Tag Archives: Carolee

Mad Men Costume Designer Janie Bryant Reveals How To Use Carolee Jewelry to Get the Look

25 Oct

Text, Vivian Kelly

Are you a “Betty-Jackie” or a “Joan-Marilyn”? Mad Men Costume Designer, Janie Bryant shares a few key accessory styling tips to enhance your look.

Janie Bryant, recently had a public appearance, hosted by Carolee jewelry,  at Bloomingdale’s Century City in Los Angeles.  Style expert Janie met with customers and provided jewelry and fashion advice on “How to become your own leading lady!”

Not being on the West Coast at the time, I couldn’t go, but I got to correspond with her via email and I’m going to pick up a copy of her new book, which she recently released.  THE FASHION FILE Advice, Tips and Inspiration from the Costume Designer of MADMEN, provides tips based on Janie’s “Mad Men” style trends. In it, she teaches her readers how to create different moods and reveal a bit about their personality through accessories… “It’s the surest cure-all for wardrobe ennui.”

I’ve been a fan of Mad Men, since last summer, when checked into a motel at Rehobeth Beach, Delaware, just to score some much needed down time. A mild case of insomnia turned out to be a big plus when I stumbled onto the show, which I’d been intending to watch for months. I never left the room until check-out at 11a.m. the next day as I lay on the bed gobbling up episode after episode of Mad Men and a pot of hotel room coffee. After 4 episodes, I came to a few conclusions:

-“Joan” looks hottest in her most covered up dresses- no hiding those amazing curves

– “Betty” is my favorite in character and looks fresh and tailored and classically beautiful.

I started studying Betty’s look on hulu [no AMC at home], and fell back in love with camel cashmere and pearls.

My Mad Men “moment” came when Joan’s secretary pool were talking about whether they were “ a Jackie” or “ a Marilyn”. Although that was over 40 years ago, these 2 categories are still alive and very relevant today. In case you missed the episode, Betty is a Jackie, and Joan is a Marilyn.

I’ve always been “a Jackie”, even when I bleached my hair Marilyn white years ago, wanting to see if I could bust out of my “type”.

Not possible – it takes more than a hair color change.

The sort of jewelry, fragrance, and dress all contribute to your J or M category. I started studying the characters’ outfits and decided that they were too retro for my every day look, but maybe copying details such as hairstyle and jewelry would give me the effect I was after. When Gina DiDomenico’s of Paul Wilmot Communications emailed me about Janie explaining how to get the character’s style with a few accessories, it was the answer to this fashion prayer.

Follow this LINK to watch a video of Janie Bryant offering her unique fashion and styling tips

Thanks to Gina, I got my most pressing questions for Janie about “Mad Men Style” answered.

Below, the Q&A 1.     Which character did you first want to work on? Why?

JANIE BRYANT: From the moment I read the script, I loved all of the characters. They each have their own story and costume nuances—I’m lucky to be able to design for them all!

2.  **We’re fascinated with the past now, particularly the Sixties: Mad Men, The Real Stewardesses of Pan Am.  What do you think it is about this period that fascinates us so much?

J.B. People feel nostalgia for a time when they could dress for occasions.  They want to feel the everyday glamour that is so characteristic of the 1960s and incorporate this into their everyday lives.

3.     How can we incorporate aspects of “Mad Men” dressing into our wardrobes?  For women?

J.B. A classic shirtwaist dress or sheath dress are great silhouettes to incorporate into your wardrobe.  Match your shoes to your handbag and don’t forget to layer those pearls, ladies!  You could even add white leather wrist gloves for a fun little touch—any length will do!

4. P/s suggest a Carolee piece for the principle characters: Joan, and Betty, in particular. 

J.B. It is simply the best for Betty, so strands of ladylike pearls would be my choice for her.  For a little drama in Joan’s life, a broach makes such a statement!

Endnote: Today, I went to Lord & Taylor and purchased my first “Betty-Jackie” Carolee piece; a 16″ pearl necklace, which I’ll be wearing daily.As for my Joan-Mrailyn friends, this Art Deco crystal broach would be stunning on you!


