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Style Icons: Mad Men's Joan Harris

With series 6 of Mad Men hitting screens, now’s a great time to celebrate the style of office sex-pot Joan Harris.

Office Manager Joan, with her Jessica Rabbit silhouette, has that old adage of being a woman who 'men want to be with and women want to be.'

I’m sure actress Christina Hendricks had no idea that her body would become a political tool when she was mentioned by Lynne Featherstone in a debate about body image.

But Joan  is one of the most powerful people at the Mad Men offices – and she knows exactly how to dress to get ahead in a man’s world.

Christina Hendricks says Joan is hot because “she's got fire to her. She snaps back. And men love her because she's in touch with her sexuality and femininity. The men in the office can play with her a little bit. They can tease her, and she's not going to be in the bathroom crying later."

As Mad Men progresses through to sixties, an era where fashion was influenced by social changes and the peace movement, Joan has kept her style fairly consistent with what she knows suits her. Unlike Betty and Megan, who follow the trends with their experiences as models, she keeps her look classic and understated, and with her pumpkin-hued hair swept into an up-do.

But her costumes can also reveal the power conflict she has, as a woman who wants to keep her position. When Joan comes back to the office after having had her baby, her clothes are very dressy. It’s as if she is trying just a bit too hard by wearing a cocktail dress to the office, to show that everything is fine at home, when really it isn’t.

Joan dresses in a way that reflects she is confident and sexy, and she wears form-fitting clothes rather than revealing. Skirt lengths are just below the knee, and necklines are often wide but not cut too deep.

She knows what to wear to flatter her out-there figure. Joan typically wears pencil dresses, high-waisted tweed pencils skirts with shirts and pussy-bow blouses. Sleeve lengths are often to the elbow, a length which is flattering on arms, and skirts come up to waist and cinched with waist to create shape. Sweaters are worn tight or draped over her shoulder.

Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner encouraged his actresses not to work out and not to diet as he wanted them to look like real 60s women with softer, rounded limbs, rather than the muscular, gym-honed physique popular now.  

Joan chooses clothes in warm jewel tones – signature reds, blues, purples and pinks - and her shoes and bags co-ordinate with her outfit, as was the done thing in the 1950s and early 1960s. 

If you don’t quite have the attributes for her silhouette, then just use a padded a bra, if you are not tempted to get some toilet tissue down there. But if you are lucky enough to have Joan’s shape, then structured underwear is important for a smooth silhouette. It starts from the foundations. 

The show’s costume designer Janie Bryant has said in an interview that she prefers a longline bra, “because it totally smoothes the back and it’s seamless, It’s quite a piece of engineering. I also love the way it really does manipulate the shape of the breast.”

As for jewellery, Joan keeps it simple with gold earrings, brooches and a signature pen necklace which she regularly wears.

Janie Bryant has also revealed that she found the pen necklace at the Rose Bowl Flea Market in LA, and then ordered duplicates of it from a company online.

Coming up in series 6, with her promotion to partner, Joan may well be dressing in more luxurious fabrics and dripping with jewels.

How to get Joan’s look

 

       

The dress

Stop Traffic Clothing has a great selection of retro dresses, including one called Joan, - and named after Mrs Harris herself.

Or this pink sheath dress from LK Bennett is also very Joan.

LK Bennet, Dilys Tailored Pleat Dress £225.00

Underwear

It all starts with the foundation and What Katie Did is great for vintage inspired lingerie. Joan wouldn’t have been without a girdle to pull in her waist.

What Katie Did vintage-inspired girdle in Organza (£46.50)

Gossard Ooh La La Long Line Bra (£23.80)

Shoes

Joan wears court shoes which wouldn’t have been as high as the platform heels around at the moment.

Shilo Leather Court Shoe £170.00

Blue Drusilla shoes from Nine West £95

Handbag

Joan may well have had a trusty Hermes handbag, but for a more affordable option, Topshop do good value leather handbags, like this mini Sienna padlock bag (£75)

 Pen necklace

You can find a similar one on www.1928.com

Make-up

Mad Men make-up artist Lana Horochowski has revealed that she uses MAC products on the cast, giving Joan a heavier eye with lots of eyeliner and strip lashes.

She uses Cream Colour Base in Virgin Isle, Fluidline in Blacktrack and Rich Ground, brown and black, and Eye Shadow in Soft Brown.

For retro lips, instead of a gloss she uses matte reds, pinks and corals. On cheeks she uses cream blush instead of powder.

And finally, serve it all up with a good, strong martini...just as Joan would do.

Style Icons: Neneh Cherry

Style Icons: Greta Garbo

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