“I’m wearing the suit because it makes me feel better about myself,” says The Bear’s Richie (Ebon Moss-Bachrach). In a rare show of vulnerability, the often irritating yet charismatic hothead acknowledges his fears and insecurities while embracing the value of teamwork and acts of service. Initiated by a weeklong “stagiaire” (unpaid intern) stint at a gleaming three-Michelin-starred restaurant, a suit arc charts Richie’s transformation into an integral teammate and confident leader.

To set the tone and sky-high expectations at the Chicago establishment run by the mythical Chef Terry (Olivia Colman), costume designer Courtney Wheeler joined a location-scouting visit to two-Michelin-starred Ever, where the show filmed. “It is so Zen, and there’s a peacefulness but a seriousness, and they bring that to their uniforms,” says Wheeler, who found inspiration there for the show’s pristine regalia. “It’s a respect thing.”

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At first, Richie petulantly polishes forks while clinging to resentments in his shabby “Original Beef of Chicagoland” T-shirt underneath a white cook’s jacket. Taking on advanced responsibilities, he earnestly dons a Pronto Uomo blazer — comparing it to “armor” — to shadow the immaculately clad waitstaff. “In uniform, he learns to be a part of a team and appreciate what he’s wearing,” explains Wheeler.

Returning to his de facto family as they prepare to open “cousin” Carmy’s (Jeremy Allen White) dream restaurant, The Bear, a changed Richie reveals his commanding suit makeover — eliciting incredulous and heartened responses. Moss-Bachrach intuitively felt Richie would emulate Al Pacino’s intense, monochrome-clad Vincent Hanna from 1995’s Heat, based on a real Chicago heist. Wheeler imagined that Richie wanted to re-create his inspiring stagiaire aesthetic, plus the all-black serendipitously coordinated with The Bear’s decor. 

The newly styled Richie at work.

The newly styled Richie at work. Courtesy of Chuck Hodes/FX

She shopped high and low before landing on a streamlined Boss suit, which she didn’t perfectly tailor because Richie wouldn’t have. Wheeler reckoned that Richie, whose budget did allow for three Taylor Swift tickets, was familiar with the aspirational brand and proudly visited its Magnificent Mile flagship. “He’s investing in himself,” she says. “He’s coming to his own when he’s wearing this.”

Richie even passes the power of the suit on to sweet jack-of-all-trades Fak (played by Canadian chef Matty Matheson), who presumably borrows a retro look from his dad. For the “JCPenney or Sears”-reminiscent vibe, Matheson’s personal tailor Harry Rosen custom-made a brown suit and pink striped shirt. Wheeler further expressed Fak’s ebullience through a vintage embroidered tie from Chicago’s Richard’s Fabulous Finds. “I’m different now, huh?” asks Fak, after Richie expertly fixes his neckwear and gives a rousing pep talk.

“Everyone’s suit should still be an extension of themselves,” notes Wheeler. “It makes you feel better and you present yourself better to your clients and co-workers.” 

This story first appeared in a December standalone issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.

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