TIME advice

How to Remove Every Type of Stain

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From ink to wine

A bad stain can ruin your day, or worse, your favorite piece of clothing. But, it shouldn’t be that way. Most stains are removable — it’s all about smart treatment know-how (plus a little patience and elbow grease). We asked Carolyn Childers, Handy’s chief home officer, to give us the 411 on tricky common stains, from ink to grease to coffee.

Turns out, toothpaste doesn’t need to be dealt with immediately, but you should rinse coffee stains with cold water as quickly as possible. We’ll never stop drinking wine on our white rug, sipping coffee in the car, or putting mustard on that dog at the ballpark — but thanks to these expert tips, our future stains won’t know what hit them.

The Culprit: Grease
The Remedy: Sprinkling baby powder

When a late-night pizza stop takes a dark turn, clean up the grease stain by covering the spot with clear liquid dish detergent and rub in gently. Next, rinse with white vinegar diluted with water. You can also try applying a small amount of baby powder to grease spots and gently rubbing until the mark is gone. For stovetop stains, a trusty Brillo pad paired with a little water and baking soda works wonders.

The Culprit: Ink
The Remedy: Spraying hairspray

Splotchy fabrics are trending, but exploding pens are never a good look. Use a clean cloth dampened with a mix of water and a small amount of liquid laundry detergent to blot away the stain (never rub it in!). Then, throw it in the washing machine on the hottest setting the fabric type will allow. “Hairspray has also been shown to dissolve ink, making it easier to come out of fabrics before throwing in the wash,” Childers says.

The Culprit: Wine
The Remedy: Add a splash of club soda

Vino is close in chemical makeup to blood stains, so the removal process is also similar. “Beyond using the cold water or a salt paste trick, you can also do a diluted vinegar soak using one part vinegar to two parts water. If a soak isn’t possible (like a carpet wine stain), try pouring club soda on the stain as a more powerful lifting alternative to just water, and then use salt if the stain still hasn’t come off,” Childers says.

The Culprit: Grass stain
The Remedy: Pre-treat with detergent and avoid heat

The key here is getting to the stain before it goes into the wash. “Grass is one of those stains that has a bit of everything: natural oils and dyes, proteins, starches, and sugars from the plant world, not to mention there’s usually an earth pigment associated with it,” says Akemi Ooka, method’s senior director of formulation (a.k.a. formulatrix). “While method 4X concentrated laundry detergent cleans stains very well on all kinds of clothing types just by using it as directed in your washer, if you have a really stubborn stain, the product is also an excellent pre-treater. Just apply a small amount of detergent on the stain, rub it in, and then wash as usual. Finally, to avoid setting the stain with heat from the dryer, line-dry the item for the best result.”

The Culprit: Blood
The Remedy: Apply a salt and cold water paste

Like most stains, deal with this one pronto. Hot water will cause stains to set, so use cold water to dab away at the spot. For particularly delicate fabrics (like silk shirts or sheets), try using a paste of salt and cold water. “The slightly rough texture of the salt combined with its natural dehydrating properties works gently enough to loosen blood stains out of fabric,” says Childers.

The Culprit: Toothpaste
The Remedy: Apply detergent diluted with water

Toothpaste is great for your pearly whites, but not so much for your button-down shirt. Take a cloth or sponge (that has been dampened with a few drops of detergent diluted with cold water) to blot away the stain. “Toothpaste is also one of the only stains where immediate action isn’t necessary. Often times it’s easier to let the toothpaste dry up before treating the stain, since this prevents further smearing on the fabric,” says Childers.

The Culprit: Mustard
The Remedy: Apply a clear detergent and water mixture

For a fresh stain, take your sponge and dampen with a mix of cool water and a teaspoon of clear detergent. Blot from the outside of the stain into the center until the stain lifts. For a dried-on stain, scrape off as much of the mustard using a dull knife or similar scraping tool, and try blotting out the stain (using the same detergent and water mix) from the backside of the fabric rather than directly on top of the stain.

