Daily Mail -London
A very good friend on mine in London set me this article. Its so fitting. No pun intended.
How to drive men mad: TV's sexiest show is back - but as I discovered when I had my Mad Men makeover, you have to work hard for those wolf-whistles
By MARIANNE POWER
PUBLISHED: 23:34 GMT, 30 March 2012 UPDATED: 10:25 GMT, 31 March 2012
Understated: Marianne Power's usual everyday look
Wolf-whistles, yes. The odd ‘Oi, gorgeous’, absolutely — but, never, have I had a whole building site down tools and stare at me as I pass.
There’s no leering, no jeering — these men are putty in my hand. I can feel their eyes follow me as I walk down the street, so I give them a little wiggle.
I can’t quite believe I’ve done it, it’s out of character. But this is what happens when you dress up as a Mad Woman.
Ever since Mad Men first came on to our TV screens, I have wondered what it would be like to dress up like Christina Hendricks’s character Joan, the foxy office manager.
With our red hair and generously proportioned hips, Joan and I have a thing or two in common — but while she makes the most of her curves in tight dresses and heels, I hide mine in jeans, jumpers and flat shoes.
I wouldn’t normally have the guts to wear such outfits, so when the Mail challenged me to a Mad Men makeover to celebrate the start of the fifth series, I jumped at the chance.
I learn it’s hard work trying to be a sex bomb — but worth it . . .
1. PILE THAT HAIR HIGH
'It takes celebrity hairstylist Simon Izzard a full hour and 35 pins to achieve the look, which feels surprisingly secure,' said Marianne
The Sixties was all about big hair and the up-do. And that means backcombing and hairspray, hairspray, hairspray.
It takes celebrity hairstylist Simon Izzard a full hour and 35 pins to achieve the look, which feels surprisingly secure.
It beggars belief that women used to do this every day — before work. I’m lucky if I run a brush through my hair before dashing out of the door — but Simon says that many women of the time would have gone to the hairdressers once a week to have it done and they’d try to make the style last, going to bed with a scarf on to protect their hair at night.
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2. TROWEL ON THE SLAP
'To get the Mad Men look, Eyelure false eyelashes and thick liquid are applied to my upper eyelids,' said Marianne
My usual look — if I can even call it that — is a bit of mascara, foundation and lip gloss.
That’s it. But, according to make-up artist Carl Stanley, back in 1966, more was more when it came to cosmetics.
‘Everyone was very groomed, you wouldn’t be seen dead without a full face of slap — even husbands didn’t see their wives without their make-up,’ he says.
To get the Mad Men look, Eyelure false eyelashes and thick liquid are applied to my upper eyelids.
‘Back in the day, women used a solid block of eyeliner and they would spit on their brush to paint it on,’ he says. ‘It was the same with mascara’.
Next comes foundation.
‘There were very few shades of base back then, and it was very heavy. Most women would have used compacts such as Max Factor’s Creme Puff and they piled it on. The formulations weren’t like they are today, everything was much denser,’ says Carl.
The look is topped off with a fuchsia pink lipstick, a colour I would never, in a million years, wear. But the result is amazing and I swear my spidery false eyelashes are making my face look slimmer.
3. BREATHE IN - AND REACH FOR THE GIRDLE
'It might feel restrictive, but the shape of my body is transformed,' said Marianne
The right period underwear is vital, says Janie Bryant, the costume designer on the show, because it makes the actresses ‘hold themselves differently’.
While most actresses wear reproductions of the vintage undies, poor Christina has to wear the originals, which are unyiedling and uncomfortable.
I cannot find any vintage underwear in a size 12, so I head to What Katie Did in London’s Portobello Road, which stocks vintage-inspired smalls.
Joan’s character wears girdles, stockings, a slip and longline bras.
A longline bra, I discover, is one which is attached to a bodice that comes down to your tummy, to nip in at the waist.
And the bullet-shaped cups? Talk about making the most of your assets! Meanwhile, the tightly fitted bodice makes it impossible to slouch. Or breathe.
Next comes the girdle — the Sixties’ equivilent of Spanx. It pulls in your tummy and bottom and comes attached to suspender belts with fiddly hooks.
It might feel restrictive, but the shape of my body is transformed. My waist appears 3in smaller and I am starting to feel — and look — more like a screen siren.
