Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Mad Men Challenge - Insipiration

So, as I gushed about a few days ago, Julia Bobbin has set up a dressmaking challenge revolving around the dresses in Mad Men. She is a genius, as far as I'm concerned.

Aside from being incredibly excited when I found out about the challenge, I also began to feel almost immediately overwhelmed. There are so, so many outfits to choose from - how will I ever find just one to use as my inspiration for the challenge?

Well, I scoured the internets for Mad Men photos and pinned them to keep track of 'em all. I found that, though I really love my two favorite-to-admire characters, Trudy and Betty, I really gravitated toward the outfits worn by Peggy and Joan. Maybe it's because they actually work in an office and dress accordingly? Or, their characters' lives are just more related to my lifestyle than those of housewives Betty and Trudy? Either way, I was able to narrow down all my inspiration outfits into two concepts - an outfit of Peggy's and one of Joan's. Ready? Go.

Joan, in a sharp green dress with an interesting collar.

This shot makes me wonder if this is actually two pieces rather than a dress? I'm going to go with dress.
Joan is one of those women who just seems inherently glamorous. Girl's got it goin' on, 24/7. When I think of Joan, I mainly think form-fitting, curve-hugging, 'wiggle' dresses. She's basically famous for that sexy yet somehow work-appropriate look. This green number isn't quite as va-va-voom as some others she's worn, but it's still a winner.

I've actually been dreaming about making a dress like this, with some kind of collar action and a large button or brooch, for a while. And, I even have some fabric in this very shade of green that's been lurking in my stash for quite some time. I really love that this dress looks put together and work appropriate; not too provocative, but not boring. In fact, I even find it exciting! And, as Joan has shown us, with a look like this, there's even room for a matching handbag and pumps.

So, that was inspiration option number one. Number two is Peggylicious. One of the interesting things about Peggy's character is how her wardrobe has evolved over the seasons. In the early days of the show, she was a young lady trying to find her place in the working world. She appeared to struggle, not only with establishing her career, but also with achieving a professional yet fashionable look. That is, until she was finally given some not-so-gentle direction from Joan, who, no-nonsense gal that she is, said something to the extent of, "If you want to be taken seriously, stop dressing like a child." (Truth!)

From that point on, and as her career progressed, Peggy's wardrobe began to gradually improve and evolved into a more sophisticated, professional look. Though they still hold a special place in my heart, fuller skirts and bouncy ponytails gave way to more tailored looks, snappy separates, and that adorable bob (which I think we can all agree was a step up!). With this in mind, I present to you my other inspiration outfit: put-together Peggy.

Check out this career girl!

Tell 'em how it is, Pegs!
Where Joan's style is on the vixen side of things, Peggy has a cute, practical look that is, honestly, easier for me to relate to (I love Joan, but I'm not really the kind of girl who sashays around, confident that all eyes are on her - at least not on a regular basis).

First and foremost, this blouse's peter pan collar + bow combination is awesome! I feel like it just screams "I'm smart and stylish!" (without also screaming, "look at me!"). Very smart indeed, paired with a pencil skirt and layered under a vest. Love it.

Some considerations: though I am apparently a bow-blouse person, I'm really not a vest person. Also of note, the mustard-y hue of this blouse is not really one of my colors - I think my skin has some yellow undertones? I think I'd be in danger of looking like a big yellowy blob.

So, if I were to go with Peggy as my inspiration for this challenge, I'd likely do a (non-mustard) blouse along these lines with a pencil skirt and some sort of (non-vest) jacket/top layering option, but I could also do a jumper with a bow-blouse peeking out and achieve a similar look. That could be a lot of different pieces to construct. Maybe I should just go with a one-piece dress, Joan style...

In conclusion? I can't decide.

Should I go for Joan or Peggy as my ultimate inspiration?
(Remember, I have to have my piece(s) completed and photographed and submitted to Julia by March 30. Yikes!)


  1. I'm more of a Joanie girl myself, so I would make the green dress. But then again, I have the body type for it (still working on my sashaying, though). That is one thing to consider. Another thing - wiggle dresses are fabulous, but they're not especially practical. I love the idea of making separates you can wear on a regular basis. And I do love that mustard bow blouse! I have (pale) olive skin, and mustard is still one of my favorite colors to wear. I actually find it very flattering but YMMV. - blythe candace

    1. blythe candace, my pinterest soul mate! Thanks so much for visiting my little blog and sharing your advice/thoughts.

      I was thinking I'd get more wear out of Peggy-inspired separates, but I'm still caught up on that Joan dress...

    2. Aww, we totally are pinterest soul mates. You repin all of my favorites! And I love the things that you pin too. I actually found your pinterest through your cute blog. I can't believe I haven't commented yet.

      Poppykettle's comment below (love her blog too, BTW!) reminded me of something else -- the Peggy outfit would be sooooo much more comfortable, because you really can't dress like Joan without dressing like Joan ALL OVER. Which means shapewear. Modcloth has really been knocking it out the park lately - have you seen all of the pretty Rago things they started carrying? I remember reading in a Janie Bryant interview that all of the Mad Men girls wear Rago.


    3. Again, we are totally on the same page.
      1) I refresh the Modcloth "new arrivals" tab, let's round down and just say SEVERAL times a day, and have been really excited to notice all of their recent shapewear additions.
      2) I love the idea of going 100% Joan, shapewear and all. I've actually got a couple of Rago's products, so I could at least give it a shot.
      3) I'm thinking I might do the Joan dress for the Mad Men Challenge and just make up a Peggy outfit afterwards, so I too can have some sharp separates.
      4)Thanks for reading!

    4. yay to all of the above (and you're welcome to number 4!). go for it!! it's not like either one is a bad choice. and joan is the best ;)

  2. Hi Sue! Yup, I'm in on this challenge too. It's a tough choice! I ended up going with Joan, because as an office worker - I can relate to the clothes choices. And whilst I seem to have accumulated a startling number of 1950's dress patterns (requiring crinolines and shapewear for full effect) which I just ADORE... I can't quite get beyond the need for practicality in the things I make.
    I'm loving the green dress you've got on here though. Looks like it could be easily remade with the right pattern too! Can't wait to see what you come up with.

    And on a side-note - couldn't help but giggle when reading your intro. I'm exactly like you... daydreaming about sewing and having minimal people in real life to gush about my sewing excitement with. *sigh* These people don't know what they're missing out on!!!

    1. Oh and, I've nominated you for a Leibster Blog Award :) yay!

    2. Thanks, girl! I can't wait to see what you come up with for the Mad Men challenge.

      I'm with you on the 1950s dress patterns. I keep accumulating them and drooling over even more on etsy, but those lovely styles just don't seem to fit very well into my daily, real-life wardrobe.

      Also, glad to know I'm not alone. :)

    3. Hi Sue - I know! But I just couldn't resist giving it to you again. Seeing as you've already done your five, I don't see why you would have to repeat the process :)


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