mad men outfit party planning

*Editor’s note: This is a guest post by one of our friends and Craftcation instructors, Christine Haynes. Christine is a lovely human being, sewing teacher and pattern maker that we’re lucky to know. We’re elated to have her share her expertise with attendees at Craftcation this year. In preparation for Craftcation’s Mad Men dance party on Saturday night she wrote this piece to help you get inspired with the perfect outfit. We can’t wait to see all of our attendees decked out in their Mad Men best best with a backdrop of awesome decor by the party sponsors, our friends at the Academy of Handmade. The Academy of Handmade is a community that celebrates, strengthens and connects handmade businesses through workshops, meetups, an award show and MORE! Check out their site and cast your vote for their upcoming awards ceremony for the handmade movement.


Every year at Craftcation, the lovely ladies in charge throw a dance party. This year’s theme is Mad Men! I think I speak for everyone when I say, oh hell yeah! The great thing about a theme like Mad Men is that there is a huge range of options to choose from. If you aren’t familiar with the show, here’s a bit of history.

The first episode of the first season opens in March 1960, so fashion-wise, there is still a huge amount of 1950’s influence. The last episode of the next-to-last sixth season, the Nixon election was mentioned, making it 1968, bringing us loads of late-60’s and early 70’s style influence. Think about it; you can draw just as much influence from a 50’s housewife outfit as you could a counter-culture late-60’s radical! Talk about open-ended fashion inspiration!

Since most of the people attending Craftcation are ladies, I’m going to stick to the fashion influences from the female characters (sorry men!).  I made a Mad Men party themed Pinterest board with images from the show, as well as images of great vintage dresses, and vintage sewing patterns that one could use to sew up their party dress. Check it out for loads of inspiration!


Let’s look at the major female characters of the show and how they might influence what you choose to wear. First we have Joan. Joan is a voluptuous single mother who wears anything and everything fitted. In the early episodes, Joan wears mostly wiggle dresses, but in the later episodes, she’s a more important figure at the firm and wears late 60’s style polyester skirt suits. Not the most glamorous, but a realistic wardrobe for the time.


Betty has maintained her housewife status throughout her run on the show, and has gone from high-end fit and flare dresses, to slightly more streamlined 60’s versions of the same thing. She has been seen in capri pants and in one episode wore shorts! I know, shocking!


Megan splits her outfits between casual modern young woman of the 60’s, to glamorous rich wife date dresses. She had a brief stint where she worked at Don’s firm, and wore sensible office attire, but those days are now gone. She rocks some of the most outrageous party dresses that would make Priscilla Presley proud!


Peggy has had quite a transformation over the years, starting out looking like a 50’s little girl, moving to 60’s secretary, and now to late 60’s power office attire. She still rocks a good party dress when the time calls for it.

Looking at these ladies, what is one to wear? If you are considering making your outfit, check out the vintage patterns I pinned to the Mad Men board. There is no shortage of amazing vintage sewing patterns out there. The one main trick is finding one in your size. So if that doesn’t work for you, how about getting a new pattern?


Colette Patterns has quite a few options that would fit the bill. First up, the Laurel Dress is a classic 1960’s inspired shift dress that could easily be made up in fancy or casual fabric. The Peony Dress is also very 60’s inspired, and can be very Jackie O if you want a classy look. The Hawthorn Dress could also go 1960’s, but in a floral print, could also swing to the 1950’s with ease.


My pattern, the Emery Dress is also 1960’s inspired, but again, could go 50’s with the right print and styling. Similar to my pattern, the Mortmain from Gather Kits has a sweet 50’s feeling to it. And one more fit and flare version for you to choose from, Sewaholic’s Cambie Dress is another fine 1950’s – 1960’s inspired dress that would be perfect for the party!

Of course, there’s always simply buying your dress, so check out the vintage dresses I pinned from Etsy, and then search for one for yourself! Check out local thrift shops or vintage clothing stores, as well as your local antique mall! Some of those booths can have hidden treasures.

See you at the Mad Men party, cocktail in hand!

-christine haynes

One Comment

  1. love this post Christine!! i would love to make my own dress, do you have a super-duper beginners pattern?? LOL
    after craftcation, i am coming to LA and taking a sewing class of yours, i have been wanting to for a long time 🙂 looking forward to having fun with you in Ventura! xo

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