The Culprit: Coffee
The Remedy: Use a powdered detergent, cold water, and vinegar paste

If it’s a fresh spill, cold water should be enough to do the trick. First, use a paper towel to absorb as much of the spilled coffee as possible. Then, run cold water over the stain. “Make sure not to scrub,” says Childers. “It runs the risk of making the stain spread.” You can also use a mix of powdered laundry detergent, cold water, and distilled white vinegar to form a paste that is gentle enough to remove the stain without damaging fabric.

The Culprit: Perfume
The Remedy: Sponge with white vinegar

So sweet — and deadly when you accidentally spray the collar of your silk shirt. Immediately take a sponge dampened with cold water and apply it to the perfume stain to avoid permanent setting. If some staining remains, carefully try sponging on a diluted solution of white vinegar and water. “Soak the garment in a bucket filled with lukewarm water for half an hour to an hour before putting it through the washing machine,” Childers says.

The Culprit: Chocolate
The Remedy: Soak in a bucket

Rub laundry detergent into the stain and let it sit for up to five minutes, then give it a pre-soak in cold water for another 15. Finish by putting the item through a regular cycle in the washing machine.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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TIME Food & Drink

This Secret Ingredient Will Take Your Guacamole to the Next Level

Say cheese

Florals for spring? Groundbreaking. Guacamole for summer? Revolutionary. But, wait! Hear us out for a second, because this particular recipe’s secret ingredient takes the tried-and-true staple to a whole ‘nother level.

Since we take our Mexican food seriously here in L.A., we tapped local food blogger — and “self-proclaimed Queen of Guacamole” — Gaby Dalkin of What’s Gaby Cooking to spill her yummiest guac recipe. Her twist: Goat cheese. That’s right, the ingredient you’ve normally reserved for pizzas and salads is just the thing your dip is missing. “It has the citrus taste that you love from any guacamole recipe,” she says. “But, the tangy flavor from the goat cheese is everything. It’s the perfect complement to the creamy avocado.”

And, kitchen newbies need not worry, because the recipe is easy-as-pie and only takes five to ten minutes to whip up. You should keep one thing in mind at the grocery store, however: “The key to making the best guacamole is picking perfect avocados,” she says. “You need avocados that are just perfectly ripe. Not too firm, and not too squishy.”

Click through for Gaby’s directions — you’re just five simple steps away from your new signature appetizer.

  • Goat Cheese Guacamole

    Serves: 4

    Ingredients
    3 Hass avocados
    1/3 cup crumbled goat cheese
    1/4 cup chopped chives
    1/4 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
    1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
    Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

  • Step One

    Cut the avocados in half lengthwise. Remove the pit from the avocado and discard.

  • Step Two

    Use a spoon to remove the avocado from the skin, slice it into large cubes, and place the avocado flesh into a medium-size bowl.

  • Step Three

    Add the goat cheese, chives, sun dried tomatoes, lemon, salt, and pepper.

  • Step Four

    Mash with a fork until half smooth and creamy, and half chunky. Add more salt and pepper to taste.

  • Step Five

    Serve immediately with tortilla or pita chips, and you’ve got yourself an easy-peasy appetizer — with a creative twist — that your friends will love. ¡Olé!

    This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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TIME health

Being Obsessed With Healthy and Clean Food Is a Serious Condition, Too

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It's called orthorexia

Refinery29 Editor’s Note: Jordan Younger is a longtime supporter of The Anti-Diet Project and a blogger with her own fascinating journey. She made headlines last year after revealing something deeply personal about her own health and lifestyle change. This week, she’s generously offered to share her story with us.

Going vegan seemed like the answer to all my problems.

I adopted the diet in my last semester of college, hoping to remedy the lifelong indigestion issues I’d dealt with. Incredibly, it seemed to work. Eating only plant-based foods eased the extreme bloating and discomfort I was used to, and suddenly I felt lightness in my stomach. It was amazing. Veganism gave me a feeling of physical wellness and complete control. But, it had triggered an even deeper issue — one I didn’t even know existed.

