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Tuesday, February 18

Learn Glamour From The Stars: Beyond Mad Men


I love movies, but I’ll admit that I love television just as much. If you’re looking for vintage inspiration for your modern glamour, the obvious choice is Mad Men. There’s a role model for almost any type of woman in that show, whether you are a Joan, a Betty, a Peggy, or a Megan. But there are only six seasons so far, and the seventh season will be the last. Not enough! I need a constant drip of vintage fabulousness!

Dear Reader, let me introduce you to your new best friend: Netflix. You’ve heard of it. Streaming on Netflix, available any time, are these four wonderful, entertaining television shows set in bygone times. I wouldn’t recommend these series for their clothing alone. It’s hard to watch more than an hour or two of wooden dialogue and predictable plot lines, no matter how cool the costumes. These shows are pretty and engaging. First, let’s take a trip to a little village in post-war England.

Agatha Christie’s Marple (2004-present) stars a lovely little old lady who seems to be followed by murder wherever she goes (actually, Miss Marple is played by two different lovely ladies over the course of the series). She solves mysteries by being more observant than all the people around her. She listens to gossip, she knows her neighbors’ habits, and she knits quietly while people spill their guts (usually figuratively).

Miss Marple herself is not very glamorous, though she sure can rock a handmade sweater. But her friends and acquaintances are often the British uppercrust or young glamourpusses who get into just a little bit too much trouble. Nary an episode goes by without some impeccably dressed woman with just the right shade of lipstick.

As long as we are in post-war England, let’s see what life is like in the slums of London. Wait, what? That’s not a great place to find glamour, I’ll grant you that, and Call the Midwife (2012-present) is about a bunch of nuns and nurses who catch the babies of the poorest women of London…but stay with me! These ladies have nights off, and their style is lovely and authentic. The main character, Jenny Lee, is the perfect girl-next-door, and her fellow midwife Trixie is a spunky bottle-blonde who never forgets to put on the finishing touches.

Jenny’s outfit in this picture is adorable–coordinated in soft colors, but the dress’s pattern is unusual enough to avoid being boring. If you’re looking for sweaters, heels, and pencil skirts, pay attention to Trixie on her nights off.

Now, let’s go back in time to WWII-era Canada.

Bomb Girls (2012-2013) is set in a Canadian munitions factory during WWII. The plot revolves around the dramas of women from all walks of life doing their part by taking on the very dangerous job of building bombs while the men are off fighting the war.

Sure, they wear uniforms at work, but most of the action takes place outside of the factory, where we see the rich girl, the vamp, the girl-next-store, and the naif hang out in their pajamas, dress up to go dancing, and wear the most flattering wide leg pants I’ve ever seen.

And now, for the most glamorous woman of all time, Phryne Fisher!

Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries (2012-present) is set in 1920’s Melbourne, Australia. Miss Fisher is a wealthy adventuress who decides to fill her spare time solving mysteries with the occasional help of her ladies’ maid, doctor, and cabbie friends. She flies planes, drives fast cars, carries a revolver, and will never, ever settle down.

The costumes for this series truly match Mad Men’s for meticulousness, luxury, and authenticity. The costume designer, Marion Boyce, has described using fabrics from her personal collection and reshaping vintage dresses to fit the actresses. For Phryne alone, Ms. Boyce estimated that she created over 120 costumes for just the first two seasons of the show. As you can see the results are fabulous, and if you only watch one show on this list for glamour inspiration, this must be it!


Written by Team Glamorous Housewife Movie Expert: Mary D. Freiman.

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17 Responses

  1. Sanne says:

    Oh, I wish we had these on Netflix in Denmark too. I will cry when Mad Men stops. Is there some where a list we can sign to make them make more seasons? ;)

  2. Helen says:

    What great shows to take inspiration from. Love Call The Midwife, Miss Marple and Mad Men – need to watch Bomb Girls and Miss Fisher’s Murder Mysteries – they look fab!

  3. Sarah says:

    Call the midwife is my new favourite show! I think I age 30 years whenever its on as I feel the need to pull out some crochet and drink tea or horlicks while watching :)

  4. debbi says:

    I really enjoy your blog!! Always something new and fresh and fun to see here!
    How do I subscribe???

    • The Glamourous Housewife says:

      Well, you could FB me because I always update my FB with the post each day. Or Twitter. Or Google +. I’ve been thinking about an email newsletter. How do you subscribe to other blogs?

  5. Why are these not available on Amazon prime instant video or hulu? ugh. I do see that the agatha christie one is on amazon, so I am checking that now, but I am really wanting to see bomb girls and call the midwife. I might have to break down and get netflix too.

  6. Selina says:

    I love Miss Fisher, she is fabulous. It’s funny you mention Miss Marple, this latest series is a shade more glamorous than the originals that were aired in the 80s I think. These are remakes but I’m happy for once they are remade, I prefer them. And of course Jenny Lee is gorgeous

  7. Julianne says:

    I love all these shows – I watch them when my husband travels for business. He thinks I’m lonely and bored while he’s away. Ha!

  8. Fashionista says:

    Yay! Miss Fisher gets a gong! We Australians are very proud of our Phryne! Last year many of the costumes were exhibited in the historic home that provides many of the sets for the shows. In real life those costumes are DIVINE. You could get really really close (no touching though) to them and I spent hours studying their structure. And the hats, oh the hats! The costume designer is my new costumer crush (I’m sure Janie Bryant will forgive me!).

  9. Candice says:

    Have you watched Land Girls? It’s also on Netflix, it’s a fantastic series about life in rural England for land army girls during World War II.

  10. Jen O says:

    Great recommends–these are all part of my favorite shows to watch (and wait for a new season). One thing I love about Miss Fisher is that she’s actually a mature woman (yeah!).

  11. Sarah T says:

    Have you seen The Bletchley Circle? Post WWII crime solving ladies! They get a little more fashionable in season 2!

  12. Heather says:

    You need to check out The Bletchley Circle too, if you haven’t already!

  13. Lovely post! Masters of Sex (about sex researches Masters and Johnson) is another great mid-century series that provide plenty of sartorial inspiration, though I do find that they take liberties with the costuming sometimes (some of the dresses are too 40s or 60s for the mid-50s period its set in, for example).

    ♥ Jessica

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