First things first. If you haven’t finished watching the last season of Money Heist, go ahead and do that first since we’ll talk about some of the final scenes of the series, and there will be spoilers.
One of the most famous shows on Netflix came to an end last year. This Emmy-winner Spanish crime drama created trending topics, huge debates and brought back the anti-fascist anthem Bella Ciao to popular playlists across the world.
But besides weapons, gold, army, Money Heist masks, and declarations of love and hate, today we’ll talk about a very important element of this Spanish series that we watched for several hours over the last couple of years: the clothes.
As we’ve mentioned in Political Fashion, clothes communicate who we are, what are we doing, and even how do we feel or what are our beliefs. In Money Heist, the clothes accurately illustrate the highly emotional and deeply thought plot.
So let’s start by talking about the uniform that became the essence of the show and a very worldwide recognizable piece: the Money Heist jumpsuit.
The Red Jumpsuit
After all these years of watching the characters season after season, the red jumpsuit of Money Heist has been used as a Halloween costume, a symbol of protests, and an inspiration for other shows.
The production department of Money Heist confirms that the red jumpsuit was carefully thought while developing the script because the robbers needed to be identifiable by the viewer and be the focal point of the show. (La Verdad). There was also a wish of the directors to have a brand identity so that posters, trailers, and advertisements published in any media with a red jumpsuit, was directly associated with the Money Heist jumpsuit and with the show itself.
Every decision when designing clothing is very important, and it is not arbitrary. Red is one of the most visible colors in the color spectrum, and it’s associated with emotions that include passion, excitement, fear, and anger. In fact, there are studies that show that wearing red or being exposed to this color can increase your heart rate, elevate blood pressure, and increase your respiration rate (Aseel, Kane, Smith, Green-Armytage). So the psychological effects of this color in the jumpsuits, mixed with a plot of action, drama, romance, and lots of counterattacks, make the perfect match.
There is also a direct correlation between red and power. The famously known power suit in menswear is often styled with a red tie. In political debates around the world, red is one of the most used colors that candidates wear, as it is visually attractive and will make you stand out in a group of people wearing muted colors.
Then, there is also the red carpet, which welcomes elite people in a very restricted but sophisticated manner that elevates the people walking on this colorful floor on their way to a certain event. That is one of the reasons why there is so much attention on red carpet entrances to the extent that the coverages can be as long as two hours before the event. We are fascinated and attracted to the red color of the floor, which makes us want to see more celebrities doing their entrance to the venue of whatever event we are watching.
Going back to Money Heist, think about how many scenes feature at least one person wearing a red jumpsuit. Red is one of the main characters of this fascinating show.
Imagine if the robbers were wearing pale pink or purple jumpsuits. Wouldn’t it feel more of a childish game than a real robbery?
During the five seasons, the costume department created over 600 red jumpsuits for all the characters. The jumpsuits were tailored and fitted to reflect the personality of each member of the squad.
Many students fully dislike wearing a uniform when they are at school. In many ways, a uniform doesn’t leave much room for self-expression, as every student is wearing the same clothing regardless of their personality and background. However, there are certain advantages to wearing a uniform.
Some studies show that uniforms help members of staff be perceived as equals. This is why many companies prefer that employees work wearing a uniform, instead of wearing their own clothes. Our brains notice the similarity of our clothes, so we start to perceive the people around us with more empathy and familiarity outside of labels, fancy garments, and complicated prints.
Now, if you are planning a robbery to the Bank of Spain, as the Professor and the robbers did, there needs to be a strong sense of union that maintains togetherness and trust in moments of tension and chaos. After five seasons of the show, we got familiar with the personalities of each member of the squad; we know how egocentric and prepotent Palermo was when things got difficult. Or how irreverent Tokyo spoke when her beloved one was in danger. But even during the hardest circumstances, the affection among all members of the crew was real.
Uniforms don’t make groups of people like each other magically, but they definitely influence the way they perceive themselves and the way they interact with each other. There is no difference in who has the coolest jacket, the greatest pants, or the cheapest earrings. Everyone is the same, and in many cases, this can be very beneficial.
Maybe it’s because of the mainstream characters like Dexter from Dexter’s laboratory, or Edna Mode from The Incredibles, that we perceive people who wear glasses as intellectuals or even significantly smarter. So the Professor, the leader and mastermind behind the two major robberies in Money Heist, needed to be extremely intelligent and significantly smarter during the planning and execution of these missions.
