The Fashion File: Advice, Tips and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of Mad Men, by Janie Bryant, with Monica Corcoran Harel
You know, it’s a tricky thing to combine your “angle” with straight-ahead fashion advice, as I discovered with Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? It’s easy to lose your way or to muddy your message.
I’m pleased to tell you that Janie Bryant didn’t fall into these traps. The Fashion File is true to itself; it’s primarily an advice book, with diverse information and conversation about topics such as dressing for all occasions, learning to love your own body, organizing your closet, finding and caring for vintage clothing and accessories, and the four essential purses that every woman needs. And yes, there’s a chapter on menswear.
Interspersed with the advice is Janie on Mad Men, on her love of vintage, on her film inspirations from each era, and on being a Southern girl with a love of dress-up. And again, all of this could be a jumble, but it’s both well-organized and breezy in tone, so it’s never off-putting. There’s lots of illustration—I love the sketches, but there are also photographs from Mad Men, from the movies, and from Janie’s personal collection (she really has the world’s best accessories).
This is not a book about Mad Men, but there’s a forward by January Jones, and short essays by Christina Hendricks and Elisabeth Moss as well. Janie talks about what she’s learned as a costume designer, how she works, and how her work inspires her. I don’t think there are any amazing inside secrets to be discovered in here, but you definitely get to know the author as Mad Men’s costume designer. By discussing the ways in which each character’s costumes express their inner self, she segues neatly into how we can all express our inner selves through fashion, and that really is the main message of the book.
Full disclosure: I am reviewing a free review copy. (Then again, Are You a Jackie or a Marilyn? was also a free review copy, and I kind of trashed that one.)