Monday, April 4, 2011

Mad Men Mondays: Dressing the Part

When thrifting Saturday at a bring and buy that is a vintage lover's dream, the cashier said she couldn't understand why so many young people are suddenly coming in to buy vintage fashion. Two words: Mad Men.

A recurring theme when discussing the clothes in a Mad Men season 1 extra DVD was how putting the clothes on made the actors and actresses automatically feel different, including how they carried themselves. Christina Hendricks who plays Joan said the clothes were so fabulous that she thinks she should dress like that all the time, and wondered why today we look so sloppy.

I love the idea of getting dressed up for sunnier times and not dressing in clothes that are so disposable. I adore the look of Mad Men but have no costume designer, stylist or unlimited income.

I also try and get as much as possible - clothes, shoes and accessories - secondhand: through consignment and thrift store shopping, hand-me-down's (never too old for those!) from relatives, and clothing swaps. I'd like to explore more garage sales too. I do this to save money (empowering!), reduce my impact on the planet (being mindful of the environmental impact of clothing production) and to not support labor conditions I cannot know of.

Here's a peek at what I wear when I'm feeling "Mad Men.":

Vintage bags: free, from my mom's closet. My dad bought the black one (he thinks in the seventies) in New York City for my mother and there's a duplicate one for my grandmother (now passed away) in Switzerland. The strap recently broke, but thank goodness a shop cobbler fixed it. I love going into the shoe cobbler, to promote fixing things (not disposing of them) and having such craftsmanship in the community. There doesn't seem to be much craftsmanship in anything these days.

My grandmother's scarf from Venice. I love all the scarves on Betty Draper. I have a whole "new" slew of scarves from my mom.

The pink pillbox hat, Renoir Arnold Constable Block, Hackensack, New Jersey, $10, thrifted from a bring and buy store across from Abram Demaree Farm Stand in Closter, New Jersey. I realized when I brought it home it's my third vintage pink hat, but who can say no to a Jackie O classic?

Gloves - why, why, why did they go out of style? The beige were my grandmother's and the navy blue were my mother's. My grandmother's pins, and my mom's earrings.

I used to "treat myself" (now, I think, waste money) at Anthropolgie on their pricey clothes. I now find their clothes second hand, like this dress which I frequently get "that's so vintage" when I wear it. (Note: needs ironing! Just out of the wash).

I bought it for $25 at Beautiful Little Secret consignment shop in Dumont, New Jersey. An aside: this dress is made in China, and no matter what the images you see in catalogues of women basking in French farmhouses or country fields, almost everything today is imported and under who know what labor conditions. Precisely why I buy secondhand.

Can we talk hemlines? I love this longer length (past the knees), and it's frustrating how hard it is to find it. I also cannot believe the extremely short lengths women in the professional world wear their skirts. Mini-skirts - not fitting for the office.

Do you enjoy vintage clothing or accessories? Do you have any cherished pieces from relatives?

While I love the Mad Men style, I also love "earthy", hippie-type clothing (more for the weekends), and am smitten with the 1930s and 1940s glamour (but don't experiment with that look enough). Do you love any fashion eras?


  1. I love Mad Men and this series. :-)

    I don't actually own a lot of vintage clothing (I need to find a good secondhand shop!) but I own a lot of vintage-inspired clothing. I'm especially enamored with 60s fashion, but like you I also enjoy 30s and 40s fashion as well as the more earthy, hippie-type clothing, like flowing skirts and dresses.

    I wear a lot of 60s-style fitted sweaters and classic jeans, but what I really want to add to my wardrobe are more fitted dresses and pencil skirts a la Joan, as well as brighter colors. They work well with my body type and make me feel good about myself. I think it's interesting that the Mad Men actors all felt different in fabulous clothes...I think it's true! Whenever I think "I don't feel great today, I'll just wear kind of sloppy clothes" I FEEL sloppy. And when I put on something nice, I automatically feel better.

  2. Looks like such fun here, but I find Mad Men clothes so constricting...
    Hello - girdles?
    I guess I'm a slob at heart :)
    Try watching MM in Italian!

  3. Thanks Cate! I actually think vintage-inspired is great, since the fabrics are better (I can wash and iron the cotton dress in the photo vs. waste a fortune on drycleaning).

    Also it's so hard to find clothes in my size. The dress in the photo is a 12 (trying to get back to 10 then 8!) Even then, I still wouldn't fit into a lot of the clothes. At least handbags are one size fits all!

    I feel the same way with mood and appearance. On the weekends I'm much more casual and tend to wear whatever since I'm just running around visiting the farm, a thrift shop, the library, etc. One can still wear jeans and look fabulous. I need to make that effort.

    No girdles for me Carol (and I'm sure you're no slob)! I also pass on high heels seen on the show almost always for comfort.

    I still remember when Don and Betty went to Rome! I wish they'd spent more time there with that episode, but I guess that was the point, that they weren't able to savor it at all. But still!

  4. So sad ho gloves did just seem to vanish. Mom wore them all the tie, and all seasons, in the 50,s. I have about 40 pairs that belonged to Mom, most in pristine condition. All like little works of art. Alas that dainty era is long one...