Masters of Sex: Lab Coats and Laundry

15 Oct

The third episode of Masters of Sex involved hiding in the shadows both in a literal and figurative sense as characters were confronted with reality; some chose to continue down a path of reluctant acceptance of their situation whereas others tried to use this new found knowledge to help their progression in professional and personal matters. Ane Crabtree’s costume design continues to reflect this evolution and there is one piece of clothing that becomes central to how Virginia views her role at the hospital and with the external study work.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia and Bill

In the first session Virginia is performing her role as Dr. Master’s assistant and while I am in love with her pinstripe round neck dress, it’s pretty clear they are operating on different levels. At the study Master’s is slightly more affable to Virginia, but his prickly demeanor is in full force when he is talking to her at the hospital. He asks her to pick up a lab coat for a new doctor and when he gives Virginia a similar laundry based task at the end of the episode Virginia challenges this request. Master’s flaunts his experience and tells Virginia when she has as much experience as he does then she will be able to give him menial tasks. This is him asserting his authority and reaffirming their positions.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia and Dr DePaulThe new doctor is Dr. Lillian DePaul and much to Virginia’s surprise she is a woman. Virginia thinks there is something inspiring about Dr DePaul even if all of the other secretaries mean girl it up with remarks about how she has no feminine qualities and how she’s never getting near their lady parts. Dr DePaul isn’t exactly warm and welcoming to Virginia as she treats Virginia as any of the other doctors would be asking her to get her coffee. No new bestie for Virginia. This is the second role for Julianne Nicholson where she is playing a pioneering woman in a field dominated by men – in Boardwalk Empire she plays Esther Randolph, an Assistant Attorney General. This interaction with Dr DePaul has a big influence on Virginia’s costuming as the next session at the brothel sees Virginia wearing a lab coat.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia's white coatThis puts Virginia on equal footing with Masters from a visual perspective and even though he mentions she is taking liberties he doesn’t ask her to remove her new coat.

Masters of Sex 1.03 white collar white coatThis is from the last night they visit the brothel for data and after a bit of coercion (Scully is someone living in the shadows) they will return the study to the hospital. Will Virginia continue to war the lab coat now they are back on hospital grounds?

Masters of Sex 1.03 White collarVirginia has the bedside manner that Masters lacks and she uses this in several scenes with Libby Masters. This slate grey dress is possibly the most conservative of Virginia’s costumes so far (not that any of them are all that provocative). The button detail combined with the white collar gives it a serious tone and there’s something almost priestly about her look when she comes and sits with Libby. Later on Virginia shows further mercy as she is the one who tells Libby the truth about who is the one with fertility issues as she can’t stand to see Libby blaming herself for something that isn’t her fault.

Masters of Sex 1.03 Virginia and BettyAnother discussion puts Virginia in the role of truth teller as she tries to convince Betty that lying to the Pretzel King isn’t her only option. Betty turns the tables on Virginia and suggests that Masters is in love with her. Betty suggests that they are both just as stuck by circumstance and that Virginia is no better as she is also hitching her wagon to a man. It’s a sad scene and we once again get to see Betty in her trademark red, a color she has worn throughout these three episodes.

Masters of Sex 1.03 BettyThis shot of Betty is before her surgery and shows the repeated red palette and on this occasion she is the one who uses the threat of public embarrassment against Masters at the hospital. Everyone is hitching their wagons to someone in this episode and using whatever means to get what they want with varying degrees of success. Masters agrees to do the surgery but it is too late and so Betty must live a lie to get the life she thinks that she wants. I’m not sure if this is the last we will see of Betty now that both her story and the brothel have served their purpose but I’m so glad they took the “hooker with a heart of gold” story and spun it into something so much more than that.

