Monday, March 12, 2012

Mad Men: Joan Hair How To (+ How Done Up Do You Get for Garment Photos?)

Joanie hair test for Mad Men Challenge

Teased-up 1960s hair: Yay or nay? (P.S. Yes, no amount of bobby pins could keep my hair from escaping this French twist)(P.P.S. No, I didn't sew this--it's just a vaguely 60s-ish contemporary doubleknit dress I thrifted recently)

Fellow sewists, some questions for you:

  • Does vintage sewing require vintage hairstyling? Do 60s hair and 60s dresses pair like a fine wine and cheese--or a Halloween costume?
  • How done up do you get for finished garment photos? Do you fancy yourself up with coordinating hair, makeup and accessories before staging an elaborate photo shoot on a weather-beaten bridge? Or do you throw your garment on fresh from the sewing table and snap a few quick pix with your camera phone, styling and scenery be damned?
  • Can you explain to me why what I thought was quite a chic and sophisticated vintage-style updo caused my husband to burst out laughing and use words like "outdated," "older" and "like my elementary school principal"? [Edited to add: Also, "Marge Simpson."]

Last time I attempted to learn to vintage up my hair, the underwhelming results (see "Wet Set Woes") so traumatized me that it took me two years to get up the courage to try again.

But I have finally regained my hair experimentation bravery, with the help of some of the Youtube video tutorials by Lisa Fremont-Street, Strawberry Koi Vintage and more that my readers so kindly recommended at the time.

I finally achieved curling success with a combo of LottaBody, water and overnight pillow curlers--I styled the results into a 1940s pageboy (which my husband LOVED, fyi) that lasted several days.

But I digress!

Joanie hair test for Mad Men Challenge

OK all you wiggly-dressed Mad Men Challenge-ers, here's...

How to Get a Joan Holloway-ish Updo Look:

The tools

  1. Rat-tail comb.
  2. Bobby pins in mind-boggling quantities.
  3. Hair pins—a lifetime's supply.
  4. Hair spray with a death grip hold.

Joanie hair test for Mad Men Challenge

The steps

  1. Use rat-tail comb to tease all hair from ends to roots, starting at the crown of the head, and working in small sections--result should resemble demented hair haystack.
  2. Smooth outside layer and begin shaping, pulling over to side back of head and securing with---
  3. Oh who am I kidding?
  4. Cry in frustration because you have no idea what you're doing, give up and ask an expert hairstylist for help.

Anyway, yeah. This was way beyond my rudimentary skill level. So I went to see Ricky at Avalon Salon on 112 Christopher St. He's awesome, and has been doing my hair (when I remember to drag myself into the salon every 3-4 months) since 2004.

Joanie hair test for Mad Men Challenge

He did show me how to do it step by step, but I'm not sure if I'll be able to get it right when I complete my dress.

As for me, re: getting done up or fancy.. I started out photographing my sewing projects for Pattern Review bathroom-mirror style, as you can see with this lovely wool skirt circa 2005...

Blue Wool Tweed Pencil Skirt (sewn from Sew Fast, Sew East computer fit pattern)

And now I have a tripod and self-timer, and try to at least brush my hair and put on makeup and cute shoes and cheap costume jewelry. I'll admit that the exciting photographic antics of the Sew Weekly crowd (I'm looking at you, Oona and Kazzthespazz) sometimes make me feel ashamed of my boring apartment wall backgrounds.

Joanie hair test for Mad Men Challenge

But in my defense--I've got a toddler who can't be trusted not to run amuck while I'm messing with a tripod in a park.

So--what's your take? 60s hair yay or nay? Basic garment pix or fancy photo shoots?

P.S. To recap--here's the sketch:

Mad Men Sewing Challenge Sketch: Joan Dress


  1. Aww, it looks great! I get so jealous of you long-haired people sometime, /sigh. The closest I get is something that vaguely occasionally matches a vintage shape...

    I don't own a curling-iron, though I do (sometimes) blow-dry and use a variety of goops to get the spiky thing going.

    But then, I don't really try for authentic vintage.

    Love the hair!

  2. I really like the up-do. Very Joan! Goes very well with your dress.

    As for how done up to get for photos: lipstick's a must for me because I photograph like a corpse without it. And I usually try to wear shoes that go with the dress, preferably heels. It would be nice to find some interesting locations rather than the brick wall by my house but that would take way too much time and energy. If it takes longer than ten minutes it's not happening!

  3. I LOVE the hair! It's Amazing!!! I've been wanting to try a 60's updo for some time--thanks for the links! You know me, I love going all out for my photos! When I put so much time into the sewing, I love to put at least some time into the photos! Plus, since I sew primarily from vintage patterns--they just lend themselves to a bit of styling!

  4. I love your hair! I can't wait until mine is long enough to put in a French twist again...
    Ah, the whole photo shoot thing! I've got a fearless boy toddler so my photos have to be done fast. Tripod, self timer, bedroom wall. Location shoot?, I'm not brave enough (toddler issues and strangers wondering what on earth I'm doing- dealing with the Husband is bad enough on that count!). I do brush my hair, put on a little makeup and that's it! I didn't even manage shoes for the last one I did!

