'Suits' star Sarah Rafferty on her first splurge and playing a strong woman on TV

By Mishal Cazmi

It’s fair to call Sarah Rafferty an honorary Torontonian. After all, the L.A.-based actress spends a significant part of the year in the city filming hit television show Suits, on which she plays smart and sassy legal-secretary-turned-executive Donna Paulsen. In September, the actress returned to her adopted hometown to celebrate the closing night of the Toronto International Film Festival with fashion label Marc Cain and Share Her Journey, an initiative that aims to increase opportunities for women who work in entertainment. Hello! sat down with the star to chat about her style on and off the screen.

Sarah Rafferty collaborated with Marc Cain and Share Her Journey during TIFF. Photo: © Ernesto di Stefano/George Pimentel Photography

How sartorially similar are you to Donna? Has she inspired you to wear things you never would? One hundred per cent. But the thing that I love about her, too, and makes me comfortable, is that her style is always classic and elegant. She has very expensive taste, so that’s very fun. But I always approach her wardrobe as costume because I have a theatre background. What we wear tells people a lot about you. Sometimes we try to choose the dress based on what’s happening emotionally in the scene.

What was the first piece of clothing you ever splurged on? During my junior year in college, I did a year abroad in London. Before I left, my grandmother sent me a cheque and said, “Buy yourself something nice.” And the first weekend that I was there, I went to the Camden market and bought myself a black motorcycle jacket to go with my Dr. Martens. It was the ’90s. I wore that over a Betsey Johnson dress, like every day.

Sarah plays Donna Paulsen in the hit legal drama Suits.

How did you come to collaborate with Marc Cain? I was thrilled when Marc Cain approached me. The first collaboration we did was the beautiful black Mother’s Day bag with a heart on it for Plan Canada, and I’m an ambassador for Because I Am a Girl. I fell in love with Marc Cain’s clothes the second I visited the store in the Eaton Centre [in Toronto], because the fit is amazing and everything is so beautiful.

How important has it been for you to play a strong woman on television? I’ve been so proud of portraying Donna, and overwhelmed by the response about her confidence, polish, sass, wardrobe, and the fact that she’s whip-smart. She’s an aspirational woman. But I’m also really interested in portraying humans in all their flaws. It’s not only important to me to play heroes. Anti-heroes are pretty cool, too.

What piece of clothing automatically makes you feel empowered or really good about yourself? Boots. They’re very grounding and they’re sexy.

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