Thursday, July 14, 2011

Gail Carriger Has FEELS and Thoughts on Banana Republic's Mad Men Line

In which Gail goes of on a bit of a fashion rant . . . you have been warned.

So, Fashionable Reader, Banana Republic announced recently that they were coming out with a Mad Men inspired RTW line. I went in to their San Francisco flagship store to inquire and the salesman seemed to think the earliest we could expect it to hit shops is next Spring, but I'd be shocked if they weren't shooting for the holiday season.

 Here's my main question: Banana Republic, why would I buy a faux-vintage line? It's not going to fit those of use with real vintage curves because you're still using your flat-chested butt-less size models. It doesn't have any of the basics we like ~ hello, sleeves? It's clearly not tailored for anything substantial up top or down bellow. The model doesn't have very much yet it isn't fitting even her tiny little Bs properly.

The lengths aren't quite long enough, and the colors are, frankly boring.

It's not tailored to the natural waist, a hallmark of 1950s fashion. Instead it's coming in about the ribs. Put my rack in there and it'd practically be a baby-doll.

I bet the fabrics are synthetic, the seams sewn only once, and half the stuff isn't lined property. I'll take real vintage any day, at half the price. Of course, I'll probably still go and investigate the outlet mall in a few months, just to be sure. But I lay good money that not a single thing will fit this retro rack better than any one of my $15 thrifted real 1950s dresses, that's for darn sure.

So am I annoyed? Yes, Fashionable Reader, I do believe I am. And I'm not anti-Banana Republic as a general rule. I happen to own and love one of their winter white overcoats from several years ago. However, the only BR tops I've ever managed to squeeze into were stretch jersey (and I prefer tailored and structured fabrics).

I suppose, in the end, I feel like they are basically poaching a vintage look without giving me what I want from vintage clothing ~ proper fit.

I can guarantee you one of the people this Banana Republic Mad Man line won't fit . . . Christina Hendricks.


  1. That maroonish dress does look really odd with a high waist instead of a natural waist, as if she's wearing a vintage dress that doesn't quite fit her. But the black houndstooth dress is cute... I have a friend who would rock that look.

    I suspect this line will appeal to people who are not very curvy and want a vintage look. It can be very hard and frustrating to shop for real vintage. I've found pieces that I LOVED that simply didn't fit, and of course, you're limited to whatever size the thrift store has.

    Vintage-inspired looks in general seem to be cropping up in a lot of stores (I bought a gorgeous cocktail dress that has a early 20th century look to it at Sears of all places), so with luck we'll see shops offering better faux vintage lines.

  2. I really, really wonder why fashion designers only favour girls with particularly weak memory - they always forget the other half of their body weight at home, as it seems. I'm a healthy extra small/small butt and all I want to do is feeding these girls. Duh.

    Thumbs up for natural curves! Thumbs down for boring, expensive wastes of material!

  3. I agree with you, Gail, that these vintage-inspired clothes don't come close to the real thing. My only hope is that they look better in the stores. I'm 5'11 1/2, and although my figure isn't to be called curvy, I do have big legs and something up top. That one burgundy dress would never work on my long torso. Unfortunately, I can't do real vintage either because of the exact same problem. Hmmm, I really should take up sewing... :-)

    Thanks for the heads up on BR's new line!

  4. It's not even as though you have to swear off vintage if you're curve-less, either! Most of the vintage patterns I pick up are either my size or the next size up (And I'm packing 33"-26"-35")

    Just seems like designer laziness to me.

  5. Must admit that I deeply miss the original B.R. -- the hot, humid little store with combination of jungle sounds and 30s music selling second-hand and remaindered safari gear ;-)

    Showing my age...

  6. I bought so much stuff from the original Banana Republic also! Gah I'm old!!!!

    Thank goodness I can sew but for those of you who do not here are a few ideas; find a really good tailor. They really aren't that expensive. Pull pics of vintage pieces or modern vintage-ish and take them to the tailor with the fabric of your choice. You get an awesome one of a kind outfit perfectly fitted to your figure. And, if your weight changes (as it does to all of us) the tailor made clothes will most likely have larger seam allowances and can be altered much more easily than mass market clothes.

  7. I miss the old Banana Republic; there was one a block away from our first apartment.

    I still treasure one of their photographer's vests, which I found at a local thrift shop a few years ago and personalized with various patches and buttons.

    I'm more of the short and pear-shaped figure; body by a goddess - the Mother Goddess of Willendorf. :P

  8. I used to have a purse made from an old mitt that was used to carry land mines from BR as a kid. I probably still have it somewhere.

    All designers use those stick thin models. Even those who design for fat chicks like me. It's just industry standard. Remember when Ralph Lauren fired that one model who was a "whopping" size four? And that other one who said, "No one likes round women." (Forget his name, I just know he has a library that I am completely jealous of. If he wasn't such a bigot against any women with curves of any sort I'd totally marry him just for his library.)

    I want to learn how to sew. Mostly so I can adapt 70s patterns for myself.

    Also, I've never seen Mad Men but I hear that annoying chick from the Progressive commercials was on an episode or two. But it's nice to see a woman on a popular show who actually has boobs.

  9. Urgh I hate those waistlines! I am very petite, but curvy. I am just under five foot even, but I have a curvy waist, broad shoulders, and a c-cup.

    It's a real pain to find something that fits me properly because everyone expects short girls to be flat and straight. I really like vintage because of the way the waists are usually cut, but this new BR line seems to be taking all of those benefits away.

    And you're right. Those colors are really boring.

  10. I'm 34-24-44.

    So, NO. Nothing fitted from BR ever fits. I agree, those dresses have none of the whimsy--and probably an eighth of the quality--of vintage sixties apparel. I like my hips and waistline, but I hate having to get all my fave pieces tailored.

  11. Well, at least Christina Hendricks can wear the coats from the London Fog line she modeled for last year.

  12. shock/horror - they're showing KNEES!


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