Hot! The “Driving Men Mad” Dress

The "Driving Men Mad" Dress

The Facts

Fabric: Linen (dress & trim), cotton batiste (underlining)
Pattern: Simplicity 2648
Year: Contemporary

Notions: Zipper, hook & eye
Time to complete: 22 hours
First worn: At photoshoot
Wear again? Abso-freakin-lutely!
Total Price: $20


Here I am! Fashionably late and fanatically fitted.

The "Driving Men Mad" Dress

The “Driving Men Mad” Dress was inspired by Joan Holloway’s Season 4 wardrobe. In particular, this fitted number with contrast trim at the neckline and hem.

Mad Men Inspriation Dress, worn by Joan (Season 4)

Now, don’t let the name of this dress fool you. It hasn’t been seen by the public yet, so the only “men” I’ve been driving mad is my husband — who’s had to put up with me obsessing over this dress for several days. Joan, however, certainly drives men mad…especially the ones at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. With her sultry hips and ample bosom, she is a “brick house” the Commodore’s would eagerly serenade. Queen of the Wiggle.

What’s Joan’s secret? Besides those extraterrestrial curves, Joan knows how to dress her body. Everything she wears fits like it was custom tailored for her. Anything less just wouldn’t do her body good. My curves have the same needs. And, this is why Joan is one of my style icons. Even starting following the What Would Joan Wear blog for further confirmation of me Ms. Holloway’s curvy kinship.

The "Driving Men Mad" Dress

In the spirit of Joan’s superbly fitted threads, I set out to alter Simplicity 2648 for my figure so I could begin using the pattern as a sloper for endless dress variations. As you can see, the basic pattern is full of potential. Once I retrace it without seam allowances, I’ll be ready to transform it again and again. I could probably recreate most of the dresses in Joan’s closet with this one pattern — a princess seamed bodice is her secret weapon (and now mine).

Simplcity 2648 Line Drawing

The "Driving Men Mad" Dress

I am very satisfied with my version of Joan’s Season 4 dress. The final alterations came after only one muslin, but construction was riddled with eff-ups. Likely because my sewing time was so scattered. Life and work have been bigger time sucks than usual, so getting this dress finished became a hell-or-high water situation for me. By the 19th seam un-picking, my pisstivity transformed into tranquility… “Go ahead universe…give me your best shot…I am finishing this dress whether you like it or not!”. When it was time to apply the constrast trim, three hours of handstitching miles of bias binding sounded better than a spa weekend. That’s how bad I wanted to gitterdone.

The "Driving Men Mad" Dress

You could you say the “men” in the dress title also stands for WOmen. Specifically this woman. The dress drove THIS woman a little mad. But all for a worthy cause: curve-hugging fit and a dress pattern with infinite possibilities.

The "Driving Men Mad" Dress

Thanks for looking (even though I’m late to the party).




Najah Carroll is a project manager by day and seamstress by night. Once it became clear that ready-to-wear was never gonna support her five feet of curves, she taught herself to sew and make pattern alterations. In January, she lost her mind by signing up for this 52-week garment sewing challenge.


Comments are closed.

  1. Great fit and colors. You’re sure the title isn’t DRIVING MEn MAD? Glad you persevered.

  2. Wow – that fits you so well! Love it.
    Just had a strange conversation with husband. He saw your pic and said ‘what’s this about then?’ When I explained that it was about ‘Mad Men’ he said he’d seen the trailers and it looked ‘stupid’ but there was a show on FX which looked good called ‘Mad Dogs’. Hmmm.

  3. Yeah! You made it, I was wondering who you would channel and I guessed right! The dress looks amazing on and what a great color combo.

  4. Oh, the colours! One of my favourite combinations. It’s gorgeous!

  5. Very, very pretty. It’s nice to see everyone so glam this week.

  6. Yay you made it!!! Lets just call it fashionably late. You did good, she looks amazing and you look smashing in that colour and a superb fit too. Love love love the contrast. GORGEOUS.

