The Medium is the Message Dress

Here it finally is, my Mad Men Challenge Dress. I hope Julia accepts late submissions….Oh, well. As always, I was finished this puppy about a week ago, but the issue was finding some sucker willing to take my photo. Thanks, Laura! Laura is lovely. We got brunch this morning and I asked her if she would be willing to take a few photos of me. And then I made her take 70. I think the trick is just to keep shouting “take more photos!” because the more they take, the higher probability that there will be at least one or two you don’t abhor.

So why that title, you might ask? If comes from one of the final episodes of Season One when Peggy (who is crazy pregnant, but everyone just thinks she’s fat) gets promoted to a Junior Copywriter. She’s understandably excited and asks Joan, who seems none too pleased with this development, if Peggy ought to go thank the partners in person. Joan, without skipping a beat, says, “Well, you know what they say.” (gesturing to her glorious form) “The medium is the message”. CLASSIC Joan.

I did not show up to brunch looking like Joan Harris nee Holloway. That’s too much even for me, and it’s not warm here in Philadelphia today. Instead I changed in the bathroom, startling other diners with my sudden transformation. I tell myself that they couldn’t keep their eyes off my stunning form, but they probably thought, who the hell is this crazy lady pretending it’s 1963? In my defense, however, we met this morning in Silk City Dinner, which looks like it’s been ripped off of the set of Grease, so really, I was quite forward thinking…

As you may or may not recall, I was trying to duplicate this oh so iconic dress:

Hey, I figured, if you are going to go Joan, GO JOAN.

I am mostly quite happy with this reproduction. I think it’s quite close, don’t you?

Ignore the closed eyes, if you would be so kind.

I couldn’t quite figure out how to adapt the Pastille Bodice pattern to mimic Joan’s sleeves. Now that I look again at her dress I can, of course, see how to do it easily and perfectly. My 20:20 hindsight is just wonderful. Oh, well.

The fabric I used, viscose, has a lovely drape. It’s a synthetic fabric, but it breathes very well (I think, I honestly have only worn this for the photo shoot). I lined the dress with silk Sari remnants which I bought when I first started sewing. It’s a bit wrinkled in the photos, ah, well, what can you do, that’s what happens when you stuff your dress in your bag with the eight million other things you will obviously need on for a brunch with a friend. Like a book. And all your worldly possessions.

No, this shoot does not match the amazing nature of Julia’s shoots. (Julia, how do you get such amazing photos? Share with us your secrets! Deal with the Devil? Probably).

Now. I know that Joan wouldn’t really hang out in a diner. But maybe if she was slumming it?

I even tried to do a thing with my hair! Which is not really like me!

It’s kind of a Monet (if you don’t get that reference I really don’t want to deal with you. Hint: You’re a virgin who can’t drive!) but it’s looks good from the front!

Joan doesn’t really smile much in photos. So neither did I. But I’m a fairly exuberent person, in case you couldn’t tell, and I was emulating my favorite character from one of my favorite shows, so I couldn’t COMPLETELY control myself….

Ahhhhh I’m having Rodger Sterling’s BABY! Ahhh! That makes this the second unplanned secret pregnancy in the show! I’m just waiting for Susanne (the teacher) or someone to roll in like, Don Draper? Here’s your FOURTH child. Deal with THAT, Megan. Deal with that. A song wont save you now….

Ahem. Got a little carried away there. Final Joan-inspired shot:

Oh, for a pen necklace.

I have so loved seeing everyone’s Mad Men inspired outfits. It’s such a sad thing that they are moving towards the ugly portion of the 60’s. Sigh. The age of Joan is at an end, make way for polyester and prints. Kill me now. Oh, well, we’ll always have Sterling Cooper!


Filed under Challenge, Clothing, Colette Patterns

28 responses to “The Medium is the Message Dress

  1. Leah its beeeeeeautiful~ love the colour and the cut is so great. Its just so Joan. You really suit wiggle dresses!

  2. you should wear this type of dresses more often (like – daily).. i love the dress and the color is perfect

  3. I love this post- your did a lovely job and I feel a kindred spirit- I love the making, hate the posing! You’ve convinced me to try this dress now!

    • Oh thank you! Yes, taking pictures is the worst part of sewing, sigh. Who are these people with professional photographer boyfriends? Try the dress, I think it’s pretty lovely, I’ve loved every version I’ve made.

  4. Love this– you look great! It’s such a nice shape and color for you!

  5. Tilly


  6. You look smashing. I vote that you go around and start smashing things right this minute. And no one will even care if you smash their heirloom vase because that looks so, so good. Love that color, your hair, and the fit: you would make Joan proud! Actually, not being a watcher of the show (yet), I really don’t have any idea how Joan would feel about it.

    • Ha, I don’t know what really makes Joan proud, she’s kind of like a gorgeous glamorous shark with the morals of a pirate, but whatever, I would totally want to be her friend in real life. Thank you! I am going to go smash a bunch of things now, excuse me…

  7. That dress and color looks fab on u!! It really does look like Joans dress!!!

  8. Really resembles the original! Good job 🙂

  9. Girl, this is your dress. Message received. In fact, if I ever see a pen necklace, I’ll just buy it for you. Joanie and Roger had little rendezvous in a diner, no? Be careful hanging out there in that dress… Mr. Yellowfleece might get designs for you.

    • Yes, they totally did, but it was awkward, and she was like, I’m going to rid myself of this fetus! But then she didn’t. My brunch didn’t exactly go down like that….

      The best thing about these photos is all the people looking at me like “what the hell is this girl’s problem”.

  10. WOW! Your rendition of the Joanie dress is nearly a duplicate! Fantastic job with this project! I also commend you for being brave enough to take pictures in such a public place; i’m far too bashful to attempt the same!

    • Heheh, I’m fairly shameless, I just grab a location and go with it. And when people ask what’s happening, I say, it’s for my sewing blog! Because that’s a completely normal thing to have. Everyone has one of those.

      Thank you! I love this dress, I do.

  11. Gorgeous, you should only wear this dress from now on!

  12. fabulous dress! you totally channel joan in it, even without the pen necklace (as far as accessories go, i’d take her necklace over all of betty’s bling).

  13. I am OBSESSED with this dress. The color and the fit… it’s stunning! This is the kind of sewing I dream about doing. Just in case I ever work up the nerve to attempt such a project, what pattern did you use?

    Also, I feel obligated to tell you about the 1928 pen necklace:

    I have one myself and wear almost daily. But girl with that dress and this necklace, Joan who?!

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