[UPDATED: This story was originally published on Junary 24.]
When it comes to Mad Men's meteoric rise to TV fame, we find ourselves asking: What came first, the chicken or the egg? Did the killer fashion make the show a hit, or did the characters and dramatic plot lines thrust the period pieces into a brighter spotlight? Either way, thanks to wardrobe wonder woman, Janie Bryant (voted by R29 readers as the most influential person in fashion back in 2010), never before has a behind-the-scenes dressing department gotten so much attention. Between filming and jetting off to a haute honeymoon, this Emmy-winning, book-penning, Banana Republic-collaborating (phew!) vintage maven somehow mustered up the time to give us the skinny on where she finds Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce's beyond-cool blasts from the past. From a random antique attire shop in a strip mall to a super hush-hush Salvation Army fur sale, this guide will help you insta-morph into a Betty Draper-style diva. Just remember to keep your attitude in check.
Photos: Courtesy of Janie Bryant and AMC.
Like everyone and their mothers, we're in such awe of how the characters and garb flow so seamlessly on the show. Do you consciously try to evoke symbolism into each persona by using color, textures, etc.?
"Absolutely. Color is one of the most immediate ways for the audience to connect with a character, and create an association with their personality."
Are there any statement pieces you’d like to see more often?
"For women, a sleek pencil skirt. It's a sexy separate that can create an instant polished silhouette and pairs well with boots, pumps, sweaters, jackets and blouses. For men, a great tailored suit never fails to make a man look better! A good man in a great suit can be hard to find."
On a practical note, how do you keep your vintage finds from experiencing easy wear-and-tear? Any tips?
"I’m actually working on a fabric care guide for Downy Wrinkle Releaser right now! It has all my best tips and tricks for fabric care. Definitely keep an eye out for it next month."
Janie's Vintage Gems:
"The Way We Wore is absolutely amazing. Owner Doris Raymond has an unparalleled historic mind for fashion."
The Way We Wore, 334 S La Brea Avenue (Between West Third Street and West Fourth Street); 323-937-0878.
"I love my Playclothes! They have such an extensive range in their store."
Playclothes, 3100 W Magnolia Boulevard (At North Fairview Street); 818-557-8447.
“My mom and I love Treasure Island in Naples, Florida. It's in a strip mall, and sounds like the corniest place ever, but I find the most incredible fur pieces there. If you want to buy vintage fur, go to Florida, ha!”
Treasure Island, 950 Central Avenue, Naples, FL (At Ninth Street); 239-434-7684.
Photos: Courtesy of The Way We Wore.
What do you think is the best way to incorporate vintage into your wardrobe without looking too costume-y?
"You know what’s really fun, is to get a great vintage blouse of the period, with some pin tucks or ruffles, and wear them with skinny jeans or a curve-defining pencil skirt. Definitely if you buy something, a piece from the period, I always say mix it with very contemporary pieces—whether it be a modern platform shoe, skinny jeans, or high-waisted trouser jeans. I’m a strong believer in mixing a lot of pieces."
What character do you relate to most in personality and style?
"I'm a little bit of all of them, but probaly most like a combination of Jane Sterling, Betty Francis, and Rachel Menken."
Who was your style icon as a kid?
"My grandmother, her name was Etoille Estelle Lillard, so she was 'Double Star Lillard,' which I loved. She was from the South where they couldn't really pronounce her name, so they always called her 'Et-oh-lee.' She was an amazing amazing designer and seamstress herself. And she had an apron for every event that matched every dress—she had cocktail aprons and everyday aprons, and she designed and built her own clothes. She was just such a lady."
Janie's Vintage Gems:
“I’ve found some of my all-time favorite pieces at Shareen. It’s worth the hunt!”
Shareen Vintage, 1721 North Spring Street (At Baker Street); 323-276-6226.
“If you’re ever in New York, make sure to stop by the Salvation Army on 46th between 11th and 12th streets. Three times a year they have a fur and leather sale, and you can get the most amazing things. Those are definitely my best vintage finds.”
Salvation Army, 536 West 46th Street, New York, NY 10036 (At 11th Street); 212-757-2311.
“I love the great finds at Ragg Mopp Vintage in Silver Lake, and the area is filled with unique eateries for a fun bite before or after your vintage jaunt.”
Ragg Mopp Vintage, 3816 West Sunset Boulevard (Between Hyperion and Lucile Avenues); 323-666-0550.
Photos: Courtesy of Shareen Vintage.
Costume design is very much backstage work, but you’ve brought so much recognition to the craft through the show. Do you like being in the spotlight? What advice would you give to someone wanting to break into the industry?
"I have never thought of costume design as being backstage, quite the opposite actually. Costumes are what the audience sees. Costumes inform the actor and the audience of who the character is. And as far as being in the spotlight, yes I love it. I love the fact that people are so excited about the wardrobe of Mad Men, and that my work is appreciated and recognized.
My advice? Follow your dreams to find the career that makes you happy. When you find it, give it your best and enjoy it!"
Janie's Vintage Gems:
"Great contemporary brands to visit for vintage-inspired finds are Black Halo, Miriam Haskell, Suzanne Felsen, Brooks Brothers, and of course, Banana Republic."
“The Paper Bag Princess is the best vintage couture and contemporary resale shop in Los Angeles. And their Excalibur jewelry selection is a total must!”
The Paper Bag Princess, 8818 Olympic Boulevard (Near South Robertson Boulevard); 310-385-9036.
"Decades has amazing finds—Cameron Silver’s shop makes my list!"
Decades, 8214 ½ Melrose Avenue (Between La Cienega Boulevard and North Crescent Heights Boulevard); 323-655-0223.
Photo: Courtesy of Brooks Brothers.
What does the future hold for you? Any fun new collabs in the works?
"I have enjoyed working on my Banana Republic + Mad Men Collection that was released this past August. I love working with Maidenform Intimate Apparel, and I am excited about the development of the Fabric Care Guide I am working on with Downy Wrinkle Releaser. But, after the fifth season of Mad Men wraps, I’d definitely love to explore my own line of Janie Bryant apparel and accessories."
Any hints you can give us about the new season, debuting in March?
"Ahhhhh! I wouldn't want to spoil it for you!"
Photo: Courtesy of Banana Republic.