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dress like the ladies of mad men on a shoestring

Sunday, 25 March 2012

I’m baaaack! And so is Mad Men. Get your mod fashion fix here on the cheap.

I’ve taken a hiatus from updating swim&glitter  to bury myself in grad school tasks (yikes, it has been awhile!), but if there’s one thing that can get me back to posting, it’s what’s happening tonight: the return of Mad Men. After an 18-month hiatus (ouch), AMC will air a special double-episode for the Season 5 premiere of this Emmy-winning show tonight.

If you know me, you know I go totally unhinged for all things Mad Men (and all things sixties in general), and I am so excited about the show’s return that I can’t. Even. Put it. Into. Words!

So I’m going to try to put it into fashion instead. I recently purchased some new Michael Kors eyeglasses that are contemporary (large frames, sleek design), but have a very retro feel, too (cat-eye shape, gold metal detailing along the top), so I’ll have you know I’m pretty much looking like a fashion scientist right now.

I’ve raided my closet to present you with15 affordable, updated looks for 2012 based on the signature styles of my 15 favorite ladies from Mad Men. The average total cost of these head-to-toe looks is about $60, which is pretty good news for all of us penny-pinchers who love mod fashion! (Click on any picture to enlarge.)


She’s: Pete Campbell’s tightly-wound, often-witty, and definitely blue-blooded wife who’s remarkably tolerant of all his crap.

Style: Ok, it’s actually really unfair, but whenever I think of Trudy, I just think of her being super-pregnant in this ridiculous lingerie. Her signature style is young, fashion-forward, and upper-crust, and she does put together a lot of good outfits elsewhere in the show, but when I think Trudy, unfortunately I just think pink. Pink cupcake elephant baby.

Best line ever: “I don’t care what your politics are, this is America! You don’t just shoot the President.” -3.12

Style Update: A long, sky-blue satin nightgown with sexy lace at the top would be a little less ridic, Trudy. Plus, you have nice boobs. Pete doesn’t deserve you, and maybe this will make him realize it.

The Tally: Nightgown: Etsy, $17 + $3 shipping

The Total: $20


She’s: Don’s sugary, horsey, “artistic” French-Canadian secretary-turned-fiancée (as of the last episode of Season 4).

Style: Smart, mod dresses with lots of patterns, though I expect we’ll see her in more separates this season.

Best line ever: (to Sally) “Don’t worry. I fall down all the time.” -4.9

Style Update: A beige button-down blouse and retro-print paper-bag skirt get a very 2012 pop of color with bright yellow ankle boots.

The Tally: Blouse: H&M, $16.99; Skirt: handmade by a friend; Boots: Camden Market thrift stand (London), $40.

The Total: $56.99

3. CARLA  ______ (no really, she has no last name)

She’s: the Drapers’ maid and nanny, until Betty ruthlessly fires her, essentially because she’s jealous of how much Sally and Bobby like her. Poor Carla. I hope she’s back in Season 5. Seriously. They never even gave her a last name. WTF.

Style: Smart and sensible on the job, polished and proper on the weekends.

Best line ever: (to Betty): “You best stop talking now.” -4.13

Style Update: This is what I imagine Carla wearing to church on Sunday in 2012. Fitted and pretty but still classic and modest, it’s perfectly Carla.

The Tally: Dress: Melrose & Fairfax Flea Market, $20; Shoes: Crossroads Trading Company (but they look like Miu Miu!), $16.

The Total: $36.


She’s: Don’s hot beatnik mistress in the first few episodes (let’s all try to forget that harrowing time she comes back in Season 4 as a heroin junkie and asks Don to buy her paintings for drug money…)

Style: Casual, downtown chic, ahead of its time.

Best lines ever (she gets two because she’s awesome): “You know the rules. I don’t make plans and I don’t make breakfast.” – 1.1 AND “It’s 7:30. I have to go to to that reading. I have to be there to act surprised when Jack Kerouac doesn’t show. Go home. Take a shower. You stink.” – 1.2

Style Update: Vintage cream high-waisted shorts, a true-blue button-down shirt tied at the waist, and a brown cotton sweatshirt with suede elbow patches. Finish the look with oversized round shades and comfy slip-ons.

The Tally: Shorts: Etsy, $26 including shipping; Shirt: J.Crew, $24 (on sale); Sweatshirt: H&M: $9.99; Sunglasses: ASOS, $12, Sneakers: K-Mart, $4 (on sale, truth).

The Total: $75.99


She’s: Don Draper’s ex-wife and mother to Sally, Bobby, and Baby Gene. A a chain-smoking Bryn-Mawr grad, Betty is hopelessly trapped in her social mores and is the frigid queen of all things suburban.

Style: Always on the cutting edge of fashion, Betty has transitioned from poofy, patterned dresses to more mod silhouettes as the seasons have progressed (her fantastic equestrian outfits shouldn’t be overlooked, either). My new favorite look of hers? She’s one of the only women on Mad Men who regularly rocks separates, especially pants (and not just the ones in the family, either).

