There's a lot to envy about Harvey Specter.
The outrageous confidence, the power, the prestige…
The sharp comebacks… and the ultra-sharp suits.
Harvey dresses like he does everything else – strategically.
“People respond to how we’re dressed…
So like it or not, this is what you have to do.”
Everyone's appearance sends a message – and everything about his says loud and clear:
“I'm not about caring, I'm about winning.”
Of course, he does care – he cares about Mike, he cares about Donna, and he cares about his personal code of ethics. But that's not the message he chooses to send. There's nothing soft about his look.
”If they think you care, they'll walk all over you.”
Read on to find out how to get the sharp and powerful Harvey Specter look.
Okay, let's break this down. What are the main elements of Harvey Specter's style strategy? Number 1, of course, has to be…
#1. The Suit
Harvey is virtually ALWAYS seen in an expensive suit. Gabriel Macht, who plays him, says: ‘He’s a man of style… we really wanted him to be this man’s man. A real masculine, strong, Steve McQueen-type of guy who could pull off a three piece suit and make it a modern thing, wide lapels and all.'
How does Harvey pull off his suits? Using two things you can learn right here at RMRS – confidence and the style pyramid of fit, fabric, and function. The fit of his suits is always on point, which takes extra effort for men with a tall body type (Gabriel Macht is 6'0.5″/183cm.) The fabrics are top quality – early season suits were mostly dark high twisted worsted wool, but recently he's wearing silk-wool blends that add an unusual shine.
And as for function (appropriateness for the situation)? As a workaholic hotshot lawyer, Harvey lives for high-powered formal situations where a suit is required. He doesn't suit up when it's outright inappropriate… which means we see him in something else a good 2% of the time.
Harvey has a medium contrast complexion and dresses well for it, most often pairing gray, charcoal, and occasionally navy or black suits with white shirts. Gray and white form a sleek, classic combination that shows he means serious business.
Where a man with just one or two suits might stick to solid colors and maybe a pinstripe, Harvey has a wardrobe of different suit patterns including sharkskin, Prince of Wales checks and stripes – he prefers the bolder rope stripes to pinstripes (pinstripes are just one thread wide, rope stripes are several.)
He wears a slim fit with high armholes and strong structured shoulders – highlighting his athletic physique. Wide peak lapels give him a powerful broad-shouldered ‘v' shape – the key to wearing them like he does is to get the gorge of the lapel not too high and not too low. If it peaks out over your shoulders, it is too much, and if it is too low it looks too old school.
Peak lapels are more formal – he sets himself apart by wearing them (except sometimes when he's in a three-piece suit, which is more formal anyway). Because they're more common on a tuxedo, on a business suit they suggest authority and/or arrogance.
Taking a deeper dive into suit jacket details, the big flap pockets on his jackets are a little unusual with peak lapels; jetted pockets are more normal.
You might expect to see a three-button suit on him because he's a ‘buttoned up' character and it would suit his tall athletic build. However, Harvey knows TWO buttons are the best choice for a single-breasted suit with peak lapels. It's a classic elegant look that's been around since the 1920s – two buttons leave room for longer lapels and accentuate them more.
His jacket cuffs, on the other hand, are as formal and buttoned-up as they get, with four buttons on each. The more buttons on the cuffs, the more formal the jacket, with single buttons denoting a sports jacket.
Pants are slim but not tight, with an ironed crease down the front, no pleats, no break and usually no cuffs. This suits his strict character – very neat and no fuss.
#2. The Shirts
Harvey mostly wears plain white dress shirts – again, the most formal color. He also favors pale blue, and occasionally a gingham or stripe. The tall semi-spread collars accentuate his ‘v' shape.
His shirts are very well fitted and always let a sliver of cuff show outside his jacket. He usually prefers simple classic button cuffs, but occasionally goes for the fancier French cuffs and cufflinks.
#3. The Accessories
“Get your skinny tie out of my face and get to work.”
Harvey's ties are always silk – navy grenadine is a favorite. Dark purple and black are other favorite colors. His look is VERY monochrome – it's part of the character.
His ties vary between 3 and 3.5 inches wide, a classic width. He doesn't wear anything too young and trendy. His wider ties and lapels contrast with Mike's skinny ones and make him look more powerful.
He favors the full Windsor tie knot – a powerful, formal, ‘serious business' knot that marks him out as a guy who knows how to dress and looks great with his wide lapels and semi-spread collars. He's rarely seen without a dimple in his ties, showing he knows how to dress and pays attention to the details. The one time his tie dimple is off center, Donna notices something is wrong!
With a tux he wears a diamond-pointed bow tie instead of the normal shape. That's quirkier than you'd expect from him, but it's like the peak lapels – sharp and pointed – which suits his aggressive and incisive mind.
He always wears a pocket square in a square Presidential fold, usually white or gray. A white pocket square in a square fold is as formal as they come and suits his businesslike, no-nonsense image. You won't see him with a flower in his lapel – this is a hard and sharp look, nothing soft or romantic on this determinedly unemotional guy. To finish the look, he chooses simple and bold metal cufflinks.
Earlier in the series, Harvey was seen wearing a bold statement chronograph watch with a leather strap – a status symbol meant to mark him out as a successful man. The watch has since disappeared because of the technical constraints of filming for TV. Gabriel Macht says:
‘As great as the show is, it really doesn’t lend itself to detail. Other than some necklaces you might see Jessica wear, you don’t see any jewelry.'
#4. The Shoes
Because of the nature of TV, you don't often see Harvey's shoes, and they're not a big focus of his costume. He's been seen in black cap-toed derbies, and black or brown oxford brogues – all classic smart dress shoes, although brown full brogues are a bit more casual than you'd expect from him.
#5. Casual Clothing
Aside from the suit, he's been seen in a classic black button-down shirt; well-fitting jeans; a white or heathered grey henley; beige chinos; and a navy v-neck and coat over a white shirt. (Not a casual shirt, by the way, just a dress shirt like he'd wear to the office – showing his wardrobe, like his life, is mostly work.)
#6. The Hair
In 2011 Gabriel Macht said of Harvey's original slicked-back do, “It’s supposed to be the modern version of the old-style man’s haircut, sort of like Gregory Peck or Cary Grant.”
But as more sides of the character have emerged his hair has evolved- now it's more vertical, but still strict and structured, featuring a tight side-part (on the left side) with a subtle pompadour in the front.
To get this look, you need the sides cut short (not buzzed) and some length on top.
Run a strong hold gel (or pomade for less shine) through towel dried hair then blow dry on a low heat while combing the front upwards. The longer you blow-dry the front, the more volume you’ll get.
Then apply more gel and use your comb to cut the side-part and sculpt the front hair up and back. Fix with a little hairspray.
If you prefer his earlier slicked-back style, you want a similar cut with squared-off sideburns and a square neckline and shaved part. Again, apply some gel to your hair before blow-drying, then comb it back with pomade and set with hairspray.
I don't recommend that every man dresses exactly like Harvey Specter. It's a very stark monochromatic look, and for guys with more fun and warmth in their personalities, it might not suit you. You can emulate his confidence without exactly copying his look.
What I DO recommend is that you copy Harvey Specter in dressing strategically. Think about what YOUR message is, and make sure every stitch on your body and every hair on your head communicates it.
‘Get it through your head – first impressions last.'
Click below to watch the video – Harvey Specter Style