Friday, March 23, 2012

Cheap Thrills: Mad Men Style

After a very long hiatus, Mad Men is back! Even if you're not a fan of the show, you're probably aware of the effect it's had on pop culture and fashion. The style seen on the show has popularized the retro trend in the mainstream, and you can see its influence everywhere. Whether you want to go full on Mad Men retro, or just add touches of the look here and there, you can easily get what you need without doing major damage to your budget.

To celebrate the kick off of season 5, we're going to do some Man Men inspired looks for ladies this week on Cheap Thrills. Don't think it's all about one look either! We're focusing on three of the main female characters, each one with a style all her own. Settle back with your martinis and enjoy the show...

Joan Holloway - The resident bombshell of the show, portrayed by Christina Hendricks, is probably the most popular of the female characters. It's no surprise, given the va-va-voom look she's workin'. You can't be afraid to show off your curves if you want to channel the Joan look. That doesn't mean you have to stuff yourself into a tight dress, oh no, no, no! Joan's office dresses are flattering to her shape without ever being tight or vulgar. Well fitted doesn't mean sausage casing, so don't be squeezing yourself into something you're uncomfortable in. Try something like this Midi Dress from ASOS Curve. If you want the same look, with a shorter hemline (you little vixen), try this Modern Sailor Dress from UrbanOG. For a more classic work appropriate bombshell, this London Times dress from Overstock might be just the ticket. If you want the feel of Joan without going too retro, think wrap dresses. They're flattering on pretty much every shape and size, and can work in the office and after hours. Land's End has this Modal Wrap Dress in two colors to choose from. However, if you want to go 100% Joan, try this Red Pleat Shoulder Dress from Dorthy Perkins. The sizes are selling out quickly, but don't despair if you can't find yours. Check out the Shift Dresses from Dorothy Perkins, it's Joan paradise!

This next Joan look is about separates, which are great additions to your wardrobe because you can mix and match them with things you already have. One thing you cannot do without is a pencil skirt. Don't be afraid of them! I'm a girl with more than my fair share of junk in the trunk, and if I can pull them off, so can you. The Halogen Seamed Pencil Skirt from Nordstrom is a classic, and is available in sizes 2 to 16. If you're still a little uncomfortable with a regular pencil skirt, Macy's has this AGB Pencil Skirt that's slightly flared out at the bottom to give you some wiggle room. For those girls after my own heart who want a more fitted pencil skirt, try the Retro Pencil Skirt by Pinup Couture - available in XS to 2X.

For tops, show off your curves, but not too much skin. Look for three-quarter sleeves to add a little modesty to the more fitted style. If you really want to splurge, go for cashmere sweaters like this one from Marc by Marc Jacobs. (P.S., secret admirers can buy this one for me.) If you really want to go wild, check out these by Ralph Lauren Blue Label. Keep an eye out at places like Macy's and Dillard's, they'll put their cashmere goods on mega sale throughout the year - Macy's had some online for over 80% off, but the quantities are so limited I didn't want to post useless links. Look for similar shapes and fits in regular tops, like this Melrose Mesh Top from Kiyonna, available in four colors. Show off just a little decolletage with a cowl neck top like the A to Z top from Overstock. The perfect example of Joan's office ready sexy but modest look is the Joanie Top by Laura Byrnes from Pinup Girl, especially when paired with a pencil skirt (as shown).

Okay, now for the bombshelliest (go with it) aspect of Joan's wardrobe - the Pencil Dress! This is the one you wear double Spanx for, girls. It's a straight skirt that isn't as forgiving as the fuller cut of the A-Line style popular in this retro look. These dresses will be fitted within an inch of their lives, but again, that doesn't mean squeezing into something that's too small. It's a fine line between snug and tight, and if you have to ask yourself if it's too tight, it probably is. The Clean Ponte Pencil Dress from Top Shop is exactly what I'm talking about. It'll hug your curves, but not strangle them. As with the tops, you can go for a longer sleeve and high neckline to balance out the look with some modesty, like the Heartbreaker from Unique Vintage. How about this Black Drape Pencil Dress by Dorothy Perkins? No one will ever call that a boring basic black dress. If you want to jazz it up a little, try the Black Spot Drape Dress, also by Dorothy Perkins.

Betty Draper - Betty, played by January Jones, was a former model turned wife (now ex) and mom, she's always seemed like the Barbie of the group. Betty's look is more classic than Joan's, but just as fierce. Her character seems to favor fuller skirts and there's a preppier edge to her style. ASOS has this Midi Stripe Dress that oozes with Betty charm, as well as this People Tree Midi Dress in a sailboat print. The Soda Fountain Dress at Mod Cloth is the little black dress with Betty flare. ASOS has yet a Betty basic in three colors, with the Midi Dress with Full Skirt. The description of this dress is 1950s style, but it totally works to get you in Betty Draper mode, Heartbreaker Blue Trellis Print from Unique Vintage. JC Penney revamped their pricing, and it put them back on my radar. Don't overlook them! I found this Robbie Bee Chiffon Shirt Dress, perfect to wear to your Mad Men premier party. If polka dots aren't your thing, they've got something else you might like with this Danny & Nicole Striped Shirt Dress.

