I love the style of clothes in Madmen, the earlier series mainly. The contrasts are fabulous, from the demure wife with her full skirts and beautifully contoured bodices, to the overtly seductive, figure clinging dresses of the office secretary, Joan Holloway. Very different looks, yet both are extremely feminine and, in my opinion, overtly sexy.
I also love the figures that fill the dresses, January Jones, who plays Don Draper’s wife, is petite shapely, whilst Christina Hendrix, who plays Joan has larger than life curves and she uses them. I assume both looks are helped, at least in part, by good foundation garments, but there is something so sexy about dressing to accentuate what you have rather than hiding away.
I loved Gertie’s wiggle dress from her book. It has diamond shaped gussets under the arms to enable movement. I had never seen this before, but have since found it in the ‘how to’ sections of my Lutterloh books. The concept fascinated me, so I have given it a go.
My first wiggle was in a light cotton. Gertie has her own sizing, based on the American sizing, so my top was a size 10 (UK equivalent 14) but, for the first time in my life, I had gone down a size at the hips to a size 8 (UK12). I couldn’t quite believe it, even though Gertie does say that she has her sizing is based on herself and those women she has come across, so I stuck to a 10 all the way down. It was massive – not only were the hips too wide, but they reached their widest much too low as well.
The dress is heavily shaped along the side seam – much more reliant on this shaping than other dress patterns I have used. Given this, it is one time when drawing an outline of yourself on a large piece of paper and using this silhouette to decide the widest/thinnest points of your figure would be a good idea.
I like the dress as it emphasises/exaggerates natural curves. I like this but it means you have to get the fit just right, otherwise it will just bag out at the sides – more obviously too large than when that extra fabric is shared around your body. That said, if it is close, tweaking is relatively easy.
I made the second dress in a heavier, plain green cotton with a slight stretch to it. I went down to a size 8 for the hips and it was a much better fit, needing a couple of centimeters reduction around the hips as they were still a little low. I love this green but am now debating whether to scoop out the neckline at the back into a deep curve. I think that as it is complete I shall wear it a couple of times before I consider changing it.
Update: I have done a third version in a very heavy, vintage jersey fabric. I didn’t do the underarm gussets this time as the stretch permitted movement. This is a very warm and comfortable dress for winter.