13 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Seinfeld’s Most Famous Fashion Moments, According to the Show’s Costume Supervisor

Frank Costanza’s clothes were all a little too small on purpose
13 Trivia Tidbits About ‘Seinfeld’s Most Famous Fashion Moments, According to the Show’s Costume Supervisor

From Kramer’s vintage shirts, to George’s Gore-Tex coat, to Frank Costanza’s outdated attire, Seinfeld costume supervisor Stephanie Kennedy was around for some of the show’s most memorable fits. Beginning in the fifth season, or just as Jerry’s puffy shirt made its debut, she was an integral part of the costume department, and now, she loves looking back on her time on the show — especially on Instagram.

Here are 13 trivia tidbits about Seinfeld’s most memorable costumes, brought to you by Kennedy herself…

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The Puffy Shirt

Kennedy says that costume designer Charmaine Nash Simmons “found that shirt in a store in West Hollywood called International Male. She embellished it a bit, including more elastic in the sleeves and shoulder pads, but it was basically off the rack.”

The Smithsonian

The puffy shirt now resides in the Smithsonian, and Kennedy recalls a story from when she first found out about the honor, saying, “I got a call from George Shapiro just before the Smithsonian thing. He said they found a shirt in an auction claiming to be the puffy shirt with a tag on it. He asked me to authenticate it. Turns out, the tag on it was in my handwriting, so it was the real deal. There were actually two puffy shirts, and I’m pretty sure Jerry has one and the Smithsonian has the second one.”

Jerry and Larry on Costuming

“Jerry and Larry (David) were very intentional about ‘what’s too far,’” Kennedy tells me. “That’s true with the writing, but also with the costumes. They didn’t want these things to be too crazy. The puffy jacket on George could have been even puffier, but then would have been too ridiculous. It didn’t need to go that far; it needed to look like something George would actually wear, and there’s a certain point where it’s too far.”

George’s Gore-Tex Coat

“I found George’s coat at some discount ski joint,” Kennedy recalls. “We opened up the side seams and shoved about 10 bags of stuffing in the inseam and sewed it back up.”

Real Gore-Tex?

“I’m not sure if it was actually Gore-Tex,” Kennedy admits. “It was probably a word Larry heard and liked the sound of — ‘Say that, say it a lot.’”

Elaine’s Evolution

“Because Elaine changed jobs, leaving Pendant Publishing and going to work for J. Peterman, it was an opportunity to put her into a different, more sophisticated look, which I think the character required,” Kennedy says. “From a fashion sense, her character evolved the most.”

Shopping for Kramer and Elaine

“I had a standard shopping list for vintage clothes for Elaine and for Kramer,” Kennedy remembers. “If I ever had an extra hour to kill and I was on Melrose or in Venice, I would go vintage shopping for them.”

Kramer’s Magic Wardrobe

“Michael Richards had a lot to say about his own wardrobe — more than the other three for sure,” says Kennedy. “He had to be in wardrobe to rehearse — the wardrobe helped him become Kramer. He’d put it on, and it would transform him, almost like a magic wand. One issue we had is that vintage shirts are hard to find in larger sizes, and if there’s a scene where Kramer is getting chased by a dog or putting his clothes into a pizza oven, we had to have duplicates. For episodes like that, we got smart and bought some patterns for vintage shirts and we’d cut a shirt from the pattern. Then we just had to convince Michael to wear it.”

Kramer’s Pimp Outfit

Kennedy says that Kramer’s coat from his pimp outfit was from a production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, just with some fur added to it. “I believe it came from a rental house,” Kennedy says. “We had a lot of things from rental houses, and after Season Nine, we returned them all.”

Jerry’s Jeans

“We had a deal with Levi’s — they would send us some jeans for Jerry. We also had a deal with Nike,” explains Kennedy.

Frank Costanza’s Wardrobe

“Season Five was Jerry Stiller’s first season, so, whereas the others were pretty much established before I got there, Frank Costanza was the first character I put together,” says Kennedy. “I didn’t get any notes from Jerry or Larry on it, I was just sent out to get some stuff for him. I came from The Golden Girls, so I had a good feel for that older, retired, Florida look. For him, I gave him these leisure suits from the 1970s, when he was at the top of his game, so he’s not going to throw those away. He’s still wearing the stuff he wore back in the day, which is why I bought stuff a little bit tight on him. He was lovely to work with too. He was always bringing us gifts.”

The Psychic Mrs. Costanza

“Estelle Harris thought she was a psychic — or maybe she was a psychic, who knows? She’d do readings and everything. There’d be days where she’d say, ‘What’s wrong? What happened over the weekend? I can feel your energy.’ She was so sweet, and she was a regular in the wardrobe room,” says Kennedy.

Jerry’s Eye for Fashion

Despite some changes, notably with Elaine, Kennedy says that “Jerry was very clear about the characters not changing. He didn’t want anyone to really change style because he had a big, meta vision for the show, but also a ‘micro’ vision as well. He knew that, because the show would be syndicated at some point, people would be watching the episodes out of order, and for him, having that continuity was really important. He also wanted a sense of timelessness to the series, so he didn’t want the clothes to stand out too much, unless they were supposed to like the puffy shirt.”

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