By the time I graduated, my dedication to the plant-based diet had evolved into obsession. I had started an Instagram account, @theblondevegan, chronicling my vegan adventures, and posted photos of bright, colorful salads and mason jars filled to the brim with blended, green concoctions. I was proud to share my lifestyle, and found there was a huge hunger for knowledge about vegan food in the online community.

Next came the blog, where I shared recipes and chatted with my growing audience. I couldn’t believe that people were so interested in learning about my lifestyle, and my own passion was so great that I was happy to sit in front of the computer all day answering emails and guiding people toward a plant-based life.

Then, I moved to New York to pursue an M.F.A. in creative writing. But, once I arrived, there was only one thing on my mind: veganism. Suddenly, juice bars were offering me cleanses in exchange for reviews on my website, and after six months of paying a pretty penny for cleanse programs, there was no way I was turning them down. I started cleansing for three days a week nearly every week, and sometimes more.

But, something had changed: Every time I reintroduced solid food after cleansing, my old stomach problems returned — even though I kept the food strictly plant-based. Though it terrified me, I wasn’t willing to admit that veganism might not be the cure-all I’d imagined. Instead, I started avoiding solid food more and more, until I had so much eating anxiety that I was an absolute wreck to be around.

I tried to hide my food fears when I was with other people — and veganism was the perfect cover. Rather than admit my food phobia, I could just claim it was too hard to eat out as a vegan. Meanwhile, the cycle continued: I cleansed, got too hungry, broke down and ate solid food, felt terribly guilty, and rededicated myself to another cleanse — usually a longer one. With my family across the country and my growing The Blonde Vegan brand, I was able to keep my charade up for much longer than I should have.

But, come spring of 2014, there was no hiding it. I was not the picture of health I claimed to be. I couldn’t sleep because I was so full of anxiety about what I was going to eat the next day and what foods I had to avoid. My hair was thinning, my skin was a mess (and orange from too much beta-carotene), and my face was gaunter than gaunt. I looked and felt like a shadow of my former self.

The real kicker came when I stopped menstruating. At first I told myself it had nothing to do with the way that I ate, but as the months wore on and nothing came, I started to worry. I had gotten into the vegan lifestyle so I could be the healthiest version of myself, but now I was wreaking havoc on my body, and I knew it. After a major conversation with one of my close friends about her eating disorder, I finally realized that was what I was dealing with, too.

I knew I had a problem, but I didn’t have a name for it. My issue didn’t fall into the traditional categories of anorexia, bulimia, or binge eating. Mine was an obsession with healthy, pure, clean foods from the earth, and a fear of anything that might potentially cause my body harm.

As it turned out, there was a name for it: orthorexia.

Orthorexia is a little-known condition. It’s not currently recognized by the DSM-5 as a clinical diagnosis, but many suffer the symptoms: a fixation on purity, and a fear of foods that might derail that “perfection.” Those of us who have a tendency toward extremes in other areas are more susceptible to developing it — especially once we start cutting out entire food groups.

I knew I needed professional help, and I started working with both a nutritionist and a therapist to deal with the physical and emotional aspects of orthorexia. During my recovery process, I learned that the “superhuman willpower” I’d exercised for so long is a typical eating-disorder warning sign. I was trying to control my life through food, and I believed I was worthy and powerful because I treated my body like a temple (which, to me, meant eating nothing but plants). Once I started to let go of that addiction to emptiness and purity, I started to live again. Slowly but surely, I made strides to get my life back.

I dropped the vegan label shortly after I came to terms with my eating disorder, and that was one of the best things I could have done for myself. Now, I live a label-free life, and I find more power in that than I ever found in my plant-based fanaticism. Instead of food, I wake up thinking about life. I fill my time with great people and personal passions — like my blog, which is now all about balance. Sure, I have scary days around food. A lot of them. But, I am learning, and I am proud of that. I try to listen to my body, be kind to myself, and forgive. I eat when I’m hungry, and I don’t eat when I’m not. If I feel like veggies, I have them. If I feel like driving 10 miles for the best cupcake in town, then you bet I’m going to do that. I’ve found so much freedom in doing this whole balance thing.

