Sure, 2014 is having some great style moments. (I’m looking at you, Kimye Vogue cover.) But when I’m in a rut and need a little style inspiration, I tend to turn away from the present and look toward ’60s glamour. Joan, Megan, Betty, and Peggy zou bisou-ed their way into my heart with their gravity-defying updos and Technicolor outfits. For a vintage-lover like myself, Mad Men is the goldmine of inspiration. I recently binge-watched all of Mad Men season six, and spent the next week wearing nothing but ’60s-style beehives, listening to Nancy Sinatra on repeat, and wishing I could chain-smoke like Betty Francis.
Sixties glamour doesn’t need to be expensive. Here’s your guide to channeling the ladies of Mad Men without spending a cent.
Set the mood.
Cue up a retro playlist while you get ready! I imagined what Megan Draper might have in her record collection. With her Québécois roots in mind, I put together a mix of ’60s American and French pop, featuring plus a few modern singers who know their way around a cat-eye, like Amy Winehouse and Lana Del Rey. Listen here.
Look the part.
Megan’s adorable bob is right on trend for 2014, and I have to admit I was inspired by her when I chopped my own hair short last year. But when I really want to feel like a Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce girl, I go for a Joan Harris-inspired beehive. I sometimes like to leave the rest of my hair down for a retro half-up, half-down look. Other times, I add a French twist for a full updo.
Joan’s hairstyles typically look like works of art, but they’re not as difficult as you might think. All you need is an army of bobby pins, a can or two of hairspray, and plenty of patience. I’m a certified hair doofus and still burn my ears every time I use a curling iron, but even I can whip up a Joan-approved beehive in five minutes. Here’s how to get the look.
1. If you have bangs, skip to step two. Otherwise, make a side part and sweep your hair behind your ears to create bangs. Use the end of a thin makeup brush to draw a horizontal line from ear to ear. This line separates your bangs from your beehive.
2. Pull the top layer of your hair back towards your crown and brush it smooth.
3. Slide one hand two inches up your hair and use your other hand to coil the remaining hair around your finger.
4. Roll the coil down and under your first hand. Secure the coil to your scalp with bobby pins. The coil acts as volume underneath the smoothed-out top layer.
5. If you need to secure your bangs with bobby pins, now is the time to do so. You can hide the bobby pins behind your ears.
6. Gather the remaining hair at the nape of your neck and begin to twist it upwards. As you twist, the hair should turn inwards upon itself. Secure the twist to your head with bobby pins as you go. If your hair is longer than mine, finish the twist at your crown (where the top half of your hair is pinned) and tuck the ends underneath.
6. Finish with copious amounts of hairspray.
Bookend the Swinging Sixties with two turning point books: The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan (1963) and Fear of Flying by Erica Jong (1973). Think of Friedan’s report on a generation of bored, suburban housewives as a sociological study of Mad Men‘s own Betty. It’s the story of millions of young American women who supposedly had it made — doting husbands, beautiful children, a white picket fence on the green lawn outside the house — but were still deeply depressed. The book sparked second-wave feminism, which paved the way for Jong’s shockingly sexy novel a decade later. If Friedan was writing for women like Betty, Jong was writing for women like Megan. Her protagonist takes off across in Europe in pursuit of the “zipless fuck,” the perfect one-night stand, while her husband is at a business conference.