Please Note: I do not advise reading Mad Men Fashion Monday’s if you yet to experience the genius that is Mad Men, as I will reference spoilery plots or events from both season one & two. So, do yourself a favor and skip this and go add the first season to your Netflix queue or go rent it from your favorite local video rental store. Really, what are you waiting for?
In the pilot she was “The New Girl”; she was harassed in the elevator before even starting her job and by episdoe 19 the harasser was making fun of her mysterious weight gain. In the beginning of season two she had a new apartment & a sister who disapproved of her life; throughout the season a priest wanted to save her soul and by the finale she was the copy writer everybody was rooting for. Like her job and work space, Peggy Olson’s fashion sense and style have changed a lot from her first day at Sterling Cooper, so let’s start at the very beginning and really enjoy the transformation, shall we?
Peggy’s wardrobe is exactly what I would wear if I was a 20 something secretary in 1960’s Manhattan. Some of us might wish for Joan’s or Betty’s or Rachel’s wardrobe, but realistically speaking, I would be the one throwing my hair up in a pony tail wearing calf length circle skirts and cardigan sweaters.
Here we have the first three outfits Peggy wears at work. Obviously, the girl likes yellow sweaters. I think it’s interesting that the ensemble on the left is what she chose to wear on her first day at Sterling Cooper. It seems to me that she would want to put her best foot forward and wear the best dress she’s got hanging in her wardrobe. Maybe this is to show how naive she is (at least when it comes to the inner workings of Sterling Cooper) at the start of the show as compared to the end. She isn’t as fashion forward as Joan and probably hasn’t had money to spend on new clothes, so she picks the unassuming circle skirt and yellow sweater—cause she looks good in yellow and she knows it.
Perhaps it’s because I’m a dorky fashion nerd who is drawn more towards the everyday looks as opposed to the formal dresses—but I really do love everything Peggy wears. It’s simple, feminine without being too girly, easy to put together and above all—classic. Who doesn’t love a good skirt and cardigan? The above looks are pretty easy to pull off and it only takes a few tweaks here and there to update it for a more modern look. I gathered quite a few resources this week so let’s get on with the show.
Right now, J Crew has this fantastic merino wool bracelet length cardigan on sale for $40. They have some other lovely colors (I’m really tempted by the melon!), and they have a similar style & color in cotton if wool is too hot to wear in your neck of the woods (oh Texas. One day you are 75º and the next you are 30º. Whatever am I going to do with you?)
If vintage clothes and supporting etsy is more your style, check out these amazing sweaters currently for sale. I love the first one—it’s the same style as Peggy’s first sweater, only in blue!
If you’ve never sewn anything before in your life, then a circle skirt might be the perfect place to start. Granted, it does take forever to hem, but the results are so worth it. Peggy’s circle skirt is fairly straight forward, no gathering or pleats to be seen, with a zipper on the side. Here are two vintage patterns that fit that criteria, although the waist is a tad tiny.
Even though we see this skirt for approximately 5 seconds on screen, it’s my favorite from this group. And here is a pattern that Peggy could have used to make it herself! At $12.00 it’s a little pricey for a just the skirt pattern, but its waist size (30″) is a little more sought after than the other two.
If collecting vintage patterns or sewing from the original source material isn’t your thing, then this is the pattern for you. Pick it up during a 99 cent sale at JoAnns—heck, you could pick up 3—and have no qualms about cutting the pattern or worry about handling the delicate tissue. It has the full skirt (maybe a circle—hard to tell) and the sewn pleat skirt (like the vintage one above) in varying lengths. Two for the price of one. I think Peggy would approve.
You made it to the end—hurray! I originally was going to include all of her costumes from the first 3 episodes, but I think we’ll save the rest for another time. Next week, well take a closer look at Joan and her pen necklace & wiggle skirts. Be sure to check out my flickr for more screen caps of Peggy’s yellow sweaters and I’ll probably be adding more sewing patterns (finally!) to my etsy store later this week (if I can bear to part with them, that is). Til then, I leave you with a fabulous photo of a genuine 1950’s secretary (via the amazing Millie Motts), complete with skirt, sweater, typewriter & rotary phone. Enjoy!