And hey, for the first time in three years, I have stable blood sugar, and I’m not afraid to eat a piece of cake (full of white flour!) on my friends’ birthdays. Heck, on my own birthday. I’ve come a long way, and that’s a victory in itself.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME Culture

Why I Left My Religion (and Arranged Marriage) Behind

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I didn’t understand why God would give me a brain if I wasn't allowed to question things

Melissa Weisz is an emerging actress, with a current role in the movie Félix & Meira. The film, which tells the story of a young woman in a traditional Hasidic household who leaves her faith and the strict circle of her community when she falls in love, has strong parallels with Weisz’ own life. She told her story to Laura Barcella.

I never thought I’d be an actress, but not just for the reasons most people think they won’t make it. For most of my life, I lived in a traditional family in a Hasidic Jewish community in Brooklyn, where careers — let alone careers in acting — were rarely discussed. I was fully observant and, when I was 19, I entered into an arranged marriage. Four years later, I left it all behind.

My childhood was loud but happy. I had six sisters and two brothers, so there were lots of kids running around, and lots of makeshift moms — my older sisters were constantly helping out. It felt very safe, because we were in our own super-structured little bubble where everybody was like us. Everyone has one, clear, ultra-traditional direction in life — it was like, “This is where you’re going and this is what you’re doing.” You knew how to dress, how to act at home and at school. You knew what was expected of you.

I’m still not sure why, but one day, I started doubting a lot of what I’d been raised to believe. All of sudden, I was challenging my teachers and crossing the boundaries of what Hasidic kids are supposed to talk about. Some of the stuff I was learning — like the idea of men throughout history having multiple wives, things like that — disturbed me. Why was it okay for men to do that and not women?

It bothered me how, at holidays like Shabbat, the guys would sit quietly and study while the women were expected to serve them. I started to wonder, Why am I serving my little brother? Obviously, I didn’t know anything about feminism then. But, I didn’t understand why God would give me a brain if I wasn’t allowed to question things, and I only got more and more dubious as I grew older.

When I was 19, I had an arranged Hasidic marriage. It was just what was done; my ex-husband and I met a few times, and then we got engaged. Fortunately, he’s a great guy; I actually started to feel like I was falling in love with him during the courtship process. I hadn’t been with anyone else. I didn’t question whether the marriage was right for me (ultimately, it wasn’t). I figured I would make it work no matter what, because I had to. But, when you start questioning things, all the dominoes start to fall.

We were married for four years when I decided to walk away from both my husband and our community. That summer, I’d gone away to Texas and spoken with various Hasidic friends and rabbis, checked out different temples. I was reading a lot about Judaism and realized, once and for all, that it felt false to me. I had been trying to make sense of it and find my own path within it, but I just couldn’t. Religion, in general, just doesn’t really have a place in my life or my belief system.

So, I made the very difficult decision to leave.

After I left, I felt a big sense of relief, but I also realized I needed to figure out how to survive outside the world in which I’d been raised. Practical matters, like finding an apartment, were totally new to me. I was lucky to discover Footsteps, an organization that helps former Orthodox Jews establish new lives outside their communities. I started going to some of its meetings and met a bunch of great people. I found a support system, an apartment, roommates. That was when I finally felt comfortable starting to openly talk about my experiences in the Orthodox world. I put myself through college and got a degree in psychology.

When I left, I didn’t ask my family for their support — I just assumed they wouldn’t give it. I didn’t give them a chance, and after I left there was no real communication for a while. Once, my sister stopped by and left me a care package with a delicious traditional Jewish cake, but she didn’t say “hi.”