Prom is the Bomb!

1 May

Text, Vivian Kelly

Twenty years ago, dressing as if it were one’s wedding day for one’s High School Prom was not even imaginable. Back then, prom was a rather SILLY EVENT WHERE IT WAS OKAY TO WEAR A LITTLE COCKTAIL DRESS that was probably purchased at a bridal boutique, and most likely an ugly shade of pink or teal.

Take the 1986 John Hughes classic, “Pretty in Pink”.

Remember? In it, ‘Andie’ slashes the beautiful vintage dress her alternative friend, Annie Potts, ‘Iona’ gives her and combines it with the ugly pink one Dad gifts her. The result = the most memorable prom dress ever. At the time, the reworked dress was unique and daring. Most girls, lamentably attended prom in candy confections like the pink creampuff Andie ripped-up.

The stakes for promwear have gone up, aided and abetted by such seminal events as the Wills-Kate wedding. The R.W. contributed to prom fever, but prom as pre-wedding has been a reality for quite a while.

A few weeks ago, I wandered into **VINTAGE!, an upscale vintage and consignment boutique in Bedford Hills, NY to find some sunglasses, and walked out in a state of shock, and the concept for this post.

The newsflash: Well-to-do private school girls were dropping a couple of $$thou on vintage Oscar de la Renta. Vintage! gets its clothes and accessories from Hollywood  – namely celebrities and film sets.  For prom? Was the owner joking?

Not at all. From January – June, Laura Herlihy, a former Oscar de la Renta staffer, is booked solid [sometimes even double-booked] Monday – Friday for “prom appointments”.  I dawdled, in hopes of witnessing the appointment, prolonging my debate between the rectangular blue D&Gs or the red ovals. [I left with the D&Gs but am returning for the reds as they’re right on trend now.]

The two girls arrived, on time, for their appointment.

Question: Since when do privileged American teens arrive on time for anything?

Answer: When it matters to them. Prom, I concluded, mattered.

Both girls sported short shorts, long starlet hair and bodies and designer handbags. They each needed 2 gowns for prom – 1 for the actual prom, the other for the after-party. Cocktail dresses were not an option. The jewelry seemed to be fairly understated, perhaps a pair of the Carolee* faux diamond clip-ons for that vintage Cartier-Old Hollywood look that’s so popular on the Red Carpet now. The shoes would be Red Carpet worthy: Louboutin, Manolos, or Choos.

Not everyone though, can spend on this level though.

A few days later – down South – Fifi’s  Designer Consignment Shop, Durham, NC.  Although prom is “huge” here too, the girls here wear cocktail dresses, according to the Manager.  My candidate and theirs’ – ***a champagne ombre BCBG cocktail dress with some sparkly paillette work on the front – no extra bling needed. This little dress reminded me of Hailee Steinfeld, in her Marchesa dress at the Oscars. The girl who wears the BCBG to her prom will look elegant but “her age”.

Last stop, The Fashion Exchange, in Newtown, CT, on the Northernmost reaches of Fairfield County. Here, the look was gowns as well, two on average, for the big night. The choices were less elevated, think BCBG rather than Oscar. The owner, Janet, emphasized the importance of “blingy accessories”. The case and wall next to the register was as dazzling as the Caribbean noontime sun. The most in demand pieces were hair ornaments to decorate updos, big cocktail rings and Harry Winston-like bracelets of faux ice. Although the F.E. is an upscale shop, a dress can run in a reasonable  $100 price range, topping out around $600.

One big resemblance with a first wedding, Janet notes, is that the Mother is often the more excited of the two. This was eerily similar to big first weddings, in which Mom typically takes over and inflates a “small wedding” to a huge spectacle with a cast of hundreds and a final price tag bordering on 6 figures.

Janet and I ended our conversation, talking about what else – the Royal Wedding. Kate, did it right, and used her long-time stylist James Pryce of the Richard Ward Salon, and allegedly did her own makeup.

She took it up a notch by applying makeup that was just a shade darker, for the biggest [at least, public] day of her life. How many girls do you know who would do that? Love it!