This is why the glasses of the Professor are a very important symbol in the show. They help us see this character as a rational, fully prepared being who has everything under control (most of the time), and that is always thinking about the next steps.
To make this symbology even more noticeable, think of the scenes where the Professor was in trouble or when the plans didn’t go as he thought. Like when inspector Alicia Sierra found his hiding place and tied him up or when he was hiding from the police in the main streets of Madrid. In these scenes, the Professor is not wearing his glasses and looks extremely uncomfortable. The glasses are his take on control and rationality. He loses his glasses. He loses control.
Have you noticed that the Professor always puts his glasses on with his two hands?
Of course, a professor needs to wear clothes that communicate authority. Otherwise, it’s very hard for him to get the respect and attention needed from his students. Think about some of the professors you took classes with in previous years and what clothes they wore to teach their class. Would you see them the same way if they showed up to class with purple sneakers, printed shorts, and a neon sleeveless t-shirt? That is the power of clothing in the perception that people have of us. Our academic and professional experience gives us knowledge and education, but our clothes help us illustrate our intellect so people can see it before getting to speak with us.
It’s fascinating to see how carefully thought are the clothes that the Professor wears in Money Heist. Even though his character doesn’t rely on fashion as a Carrie Bradshaw or a Serena Van Der Woodsen, his clothes illustrate his leadership with woven shirts, formal pants, and shoes. Even in one of his darkest moments, when he turns himself in, he gets out of the car, with dry blood and pain from a bullet that he took out of this foot, but wearing a button-down shirt with a tie, a leather belt in place, and his glasses on. It seemed as if he had lost the battle, but he still wanted to be perceived as the mastermind of the mission by the people and the authorities around him.
It is captivating to see the evolution of the characters in the show and how their clothes reflect that. Alicia Sierra was the head of the police, in charge of confronting the robbers for two entire seasons. Her strong personality and deep intelligence connecting dots and putting together information led her to find the hiding place of the Professor at the end of Season 4. And it is precisely in the final season where we get to see Alicia Sierra’s evolution through her clothes.
She arrives at the Professor’s hiding place with a flowy long brown coat with a hood, attempting to hide her nine-month pregnancy belly, as the police were looking for her, but her ambition led her to keep looking for the robbers.
During the final season, Sierra gives birth to her baby Victoria with the assistance of the Professor. Then, she unsuccessfully attempted to make a deal with the police and ended up helping the Professor to find the gold that was stolen by Berlin’s son, Rafael.
It is in those final scenes where we get to see Alicia Sierra wearing a black top with an empowering neckline, a leather pencil skirt, and long leather boots with a vibe that combines her previous inspector role with a rebel attitude that puts her in a supporting role with the robbers’ team.
But why do the clothes matter in a literal live or die mission? Clothes influence our self-perception, and they can make us feel more qualified to perform certain tasks. In a study performed on undergraduate students a couple of years ago, a group of students with a similar background was divided into three groups. The first group wore their own clothes, the second group wore a white coat that the researchers indicated was a “doctor lab coat,” and the third group wore the same white coat, but the researchers told the students that it was a painter’s coat to protect the clothes from the dust.
All three groups performed the same test, but the group who wore the “doctor lab coat” did significantly better than the other two groups. (Dr. James). The conclusions of the study are that clothes influence our behavior because of our experience wearing them but also because of the symbolism we give to them. This is why kids who wear superhero costumes feel braver, tailored suits make us feel more professional, and athletic sportswear encourages us to run an extra mile.
In the case of Alicia Sierra, a former inspector who recently gave birth and is being prosecuted by International Authorities, her black bad-ass clothes illustrate empowerment to find the lost gold in a very timely manner.
Another great look worth discussing is the fitted dress and tailored jacket with a curvy neckline in army green tones that Alicia Sierra wears in the last scene with the Professor. With a baby in her car and a passport with her new identity, the former inspector is ready to start a new life by herself, taking care of her newborn Victoria. The clothes are futuristic, flattering, and very true to the strong character we saw in each episode of the last seasons.
Undoubtedly, Money Heist is full of action, drama, and life lessons. But it is also another great example of how clothes play an important role in our lives. They don’t have to be the most extravagant or authentic garments; they just need to make us feel a certain way.
So when you see yourself about to perform a certain task, take some time to think about the clothes you want to wear. Clothes are functional, but they are also visual and can be a psychological symbol that encourages us to perform the tasks better.