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Why You Should Reconsider Shoulder Pads, According to Alison Wright

And other stylish tidbits the actress has learned on the set of 'The Americans.'

Why You Should Reconsider Shoulder Pads, According to Alison Wright
(Source: Vivien Killilea/Getty Images North America)

Tonight, we have to bid The Americans adieu in its season three finale—but not before recounting the serious '80s fashions seen on the hit FX spy thriller. We caught up with actress Alison Wright to get the scoop on her style on and off set. See how she relates to her character Martha—and why she's championing for a shoulder pads comeback.

How do you get into character? “Well, it’s pretty easy. She’s not too far away from the everyday woman, the average good woman trying to live her life decently. She’s not too tricky; she’s pretty straightforward.”

Would you say that you relate to her personality? “Yes, I can absolutely relate to her, and I think most women can whether they would like to admit that or not. Like I said, she’s very straightforward. She puts herself forward to the world, and that’s who she really is. There’s no end-game, lying, deception or manipulation happening.”

Why You Should Reconsider Shoulder Pads, According to Alison Wright
(Source: FX)

How about her wardrobe, how does it compare to your own? “I would say it’s the other end of the spectrum. I would like to live in a world, personally, where Edith Head designed all of my clothes. But with Martha’s stuff, you know, I bite the bullet and I wear it. What Wendi McLendon-Covey’s character wears on The Goldbergs, that’s where I’d like to see Martha end up one day but I’m not sure if she’ll make it long enough for that.”

I enjoy anything that looks like I could sort of be in a 1940s movie/musical."

–Alison Wright

What is the one fashion or beauty item that helps you get into character the most? “Everything they give me to wear for her is so vastly different from anything I’m used to. Even ‘80s [styles] that are coming back around in cycle right now are not the kind of ‘80s she’s wearing. Mostly between the shoulder pads and the hairstyles, I’d say."

Who are your favorite style icons? "How long have we got? Eva Peron, Rita Hayworth, Marilyn Monroe, Betty Grable, Jessica Lange in the last season of American Horror Story. I like the looks of the ‘30s, ‘40s and ‘50s—those are my favorite years."

(Source: Nomi Ellenson/Getty Images North America)

What are your go-to labels? "I really like Marni, Mary Katrantzou, Marc Jacobs, Roland Mouret—I enjoy anything that looks like I could sort of be in a 1940s movie/musical."

I would like to be brave enough to start adding shoulder pads to a lot of my own clothes—they’re really a lot better than we think they are."

–Alison Wright

How does Martha’s beauty routine compare to your own? "I can’t say I’ve investigated in-depth what women really did in the ’80s for their beauty routine, other than wear a lot of color and makeup. In the show, I’m usually in bright pink or bright purple eyeshadows. My face can carry a lot, but you can’t always tell how much I’m actually wearing. I wear a lot less in my daily life than Martha does—Martha piles it on."

What wardrobe tips have you picked up from being on-set? "Surprisingly, that shoulder pads are a pretty good thing. When you wear them, you feel like a linebacker but the shape that they give is pretty good. I would like to be brave enough to start adding shoulder pads to a lot of my own clothes—they’re really a lot better than we think they are."

Tune in to the season finale of The Americans tonight at 10pm EDT on FX. 

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