Mad Style: Joan Holloway, S3 Part 1

Posted on July 19, 2010

Well darlings, we’re 6 days away from the 4th season premiere of Mad Men and we’ve finally reached the S3 posts of Mad Style. Here’s our plan: we will post an installment of Mad Style every day this week until we’ve wrapped up the Joan, Betty, and Peggy posts. Once the season starts, we’ll be doing a Mad Style post for each episode (along with our Monday morning reviews) and we might even throw in a couple curveballs and do some more looking back. We never did get to the men. Plus we want to do a post on the undergarments and lingerie. And then there’s all those prostitutes and party girls to look at. Suffice it to say, Mad Style won’t be slowing down a bit. We might wind up tearing our hair out trying to get it all done, but by God, every damn costume that matters will wind up on this blog if it kills us. Onward!
Season 3 Episode 1 – “Out of Town”

The new British regime has taken control of Sterling Cooper and no one’s happy about it, least of all Burt Peterson, who just got fired as head of accounts. While he’s trashing his office in anger, Joan has more than a few sharp words with the officious Mr. Hooker, who characterizes himself as the “right hand man” of Lane Pryce, the new head of SC, but who Joan acidly refers to as a secretary, knowing it will piss him right off. She schools him on how Mr. Peterson’s firing was mishandled and sashays away. They clearly hate each other.

It’s 1963 and Joan is newly married. With the new year and the new status, we’ll see her trying out some new colors. This red isn’t particularly new for her, but it’s a sharp and stark look against the cool colors of the office, and illustrates nicely the simmering rage she holds in check whenever she has to deal with Hooker. Lapels are something we haven’t seen on her before and the brass buttons are a bit of a change for her as well. Her clothes look a little more expensive this season. Her husband isn’t making the big bucks as a doctor yet, but Joan’s already dressing the part of doctor’s wife.

 

Peggy meets up with Joan first thing in the morning at the elevator bank. They exchange pleasantries until Peggy starts in complaining about her secretary and Mr. Hooker. Joan serenely tells her she’s not in work yet and when Peggy continues her complaining, she sighs that she’s glad that she’s going to be out of there soon.

This olive houndstooth is very unusual for Joan, who rarely wears such bold prints around the office. It’s pure 1963 fashionable and as you’ll see, most of Joan’s wardrobe this season consists of clothes we’ve never seen before. We can imagine that Joan refreshes her wardrobe every couple of years in order to stay stylish, but like we said, the new marital status also probably had a lot to do with it. This is “mature” in the sense that it would have read as a married woman’s coat. Peggy wouldn’t wear this and the Joan of even 2 seasons ago wouldn’t have either. Joan, like Betty, dresses the part. Unlike Betty’s, her wardrobe is a little more urban and edgy.


Joan sits in on account meeting and later corrals Mr. Hooker to tell him that she secured an office for him so that the rest of the company won’t mistake him for a secretary. He’s surprised that she would do something so nice for him. Later, Mr. Pryce reprimands him for thinking he could have an office and takes it away from him. Joan, as she so often does, knew EXACTLY what she was doing.

New outfit, new color, new neckline, and yet it’s still recognizably Joan. Not coincidentally, she matches the surroundings of the SC office as she demonstrates in this scene that she IS the SC office to Mr. Hooker.

 

Season 3 Episode 2 – “Love Among the Ruins”

Betty stops by the office to pick up Don on the way to dinner with Mr. Pryce. Joan chats away at how little Betty’s showing and the general tone of the conversation is very domestic. She does the old trick about dangling Betty’s wedding band over her stomach in order to predict the sex of the coming baby. This is a very “wifey” Joan and when she finds herself facing Roger, who also recently got married, she finds that she can’t even look at him.

Such an unusual look for her. The silhouette and style are mostly right out of the old Joan playbook, but the colors are a radical departure for her. This is a new Joan and she’s got her eye on that door. Notice how covered up she is, even moreso than in the old days. Still, she can’t stop being sexy if she tried — and she’s trying.

 

Season 3 Episode 3 – “My old Kentucky Home”

Jane, the new Mrs. Sterling, stops by the office in a VERY showy outfit and she and Joan exchange “pleasantries,” by which we mean, they smile and show their teeth and make a lot of backhanded compliments. Jane asks about where she and her new husband will be living and then asks Joan to have one of “the girls” flag down her driver at 1:15. Joan blows smoke at her.

This rust color is also a little new for her. Again, her clothes read as “settled” instead of “sexpot.” Not the Joan ever dressed in an obvious way, but the overall look here is more mature than a lot of her S1 getups. That’s another new collar for her. Of course she’s still matched to within an inch of her life, but notice how toned down her jewelry is now. The brooches and earrings are a lot less showy.