  7. Fabulous dress! Love the colors. How great you’ve tailored the pattern so now you have infinite Joan possibilities. Great work!

  8. I’m glad you stuck with it. I didn’t even make it to the party. Life is very busy right now. Your dress looks great. I really like Simplicity’s line of Amazing Fit patterns. Anything that does the majority of bust fitting for me is fantastic! I agree that this will be a great a basic dress pattern for you. Smashing!

  9. I agree that I love the colors too and think you made the dress look better than the Simplicity model. Great job! You look beautiful!

  10. My, my, my, my, my! While I agree that the dress is a lovely style, fits well, the colors are rich and well chosen, I don’t think that the dress will “drive men wild!” Counting from the top, check out pictures #3 and #5 of Najah again. I ask you now, “Who’s going to drive men wild?” Najah you have look so confident, assured, to say nothing of just down right gorgeous! At 65, I feel like I can brag on you all I want and hopefully you will enjoy the complimemts. YOU make that dress work, not the other way around! You go girl! :O)

  11. Love the color and the trim is awesome. Great sticktoitiveness (made up word). Glad you made it to the party! I have one of those amazing fit patterns. I’m very inspired to try it now because if it looks as good as it does on you, I can’t go wrong. It would be wonderful to have that perfect go-to pattern, that fits just right. I constantly struggle with that.

  12. nailed it perfectly – Don’t you just love princess seams!

  13. This dress is amazing and you look gorgeous in it! The color is divine and I love the yellow. Very nice! I can’t wait to see the next creation this pattern gives birth to!

  14. So cute! I love that you have her pen too!! You nailed it ;)

  15. Lovely. Great colors (could that be Tangerine Tango?) and superb fit, as always. We may have opposite body types, but I adore princess seamed bodices too– all those seams to spread the fitting over works out well. Glad you found the inner tranquility to beat this dress into submission (um, non-violently, of course!).

  16. Beautiful dress with great colors. I am really enjoying everything you make, so I thought it was high time I told you! Keep up the great work.

  17. I love the colors you chose, and the fit is fantastic! Bravo on finishing such a fashionable piece! Joan would be proud :)

  18. LOVE IT! I seriously need to pick your brain about fitting LOL!

  19. I love your colors, it looks GREAT on you! Congrats on a job well done : )

  20. I love this dress! The inspiration dress is one of my favorite Joanie dress. I too am a fan of Mrs. Harris/Ms. Hendricks–for the bodacious way she rocks her curves, of course! It’s nice to have someone exhibit curves, ya know? I’m thinking of making a dress out of this pattern in the near future–how’d you find working with the pattern?

    • The pattern was great – multiple cup sized bodices AND three different skirt silhouettes (slim, average, and curvy). But, just like with every pattern, I measured it flat in key places & compared against my body measurements and minimum ease requirements. I found that the extra petite alterations I’m used to (higher armhole, narrow shoulder, etc.) beyond those provided in the pattern, were necessary. I chose the curvy skirt pattern because I am fuller at the high hip and the the curvy skirt pattern had double back darts vs. only one on the others. I think, though, I’ll need to make a more custom alteration to my skirt pattern for better fit at the high hip vs. simply increasing the side seam width. I’d like the skirt to fit more snug. If I’m after Joan’s fit…I’ve got a bit more tweaking to do to the pattern (and maybe I better invest in one of those suck-me-up girdles).

  21. You’re driving me mad with your ability to pair a modern pattern with a vintage silhouette! Damn girl, that color, too! No matter the lateness, you’ve done a fantastic job here :)

  22. I love your curves and the way your sewing accentuates them rather than fighting against them for attention. The contrast is perfect with that trim, really letting that georgous main color shine. You are amazing, I always look forward to seeing your work. Thanks for pulling out all the stops on this one.

  23. Thanks y’all for all of the love and support you’ve shown me — for this dress and my garments before it. Knowing that other folks (who get it) appreciate my handiwork makes it worth all of the late nights, sacrificed chores, and bouts of unpicking stitches.