Grieving and pregnant, Shiv Roy’s wardrobe speaks to those of us who have tried to hold it down at life-changing moments In the days after my mother’s death, I spent a lot of time online looking for shoes to wear to her funeral. Not an obvious reaction to grief. But while I had a dress – a black one with pretty red peonies that I kept rolled up in my bag when her illness began to accelerate during the summer – we were in lockdown so the shops were shut, and I wasn’t going to wear Birkenstocks. Eventually, I found some brogues on eBay and, after wiping them with Dettol, tried everything on. I looked nice, put together. But this was the problem. Looking “put together†seemed like the wrong response when I felt anything but. On the day of her funeral, I wore my mother’s navy skirt suit. It was too big and I was too hot, but for both reasons felt much more appropriate. I was reminded of all this after watching Shiv Roy walking behind her father’s coffin in the most recent episode of Succession. Even in deep grief, she was forced to look the part: powdered nose, hair done, a black pantsuit with a Disney villain neckline and a string of establishment pearls. In short, a scion and a firebrand – not a grieving mother-to-be. Death is a great leveller until it isn’t. Succession is not a show couched in realism, however tangible the sibling dynamics often feel. It’s a show about appearances, and within that, clothes. No one eats, shops or – despite the pregnancy – seems to have sex. The only constant is what these awful people wear, which remains largely unchanged throughout all four seasons. Except for Shiv, who, as the only daughter of an unfathomably rich and powerful rightwinger, is under more scrutiny than most. In the first series, she was a long-haired power liberal in Fair Isle knits from H&M (H&M!) and dresses from Ted Baker. Now she is in buttoned-up Max Mara waistcoats and Ralph Lauren houndstooth jackets, betraying herself as a woman not in control, but trapped in a doom loop of familial discontent, lies and daddy issues. The main change of course is that she’s pregnant, a fact that she has been trying to hide until now. As someone who is also pregnant, though a few weeks behind, I think managing this has been the costume department’s greatest challenge, and success. The first trimester is fine. By 20 weeks, there’s no escape. And yet no elastic waists and tent dresses for Shiv! Instead, long blazers to hide her bump, low-cut tops to distract and a clever taupe Skims bodysuit to keep that bump under wraps. Night sweats getting you down? Just tong your hair (on that – I’ve noticed continuity issues this season, with her hair going from straight to wavy mid-scene, which suggests they’re thinking about Shiv’s hair as much as I’m thinking about my own). Twitter certainly had fun mocking Shiv’s sad ponytail at Connor’s wedding. But as anyone familiar with pregnancy hormones knows, second-trimester hair has a will of its own. One of the hardest things for a pregnant woman to do is to confront this bodily shape shift while trying to maintain their identity. Most keep their pregnancies a secret for at least 12 weeks for fear of miscarriage or complications. These dangers are real – roughly 10% to 20% of known pregnancies end in miscarriage – and most of us would rather not risk sharing news early only to have difficult conversations later. This silence isn’t much fun. But even after this point, the risks continue and can be compounded by judgment and career retaliation – all while you try not to vomit on the hour. In the case of Shiv, that judgment is coming from her family, the tabloids and all those people who told her she’d be a terrible mother. Roman’s joke about her weight is the least of it. Caught between these duelling realities, it’s little wonder she’s gone turbo-Tom-Ford-Girlboss. It’s also little wonder she’s aligned herself with an alt-billionaire from Sweden: a country where parental rights are light years ahead of the US. The many cultural differences between Alexander SkarsgÃ¥rd’s Lukas Matsson and the Roy brothers are also signalled in their clothes, which set the scene long before they begin negotiations (though you could definitely envision Kendall wearing the Swede’s gold bomber jacket from the Tailgate party during his existential phase in season two). The overall aesthetic of the show has been distilled into “stealth wealthâ€. This aggressively bland look, which loosely translates as “cashmere and baseball caps indoorsâ€, is more of a nebulous marketing term than an actual trend – to me, it looks like expensive normcore. For Shiv, though, it’s become a uniform and a life raft, a way of showing her skin remains in the game even if there’s a baby the length of a carrot growing within it. We dismiss clothing as superficial but it often says a lot about who we are or at least who we want to be. This is the paradox of fashion. And it is particularly true for women, especially when we are trying to keep a handle on the vast movements of life and death. Do you have an opinion on the issues raised in this article? If you would like to submit a response of up to 300 words by email to be considered for publication in our letters section, please click here.