The Wise Words of Joan Holloway

Joan and Peggy from Mad Menå

Joan’s wise words have been rolling around in my head quite a bit lately. I’m 40, about to hit 41 in a few weeks, and sometimes when I look at myself in the mirror I feel I am dressing too young for my age.

When I hit forty last year I found myself laughing out loud at just how absurd that was. I couldn’t be forty, what a ridiculous notion! I don’t feel forty and I certainly don’t look forty, thanks to really good genes (neither my mum or dad look their age). Yet, here I am another year gone and I do feel more mature and, dare I say it, grown up. It’s been a year of trials and tribulations but also really exciting discoveries and, of course, my drastic move to another town. So why am I still wearing dresses and hair styles that Peggy á la season 1 would be proud of?

So what am I doing wrong?

  1. I wear a lot of pink! Ahhhh, really? Am I five years old? I’m actually sat here in one of Laura Ashley’s heritage dresses from last summer which is pale green with bright pink flowers all over it. I have a matching pink belt, pink shoes and pink handbag. Good god, help me!
  2. My hair is long, very long. I grew it from a pixie cut and, over the three years it has taken me to grow, I really didn’t know what to do with it, so I just left it. It seriously needs a damn good cut. When I started experimenting with vintage styles a bit more I decided to have a short fringe cut into it to give it a 1950s “edge”. All this did was make me look even more like a child. Now the length of it irritates the hell out of me and all I ever seem to do is scrap it back into a high ponytail. What am I doing to myself?!!
  3. Most of my dresses are the typical 1950s circle skirt shape with lots of flouncy fabric and layers. This, combined with the pink and the girly hair, just creates a look of the teenage girls during the mid century years. All I’m missing is the bobby socks. I’m really not doing myself any favours.

And what am I going to do about it?

Well, to start with it’s going to be less of this…

Peggy Mad Men

Lily - Breathless

And more of this…

Joan Mad Men

Jean and Elizabeth - Breathless

And the main differences?

  1. Large, colourful and floral prints are replaced by block plain colours
  2. Yards and yards of fabric of the circle skirts are slimmed down to wiggle dresses
  3. Details and accessories are kept simple and understated
  4. Hair styles are sophisticated up-dos without a single Betty bang in sight
  5. The style is more late 50s/early 60s rather than early to mid 1950s

I have been watching re-runs of Mad Men and Breathless for inspiration, and have also taken a few notes from Cilla that has recently been on ITV. It has sparked my love of the 1960s again, the era that was always my first vintage love.

My Mod Phase

My Mod Phase!

During my mid-20s I really got into the whole mod style and had a boyfriend who really enjoyed the whole scooter lifestyle and, at the time and at that age, it suited me. But it was all minis and lots of psychedelic prints, not really something I could pull off today! However, the big hair and simplified shapes is definitely something I need to get on board with. So I’ve started growing out my fringe, have been pinning all sorts of 1960s inspired hairstyle to my Hair board on Pinterest and have started to look at my wardrobe. I’m not suddenly going to start throwing things out but I am going make sure that the pink and any girly details are toned down. I’ve also been looking at what sort of thing to look for in the future.

Late 50s day dress

This gorgeous original late 50s dress from Etsy would be perfect for every day. I love the geometric print and the asymmetric buttons. Unfortunately this one is too big for me but it has sparked the idea of making something similar myself.

Prince of Wales check pencil skirt

I can just imagine this Prince of Wales Check Pencil Skirt from Vivien of Holloway teamed with a deep red pussybow blouse and pointy heels for the office or a short sleeved jumper and flats for a more casual look.

Bistro Cropped Trousers - Boden

For a great weekend day outfit, Boden’s Bistro Crops teamed with a polo neck jumper would be perfect for creating a Autumnal sixties look.

CEO dress - Deadly Is The Female

Deadly Is The Female’s CEO Dress is just the sort of thing Joan would wear to the office, although perhaps not in black. I can’t ever remember seeing her in black.

Peggy Dress - 20th Century Foxy

An office-to-evening dress like this one from 20th Century Foxy would make a great versatile option when I don’t have the time to go home and change.

Ethel Houndstooth Dress - CollectifAnd if I still want a bit of fabric to my dresses this Ethel Houndstooth Dress from Collectif would satisfy me without looking too girly.



Just a vintage gal suffering from the Golden Age syndrome. A lover of all things old, especially the 1930s, seamstress, crocheter, maker of hats and enjoys rummaging at flea markets.


  1. Late 50s/early 60s is a great look – that’s kind of my go-to look for the office. If you haven’t seen their stuff already, check out Fever – they’re vintage-inspired but not complete repro (though I reckon they’re at least as close as some of the less-accurate repro brands out there). Also Boden have some great options; I always get mine from their clearance section as they can be eye-wateringly expensive otherwise.

    The Modern Updo pin sold in Boots is awesome. You twist your hair into a bun, shove the pin through and flip it and voila, instant updo. I was gutted when I got mine out the packet and thought, ‘I paid a fiver for a bit of metal?!’ but it really does work.

    Also, boxy bag, decent brooch. It is the Way of Joan. All the accessories you need!

    • Ooo, Fever have some lovely knitwear, thanks for the tip. I’m always struggling to find shorter jumpers and cardigans and these look just my sort of thing.

      The modern updo pin sounds like a metal hair fork or u-pin. I’ve never tried one and having looked online it would seem this one is impossible to get in the UK now. Will have a look and see if I can find something similar.

      Ta! x

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