Look at that fashionable stay at home mom, replace that cigarette with a Pup-Peroni stick and you have Oliver's dream version of me. Let's work some Betty feel into our separates with the Doris Skirt from Pinup Girl, or perhaps this Jason Wu for Target Pleated Skirt. Don't even think the ex Mrs. Draper couldn't pull off a pair of pants, how about the Dogtooth Metallic Cigarette Trousers from Top Shop? Those are a little pricey, but that metallic sheen doesn't come cheap. Okay, fine, if that's a little too glam rock for you, how about this more subdued pair of Pleated Cigarette Pants from Forever 21. Pair them with a nice basic shirt, like the Original Fit Essential Shirt from Express (on sale, buy one get one 50% off). Look for basic shirts with special touches like this Royal Robbins Embroidered top from Cabela's or this Silk Bow Shell from Land's End. Top them with lightweight cardigans, like the ones available from Old Navy for $15, in twelve colors!

Time for some Betty glamor! Look for soft colors and floral prints to stay on point with Betty's feminine and classic style. This Floral Chiffon Dress from Express is a good example of a modern twist on her look. Mod Cloth has the Vespertine Scene Dress, that is working some major retro glam vibes. Top Shop gives us another winner with the China Floral Lattice Back Dress, fitting in with both Mad Men style and the floral spring trend. Go a little Betty after dark with this Black Oriental Dress from Dorothy Perkins, keeping her ladylike floral prints with some darker edge.

Peggy Olson - Elisabeth Moss' portrayal of the modern girl working her way up the boy's club ladder steals my heart. I love her look, which can range from quiet librarian to spunky Girl Friday. If Betty is the Barbie of the show, Peggy is kind of the slightly grown up Skipper. Youthful touches like pussybows (it's a real thing, I'm not being cheeky) and fun prints help her character's fashion style come to life. Let's dive in with this Bow Sweater from ASOS, in two colors, and this Liz Claiborne Printed Cardigan from QVC (how retro!). Now for the smirk-inducing pussybows... the Niche Pussybow Blouse is a cute option, as is the ASOS Drop Waist Dress. Do the pussybow in a more casual way with the Jason Wu for Target shirt. If that's too fussy, go for a smaller bow with this Sailor Top from Pinup Couture. One of my favorite finds for Peggy was this Pink Heart Peplum Top from Dorothy Perkins, it's so cute I had to get one for myself.

Oh, Peggy... how I love your understated work ensembles. Like I mentioned above, her style can be a little librarian from time to time, but I don't ever think of it as boring. Remember, she's the girl who moved her way up from assistant to copywriter, so her style reflects the fact that she's the only woman in the boy's club. That doesn't mean sacrificing femininity or style, and if you don't believe me, check out this Trixie Top from Pinup Girl Clothing. ASOS has a Double Cloth Sleeveless Shell for just over $20. I can feel my inner Peggy come to life when I think about slipping on this Graduate Sweater from Pinup Girl, paired perhaps with this Sag Harbor A-Line Skirt from Kohl's. This 212 Collection skirt with button details is another cute choice from Kohl's. Don't think I'm stuck on black skirts, the Office Brunch Skirt from UrbanOG is available in a few other colors, and the Kate Midi Skirt is available in a lovely bright green that's perfect for spring. If you can't decide on a color, Dorothy Perkins has this Colour Block pleated skirt that can easily work some Peggy Olson style with almost any other color top in your wardrobe. Let's top things off with a couple of Peggy approved sweaters, like this Open Pointelle Knit sweater from Old Navy (in three colors, for under $30) and the Lemon Scallop Trim Cardi from Dorothy Perkins, also under $30 and in a few different colors.

As I said earlier, Peggy has always struck me as young and sassy working girl who isn't afraid to take on the corporate world. The way I would translate that into her personal style, it means she's not afraid of  fun print or slightly less classic 60s silhouette. Like this Striped Ruched Neck dress from Express, or a shorter and modern take from ASOS with their Skater Dress in Mexican Print. A good example of how print or color can change the tone of an outfit is this Blue Flap Sleeve Dress from Dorothy Perkins, at first glance it might look something more akin to Joan Holloway- but the soft cornflower blue color gives it a Peggy spin. The first time I saw this Jason Wu for Target dress, an image of Peggy flashed in my head, there's also a Pleated Skirt in a similar pattern. Mod Cloth has lots of really lovely retro style dresses, unfortunately, they're not cheap. But you can find some good deals if you look around long enough. This About the Artist Dress is just over $50, and although the shape may be reminiscent of Betty Draper, the youthful details like the heart-shaped buttons and black piping, make it more Peggy Olson territory. Finally, we'll skip off into the 60s sunset with the Skip to My Lou Dress from UrbanOG, which is a little shorter than any of the ladies might have worn but still has the Mad Men spirit.

I hope you've enjoyed this edition of Cheap Thrills, and will be tuning in for the new season of Mad Men on AMC! If you're still not sure which of the leading ladies is your style inspiration, Mad Men yourself - you choose your look and put your cartoon self into the scene of your choice. Here's my 60s alter ego, in my favorite color dress with my favorite accessories (a martini and a cute purse) in my dream setting - an Italian restaurant with a Don Draper-esque hunk of burning love.

Photos: Mad Men on AMC


  1. Replies
    1. I knew those would catch your eye!

  2. Banana Republic also has their new super cute Mad Men line !

    1. I know... but I shunned them because the clothes are a) too expensive and b) almost zero plus-size options. Get it together, Banana!

  3. I love pussy bows! and I have way too many. I just wanted to put that out there. No shame. Great finds Vanessa! I did peep the Banana Republic collection but I found it cute...but not very Mad Men, like a bit of a stretch. Get it together indeed!

  4. Well I really like the retro looks since I live and wore them myself!
    Great job describing and bringing them to our attention!!
    Love the references!

    Great Job Girl!

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