Little Joanie


The first time I ever saw this moment in an early episode of Mad Men from season 1(sorry if the .gif is too small….I’m too much of a luddite to have proper blogging skills) my first thought was, “OMG who is that woman?? Yes, please, thank you!” The second was, “oooooh…..wool double knit!” because the camera was just close enough for me to geek out on the fabric of Joan’s dress. I mean, it could be some other fiber but in my heart of hearts I just really need it to be wool, ok?

Nearly every young seamstress I know has been at least somewhat interested or at most rabidly obsessed with vintage clothing. Beyond that, we usually fall into two camps: Downton Abbey vs Mad Men. I find the older things are the more precious they see for some enthusiasts. Sometimes there’s a reverence surrounding the clothing that I kinda can’t get into as deeply as some tend to, what with concerns about authenticity and the like. So I tend to lean toward the mid-century aesthetic out of a relatable practicality that’s easier to interpret – it’s a look that to me is more fun, sexy, youthful and inspiration is much more widely available….I used to work in a vintage store back in college and I won’t lie: my repertoire of sewing skills and lexicon of design details improved greatly with my studious curiosity about how all that old clothing was made, to the detriment of my ability to count back change correctly or track inventory.

Today’s look is not any exceptional example of said skill set, it’s just a basic pencil skirt, but it is an item that always makes me feel just a little more polished, a little more feminine and in my favorite color….well, I feel just a little more like Joan.  Gretchen (who I mentioned in yesterday’s post)  and I used to talk about the importance of having a Little Joanie in your arsenal…. no one can compete with the real thing of course, but it’s possible to pull off a convincing little sister act on any given day if you have the right dress (or skirt, or sweater, or stockings …) in your closet.

So here is mine, in a very, very,very lovely wool/lycra double weave I bought at B&J on 7th Ave and 38th St in NYC. I also made a jacket out of it. I have wanted to wear the jacket so badly at times I used it as an excuse to take a weekend trip to the city in the Fall just so I could be somewhere cold enough to put it on. At 83 degrees and swampy today I was lucky enough to survive in the skirt alone.


I finished the inside waistband with a little polka dot ribbon, which is fun…..


I decided to go all out today and even wore a pin that used to belong to my grandmother. I cropped my head out of the photo today because it frightened me how much I looked like her this morning….. sorry grandma!…. anyway,  I’ve never actually worn it, but it has a kitschy little feature. When you move the leaf back and forth it makes the enamel flower “bloom”, which used to fascinate me so much as a kid that she just gave me the thing!




3 thoughts on “Little Joanie

  1. Great color and fantastic skirt! I love Joan and the costumes from that whole show. Mad Men sometimes film in the gardens near my house!
    Loving the detail of the waistband and the pin is amazing! Love the bloom feature!


    • Riva you are the best! Thank you! It makes me so happy to see your comments. I keep forgetting to send you my address…. I was looking at your tutorial today and now I can’t decide if I should proceed with the dress/caftan I had in mind or go with something like yours. Yours is more exotic, mine is more Slim Aarons. Tough call! They both go with pineapples. 🙂


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