Sometimes, still, I feel like a bit of an outsider, and occasionally I miss aspects of my old life. But, we all have moments like that — like when you return to the town where you went to school, or drive past a house you used to live in. It’s nostalgic, but that doesn’t mean you want to be there again. When I pass by Hasidic boys on the street, it gives me a little pang sometimes.

Fortunately, I’ve been able to reconnect with my family. After they realized my leaving wasn’t just a phase, they began to reach out to me again, which was great. My father and I are even thinking about writing a book about the experience.

In my newest movie, I actually play a Hasidic woman. It’s been cathartic because it has forced me to face my past. The house where we shot the film was so similar to the one I grew up in, I walked in and immediately started crying. It felt like home — but it definitely wasn’t my home anymore.

Félix and Meira is now in theaters in select cities around the country.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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TIME Family

What It’s Really Like To Be a Surrogate Mother

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“I don’t regret it for a second"

The modern American family takes many forms; our living arrangements and relationships are more diverse than ever. Still, Arin, a 31-year-old woman from Greenpoint, Brooklyn, has assumed a role that most women will never experience. She became a surrogate mother — carrying two biological children for her gay stepbrother, Phillip, and his longtime partner, Shane.

For people who want to be parents, but can’t have children of their own, surrogacy is an increasingly common — though complex — option. The American Society for Reproductive Medicine estimates that around 1,000 surrogacy births occur every year in the United States, but there is no official record-keeping for surrogacy and no legal formalities forcing people to document their involvement in the process.

The usual arrangement is gestational surrogacy, which is when an embryo created by in vitro fertilization (IVF) is implanted in and carried by a genetically unrelated female, who is typically found through a private agency. Interestingly, the United States is one of the few countries where it is legal for these surrogates to be paid for their role — other notable exceptions include India, Thailand, and Russia. (U.S. laws vary by state, but generally allow for compensation to surrogates.)

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A less common type of surrogacy is where a surrogate uses her own eggs, which would make her the genetic mother. “I would say that less than 50 births per year come from a genetic mother,” said Hilary Hanafin, PhD, chief counselor for the Center for Surrogate Parenting Inc. in Encino, California. Arin was one of these women.

Phillip and Shane, who live in Seattle, considered gestational surrogacy a few years ago. They had been together for more than a decade and desperately wanted a child. But, after investigating, they found the official procedures for surrogacy — as well as adoption — slow and cumbersome. The thought that Phillip’s stepsister, Arin, might carry their children had come up, but they decided they weren’t yet ready and moved on from the idea.

Then, one late-summer evening in 2012, Arin was visiting Phillip and Shane in Seattle when she decided the time was right. “Let’s just do it!” she remembers blurting over her glass of wine. “Why are we creating this issue? All we have to do is put your sperm in me, and we will have a baby!”

Phillip and Shane, full of excitement and nervousness, agreed. They left dinner, went to Walgreens, bought the necessary equipment to insert Shane’s sperm into Arin, and went home and did the deed. A few days later, Arin returned to Brooklyn. She didn’t get pregnant that time, but it eventually worked.

Arin, Phillip, and Shane’s case is rare by sociological standards. According to Dr. Hanafin, a woman carrying biological children (meaning the egg is hers, rather than implanted from a different woman) for a gay couple is relatively unprecedented. According to Arin, her volunteering as both the surrogate and genetic mother of the child was vehemently discouraged by psychologists she spoke to beforehand.

“They said, ‘That baby will be in your life. You will be attached. It will drive you crazy,’” Arin said. “There isn’t a situation like this out there, at least that we came across. The only other times family was part of it, they didn’t use their own eggs.”

Dr. Hanafin says that there are “rare instances of relinquishment guilt and grief” in surrogates. Women who have had children prior to surrogacy don’t typically encounter any psychological complications when entering a biological surrogacy situation — Dr. Hanafin theorizes that they may be better able to remove their emotions from the process. But, Arin hadn’t given birth to a child previously — which was another unique aspect of her situation.