Best line ever: (to Don, regarding Sally) “She’s taken to your tools like a little lesbian!” -3.1; “You don’t kiss boys. Boys kiss you.” – 3.8

Style Update: Subtle houndstooth on this black-and-white contrast blouse lends a retro feel, while these high-waisted peg-leg pants come in an of-the-moment electric blue. Finish with patent flats.

The Tally: Blouse: The Gap, $30 (on sale); Trousers: ASOS, $19; Shoes: Banana Republic (found unused at Crossroads Trading Co.), $22

The Total: $71


She’s: Betty’s precocious daughter. I love this kid.

Style: Smart and sophisticated, with lots of plaid, knee-socks, and headbands, and just a little bit of attitude.

Best line ever: (to Don): “Grandpa says you’re going to a thoiréeee…(soirée)” -3.3

Style Update: Ok, so adults might not be able to wear all of these elements (saddle shoes, silk peter-pan blouse, and plaid skirt) at the same time without looking like a real weirdo. Dress your twelve year-old daughter in this whole outfit, or choose one or two elements for yourself and then set them off with more grown-up elements like tights and boots or a t-shirt under a blazer. Finish with simple silver jewelry, like these pieces I have from my family – a baby-spoon ring with an R for my grandma’s name and a delicate silver locket.

The Tally: Blouse: Melrose & Fairfax Flea Market (L.A.), $17; Skirt: Etsy, $22 including shipping, Shoes: Buffalo Exchange, $14

The Total: $53


She’s: Sally’s former homeroom teacher, a staunch idealist, an avid runner, a veritable flower-child, and another woman who has slept with Don Draper.

Style: Hippie-chic dresses with earth-tone patterns.

Best line ever: “When school starts I’m going to read [MLK’s “I Have A Dream” speech] to the kids the first day… I think it would be nice for them to hear an adult say it.” -3.9

Style Update: An easy tie-back dress in burnt orange with patchwork and piping. Wear it with leather Huarache sandals, a wooden bangle, and these dangly earrings made from vintage stamps from around the world. (Both pieces of jewelry were gifts from a friend, so I don’t know how much they cost).

The Tally: Dress: Melrose & Fairfax Flea Market (L.A.), $20, Shoes: Etsy, $24 + $5 shipping

The Total: $49


She’s: The head secretary at SCDP and general bombshell.

Style: Totally sexy, body-hugging curvaceousness, complemented by large statement pins and her signature key necklace. Joan adapts her style to the times by changing her hair and trying new color combinations, but she largely sticks to a steno-pool style from the fifties that suits her figure.

Best line ever: “Peggy, this isn’t China. There’s no money in virginity” -1.9

Style Update: A flowy little mint-green dress that accommodates the bust and ties several ways at the waist. Wear with simple black heels, a silver watch or bracelet, cameo earrings, and, of course, a large pin.

The Tally: Dress: Thrift store, $19; Shoes: Ross Dress For Less, $14.99, Cameo earrings and pin: Flea Market (D.C.), $8 and $5; Bracelet, gift.

The Total: $46.99


She’s: Betty’s dull, gossipy neighbor, always one line away from saying something else that’s racist, ignorant, or otherwise totally disturbing.

Style: Francine is always wearing some sad ensemble of “house-clothes.” She does try out patterns and pants, though, and I feel sorry for her because her life is so boring, so I think she deserves a fashion update.

Best line ever: (on finding out her husband is cheating): “I’ll poison him. He’s so stupid, he’d drink anything.” -1.13

Style Update: Oversize shades complement a vintage Christian Dior scarf, the perfect headpiece. Stay comfy in cotton high-waisted tie pants, a cotton top, and grey suede flats. Great for a weekend stroll, a day at the library, or just a time when you want to get really serious about eating a lot of food (these fantastic pants have an elastic waist, every gal’s dream).

The Tally: Blouse: free (from a friend’s closet cleanout); Trousers: Forever 21, $19.50, Sweater: Thrift Store, $8; Shoes: Mossimo for Target, $16; Scarf: Thrift Store, $2; Sunglasses: Topshop, $12

The Total: $57.50


She’s: The foxy Jewish heiress to Menken’s department store who (briefly) upends some of Don’s misogyny with her business-savvy ways.

Style: Incredibly polished, decadent, close-fitting outfits that do their own advertising for her father’s store.

Best line ever: Don: “I’m sorry, I was -“/ Rachel: “You were expecting me to be a man? My father was, too. ” -1.1

Style Update: A luxe, vintage gold dress in rich floral brocade with a zip-back and a tie at the waist. Bobbie Barrett or Joan Holloway (now Harris) would look pret-ty foxy in this one, too.

The Tally: Dress: Etsy, $55 + $5 shipping, Shoes: Jessica Simpson for KMart, $16, Earrings: Etsy, $8 including shipping.

