4 Style Lessons from The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel
Editor’s Note: If you missed The Three Tomatoes Happy Hour Podcast with Donna Zakowska, the show’s fashion designer, and co-host Kim Selby, we’ve posted it below the article.
You’ve watched The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, right? And although it’s an incredibly entertaining story of one woman discovering herself after her marriage ends, it’s also a sight to behold. They’ve painstakingly recreated 1950’s New York (and Miami and Paris) down to the most minute detail. And I can’t forget my favorite part – the costumes! They reflect an era when everyone dressed up just for every day. And they also chart the struggles and evolution of the main character, Midge Maisel.
I know – the 50’s wasn’t the most comfortable era in fashion. Corsets and high heels aren’t as easy to wear as jeans and t-shirts, but they sure are amazing to look at. And I also appreciate the style they’ve given Midge – she’s a smart, quick witted, resilient woman who just happens to enjoy getting all dolled up. What I specifically love is her overall vibe – she’s not afraid of print and color, or of standing out in a crowd. I think there are a lot of style lessons we can learn from Midge Maisel that are still relevant today, 60+ years later. Here are a few of my favorites.
COLOR IS FUN
I work with many people who are reticent to wear a lot of color, to the point of fearing the entire concept. But if we listen to Midge – one color is great, but two is even better. She truly embraces color in a way that says, “here I am, world!” She never aims to be a wallflower, but neither is she wearing color to garner attention – she wears it simply because she wants to.
And that’s a lesson we all can use. Color is fun, so why not play with it? Instead of grabbing a burgundy top and stopping there, how about wearing it with a blush jacket? Or mustard flats? Or a purple scarf? If you’re unsure about how to pair colors, take some inspiration directly from Midge and echo her color combos in your outfits. And if you’d like a little more advice, read this for 10 color combinations that always work.
MATCHING ISN’T A BAD THING
If you take a look at Midge’s 50’s era fashion, you’ll notice a lot of matching going on. Jackets match dresses, hats match gloves, and shoes most often match something else in the outfit (and do you remember the print dress that matched the coat lining from season one?). In the 2020’s, there’s no need to go that far – but it doesn’t hurt to have items that match for a little style impact.
If I showed you a cobalt blouse and a cobalt blue blazer, you may ask, “why would I wear those together?” To which my response is, “why not?” Clothes that match (in color or print) are easier to coordinate and give you an option of wearing them together when you like – but also separately when you don’t. A great example of this is having a fun suit – you can wear the jacket and pants together for a unique take on cocktail dressing, and you can wear the pieces apart as versatile separates in your wardrobe. If you want to read more about why I think suits are still super useful (outside of a pandemic), click here.
If a matching blazer and trousers feels out of your comfort zone, how about matching accessories? Yes, the rule that your bag and shoes have to match is a bit antiquated – but it doesn’t mean that it’s bad if they do match. For example – if you have a fun pair of red boots and a red bag that coordinates, you can wear them with a simple black and white plaid blazer, white top and jeans. Or you can wear them with a camel sweater dress. Or you can wear them with a black leather jacket and skinny pants (read this for accessory combos you may not have thought of). And talking about accessories…
NEVER FORGET YOUR ACCESSORIES
Midge rarely leaves the house without a major accessory statement – an eye-catching hat with coordinating gloves seem to be her go-to. But no, I’m not asking you to start wearing hats and gloves every day to your business casual office. What I am asking you is to stop forgetting about the impact that accessories have on your outfit.
When I’m working with clients, they often say that they want to look more ‘put together’. And a straightforward way to do this is by finishing off your outfit with deliberate accessory choices. Instead of defaulting to black flats all the time, choose a color or print that enhances your jeans and sweater uniform. In place of barely visible jewelry, select a necklace or earrings with presence. Add a floral print scarf to your look not just because it’s cold, but because it’s a fun focal point. If you don’t believe me, check out these examples of outfits that go from so-so to stellar with a simple switch of accessories.
THERE’S POWER IN A UNIFORM
When Midge starts performing stand-up, she depends on a wardrobe of little black dresses for many of her gigs. Part of this is to symbolize the stereotype of the upper east side housewife – but it’s also a purposeful uniform she’s chosen for her new career.
And there’s a power in uniforms. Actual uniforms can communicate profession or status, but uniforms in your wardrobe can be very useful, as well. They can get you in the right mindset for a specific task or event – and who doesn’t want a little help getting in the mood? So whether it’s the strappy heels that always make you feel like dancing or the leather moto jacket that makes you feel like a badass or the power dress you save for big presentations – having a few key uniforms are super helpful in crafting an intentional image and feeling when you want to.
So, what style lesson will you try first? Let me know in the comments.
And if you’re looking for more style inspiration outside of The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, sign up for the Style Mail Giveaway! Style Mail is my twice monthly newsletter with tips and strategies to make getting dressed easier and fun, every single day. And if you sign up for Style Mail now through 3/15/21, you’ll be entered into a drawing for a FREE style consultation and a $300 NeoBantu giftcard. Click here to sign up for Style Mail and enter the giveaway.