“I have been counseling for 32 years and have never worked with a woman that wasn’t a mom already,” Dr. Hanafin said. “It’s that unusual. It takes a very healthy group of people to make it work.”

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For Arin, who was 28 at the time and didn’t feel quite ready to start a family of her own, the arrangement suited her. “I wanted to be pregnant and wanted to go through the experience, but not have the responsibility [of raising the child],” she said. The pregnancy was, as she put it, “a fairytale pregnancy.”

As the due-date crept closer, Phillip and Shane rented an apartment in New York City so they could prepare for the birth as a team and be there when Arin went into labor. They also consulted an attorney to finalize the adoption paperwork for Phillip. Since Shane was the biological father, Phillip would become the adoptive parent, with Arin relinquishing her rights as the mother of the child. On June 20, 2013, Dahlia was born: a healthy girl with grey-blue eyes and plump, rosy cheeks.

Medical professionals may have been concerned that Arin would become maternally attached to the child, but she took the transition from surrogate to aunt in stride. “I was not doing this for myself, and when she was born, I was fine with it. It was to the point that it was odd for me to think that I had a child.”

Dahlia, although only a toddler, has been given a full account of the process of her creation. “We want her to know her birth story, where she came from, and how everything happened,” said Phillip. “We have a picture of Arin in her room, and every night we look at it. We say, ‘B-Ma (Biological Mother) loves you,’ and ‘Say goodnight to B-Ma.’ So, for her, it becomes normal. It becomes easy for us to talk to her about it.”

Phillip and Shane were in constant contact with Arin about Dahlia’s development during infancy. (Facetime is a regular thing, and meetups are scheduled every three months, with Arin flying to Seattle or the family coming to New York.) “It’s not like she gave birth and placed her through adoption to a stranger,” Shane said.

It wasn’t more than six months after Dahlia’s birth before the couple asked Arin to carry another child for them.

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It took only two tries for Arin to get pregnant, and this time around, they used Phillip’s sperm. Although they have a brother-sister bond, they are not blood-related and wanted to make that clear to avoid any confusion. “We didn’t want people saying, ‘What’s going on here? What’s wrong with this family?” Arin said. The concept of each of them being the biological father of one of their children was very important to Phillip and Shane.

Phillip and Shane’s son, Laydon, was born in Manhattan on January 23, 2015. Arin’s labor was quick and nearly painless, lasting less than four hours.

In the months after Laydon’s birth, Arin has been inundated with photographs, videos, and Facetime sessions with the children — and unbridled appreciation from Phillip and Shane. “Without her, our life wouldn’t be the way it is, and our family wouldn’t be what it is,” Phillip said. “She has literally sacrificed so much and put her own life at risk to help us. We know we will always be in each others’ lives, and now that she is the birth mom of our children, there is even more reason for her to be involved.”

Shane added, “There’s not a word invented that describes the feeling. Sometimes we just look at Dahlia playing and Laydon sleeping, and we think, Is this real? It’s like watching it happen from afar and then it hits you: This is just incredible.”

Now, as spring makes its descent on New York, Arin can be found in her Greenpoint apartment, with her cat sprawled out in the patch of light that pours through the window. Looking back, she can’t help but smile.

“I don’t regret it for a second,” she said. “You forget the pain. You forget the morning sickness. You remember the beautiful moments. I look at these babies and [know] they are a part of my life. I helped create them. Phillip and Shane remind me every day of how I changed their lives.”

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME Ideas hosts the world's leading voices, providing commentary and expertise on the most compelling events in news, society, and culture. We welcome outside contributions. To submit a piece, email ideas@time.com.

TIME fashion

Mad Men Costume Designer on the Style Secret Modern Women Don’t Know

"It's a simple thing, but can really make your clothes look so much better"

When Mad Men returned for its seven final episodes on Sunday, viewers eagerly awaited the fate of Don Draper’s marriage to Megan and his sometimes-tenuous employment at SC&P; Joan’s long-overdue promotion and bid for true love (via rejection of Bob Benson); and Peggy’s scrappy ascent to girl boss in a man’s world.

