Want Her Wardrobe: Peggy Olson

As the weather gets colder and the skies get grayer, I find myself spending more time with my other significant other: Netflix. Our relationship is pretty serious; we’ve been together nearly nine years, through discs and streaming, the ill-conceived Qwickster follies, and most recently the acquisition of a Netflix-enabled television. Currently the best thing about Netflix is the bounty of AMC dramas available to stream on-demand, and a few weeks back I found myself binge-watching the entirety of Mad Men – an always-enjoyable undertaking.

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Every photo I liked featured the tragic Lane Pryce. LAAAAAAANE!

Now, I’m fully aware that my obsession with the Mad Men costuming doesn’t even come close to being the first or the biggest. I’d recommend reading the Mad Style blog, which deconstructs not only the fashion of the show but also the symbolism of those wardrobe choices. From Don Draper’s objectively-attractive suit-and-tie look to Joan’s bold colors and curve-accentuating dresses to the very fact that the main setting is an advertising agency, the show is all about presentation and style.

Still, when it comes down to it, my heart and my wardrobe wishes belong to Peggy Olson.

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Peggy wants none of your shenanigans.

Peggy’s transformation throughout the show is one of the most complete thus far. She starts as a shy, insecure secretary and by the end of the penultimate season <SPOILER ALERT> has stepped into Don’s shoes and office to take over while he detoxes </SPOILER ALERT>. Her style reflects this transformation perfectly. One of the best touches, in my opinion, is her use of menswear details despite coming of age in a time when femininity is particularly en vogue (see: Joan). Peggy has to play with the boys, and she dresses the part.

As someone who has always had a bit of a tomboy aesthetic, I appreciate the way Peggy makes this work. Here are a few of the lessons I’ve learned from Peggy’s killer personal style:

1. PLAID. Our girl Peggy loves some plaid. See the above photo, as well as this fabulous number:

peggy
Who are you calling a lumberjack?

Peggy keeps it professional by keeping it impeccably tailored. For this look, you could try out this lovely buffalo check shift from eShakti – bonus points for the fact that you can order it made-to-measure! Since the print is very bold, I’d match it with a brightly colored purse such as this emerald green satchel from Banana Republic and a pair of nude-to-me heels.

2. COLLARS. Girl can rock a collar. Check out this glorious action:

peggy-olson
I’m not mad, I’m just disappointed.

The classic shape and pointed lapels of this collar keep it from looking too first-day-of-parochial-school, and the bold scarf brights attention right up to her no-nonsense face. I might bring this look to 2013 with this fabulous animal print collar dress from Kate Spade (though I wish the dress came in a deep navy rather than black). I’d let the collar do all the talking here, so I’d wear pumps to match and a simple pearl stud earring.

3. POP OF COLOR. Dear god, I’m obsessed with this dress:

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Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, won’t get fooled again.

I just love the bait-and-switch of those pleats. Alas, I’m unable to find something for purchase with that exact effect (or else I’d already own it), but the colors are similar to this pleated georgette dress from Michael Kors. I’d wear matching navy tights and cognac ankle boots (I have these stacked heels from Cole Haan and they’re amazingly comfortable), and throw on a navy blazer to let that cherry color blocking shine.

4. BELTS. Peggy knows the sartorial power of a good belt – a staple in my own closet. Belts are simultaneously masculine and feminine – a bold leather piece that accentuates the smallest part of your waist. Check out the way the belt hardens up an otherwise very soft look:

Style: "Mad Men"
Don’t think for a minute that she won’t cut you.

The built-in-belt is a gorgeous look but a bit of a sticky wicket; I would recommend making sure you’ve got an ironclad return policy and trying it on in-person before buying one of these on final sale. You need to make sure it fits in a flattering way – not too tight, not too loose. The gold standard for a belted dress is the “Jackie” style from Black Halo, especially with that dramatic neckline, which I think a modern-day Peggy would totally rock. This dress can hold its own against a pair of animal print pumps and a big-time statement ring.

Who’s your fictional style icon?

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