Though typecast as the prototypical Hitchcockian icy blond, January Jones defiantly breaks that mold. The Golden Globe and Emmy-nominated actress is best known for her role as the conflicted and insecure Betty Francis on AMC’s smash hit Mad Men, but in real life, she has a laid-back personal style that belies the tension and internal stress that has come to define the character she plays. The first of the iconic show’s final seven episodes premieres this weekend, and we chatted with Jones about her incredible vintage costumes, her off-duty style, and the process of building up Betty’s love-to-hate-her persona.
Mad Men has become known for its amazing ’60s-era style. What are the things you like most and least about your costumes for the show?
The things I love most about the costumes are the structure and the silhouettes—there’s a glamour and femininity that is so lovely about what my character wears. I also love how each costume reflects what’s going on in her life. The very youthful and girly silhouettes and petticoats from the first couple of seasons segued into the chic suits she wears when she’s a politician’s wife.
The only thing that I didn’t like at first was getting used to all the undergarments, the girdles and long line bras with garters and stockings. It lends a great posture and changed the way I move and walk, though, so I ended up loving those underpinnings.
How would you describe your own personal style?
My own personal style is ever-evolving. I try to be simple, but with an edge. I’m not super girly or overtly sexy in my outfit choices, so I usually land on ripped jeans and a T-shirt with heels, a leather jacket, and amazing jewelry. Whether it’s always conscious or not, I end up wearing a physical interpretation of how I’m feeling most days. Or I use what I wear as a way to alter the mood I’m in. It goes both ways. What you garb yourself in can be a very powerful tool.
What is your relationship with fashion? Do you think playing a character whose costumes are so important in telling a story has affected your perception of fashion?
Fashion is huge in my life—it’s a way for me to be creative outside work, to touch and mold beautiful things. It’s always so fun to see that art come to life, watching fashion shows whether in person or online. I love taking fashion risks, evoking a reaction from people, whether good or not so good, as long as it makes you think or feel something.
As far as work, I find the process of going through a wardrobe and hair and makeup look extremely important for a character. When that character is from another era it’s even more fun, because the person is wearing things you never would. It’s so empowering to leave your trailer and already feel the part without having said a word. Because you look like the person you created and had in your mind, you’re already halfway there.
Do you have any personal style rules you live by?
No low-waisted jeans or wedge shoes.