But, for many of us, there’s a parallel storyline we’ve loved following for seven seasons: the characters’ wardrobes. Conceptualized and brought to life by costume designer Janie Bryant, Mad Mens costumes situate the story in time, underscore character development and emotional themes, and, in a show that’s very much about the pleasures and perils of self-invention, offer us vital cues on who these characters are, and how they want to be seen.

On the eve of the show’s final season, we sat down with the delightful Janie Bryant, and talked about how the women of Mad Men have evolved since that fateful day in 1960 when Peggy Olsen hit the typing pool, why she’ll always be #TeamBetty, and a lady’s secret weapon in her quest for a good outfit (that’s been in front of our eyes all along).

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AMC

One thing you’ve done with Joan is give her these incredible signature colors — a real power palette.
“That you don’t see today. By the late 80’s, into the 90’s, color palettes have gotten so limited for men and women. I always loved the idea of designing jewel tones for Joan, and speaking to how strong her character is, even though she may not know it at the time. It’s an old-fashioned feminine power — which we’re really not taught to use these days.”

Joan doesn’t do that Dress For Success thing where you legitimize yourself in the workplace by copying men.
“She does not. And you know, I don’t think that it’s demeaning. I always felt like the colors, the sexiness of her character, made her stronger.”

She’s also an icon to women with a certain body type, because there’s this misperception that everyone was skinny-skinny back then.
“And that was never the case. Then, as now, everybody has a different shape and I’m glad if Joan has helped women stop hiding and be proud of their curves. Accentuate the waist, be proud of your figure, and really own that femininity.”

Can we talk about her pendant necklace? It’s such a statement of “I’m always ready to work.”
“I always thought of it as her sword battling against those men!”

I like that even better.
“Maybe she could get her revenge — stab them a few times.”

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AMC

Of course, Peggy has approached the work world very differently, and that’s reflected in her wardrobe.
“Peggy is one of the characters that’s changed the most, through her different job promotions and leaving Sterling Cooper, going back, growing within the company and being a part of that boy’s club. She’s grown from a little schoolgirl secretary to a powerhouse businesswoman.”

Unlike Joan, she chooses clothes that de-emphasize her femininity — there’s a primness.
“Well, one of the things I’ve always loved about Peggy is that she’s a character who doesn’t have great style. That was never her intention or concern. She cares more about her work than what she’s wearing.”

Tell me a bit about your process creating costumes.
“I’ll receive a script and I break it down by character and figure out, ‘What am I visualizing for the costume design for this particular episode?’ And it depends on the episode how much I build, versus what I source from vintage pieces. And a lot is made from scratch — for instance, if Joan is going to be in an episode a lot, I’ll design and have most of her costumes made. I also design a lot of the suits for Don and Pete. I also buy and redesign vintage.”

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Does [series creator and writer] Matt Weiner ever have input?
“Sometimes he does write in specifically what he’s imagining. Like Sally Draper’s go-go boots: He wrote those in, it was a real plot point. Or Megan in California in her Pucci dress, he wrote that in.”

Interesting — you don’t expect men to have that sensitivity to fashion details.
“Oh, Matt knows. He’s very knowledgeable of the period — menswear, womenswear, the furniture. He’s obsessed.”

Speaking of the go-go boots, Sally Draper has had some exciting moments of fashion rebellion with her youthquake wardrobe.
“The rebellion of Sally is a rebellion from her mom, so I wanted to start transitioning her into a different color palette than Betty to illustrate their struggles. So a lot of dresses that I would have Sally wear would be oranges, greens, reds. Very intense colors.”

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AMC

Not like Betty’s icy palette.
“Yes — a palette Betty would never wear. We’ve never seen Betty in something orange or green, and Betty would only wear red if it was Christmas or Valentine’s, not as an everyday thing.”

Because she’s too emotionally remote?
“And too refined. Betty is all about being elegant, refined, beautiful. Orange to Betty would be an ugly color.”