Joan and Greg have a dinner party for some of the doctors and their wives. While making shop talk, it becomes obvious to Joan for the first time that Greg’s not doing so well in his career and that he doesn’t want to talk about it or for her to know about it. In order to steer the conversation away from such matters, he puts her on the spot and makes her perform a truly memorable version of “C’est Magnifique” on the accordion.

One of the most memorable outfits she ever wore, partially because it’s so graphic and so unusual. We’ve seen her in prints, but never a floral. We only ever saw her in black once before and that was another atypical outfit for her. We’ve said before that she tends to wear prints and graphics when she’s experiencing some sort of emotional turmoil and it was written all over her face in this scene. She’s worried about Greg’s career and she’s upset that he made her perform in order to take the focus off him. Of course, it also helps that the dress reads as “French” or at least “continental” which makes it perfect for the song. Plus, in typical Joan fashion, it matches her accordion.

 

Season 3 Episode 4 – “The Arrangements”

Peggy’s been advertising for a room mate in the lunch room in anticipation of her move into the city. Unfortunately, she’s been made the butt of office jokes due to the stuffiness and seriousness of her ad. Or as Joan says when she walks in on Peggy ripping the ad down, “I think the right gal could have a very good effect on you. I do, however, find your ad unfortunate.” When Peggy asks why, Joan reads it out loud and tells her, ‘This reads like the stage directions for an Ibsen play.” Peggy becomes defensive and Joan backs off, figuring this is yet another time that Peggy won’t listen to her advice. Peggy relents and asks for Joan’s help. Right on the spot, she composes a brilliant ad for her: “Fun-loving girl, responsible sometimes. Likes to laugh, lives to love, seeks size 6 for city living and general gallavanting. No dull moments or dull men tolerated.” This is the first time Peggy really asks for Joan’s advice. That’s because this is Joan’s milieu – fun girl in the city – and the one time that she can really help her out.

A total departure, color-wise. The Joan elements are all still there. Like we said, it’s 1963, and it would be just like Joan to update her wardrobe with new colors and looks. Big buttons are definitely a big part of the new Joan look. Peggy looks serious and a little dowdy in comparison, which is the whole point to this scene.

 

Season 3 Episode 6 – “Guys Walk Into an Advertising Agency”


The British overlords inform the company that they will have to work on the Wednesday before July 4th because they’re flying in for an inspection. This pushes Joan’s last day at SC back one day. She’s pissed, but she snaps into action and rattles off orders to Hildy to ensure that the office comes off looking good to their new owners. Mr. Hooker comes over and now is not the time to be exchanging barbs with her, given her anger. When he blurts out that the secretaries have a surprise party planned for her, she informs him she’s going home, “and when you wake up in the middle of the night and wonder what you forgot, don’t call me.”

She’s wearing gloves a lot more this season too, part of her new “Doctor’s wife” wardrobe. This is a typical Joan jewel tone blue, but again, she’s got lapels, a matching belt, and buttons running all down the front. Even when Joan changes up the elements, she’s still Joan and she’ll replay them again and again. She settles on a look that works, and it’s all variations on that theme. It can’t be a coincidence that in this scene, where they are all informed that their planned 4th of July vacations will be cut short by a day, Joan is in red, white, and blue.





The British arrive and salute Joan on her last day. She bursts into tears because she found out the night before that Greg wasn’t going to be made Chief Resident and that she would have to continue working. The future suddenly looks hopeless and the normally unflappable Joan lets her emotions get the better of her. She gets a hold of herself and offers the perfectly Joan-like “Thank you very much. This was completely unnecessary.”

When one of the Brits gets his foot cut off by a runaway lawn mower (seriously, watch the episode because we’re not gonna explain that one), she goes right back to being unflappable and performs triage right there in the office. Later, Don meets up with her in the emergency room and they have an incredibly sweet scene (“That’s life. One minute you’re on top of the world, the next minute some secretary is running you over with a lawn mower.”) where he bids her good-bye and she kisses him on the cheek and calls him Don for the first time.

Again, we’ve seen her in greens, but not this particular shade. Of course, what’s really notable about this dress is the blood stains, which were a deliberate foreshadowing of Jackie’s iconic blood-stained pink Chanel suit. The impending Kennedy assassination hung heavy over the season, but this was the most overt reference to it yet. Of course the shoes and the purse match perfectly and she’s still got the buttons she’s been working all season, this time running down the back instead of the front.


[Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com - Photo Credit: amctv.com/originals/madmen]

 

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