Fashion types like to describe a stylish woman or man as being "effortlessly chic," but Janie Bryant knows that's a lie.
Bryant, the award-winning costume designer who makes Betty Draper look so icily perfect, Joan Holloway so sexy and Don Draper so well-groomed and in control on the AMC TV series "Mad Men," says looking great takes effort -- whether you are dressing characters for a show or getting yourself ready for an event.
And those who pull it off don't just wear the latest designer collection or follow the trends. They've learned what flatters their figure and coloring, what works for the occasion, and which hairstyle, makeup and accessories are needed to make the difference between ho-hum and woo-hoo, she says.
Bryant has had time to think about this, because "Mad Men" is between seasons. In the meantime, she has become a Maidenform pitchwoman, sold her designs on QVC and penned a book, "The Fashion File."
Why is it that we're still so obsessed with the 1960s -- the era in which "Mad Men" is set and the time frame for a couple of other TV shows this fall?
From a fashion perspective, "it is such a classic and elegant period," Bryant says. "The shapes are still relevant today because they're figure-flattering."
It's also a response to how casual society has become, she says.
"The art of dressing up has been lost for the past 10 to 20 years, and I think people want to learn about that," she says. "People are hungering for knowledge on how to dress up. When you walk out of the house looking great, you feel so much better. You can conquer the world."
Some of the 1960s elements that women are responding to and that Bryant loves are the sheath dress, pearl necklaces, hats, high heels and matching handbags to shoes.
She says that it's nice to remember the fashion rules as they once existed -- and to break them if you wish to.
"I used to not wear white after Labor Day, and now I love it because it so contrasts with the season," she says.
Rules she's more careful to consider are those that relate to fit and body type.
"You should know where the waist seam should hit, where a princess seam fits, how short a skirt should be, your bra size," she says.
Find a good tailor or seamstress, and your clothes will flatter you, she says.
"It's hard for things to fit right off the rack," she says.
Once the fit of your clothes is right, personalize your style. In Bryant's case, that means incorporating such vintage accessories as rings, bracelets, scarves, hats and handbags.
And don't feel like you have to dress the same way all the time, she says. Bryant varies her look but likes to mix "a little romance with a little bit of edge."
She also likes to go along with fashion's romps through the decades, wearing everything from flapper-influenced 1920s gowns or hippie chic from the 1970s.
While Bryant admits that one of her favorite things to do is dress up and adapt to new environs, she knows that not everyone agrees.
For those who want to try to break out of a style rut, take baby steps. Step outside your comfort zone simply by trying on different pieces and silhouettes in a store. Or play dress-up with what you already own, creating outfits for various occasions.
"If you're on a budget, shop in your closet," she says. "Make an investment in time."