Mad Men – Joan Holloway/Harris

I have seen the finale for Mad Men now and I think on the whole the ending was pleasing. If you want the definitive post on Mad Men clothes do go and have a look at the brilliant Pattern Vault. 

Although haughty Betty Draper was my favourite I can’t help loving Joan too, despite her occasionally nasty approach to the other women at work. She has a terrific, curvy body and she dresses to show it off to her advantage. Although, I understand, she is dressed from “neck to knee” in restrictive 1960s corsetry she usually looks amazing in her fitted dresses, skirts and blouses. In this first photograph Joan’s red hair is complemented by (I assume vintage) russet linen dress that appears to be cut on the cross at the bodice. That is such a nice neckline that frames the face and echos her soft hair style and orangey lipstick. The colours harmonise beautifully with the vintage gold jewellry, patchwork leather shoes and handbag she wears with it.

Joan Holloway Season 3
Joan Holloway Season 3 (1963)

Although some champion Joan for providing a positive role model for bigger women (and men do find her incredibly sexy) it seems likely that this extreme shaping may have had a little surgical enhancement as well as yards of elastic underwear. But I love a nice sheath dress on Joan – these rich colours and typical 1960s costume jewellry really sum up how a smart lady may have dressed for work.

The look has been credited with soaring sales of fitted dresses for work in luxury fabrics, red hair dye, long line bras and Spanx. Joan is wearing the genuine article which apparently was so uncomfortable she had welts from the rubber stays.

One of the sewing bloggers with a great curvy figure is Carolyn of Diary of a Sewing Fanatic. Doesn’t she she looking great in her 1960s inspired dress? I like this cool, light scheme on Carolyn, especially matched with the chunky green-grey necklace and grey shoes.

Diary of a Sewing Fanatic
Diary of a Sewing Fanatic

Carolyn explains, by way of the hilarious comedian Tina Fey, what the modern equivalent of the long line bra and corset looks like. I have seen version of these items for sale on Brixton market where they appear to have been imported from Columbia or another Latin American market. I don’t think I could wear this sort of compression bandage on a regular basis, but as Carolyn shows when she models her own wonderful handmade wardrobe these items do iron out the bumps and can give a nice streamlined look. Now she has lost over three stone (45lbs), she is gradually giving up some of the underpinings. Tina Fey in modern control underwear

Tina Fey in modern control underwear


Do you think Joan dresses well for her figure type? Would you be prepared to wear a corset to get a look like this? Or just the long line beige pants that squeeze your midsection?


5 Responses

  1. Caroline

    I love Joan and I love the idea of her having a business in her own name at the end of the series. Pity she couldn’t have love and career, but that’s probably a pretty honest assessment of a woman’s opportunities at the time. No, you will never find me in support underwear, how uncomfortable!

    • fabrickated

      I agree! I personally wouldn’t wear anything tight on the lower half, but we are the first generation to feel like this I think.

  2. Stephanie

    I haven’t seen even one episode of Mad Men, but I love the clothes you have posted recently. Carolyn looks amazing in her dress. I love the colour palette. I am keen to work on making both the perfect sheath and the perfect shift this summer! You have inspired me.

    • fabrickated

      Can’t wait to see you in a beautiful, well fitting sheath dress Stephanie. Your SWAP dress really looked great (despite the muscular requirements on dressing, ahem!). Hope you are having a wonderful time on your travels.

  3. Gail

    I’m not a Mad Man fan but Joan rocks her curves. I’ve been known to don spanx on occasions, but I say ney to a corset.

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