I’ve been re-watching Mad Men (so far just season 2) to take a closer work at Janie Bryant’s brilliant wardrobing for the show. First we fluffed around with Betty and her BFF and pondered whether it’s too much to wear petticoats, girdles and pearls around the house (many of us do, and it’s not so bad!). Then Jane’s colorblocks wiggled by and we were distracted by her lumpy (if vintage appropriate) bra.
This week, rather than talk about a single dress I want to talk about Peggy’s style transformation- specifically her use of color as she finds her “style.”
She’s a woman of her time- smart and talented, but not quite sure where she belongs in the masculine working world. She struggles to keep up with them as they meet in seedy nightclubs outside of work to brainstorm and ogle the models who come to the office to audition for a brassiere campaign. She’s not one of the boys, so they exclude her from these work-related shenanigans. At one point they literally shut the office door in her face. In her frustration, she turns to Joan for advice.
Joan doesn’t mince words and I love her for it. “If you want to be taken seriously, stop dressing like a little girl.” This moment (season 2, episode 6) marks a change in Peggy’s manner of dressing, and the way she interacts with her colleagues. Please to note the blue- it’s a nice dress, but Joan is probably right. It’s a little outdated for the time, a little “girly-” but, the color works for Peggy.
Viola. In the next scene, she drops by the nightclub where the boys took the Maidenform client- definitely not dressed like a little girl! (Still season 2, episode 6) This color works very well for Peggy, and while it’s a more revealing dress it’s also impeccably fitted, tasteful, and appropriate to the situation. (I love that drape and the broochy thing!)
Perhaps the client notices her a little too much and mistakes her for a paid companion rather than a business player. She doesn’t seem to mind the half-drunk old man pulling her onto his lap, but I shudder when I see clips like this and thank God it’s not 1963 anymore.
She finds ways to work this color into her wardrobe more and more often as the series progresses. (episode 8) This blouse in particular stood out to me because while it’s perfectly modest and work-appropriate (like old Peggy’s clothes), it’s also striking. I like that. She uses the color from her “confident grown woman” silk cocktail dress and uses it in cotton for work wear. It stands out, but because the color suits her she stands out in a good way. At the same time, she’s gaining confidence in her job.
She pairs the blouse with a skirt that picks up the color without competing or clashing with it and finishes the outfit with a belt in a paler shade of turquoise. I think it suits her beautifully, and again it’s appropriate to the occasion. I’d go so far as to guess (we don’t see) that her shoes also match the belt.
The lesson I would take from this is- if a color works for you, it works for you. It works when you’re dressed up, it works at home, it works at work. It’s amazing the difference a suitable color can make to your appearance. Remember: We sew- we can sew whatever we like in the colors that best suit us! We’re not at the mercy of the Pantone color forecast!
I want to say more about that dress and the Peggy-Joan dichotomy apart from color and style transformation. Should I save it for this Saturday or just plunge on tomorrow?
For a cool slideshow on Peggy’s changes, click here.
(Ruth’s beeeeyootiful version of the Kimono Wrap Top)
I just want to say a big, huge THANK YOU to all of you for your lovely comments on the Wrap Top Pattern and Merino Fabric Giveaway! I wish I could start another new pattern for y’all tomorrow! (It’ll have to be very soon, my fingers are itching!) I woke up to an especially hilarious post by Sew Ruth– she made a beautiful ivory version of the Kimono Wrap Top and she’s so funny I nearly spat my coffee all over my keyboard this morning. Really.