“She looked like herself,” said Janet. THAT girls, is the key. Fine to book an appointment with your favorite hair and makeup team, but if you don’t usually wear an up do in your day-to-day, better to stick with a more polished version of your usual look, as Kate did.

Lastly, take a cue from one of fashion’s most legendary icons, Coco Chanel

Before you go out, look at yourself – hard – in the mirror. If something looks ‘too much’ take it off. Maybe even take one more thing off.

To think of it, the only jewelry Kate, a real live Duchess and Queen to be, wore was the nature-inspired Robinson Pelham earrings, the Lady Di Sapphire ring, and the diamond Cartier “Halo” tiara, borrowed from the Queen. Bling like this is acceptable for her one and only wedding.

Tiaras for the prom – NO. Reserve that thrill for your wedding.


*Did you participate in the Carolee Prom earring give-away? If not, I’ve still got 1 pair left to gift.

HINT: These, BTW, make for a spectacular Mother’s Day gift if you haven’t gotten one for Maman yet.

**At this time, Vintage! does not have a website. It is a division of the Antiques Marketplace, Inc.

Tel: 914-242-9846.

***This is not the BCBG dress at Fifi’s as no photographs are allowed, but it’s similar.

Princess Fever – the Kate Middleton Fashion Aesthetic

16 Apr

Text, Vivian Kelly

I’ve been interested – no scratch that –  fascinated – with Princess to be, “Waity Katy” as the Royal Wedding approaches. It’s not the prospect of the wedding – I dislike the whole pomp and circumstance and unnecessary expense a “big wedding” entails [Just watch an episode of “Bridezilla”].

I missed the last “wedding of the century” – the Diana Spencer – Prince Charles one – on purpose. As an intern in a French Company in New York City, the VP gave me the option to watch the wedding, OR to get double my hourly pay to man the reception desk while the office took of to watch it on the President’s TV.

I took the money and read about it in The NY Post on the ride back to Greenwich that night, while sipping a glass of Chardonnay in the Metro North Bar Car.

Back to the present.

While I’m interested to see if Kate chooses a Brit designer [the politically correct move] and if she’s REALLY going to wear flats, what truly interests me about her is her every day style.

Here’s a young woman who can make classic clothing look fresh and updated. Perhaps she had a conversation with the fabulous Carine Roitfeld, Paris Vogue’s former Fashion Editor. Her aesthetic is just what Carine wrote in her fall/winter 2011 Collections Series 10 letter from the editor.

“Fall2011 is championing a move back to time-honored classics – those enduring pieces that confer both status and stature on the wearer.”

It’s not preppy dressing, ie: wild plaids and Lilly Pulitzer pink and green, Rather, it’s pearls, a perfect yet understated ring, well-groomed hands, shiny hair, minimal makeup, strong brows, and classical clothing silhouettes and classic shoes.

What’s great – these pieces will serve you for a long long time.


Mine are budget-priced, but these are also available at nose bleed price points if you want to go bonkers. Hint: Marc Jacobs’ Louis Vuitton fall2011 collection is LOADED with the right clothes.

– The perfect patterned skirt – tiered floral print skirt,  White House Black Market ($98)

– A pointy-toed slingback – Contrast Ladylike Slingback, White House Black Market 

– Form Fitting Blazer in a Neutral Color – WHBM’s  Layered Sateen Blazer ($148)    

– The perfectly understated strand of pearls – Carolee

– The unforgettable Sapphire and Diamond “Lady Di” ring. It’s Kate’s now, but in my head, it will always be “the Princess Diana ring”. Say that phrase, and everyone knows what you’re talking about, including your personal jeweler, if you want to have a version with real sapphires and diamonds made up.

The budget version from Sterlington CollectionsRoyal Heirloom Ring” looks so perfect, I’ve worn it out, just for fun. Vital Stats: oval cut faux Ceylon Sapphire, 5.65 carats, surrounded by 8 CZs totaling 3.60 T.W. carats, set in platinum plate.

This just covers Kate’s dressy DAY look. More to come soon, on her wedding gown and accessory choices.

*What jeans, tees and shoes do you think she wears on her time-off?

Drop me a comment and let me know!