of a corporate soldier, with the uniform to match. For the better part of the last three seasons, as she’s maneuvered scandals, DOJ investigations, cold-blooded schemes, and disturbing late-night calls from Roman Roy, Gerri has donned a smart but inconspicuous wardrobe of dark Brooks Brothers skirt suits, conservative sheath dresses, and matronly formalwear as her armor in the company trenches. Her accessories, aside from her dark-rimmed glasses, which she has often retreated behind during moments of conflict, have been minimal, understated classics like modest strands of pearls and discreet gold necklaces, often partially obscured by high necklines, silk button-downs, and business-like blazers. Her blonde hair has been pulled back into a low bun or styled in a polished bob. Much like her behavior in the boardroom or at the right hand of Logan Roy, Gerri’s wardrobe has been reliable and quiet, sending the message that she’s there to serve—not to lead.

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The fragility of Gerri’s relationship to power was never more evident than in episode 3 this season, when she wore an austere gray dress with an absurd matching fascinator, perched sideways on her head, to Connor’s wedding—the same event where she was awkwardly fired by Roman before discovering that Logan died. Unlike Shiv, who was coolly attired in a daring black Tom Ford tuxedo suit and halter top—an attention-grabbing outfit somehow fitting for both the business meeting and funeral that Connor’s wedding became—it was clear that Gerri was at a low point, uncertain about her future. Her discomfort in her severe and slightly ludicrous outfit said it all.

But both Gerri’s position at the company and her style underwent drastic changes by episode 4. In the opening scenes of the episode, Kendall encountered the old guard of Waystar Royco at his father’s wake, where Gerri, reinstated as general counsel and more integral than ever, had a bona fide glow up in the aftermath of her boss’ death. Gone was the dowdy skirt suit; she wore an elegant, fitted black midi dress with a v-neckline that showed more than a hint of cleavage, and she accessorized it with an opulent but tasteful gold link necklace and matching earrings. Her glasses were thinner with gold rims—no longer a shield to hide behind, but instead an accessory to accentuate her face. And, perhaps most stunningly, her hair, which was grown out long from the bob of seasons 2 and 3, was freed from its prim little bun and styled in a magnificent blowout—still polished, yes, but also luxurious, the hair of a woman finally getting a taste of freedom.


In other words, as of episode 4, Gerri entered her baddie era. She’s feeling herself, and her wardrobe reflects that. Where her utilitarian clothing and accessories were once tools to help her blend into the boys’ club of Waystar Royco, her new, more glamorous looks command attention, underscoring her intention to jockey for power. Gerri knows that for the first time in her professional life real influence is within reach—and she’s dressing the part.

Her ambition and newfound confidence reached blazing new heights in episode 5. In the beginning of the episode, her lush and bouncy blowout made another appearance, along with a stylish, dusky purple coat dress cinched with a gold belt that matched her jewelry. While wearing this outfit—another far, colorful cry from the reserved suits of her past—Gerri was uncharacteristically bold, sassy even, as she called out Tom for brown-nosing under the guise of grief, delivering her digs with the razor-sharp cruelty that viewers have come to recognize as the love language of the Roys.

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The most outsized display of Gerri’s play for power came during a flight to Stockholm to meet with Lukas Matsson, the mercurial CEO of GoJo whose promise to buy Waystar Royco has undergirded the season’s corporate plot. As the team strategized about the meeting, most of them nervous that they could be cut in favor of their Swedish counterparts after the acquisition, Gerri delivered a pep talk to her colleagues that was so Logan in spirit, it practically screamed “f-ck off.” It was no coincidence that she delivered the speech that firmed up her position as the group’s leader while seated on the company’s private jet, legs aggressively crossed, in a pair of navy slacks, a white silk shirt, and a cream double-breasted blazer with gold buttons. It was an outfit that brought to mind the suffragette-inspired power suits of Hillary Clinton and other women in politics whose all-white ensembles have lately become symbols of women’s empowerment. With this look, Gerri sent a pointed message: she’s come into her power, and she’s dressing for the job she deserves.

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