[Tonight I draw the name of the winner of my copy of Janie Bryant’s book, The Fashion Files. If you’d like to be included, post a meaningful comment here or on one of my three other Janie Bryant posts before 9:00 PM New York time. See more details here.]
Remember that feeling you get when you’d rather stay home than go out in anything in your closet? On Janie Bryant’s set, the “difficulty breathing, racing heartbeat, and sudden onset of agoraphobia” are all symptoms of “costume anxiety”. Her solution? Plan ahead.
In my job, I skirt this dreaded condition . . . by dutifully planning out each look for my characters. Once a script arrives, it’s time to page through and designate the right ensemble (from the pearl earrings to the garters) for every scene.
If Peggy Olson has a major presentation for clients at the agency, you can bet I create a suitable costume with some added panache like her blue linen two-piece suit with the self-piping. But my dogged foresight doesn’t stop there. On an index card I also jot down all of her undergarments and accessories, right down to the purse she will carry to that big meeting. Such preparations also allow me to plan out each episode and get a sense of the color schemes of all of my characters.
If you are prone to the occasional fashion panic attack–and, really, who isn’t?–do employ this handy strategy at home. You’re best off assessing your options a few days before a momentous event so you have some time to shop or dry-clean an item, if need be. Once you settle on a fantastic outfit, record the entire look in your fashion journal* and set all the pieces aside. Be sure to include the proper undergarments and even accessories.
Of course this isn’t rocket science for all you planners out there. But I’m more of a scrambler than a planner, and I need this advice. I will have a vague idea of how I want to look for an event and be surprised and stressed when it doesn’t come together at the last minute. So this advice helps me see that it’s okay to spend the time it takes to get ready beforehand.
After the jump, I share related advice from Janie Bryant regarding everyday wear.
This quote was a major “Aha!” passage for me:
Often women become flustered about the attire for a special occasion because they forgo effort on their daily appearance. If you’re accustomed to wearing overly casual togs, dressing for a semiformal luncheon or dinner party suddenly feels daunting. It’s a long leap from your comfort zone, no pun intended. But if you regularly maintain a high standard on the image you present, it’s much simpler to elevate that look to the next level for an event.
An easy way to approach day-to-day style is to think of your look as a uniform. That doesn’t mean monotony, though. Rather, you want to isolate a simple look that works for you and assemble a few outfits in that vein.
This is exactly what I described last year. I still find myself in sweats at the end of a day at home sometimes, but I’m getting better. And for what it’s worth, the Mad Men characters don’t spend their time off the set in the vintage undergarments that they wear for the show.
*I’m not going to go so far as to keep a fashion journal, but elsewhere in the book, Bryant makes a great suggestion to keep a running list of anything you need so that you’re prepared for each shopping opportunity. For instance, I need more black tights. I’m not going to make a special trip for them, but if they’re on my list, I’ll remember to pick up a pair the next time I’m out.