Kiernan Shipka, who plays Sally Draper on Mad Men, was the youngest award recipient at Wednesday night’s Women in Film Crystal & Lucy Awards. (Hailee Steinfeld, winner of MaxMara’s Face of the Future award, has a whole three years on the 13-year-old Shipka.) But aside from her diminutive stature and baby face, you wouldn’t know she was just entering her teenage years: Shipka is more poised and well-spoken than most women twice her age.
When I caught up with her earlier this week, she kindly suggested we go somewhere quieter so we could actually hear each other, then enthusiastically opened up about her evolving style, wearing high heels, why she’s given up sewing her own dresses, and her Mad Men character’s rising hemlines. When I thanked her for her time she beamed back at me, “Thank YOU, Leah!”
Fashionista: Tell me about Sally’s wardrobe–you’re growing up, Sally’s growing up, her clothes are changing…
If you’ve been watching the recent episodes [Ed. note: Oh we have] her skirts have been getting a lot shorter. Out of the blue her shorts are so much shorter, and they’re so cute! I feel like right now she’s really into a high-waisted bottom with a fitted knit top. Her style is very retro ’60s early ’70s–it almost has hints of American Apparel. I think what I’ve noticed more with Sally this season than ever before, especially since she’s growing older, is that she’s a little bit more trendy. I can definitely see her following the times, wearing more mature clothing, whereas in years past, Sally appropriately looked like she was dressed by her mom. This year I think we’re seeing a little bit more Sally.
Do you connect to that?
This year more than ever, I’ve wanted to steal every single thing she wears. I was wearing skirt in this one episode and I just wanted to take it home.
Are you ever allowed to?
No. They’re all rentals and they have to ship them back and it’s awful. Her style is great this season. It’s the most modern I’ve ever seen it.
Do you get any backlash from viewers who don’t want to see Sally grow up?
I think people who have watched her and followed her realize that she’s coming into her own and it’s fitting with her character because she’s becoming a lot more mature. I’m loving it. I think Janie Bryant is brilliant.
You seem like an actress who really loves fashion. I seem to remember that you’ve even designed some of your own clothes?
Well, when I made that dress it was great–I was sewing it, it took a year to make, and six months in I started sewing the back and I tried it on and it didn’t fit! I totally grew out of it while I was making it. It was awful. So I’m no longer doing that, it was too stressful. I don’t sew or make my own clothes anymore, but I love fashion.
In your The Look webisode with Harper’s Bazaar‘s Laura Brown, your very impressive closet is on display. Are you always that organized?
I’m a little bit of a neurotic when it comes to my closet. I need to make sure everything is in its place. When it’s a mess, I just, like, break down–it’s not good.
Do you feel like your own style is evolving?
Looking through photo albums from a couple years ago, I could see myself slowly getting into fashion. I feel my style is getting a little more simple. I like these high waisted skirts that flare out. I can wear a little big bigger of a heel now.
[I look at her at least three-inch heel] That’s pretty high!
Yeah! But they’re thick so they’re easy to walk in. So I’ve been wearing more heels. I also still love dresses but I’ve been wearing more pieces now, including pants. There was a time when I would just wear dresses but I’m into pants now. I’ve just been exploring and trying new things.
Do the red carpets intimidate you?
I think you have to learn to not be intimidated by them. It can be easily intimidating–you’re going up there and having photos taken and they can be judged the next day. So you just have to go there and have fun. As long as you like what you’re wearing and you learn to accept that people can think whatever they’re going to think and you don’t get to overly stressed, it’s going to be enjoyable.