The Total: $84


She’s: The only woman with a PhD on the show, a beautiful, intelligent, curvy blonde who comes to SC as a consultant and seduces Don for much of Season 4. Too bad he takes advantage of her total generosity (she puts her job on the line for him) and cheats on her like a dog, actually proposing to the other woman, Megan, before Faye even knows what’s up. Burn.

Style: Classy-professional with a girly twist. She’s one of the only girls to wear suits (skirt-and-jacket) to work regularly, and she pulls it off like whoaaaaaah.

Best line ever: Faye: “Please, take a cookie.”/ Harry: “What’s it mean if we don’t?”/ Faye: “That you’re a psychopath.” -4.2

Style Update: A cropped blazer in a soft, stretchy fabric is incredibly comfortable. Keep it in place with a sweater clip, and tuck a bright blouse into a twirly black cotton skirt with a beige snakeskin belt. Pair with teal flats for a color-block effect and top it off with sparkly costume earrings!

The Tally: Blazer: The Gap (on sale), $45; Blouse: Thrift Store, $18; Skirt: Sway, $17, Shoes: ASOS, $28, Belt: Target, $12; Sweater Clip and Earrings: Etsy, $6 and $8, including shipping.

The Total: $134


She’s: Don’s former secretary, previously junior copywriter at SC, now the only female full copywriter at SCDP.

Style: A little Pollyanna, but definitely improving. Peggy’s got a new boyfriend, a new job, and a new edge to her by the end of Season 4. She still loves a pussybow on her blouses, though.

Best line ever: “I don’t mind fantasies, but shouldn’t it at least be a female one?” – 3.1

Style Update: A blood-orange dress with black bow detail at the neck worn with a patent-leather belt to cinch the waist. Wear simple vintage jewelry and give it a 2012 update with leopard-print ballet flats.

The Tally: Dress: Melrose & Fairfax Flea Market (L.A.), $15; Belt: J.Crew (on sale): $14.99, Shoes: Pay Less, $16.99, Earrings: Flea Market (D.C.), $8.

The Total: $54.98


She’s: A total badass and the only gay character on the show (that we know of) now that Sal’s gone. She is an assistant photo editor at LIFE magazine and a downtown hipster who’s trying to show Peggy what’s what (mostly by bringing her to cool parties and getting her stoned).

Style: Practical and chic, Joyce wears a lot of turtlenecks, black cigarette pants, tweed blazers, and oversize coats.

Best line ever: “It’s like men are – vegetable soup.  You can’t put them on a plate or eat them off the counter.  So women are the pot.  They heat them up.  They hold them.  They contain them.  But who wants to be a pot? …Anyway, I wouldn’t’ve helped Abe out if I didn’t think he was some very interesting soup.” -4.9

Style Update: Tight black skinny jeans and patent flats (the same from the Betty outfit!) get the retro treatment with this warm and woolly colorblock turtleneck sweater. Wear with simple, faded-gold jewelry (the pieces shown here were gifts).

The Tally: Jeans: Ross Dress for Less (Juniors section): $11; Shoes: Banana Republic (found unused at Crossroads Trading Co.), $22; Sweater: J. Crew (on sale), $56

The Total: $89


She’s: Sal Romano’s totally sweet and adorable wife who is, unbeknownst to her, married to a gay man. We probably won’t see her again unless SCDP brings Sal back (unlikely), but she made some super cute fashion choices during her brief run on the show.

Style: Girly and just a little ahead of the others, with dresses that sport bold prints and slimmer skirts.

Best line ever: (to Sal, after an evening of doting on Ken Cosgrove and ignoring her): “A lot of people find me very interesting, you know!” -2.7

Style Update: Ok, so this is the one dress on here that I don’t own. But I want it! This button-front floral number in cotton channels Kitty in all the right ways.

The Tally: Dress: Delia’s, $32 (Yes, Delia’s. It still exists.)

The Total: $32


She’s: Roger Sterling’s new, much-too-young wife (and former secretary) who tends to write crappy poetry, get wasted at parties, be a general brat and a showoff, and laugh at the wrong times (like when her husband performs “My Old Kentucky Home” in full blackface. Come on, Jane. Facepalm.

Style: Jane is a total betch, but she’s a betch who can colorblock. She was the first in the office to sport the ‘new’ 60s styles, but she hasn’t abandoned ladylike details like pillbox hats and gloves, either.

Best line ever: (to Joan): “What’s wrong with you?… Are you the only one who’s allowed to have fun around here? I don’t need a mother. I’m 20 years old.” -2.7

Style Update: A loose colorblock shirtdress in cream, white, and teal looks great on its own, but cinching it with a brown skinny belt, wearing mustard heels, and adding vintage gold jewelry and a fun amber-colored ring sends this outfit over the top.

The Tally: Dress: ASOS, $27, Belt: Thrift Store, $1; Shoes: Enzo Angiolini (found unused at Buffalo Exchange), $28; Bracelet and Earrings: Melrose & Fairfax Flea Market (L.A.), $10, Ring: Forever 21, $2

The Total: $68

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