4. FILL OUT YOUR FROCK WITH CHICKEN FILLETS
'Usually I would never, ever wear a pencil skirt, as I don't like my hips, but when I slip this dress on, it looks stunning,' said Marianne
Finally, the bit I’ve been waiting for: the dresses. By 1966, which is when the new series of Mad Men picks up, mini-skirts, psychedelic prints, monochrome ensembles and boxy shapes were starting to make an appearance — but many women were still holding on to the old look, including Joan, who sticks to her trademark body-hugging pencil dresses.
There are subtle changes though — she starts to wear bolder prints and show slightly more cleavage than she did in the years before. Even though by today’s standards, Joan’s dresses are modest, she still manages to look amazingly sexy.
I picked two iconic dresses Joan wears in the series — bottle green and a beautiful black floral dress for the evening — and asked designers at The Pretty Dress Company to recreate them for us.
The online shop specialises in retro-inspired pencil skirt dresses, very similar to the ones Joan would wear, and says the look is now very popular.
The results are perfect. Usually I would never, ever wear a pencil skirt, as I don’t like my hips, but when I slip this dress on, it looks stunning.
The big hips I usually hate actually look shapely. I top off my green dress with a retro-inspired broach from Fenwick. There’s only one thing lacking — the bust.
While Christina’s cups runneth over, mine look half-empty, so I shove a couple of ‘chicken fillets’ down my bra.
Now it’s time to take my new curves outside. I’m terrified — I’ve never worn anything so figure-hugging in public before.
5. WALK WITH A WIGGLE
'I realise quickly that you can't walk in a girdle and a pencil skirt, you can only wiggle - which makes me even more conspicuous,' said Marianne
Men can’t stop staring. Literally.
Taxi drivers are looking out from their cars, men in business suits are turning around, and one young guy stops in his tracks — his mouth is open.
I am painfully self-conscious in the bottle green dress.
I can see a woman digging her husband in the ribs when he twists his neck to look at my behind. Oh dear, I feel like a harlot.
I realise quickly that you can’t walk in a girdle and a pencil skirt, you can only wiggle — which makes me even more conspicuous.
I’m sure women are giving me catty looks, but then a glamorous older woman with a perfect white bob smiles at me.
‘That takes me back,’ she says. ‘What a pretty dress.’
She tells me that she is visiting from Hampshire for the day and that she used to live in London in the Sixties, working as a secretary for Unilever.
‘Everyone made an effort back then, you’d never leave the house without having your outfit on,’ she says. ‘I wore a corset and stockings every day and went to work wearing white gloves.’
I decide to hold my head up high and do a spot of shopping. As the hours pass I get used to the attention, and actually grow to rather like it.
A man behind me in the supermarket checkout tells me that he likes my dress and that women should wear dresses more often.
A young guy waiting at the bus stop asks me if I’m that actress. I don’t know if he’s having me on or not, but he’s certainly made my day.
After lunch, I change into the black floral number to treat me and my dress to a refreshing martini, so I head to the absolutely stunning 10th floor bar of the Royal Kensington Hotel, which has views all across London. Sipping my drink — with two olives — I start to feel the part. I could get used to this.
I swear that even the very handsome French barman is giving me the eye.
But then I go to powder my nose, and remember my complicated underpinnings. I’m in there for 20 minutes fiddling with hooks and poppers!
SO, WAS IT ALL WORTH IT?
As the day goes on, I get tired. My bra is suffocating me, the waistband of the girdle is digging in to my tummy and the tops of my thighs are rubbing uncomfortably together.
As for the stockings, I got the old-fashioned variety without Lycra in them and they are heading south. I feel more like Nora Batty than a Sixties sex symbol.
Even my eyelashes are beginning to feel too heavy to wear a minute longer. I had planned to take my new look for a night on the town but, now, I just want to head home, where it’s such a treat to take off my girdle so that I can breathe — and slouch — again.
The dress is swapped for my usual jeans and jumper and I rub off my inch-thick layer of make-up and leave my false eyelashes on the side of the bath.
Then I look in the mirror. Gosh, I look rotten. Like a cartoon character who’s had all her features rubbed out. And in my normal clothes I look about three sizes bigger. I am like a completely different woman. Actually, I don’t really feel like a woman at all.
Later that evening I pop down the road to buy some milk. Not a soul looks at me. I am invisible, and that makes me sad. I’ve realised that while I couldn’t be a Mad Woman every day of my life, I’m going to make an effort to be one every once in a while.
It might not be easy, but with the right undies, a good dress and a bit of slap — everyone can look like a star. Come back girdle, stockings and false eyelashes — all is forgiven!