It would require two hands to count how many Joan Holloways I’ve encountered on Halloween over the years. Her look is iconic: red hair in an up-do; a curve-hugging, short-sleeved, gem-toned ponte dress with a pencil skirt and a cinched waist; a gold brooch; her signature pencil necklace; and a fierce strut through the halls of Sterling Cooper.
But Joan Harris, she’s a more sophisticated woman. She gets married, has a baby, gets divorced, makes partner. She starts wearing bright prints and quirky, feminine business suits, still with her brooches and other bold accessories. By season 6 and 7, Joan is — gasp — wearing her hair down and experimenting with bangs. It’s almost as if she’s entered the ’60s just as the ’60s are ending. Joan’s style evolution is the most subtle of all the leading ladies on Mad Men, which kicks off the second half of its seventh and final season this Sunday.
“She has some progressions, but her figure really is suited for that Fifties design and silhouette,” Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant told Vanity Fair. “Christina [Hendricks, who plays Joan] and I always joke that Joan buys her clothing two sizes too small. It’s always about accentuating her hourglass. I’ve always seen her as this character who asserts herself in a very feminine way in the office. And she understands how to use those assets. She really holds onto that late-fifties moment. I always thought Joan’s style icons would be Marilyn Monroe and Sophia Loren. Those women who always exude sexiness.”
Let’s celebrate the kind of woman Joan personifies by revisiting ten of her most iconic looks throughout Mad Men so far.