The “Mad for Plaid” Peggy Dress
Fabric: Plaid polyester, $.25
Pattern: McCall’s 7121
Notions: zipper, belt buckle $.25
Year: c. 1963
Time to complete: About 3 hours
First worn: March 2012
Wear again? Perhaps.
Total Cost: Originally $.50
Oh this week’s Mad Men challenge! It’s been both amazingly fun to research and incredibly aggravating to make a decision. First things first, if you want to sink a couple hours into reading about the style of Mad Men, you’ve got to read Tom and Lorenzo’s take on the show. The’ve covered all the seasons in glorious detail. Not only that, but their commentary about the fashion choices is so spot-on –particularly about how the costumes are really a huge part of character and character development.
Because I don’t need a special Mad Men theme to make a 1950s or 1960s dress, I knew I had to sew something that I wouldn’t usually sew. My first comfortable instinct was to make a late 1950s shirtdress/floral dress in the style of Betty Draper. That’s the sort of dress that I’ll wear often and, honestly, they’re just so fun to model. But I knew that if I did that, it would be a personal cop-out. That said, the dresses Betty wears in the early seasons are just so so gorgeous.
Eventually — and I’m talking again at the eleventh hour — I decided to take on Peggy Olson, specifically a mid-1960s Peggy. With this late-series Peggy, I decided to do two uncharacteristic things: sew with a polyester and sew a dress with high neckline. That girl loves her high necklines.
Oh, and her plaids. Just look at a sampling of dresses from the past four seasons (with the exception of the last dress):
If Joan is all about solid, rich colors and Betty is all about florals and feminine prints, Peggy is ALL ABOUT THE PLAID. And since I had the perfect 1960s/1970s polyester in a plaid, I decided just to bite the synthetic bullet. But, yeah, yuck to polyester, I’m sweating just looking at these photos.
Unfortunately, the dress is a bit too big for me. I tried to size down the pattern I had, but I didn’t take in account the weirdness of the synthetic stretch. And, after matching all the plaids (yes, you can’t see them, but the seams are matched), I decided not to make any severe alterations. Particularly huge is the waist. I made a belt to compensate for that. When I study these pictures, I see all the places where the dress should be tighter. However, in person the fit actually looks quite better. Posing has a way of illustrating all those little flaws.
As the photoshoot progressed, it seemed that my hair started channeling Faye Miller’s hair.
As an added bonus, here’s a photo of Elizabeth Moss on the set of Mad Men wearing one of her season five dresses!