A and I have been invited to a Mad Men-themed costume party by our best buddy Sparkling Whine and because we are ultra-competitive alphas (you may recall we staged our own Come Dine With Me and came first and second) we have been giving our outfits a reasonable amount of thought.
I am obsessed with Mad Men and I do love costume parties but I hate poorly-thought-out costumes and half-assed efforts. Thus I have been sifting through the AMC website’s photo albums to find the shapes, the details and the crucial hair inspiration I need to make this work. I really want to go as Joan and may even commit so far as dyeing my hair (and stuffing pillows down my front).
Could she be more stunning and fabulous?
The image at the top of this post is the classic 1950s style that is all over Mad Men in the first season, but by season 4, mod and hippie style are starting to creep in, along with psychedelic colours. The Joan look, which I’m hoping can sail calmly through the Twiggy waters to come, is all about tight-fitting clothes, small waists, an updo and lots of jewellery – brooches, necklaces, bracelets, watches and earrings. She also wears liquid eyeliner, which is a problem because I’ve never learned to do it. Other than that the makeup is non-existent despite the emphasis on selling cosmetics at the ad firm.
I adore Betty and sometimes feel alone in this, but I don’t think I could pull off her Grace Kelly, conservative style. It feels so restrained and old-fashioned and it’s really just her beauty that pulls it off. I mean, this brown ensemble wouldn’t have the same effect on Peggy.
Elizabeth Moss who plays Peggy is a brilliant actor and makes the character sympathetic despite being written as a person who is quite difficult to like and made to wear the world’s absolutely worst hairstyle and drabbest clothes. Things have improved for her as the series goes on but it’s clear, despite an episode where she had a makeover of sorts, that clothes are just not what she’s about. Peggy is a miniskirt girl I feel and her time is yet to come. She’ll never fill out a shift dress like Joanie.
Actually neither will I, so I may wear something simple and go in hard on the hair, the fur and the jewellery – I’ll have to locate some clip-on earrings. The absolute musts are:
- skirts longer than the knee
- tie a bow on somewhere
- wear a brooch
- make your hair ten times more complicated than usual
I was very excited to receive an invitation last week for a 1920s-inspired ‘Feathers, Flappers and Frivolity’ party. For once I didn’t have the usual feeling of dread I get when I think about fancy dress. It is a theme that is instantaneously glamorous, filling my mind with images from The Great Gatsby, Bright Young Things and Brideshead Revisited. I already know that I want a drop-waisted dress, mary-janes and to adorn myself with pearls, creating a gorgeous up-do like Kate Bosworth achieved here, but I want to be authentic with my make-up as well.
Before the 1920s women wore make-up but were much more reserved in their application, however when the 20s hit so did their cosmetic freedom of expression. In its rawest form, make-up from this era did not evoke much variety, but it was the stars of the silent movies such as Louse Brooks (below) that provided the inspiration for porcelain-white skin, bee-sting red lips with a highly defined cupids bow and blackened eyes. So far, it all sounds wonderful, but when you think of the ingredients of these cosmetics it is incredible what lengths the ladies would go to.
Mascara in its earliest incantation was melted wax that was applied to the lashes. The ‘kohl’ in the eye make-up consisted of either soot, lead or goose grease that was deeply smudged into the socket area to create the ‘vamp’ look. The powder to even out the skin tone was made up of rice powder in its palest form, and there was little variety in the shade of lipstick, with a red stain for all. I can’t wait to embrace all of the above (with modern products of course) however if I was to truly adhere to the era I would need to pluck my eyebrows painfully thin, drawing them in higher on my face, which just feels like a step too far!
I adore the glamour of the 20s, and cannot wait for the opportunity to relive it, if only for one night. It seems like modern women do not have the time, nor perhaps the inclination to express themselves through make-up as they once did, opting for the more natural look on a daily basis. Although of course it must be celebrated that we do now have more choice about whether we actually want to or not.
Here are a few interesting Halloween costumes from over the years:
Halloween – this word tends to divide action, if not always opinion. So many people love it and dress up to the nines. The other half hate the parties and fancy dress, and stay in to watch the horror film specials on telly. Now, I’ve always loved the dressing up and love to see a really good outfit; I have only once worn something I was genuinely proud of but it wasn’t as ‘horrific’ as it could have been. Good luck to all with the costumes!