  5. I think it looks great. I'm not sure how high these do's have to be -- there's a fine line between Joan Hollaway and Marge Simpson, I think.

    I'm all about the photo shoot styling. Find someone else to take the pictures and put the kid in the photo shoot, dressed as Joan Mini-Me. Or tell a story about a very chic woman having to lug a toddler around all day. And please don't skip the false eyelashes!

  6. I think the up do looks great! Very Joan. I don't do a whole lot for photos. Usually I throw on whatever I've just finished at the sewing machine and step outside. All my photos are in front of our brick chimney on the back porch. Pretty boring.

  7. You look terrific! The hair is lovely and the dress fits you perfectly!

  8. Aw, I like your hairdo a lot! But of course I'm biased - I love vintage styling :)

    For my pictures, I'll put in a moderate amount of effort - I'll fix my hair, put on lipstick, make sure my shoes match, etc - but I won't go way the eff out of my way to get the ~perfect~ photo. 9 times out of 10, I just get up earlier than normal & take my pictures before work (and then wear whatever I had on to the office!). And yeah, I'm all tripod & self-timer. Wish I had someone to take my pictures for me, but meh, I can deal :) Haha

  9. Debi and Peter, you both always have the most amazing photo shoots! I was thinking about you too in my jealousy.

    And Peter, you are quite right... actually, I think Masheka DID also make a Marge Simpson comparison.

    And thank you all for the compliments!

  10. I knew you'd look great in Joan hair! How cool to have a stylist show you how to do it too!

    I can't be bothered to come up with exciting photographs. For all of the ways that I'm creative, pictures are not among them. I too envy the super artsy pictures that some people come up with (and I do wish I could be a Burda girl sometimes), but snapping a couple of random things at night after kids have gone to bed or during the day when they're running about is what I can manage right now.

    I just let my hair be what it is, but I'm not above throwing in a fun clip, and I always wear necklaces.

  11. I read once that if you were old enough to wear the style the last time it came around, you shouldn't wear it again b/c it looks dowdy or frumpy, like you haven't changed your style in decades. The corollary is that if you were not old enough to dress stylishly during that era (or, in your case, were not yet born!), you can pull off the look and rock the vintage style. Does that make sense? I'm a little tired this morning. I'm sorry that your husband burst your bubble.

  12. I do a combination of both. I haven't left my house yet with my tripod and camera mainly because it's been freezing outside, but I probably need to. I do style hair and makeup as I think it adds to the look, but I'm fine with taking pictures inside the house as long as it's uncluttered, in focus and the lighting is clear.

    Btw I love the alphabet magnet letters on your front door!

  13. I always style with jewelry and shoes. But most of my photos are indoors--I live alone in a condo with no outdoor space. I'm not going to set up a tripod on the street. That would be insane. Love it when i can dragoon friends into doing my photos on location!

  14. Your updo looks amazing! I'm lucky if I can make a bun with my hair.
    With my photos for the Mad Men challenge I put my hair in a bun (I am sooo bad at styling hair, and my straight hair doesn't hold ANY style). I used props I own from going to too many dress up parties - I had gloves, a cigarette which i jammed into the lid of my eyeliner!! Usually I just throw the dress on after I finish making it, pair it with shoes and quickly brush my hair. I used to throw on nude pantyhose as well... I haven't lately - no wonder my legs look so brown - urgh - I might start doing that again. I set up my camera on a gorilla tripod thing and turn self timer on!

    I wish I had time and someone to take with me to a pretty building to take photos for me, my sister and I took photos at Parliament house and they came out amazing!!! A good background makes all the difference! When I get a house, I'm getting a nice feature wall, for sewing photo purposes :)

  15. Your hair looks great! Husbands (bless them) are not good judges of vintage stuff... Mine says similar things to me sometimes... Old-fashioned and so forth.

    I try to make sure my hair/makeup/etc is in keeping with how I'd actually wear it... So if it's casual clothes, I usually forgo makeup altogether.. But it's SO fun to do a big OTT photoshoot sometimes...

    As for hair/clothes matching... I think being "well groomed" is necessary for the vintage look, pinned up hair and makeup and so forth. I do that. I also don't do that. It's funny, I think the difference between a "vintage" look and a "modern" look is pretty much down to the hair and makeup. A lot of vintage styles look perfectly contemporary if your styling is, too..

    /end ramble.

  16. I'm sending you some bloggy love in the way of a Versatile Blogger award. You can pick it up here:
    and then pass it along. Happy Tuesday!

  17. Your hair looks awesome! Mine is currently too short to get a proper Joanie do going on.

    I recently started a blog and taking pictures is probably the hardest part. I don't have a remote, so I have to use the timer. This results in some very bizarre in-motion and boob shot pictures.

    Also, I nominated you for a Versatile Blogger Award. If you're interested--and you're so not obligated to play along--feel free to check out the details on my blog

  18. Ooh, fancy hair! It looks great :)

    I usually just cut my head off in the photos. I'm doing well to get a finished project pic at all. A big part of happiness for me is knowing I've done my best and accepting that.


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