With her deep corporate knowledge and undeniable verve, Gerri is a secret weapon. And now, she’s finally dressing the part.
In a business where people are used as pawns and it pays to look out for only yourself, Gerri Kellman from Succession is terrifyingly good at her job.
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As the longtime exec and general counsel to the late patriarch Logan Roy, Gerri (played by J. Smith-Cameron) regularly puts up with the Roy kids’ entitlement while wading through endless boardroom shenanigans. Both expertly conniving and deceivingly comforting, she’s a pivotal player in the billion-dollar company, but she also remains strategically on the sidelines. Key to her success is her unwavering corporate decorum. In other words: Wardrobe-wise, she has long relied on subdued, by-the-books professionalism. But in season 4, Gerri is taking a new approach.
At the start of Succession, Gerri is befitted in her own corporate protective gear comprising figure-concealing skirt suits, dark-rimmed glasses and modest strings of pearls. If not pulled back into a matronly updo, her hair lays in a semi-grown-out bob. This is in line with her motives: She’s always trying to stay on safe footing. As an older woman in a position of power, she walks a fine (sexist) line between getting taken seriously and being written off. Through it all, Gerri’s steady outfit choices have been symbolic of her efforts not to rock the boat.
This somewhat dowdy dressing is not to be confused with her powerful — surprisingly salacious — role at Waystar RoyCo. Case in point: As season 2 sees her sexual tension with Roman Roy progress, she maintains her own best interest, viewing their back-and-forth as an unorthodox business partnership. But when Roman takes things too far by sending her explicit pictures, he endangers her job and betrays her trust. This serves as a reminder that although she may be more qualified than them, Gerri doesn’t have the luxuries of being born into the business, as the Roy children do. “She’s got to be super careful,” Smith-Cameron told Vogue. “And so [in season 4], too, I had to be sort of cold-blooded at times.” Her wardrobe reflects that.
Gerri has long dressed to communicate that she’s an asset; never a threat. And this approach has worked, until recently. As her position is increasingly called into question, Gerri’s quest for power is more evident than ever.
In episode 3 of this season, she goes to Connor’s wedding in a monochrome grey skirt suit with a hat fastened onto the side of her head, à la Kate Middleton. She stands out in a sea of black and white, her look more imposing than usual with a statement belt and a chunky necklace. It goes against her sartorial strategy of subtlety, and that’s kind of the point. She’s feeling uncertain in her position at Waystar, so she’s using fashion to grasp status. This same day, Gerri learns that Logan plans to fire her. In the episodes since — after Logan Roy passes — we see her style evolve even more.
She starts wearing more revealing dresses, chunky jewelry, and her (now considerably longer) hair in a blowout. Her silhouettes are looser and more fluid instead of buttoned-up and structured. To Logan’s wake reception, she dons a plunging neckline with a gold chain-link necklace to complement her sleek gold-rimmed glasses. There’s a sense that now, with the vicious oligarch out of the picture, Gerri isn’t dressing to appease anymore.
This assertion of power culminates in episode 7, when Roman tries to backtrack on his brutal firing of her from the previous episode. He comes to Gerri looking to make amends because, per usual, he needs her advice. But instead of feigning professionalism, she tells Roman she’s “out” completely. She adds that she’ll be asking for “eye-watering sums” of money from Waystar. And if anyone tries to undermine her? Her threat: “I will sue, and I will go public with the many, many pictures of your genitalia that I have in my possession. Have I made myself clear?” Using Roman’s inappropriate advances against him, while sporting her new look — a sleek dress and loosely curled blond locks — Gerri has never looked more confident.
Part of Gerri’s charm is how real she feels. She’s a “nervous wreck,” Smith-Cameron told The New York Times, and this sometimes shows in her appearance, from her frazzled flyaways to her wildly out-of-place wedding outfit. But there’s something cool, calm, and collected about her that only progresses as season 4 unfolds. One thing that has always been clear: Regardless of what she wears, Gerri is competent and capable. That’s more than can be said about the Roy children.