The She-Wolves Of Wall Street Don’t Wear Spiked Stilettos In ‘Equity’

When the she-wolves of Wall Street climb the corporate ladder, they do it in chic yet sensible footwear — spiked heels and patent leather pumps are no place for the boardroom.

“Shoes on Wall Street are plain — nothing too outrageous,” explained “Equity” costume designer Teresa Binder-Westby in an interview with Footwear News.

Anna Gunn Alysia Reiner Sarah Megan Thomas equity
Anna Gunn stars in “Equity.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

The drama, which debuted nationwide on Friday, follows an investment banker (Anna Gunn) who tries to maintain her ethical grounding while facilitating the launch of a startup’s IPO. Along the way, she finds friends and foes in her ambitious assistant (Sarah Megan Thomas) and a prosecutor investigating corrupt practices (Alysia Reiner).

It was Binder-Westby’s challenge to bring to the big screen a realistic look at what female power players wear from head to toe in the corporate world. Of course, with a touch of aspirational-focused style.

Anna Gunn Alysia Reiner Sarah Megan Thomas equity
Alysia Reiner in “Equity.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.
Pour la Victoire Alysia Reiner equity
Alysia Reiner wears Pour la Victoire shoes in “Equity.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

“These women were in a primarily male-dominated work environment, and I was looking to show different levels of financial gain through their occupations,” she explained.

Binder-Westby said she spoke with real-life female Wall Street executives and observed their ensembles to get a sense of how they view fashion.

Often, they stick to the same styles.

Fashion is not a “driving factor” in their world, she explained. “The truth is, they don’t have time for it. Women at this juncture in their lives have a work uniform — they have 40 pieces in their closet.”

Here, Binder-Westby reveals her fashion philosophy behind “Equity.”

Anna Gunn Alysia Reiner Sarah Megan Thomas equity
Sarah Megan Thomas in “Equity.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

FN: How did you differentiate between the women’s footwear styles?

TBW: “I started with Anna and put her in YSL, Gucci, and one of the chunky booties was Vince — so that she could look like a rooted character. I wanted the femininity of a woman who is on the top of her game on Wall Street, but not sexy. She’s sitting at the table with men, but I wanted her to seem strong and grounded in her values and with her worth ethic.

“Alysia (Reiner) wore SJP, Isola and Pour la Victoire — they can be interesting and strong. She wasn’t in a heel or bootie because she worked at the D.A.’s office. Even at the top of her game, she’s still a worker bee.

“Sarah [Megan Thomas] was climbing the corporate ladder with impending motherhood and the doom about that because that could set her back at work. I looked at her as a protégé to Anna. So I put her in Prada pumps, SJP shoes, Ferragamo loafers — you don’t want to out-dress your boss. As you’re climbing that Wall Street corporate ladder, I found the women at the top are wearing Dior, Armani, St. John’s [Knit], so I put Sarah a step down – in Dolce, Theory and separates. Anna was structured, refined and sophisticated. With Sarah I showed she was looking to achieve that lifestyle but had to be careful in what she had to wear.”

anna gunn equity movie
Anna Gunn in “Equity.”
CREDIT: Courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics.

FN: Were there any challenges in the production?

TBW: “Interestingly, Anna hurt her ankle a few weeks into filming. Heels became an issue for her, so I felt like she needed more support — even with an ankle strap to keep her in place.”

FN: What as your favorite standout style moment?

TBW: “I like the white and black piece at the end. Naomi [actress Anna Gunn] was coming to her own terms. She had to get to the breaking point as an ethical woman in the business — when she got there, she was able to embrace her feminine side. At that point I put her in a heel to meet with her mentor. I could show at that point a softer side — that there’s more to life than making a deal. We borrowed those shoes from Anna; they were Christian Lobuoutin.”

FN: Where did you source the wardrobe?

TBW: “The budget was very modest; I had $20,000 to dress all those women. I had more money to dress boxers in films than these Wall Street women. Some of the shoes I got were on loan from consignment shops — I rented it from the consigner and gave them percentage. Sarah Megan Thomas ended up buying some of her clothing; I think she ended up wanting the Prada pumps she wore. Even some of the jewelry was loaned — on Alicia, her husband ended up buying her some. They were real diamonds.”

FN: Were you able to tap into any brands for partnerships?

TBW: “People stepped up because of what the film was about. Juan Carlos Obando was all about the workingwoman being sophisticated while having femininity — and to have Ysola shoes sent to me — people supported it when I said what the script was about.”

Access exclusive content