Subversive Femme

Review: The Fashion File: Advice, Tips, and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men

I was so excited when Cowboy bought me this book by Janie Bryant (the costume designer for Mad Men).

Unfortunately, it didn’t live up to my expectations.
I was hoping for a more indepth look at how she created the personal styles for Joan, Betty etc, and how to create a personalised vintage look – this book is not that.
If you had no idea where to start creating your ‘look’, this would be a good book for you – just don’t expect to be dressing like Joan Holloway at the end of it. Its definitely how to incorporate vintage pieces into a modern wardrobe, not how to wear vintage.
I found the ‘tone’ of the book a little bit patronising, but I guess that I wasn’t the target audience. Some good bits – Janie is totally open about foundation garments and girdles, and recommends them for all figure hugging clothes. The bits in the back that show you how to tie a cravat, a bow tie and a windsor – turns out i’ve been tying my ascots wrong all this time!
Her drawings illustrations are lovely (and kinda weird) but didn’t rock my world i’m afraid – I was more interested in the scarce photos from Mad Men.
Conclusion – vintage aficionados, don’t bother. You already know most of this, and google has many images from Mad Men floating around. And images on how to tie a tie.
This book is aimed at the beginner fashionistas on the Vogue.com forums who like the look of Mad Men but would never dare wear a complete vintage outfit. I think the Horrockses Fashion book or the EveryDay Fashions of the Fifties would be better buys.

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