The adage “money talks, but wealth whispers” gets thrown a lot when we talk about the clothes of Succession. The Roy family and Waystar Royco team epitomize the aesthetic of what it means to be rich, really rich: devoid of labels, gauche trendiness, anything that too obviously tries to convey the amount of figures someone has in their bank account. But the stealth wealth of the Kendall’s Loro Piana baseball hats and Shiv’s Armani blazers is nothing compared to the quiet opulence of Nan Pierce, says costume designer, Michelle Matland.
It’s not necessarily about the amount of money the Pierce Family matriarch has—it’s the type, Matland says. (To put it in Logan’s verbiage, it’s not a dick measuring contest; it’s more about the genealogy.) “Logan may have as much money as Nan, but Nan’s money is old, old school,” Matland says of the role played by actress Cherry Jones. “So if Logan feels comfortable in his skin, Nan is three times more knowledgeable about who she is and what her money is worth.”
Having grown up and gone to prep school in New England, I was exposed to my fair share of Nans—people with old, old, money; people whose ancestors came over on the Mayflower and who pillaged their way to prosperity that has and will continue to sustain their families for generations to come. They are some of the most frigid and, frankly, terrifying people you’ll ever meet. There’s an ease that carries them through any and every room; not one of belonging, but of not needing to belong, of being above it. And it’s that casual indifference that makes Nan so alluring—and arguably one of the only opponents we’ve ever seen successfully rattle Logan.
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“She is so unaffected and her lifestyle is such a comfort zone to her that she has no interest or intention in showing off,” says Matland, who calls her a “Kathryn-Hepburn-type.
But there’s still a viciousness to her that makes her fit to spar with her fellow media titans. To me, Nan is like someone dropped a Nancy Meyers character into a viper pit—if that Nancy Meyers character turned out to in fact be the apex predator. (Ironically enough, Matland says she’s always wanted to put Nan in a straw hat, which I noted felt very aligned with the director’s signature style. “I wanted everything that she wears to look like she just came out of the garden cutting roses…Working hard. Bitching about the cost of manure,” she jokes.) The softness and earthiness of her understated attire belies her lethal sensibility and it’s that contrast that makes her such a cunning and captivating character. “I think she is much more cutthroat than is apparent, but because she does it with a smile on her face and she’s so stealth at it that people don’t recognize it necessarily,” says Matland.
Nan proves that quiet luxury—stealth wealth—is about more than foregoing logos; for Kendall it might be about always rocking the latest season’s Tom Ford leather bomber, for Tom it might be $11,000 suits and shiny watches the price of a reasonably sized home. But for Nan, it’s different. Sure Nan can have it all—and she does; she’s the kind of woman who doesn’t look at, or even consider price tags when she shops, says Matland. But she’s not someone who buys simply for the excess of it; to indulge in the newness of the latest designer items. Instead, her clothing is a collection of the finest pieces on the market that she’s acquired and cared for, for many, many years.
“She doesn’t buy anything that she thinks is going to be obscene,” says Matland. “So just real old school and simplistic classical everything has been worn many, many, many times.” Nan makes a strong case for uniformed dressing, she says—investing in quality pieces that can be worn over and over and that never go out of style. And no item in Nan’s closet is too precious to prioritize its monetary value, she says.
“What she has is quality. She probably has a $3,000 cashmere cardigan, but she wears it every day around her neck, tied up in a knot and that’s what she wears. And then she gets cold, she slips it on. And that’s what it is. It’s a uniform.”
That being said, her wardrobe is not completely devoid of glamor—but even her choice of jewelry and other accessories is a far cry from Kendall’s chunky Richard Mille watch.
“She definitely walked into Cartier and bought herself a tank watch in 1980,” Matland says. “And she still uses it, and was happy to pay the $10,000 or whatever it was. And she, I’m sure, has a Tiffany diamond and some emerald earrings from her husband.” True to form, this season we saw Nan in a timeless tan and white striped button down with a tonal neck scarf and tan trousers from Lafayette 148 NY; the shirt and trousers together boasting a price tag of over $1500.
You don’t need the Pierces’ bank account or lineage to pull off her look though, says Matland, because all it really comes down to is simplicity. Buy timeless silhouettes in neutral colors. Matland recommends scooping up a classic white shirt and a pair of chinos somewhere like Banana Republic; pair it with a leather belt and matching loafers and you’re ready for an afternoon in the Hamptons. This was good news for me, as someone who’s been obsessed with Nan and her closet full of beige staples since the second I laid eyes on her.
Matland agrees. “She’s one of my favorite characters,” she told me. Nan is a fan favorite for so many reasons; the stark contrast between her and the Roy family has made for some of the most tenuous and most entertaining plotlines of the entire show. She’s mysterious and relaxed at the same time, welcoming and icy all at once—an absolute delight to watch. There are a million reasons we’ll miss this iconic show, and Nan with her relaxed coastal chic attire and her biting business acumen rank high among them.