Like so many others, my husband and I have become obsessed with Mad Men. While for us it is a difficult moral and ethical watch - we love everything else about it. Phil and I were both raised in households with grandparents. We've always had older souls and retro sensibilities. Granted, the sensibilities of the show don't match ours, we are completely in love with the visual aesthetic. Everything from the costumes, to the furnishings and apartments speak to my inner style and fashion sense.
My grandmother on my dad's side, Betty Jo, was such a role model for me growing up. One summer while I was in camp I got to live with her. My grandfather 'Boompa' was already gone at this time, so it was just me and 'Mama.' The woman lived and breathed class and style. Her all designer wardrobe rivaled that of Jackie O's. She used to be a stylist at an upscale Palm Beach fashion boutique for the later half of the year. (They were sun people, and every fall they would live in the beach-front condo in West Palm Beach - until the sun came back to Chicago). Anyhow, Mama was way ahead of her time.
She refused to leave the house without her hair fully set, her face on and would never be seen without her patterned pumps. Her West Palm Beach condo was all black, white, yellow and chrome. She had beautiful, elegant and simple furniture. Everything was very mid-century modern. Her condo up here was no different. (When she and Boompa were raising their three boys in Glencoe, her house was featured in Better Homes and Gardens)!
Also in the style of Mad Men, the woman loved her cocktail hour(s). Right around the same time every evening she would have her glass(es) of vodka or gin. I think it was more routine than anything else. I only ever saw her get really hammered on a couple of occasions. One time while in Florida, she and my grandfather took all three of their sons and families out to dinner at the nicest steakhouse around, the Rain Dancer. At the time it was definitely equivalent to a 5* restaurant nowadays. My dad and his brothers made the mistake of grabbing the bill from the waiter. Mama in all of her drunken glory got up on the table in her Donna Karan suit, golden jewelry and heels and crawled across the table to reclaim the check! (I will never ever forget that. She was still the classiest drunk I have ever seen).
But getting back to the actual reason for this post, I attribute my love of fashion and all things vintage/retro/modern to her. Watching the women on the show and the way they dress often reminds me of her. During one of my many library outings I found a wonderful book of women's fashion throughout the decades. I have only tapped into a few illustrations so far, but I plan to do many more. Here are the four as of now:
Thank you so much letting me share my story with you. I really wish more people could have met my dad's parents. They were two truly amazingly modern people for their time, and definitely helped to shape me into who I am today.
These illustrations (and more) will be available as poster prints as well as cards in my etsy shop: