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Thursday, October 28, 2010

T Lo HIGHLY Recommends "The Fashion File"

Blogging has its privileges, darlings. There we were, surfing on the twitter, as the kids call it, when Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant sent us a message asking if we were going to be in town ("town," being New York) for her launch party of her new book, "The Fashion File." We pretended like we had to check our schedules and replied with a yes and probably three or four too many exclamation points. We're not sure. It's all a blur.

The party was fun. The space was gorgeous, the cocktails were huge and free-flowing and the nibblies were nibbly. All the waitresses were model-skinny in matching sequined dresses. We had exactly 1 minute to chat with Janie because she was the Girl of the Hour, after all. And when there are a hundred skinny girls in a line behind you wearing their best dresses, tottering on 5-inch heels, waiting for their chance to talk to their idol, and pissed off because they have to keep saying no to the hors d'oeuvre trays (and because they were hoping Jon Hamm would show up), well, let's just say you get your "Congratulations" and "It's so nice to finally meet you" out PFQ, kittens.

After that, it was a quick stop at Laura Bennett's place to pick up our laptops (because we were blogging while in transit yesterday) and it was she who noticed from the other side of her kitchen counter and looking at the book upside-down that the gorgeous illustrations were all by her S3 Project Runway cast mate Robert Best. The book is loaded with his work, making it glamorous in a fun, old school kind of way. Anyway, we hopped on a late night Amtrak and fought over our copy of the book the whole way.

We have to say, we've seen a lot of these style guide books and "The Fashion File" is, by far, the best, most comprehensive one we've ever seen. It's really more of a textbook. You only need to commit this one book to memory and you'll always be able to dress yourself to the best effect. Seriously. Janie's concerned less with trends or with imposing completely arbitrary rules, like "All women should have a trench coat," and more concerned with teaching you about the history of fashion and how you can draw on it; how to choose and wear each kind of accessory, the precise fool-proof items for each body type (Delicious Apple, Succulent Pear, Slim Ruler and Curvy Hourglass), down to specific necklines and your ideal bathing suit, how to create the perfect smokey eye in 4 steps, "Three bras every woman should own" and "The principles of highly effective purses." Honestly, just by giving it a quick read we could tell that this was it. It really is all you need in one book. You can see preview pages from the book here.

Even better, if you're a Mad Men fan (and in particular, a Mad Style reader) she doesn't shy away from using the show that made her famous to make her point. The forward is by January Jones and there are interviews with Elisabeth Moss and Christina Hendricks, as well as a TON of costume photos from the show. Even better, she uses the costumes of the show throughout the book to make certain points about how to dress yourself. Our favorite part was the section on "How Color Makes a Character" because we felt like we aced a test when we read it. "Pale blues, winter whites, camels, grays, and shades of violet epitomize Betty's glacial personality." "Because I envision her as a young, city version of Betty, Pete's wife wears cool sixties prints like paisleys and geometrics."

And speaking of tests, it's pop quiz time, darlings. You see, we happen to have an extra copy of "The Fashion File" autographed by Janie herself and we're giving it away to one lucky (and attentive) minion. We're going to give you a series of questions, the answers to which can be found sprinkled throughout our Mad Style series. There are multiple answers to each question and multiple ways to get it correct. We want you to post your answers in the comments section along with an email address. We'll take the first ten correct responses, put them in a hat, and pick out the winner. BUT - and we can't stress this enough - you should take your time before answering. Do a little research.

Here are the GROUND RULES:
You may only use ONE example from season 4 in any response.

For the purposes of this contest, the MAIN CHARACTERS are Don, Betty, Peggy, Joan, Pete, and Roger.

With each answer, you must give DIFFERENT character examples. You can't answer "Betty, Betty, and Betty!"

may only answer once and you don't get do-overs. No "In my response from yesterday, for answer 3, what I MEANT to say..."

Are we ready? Then pick up your pencils and begin:

1)Give three different examples of a mother and daughter dressed alike in a scene. Each example must be of a different mother/daughter pairing.

2) Give three different examples where a character is dressed in a scene to promote the idea that he or she is an outsider and doesn't belong there. It must be three different characters and NONE of them can be a MAIN character.

3) Give three different examples where a character is dressed in a scene to promote the idea that he or she is tied to their surroundings. You may use only one MAIN character.

4)Give three different examples of a husband and wife dressing in outfits that match.

5)Describe a consistent costuming element for each of the following characters that defines their look: Don Draper, Pete Campbell, Roger Sterling, Ken Cosgrove, Sal Romano, Harry Crane. In each instance, there is something about their costumes that is purely them. Find it and describe it.

Good luck!

Oh, and in other Mad Men book news, Roger Sterling's "Sterling's Gold" is being released as an honest-to-scotch real book. There's a review copy heading our way as we speak and when we get it, we'll let you know how it is.

[Photo Credit: hachettebookgroup.com, amctv.com]

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