Maggie Lawson’s New Role Brings New Meaning To The Words “Fashion Victim”

She’s obviously not getting enough sleuthing in during her time onscreen in USA’s Psych. In between seasons of the overtly quirky police investigation series, Maggie Lawson has made a pair of films based on two of Ellen Byerrum’s Crime of Fashion books. Killer Hair (June 21) and Hostile Makeover (June 28) are set to premiere this month on LMN (HD).

Lawson stars as Lacey Smithsonian, a Washington, D.C., fashion columnist with a couple of inconvenient problems — dead bodies keep crossing her path, and her acute sense of style tells her that they’ve been murdered. In her view, everything a person wears is a clue, and Lacey has the ability to put the clues together to divine the truth.

It’s a fashion-centric view of the world, and Lawson found the perspective fascinating … as well as the clothes. “Lacey is vintage,” she explains. “She has a vintage car, she loves vintage clothes — she loves the ’40s. That’s her era, when women were sassy and smart.” Doing up her hair and putting on Lacey’s clothes and makeup were integral to her feeling the part, she says, and it’s a feeling that has continued for her even off camera, as she’s found herself bending her own self-described casual and “beachy” style more in Lacey’s direction.

“I do feel like my fashion sense has changed because of the movies,” she continues. “I didn’t think I could pull vintage off, but I think I just didn’t know, maybe, how to wear it, or didn’t know if I had that sort of, like, grace to wear it. It took me a few wardrobe [changes] to really feel like this character, but also myself, in these clothes, to carry them the right way.”

Since she enjoyed the clothes so much, it had to be asked — did she take them home? “I took a lot of them, yeah,” she says, sounding slightly, sheepishly ashamed. “I’m excited to wear them in my own life. I might wear them a little differently, but they’re just wonderful pieces. I’ve really grown to appreciate good fabrics, and I’ve noticed I’m buying more silks, and I’m feeling fabrics — this sounds absurd; I’m, like, obsessed now.”

It’s not a bad obsession for Lawson to be nurturing, given that she hopes to continue in the role of Lacey for a while. As she begins work on Season 4 of Psych, she’s keen to note the differences in her role as Juliet from her more recent screen-sleuthing work as Lacey — one major difference in particular. “These movies are super girly,” she says. “And the clothing, and the wardrobe, and hair and makeup are very different. … Lacey, a lot of times, she’s kind of a detective in a lot of ways. She’s doing sleuthing and whatever, just with better shoes and better clothes and better hair.”

But she acknowledges that the similarities between her series and the Crime of Fashion films far outweigh the contrasts. “You look at Psych,” she explains, “it is a quirky show. I think we kind of pride ourselves on being a different kind of procedural [show], in that we do add funny; we do add comedy. There are dead bodies that are everywhere.”

More than that, the lead roles lend themselves to comparison with the male leads on Psych. “In a lot of ways, Sadie [LeBlanc] — who plays Stella — and I were told a few times when we were working, how much we are the female Shawn and Gus. … We get into these crazy situations, we’re going on wild goose chases, and we’re going behind the police department’s back, and I’m going behind my boss’s back at work in what I do, and we’re stepping on toes and whatever, but we’re figuring it out. We’re going to solve the crime.”

Going into Season 4 of Psych, Lawson is looking forward to getting back into character as Juliet with the rest of her costars. “We’re going to sort of pick up where we left off last year,” she says. “A little more emotion and action, relationships — we’re going to really, I think, get into the personal side of the characters this year, more. The cases, of course, are still going to be what the episodes are built around, but at the same time, we’re really going to look into all of the characters, which is going to be really fun.”

With both of Lawson’s roles looking like they might be around for a while, she’s an understandably happy actor — she’s looking forward to plenty of work on the horizon. “I’m a lucky girl — and a happy girl,” she says. “I feel myself knocking on wood every chance I get, anytime someone says, ‘What season are you guys starting?’ I have to pinch myself.”