Masters of Sex 1.03 colour and patternWhile I sadly can’t show you the full range of costuming from the brothel (too many nipples) this snapshot reveals the variety of colors and patterns the women of this house wear. It’s all about bathrobes and there’s a splash of leopard print and bright, bold colors. From this shot it looks like the most fun, but it’s all a facade and some of their research reveals the depressing truth why some of these women are here. Dottie is still wearing the heavy framed glasses that Masters gave her last week and she wouldn’t look out of place with this look today.

Masters of Sex 1.03 LibbyLibby’s costuming is all about pastel colors and delicate prints, once again showing how here role is completely different to all of the other women on Masters of Sex. One similarity she does share with the women at the brothel is that she is being treated as a scientific specimen but unlike those candidates her medical condition is being withheld from her. Even when Libby is sobbing she is still in light shades, whereas Virginia wears a lot of dark purple this week heavily telegraphing their contrasting characteristics. The friendship between Libby and Virginia is strong at the moment and I wonder how Libby’s pregnancy might change this.

Masters of Sex 1.03 flashback Bill

So far I have spent all of this discussion looking at the women of Masters of Sex but I couldn’t leave out this flashback shot of Bill Masters where he looks optimistic and less buttoned up; the longer, less controlled hairstyle and jaunty bow tie will do that. Yes Bill Masters even makes patterned bow ties look rigid.

For more Masters of Sex coverage head here.

11 Responses to “Masters of Sex: Lab Coats and Laundry”


  1. Out of the Box: Look of the Week | TV Ate My Wardrobe - October 18, 2013

    […] For Scandal and Masters of Sex costume posts head here and here. […]

  2. Masters of Sex: Fantasy, Reality and Confronting the Past | TV Ate My Wardrobe - October 21, 2013

    […] back to Virginia (and her well practiced disdain face) I posed the question last week about Virginia and the lab coat – whether she would carry on wearing it when the study moved […]

  3. Masters of Sex 1.06 Review: Different Kinds of Therapy | TV Ate My Wardrobe - November 10, 2013

    […] have the qualifications. This is a reverse of the conversation that Virginia had with Bill a few weeks ago when he listed his own credentials and experience as a reason why she is the one who has to get the […]

  4. Virginia Johnson Wannabe - February 6, 2014

    […] photo source […]

  5. Masters of Sex Season 2 Promo: “Keep Your Heart Out Of It” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - June 30, 2014

    […] DePaul, Dr. Austin Langham and Betty with her husband Gene the Pretzel King (who we last saw in episode 3) offering Bill a […]

  6. Masters of Sex 2.01 “Parallax” Review: Going off Book | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 14, 2014

    […] getting discussed on both his former and current show). Betty wears red, which was a staple color during her brief, but memorable stint last season and her relationship with Bill is one of the many […]

  7. Masters of Sex 2.02 “Kyrie Eleison” Review: “You’re Not Your Worst Part” | TV Ate My Wardrobe - July 21, 2014

    […] This is the second time Betty has blackmailed Bill while using the study as leverage – in season 1 she provided the brothel where Bill observed, now she holds the key to the funding – and […]

  8. Masters of Sex 2.05 “Giants” Review: Taking the Plunge | TV Ate My Wardrobe - August 11, 2014

    […] of her super professional and very Lillian looking outfits thanks to the grey tone and high collar. We first saw this piece of costuming in the episode where Lillian was introduced and it also happens to be the first dress Virginia wore […]

  9. Masters of Sex and the Betty Fashion Parade | TV Ate My Wardrobe - August 25, 2014

    […] consulted her so this is likely the reason for the animosity, although Betty did have some choice words for Virginia about her relationship with Bill at the start of season 1). This final outfit from […]


    […] à la une – Virginia Johnson – Début de l’étude au bordel – Betty – Libby – Les vrais Masters & Johnson – Bill Masters – Virginia et Jane- God transparent – […]

  11. Work in Other Places: Interviews, Fashion History and in Print! | TV Ate My Wardrobe - May 16, 2018

    […] I have been writing about Ane Crabtree’s incredible costume design since Masters of Sex. I’ve interviewed her on a number of occasions and I leapt at the chance to talk to her about […]

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