She’s got that East Coast patrician thing — “we don’t do passionate.”
“We do not. It’s all under wraps and reserved and about looking perfect all the time. Camel is a good Betty color, pale blue, pale pink. So Sally’s moving away from that — and of course, coming under the influence of the other woman in Don’s life.”

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AMC

Megan!
“Sally looks up to her style-wise. I always saw Megan as being the new, the young, the fresh in Don’s life. And I love creating contrasts between Megan and Betty, because those two women really could not be any more different. Megan represents a whole different time period.”

And a different type of womanhood. Megan expects self-actualization, whereas Betty is this repressed woman who may never be happy.
“Poor Betty. I have such compassion for her. A lot of people really hate her. I think it was really hard to be a woman then, when you didn’t have any choices — and it’s not like every woman is free from that to this day. But it was especially true then; they didn’t even have the opportunities to support themselves, or not be under the thumb of some man.”

And the irony is that Betty was a smart, cultured woman! She went to Bryn Mawr, had a career…
“Traveled, speaks Italian.”

Yet was expected to give that independent life up when she got married.
“Despite all Betty’s talents and interests, for her college was more a finishing school to get her MRS, as opposed to skills that would help her in the working world. So I feel for Betty. I think she feels trapped. And that’s one thing I like about Megan — that she’s modern and resists being trapped in that same way.”

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What do you think women of that era know that modern women didn’t?
“Foundation garments.”

That’s the secret!
“Sorry to say. But that was just something that women did during that period. Stockings, girdles. And I know [modern] women don’t want to do shapewear, even just getting fit and measured for your bras. It’s a simple thing, but can really make your clothes look so much better. That’s the secret.”

When you look over the history of the show, what fashion moments stand out for you?
“So many. I love Peggy in her pantsuit. Megan in her Pucci dress picking Don up at the airport — the L.A. woman. Joan dancing around in her red Christmas dress. Megan doing ‘Zou Bisou’. Betty in her pink peignoir shooting pigeons. Harry in L.A. in his scarf and double-breasted, mustard yellow jacket. Don in Italy in his blue sport coat. I love Don Draper in blue and silk — he’s so dreamy. So many great looks.”

It’s been a great seven seasons. Thanks so much, Janie.
“Thank you.”

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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TIME fashion

6 Reasons American Women Should Stop Trying to Be Parisian

French actress Catherine Deneuve, circa 1962.
Silver Screen Collection—Getty Images French actress Catherine Deneuve, circa 1962.

Because the Parisian woman is going to make us more unsure about ourselves than when we started

In the vast and ever-changing world of What Is Stylish, there are a few things that seem to be constants: black always works; brows, lips, and lashes if nothing else; and when it comes to effortless chic and undone beauty, no one is more prized or emulated than the Parisian Woman. Here in the States, we’ve raised her to near-mythical status, a cloud of Guerlain and tousled bangs that floats past our un-chic lives, never exceeding a size 4. And, while I admit that I, too, love that image, and a copy of La Parisienne by Inès de la Fressange sits proudly on my desk, I can’t help but feel exhausted at the whole idea sometimes. As a French speaker of Quebecois extraction who lived several years in Paris — but who also has chronic rosacea, frizz-prone hair, and size-8 jeans — few things feel so close, and yet so far away.

No matter how much the dream of the Parisian Woman may frustrate me, though, I cannot deny her immense popularity. She’s her own genre of book, the subject of hundreds of popular blogs, and a mainstay of magazine articles. Even when we analyze her more critically, we can’t deny her influence. People want to talk about her, because on some level, we have come to believe that the Parisian Woman holds all secrets to living well, having great sex, and looking incredible even in a parka in the middle of winter. But, lusting after her imagined life is only, in the end, going to make us more unhappy with our own, and more unsure about ourselves than when we started — not to mention that the entire concept of a homogenous Parisian ideal doesn’t exist in the first place. Here, then, are six reasons why we should really stop putting so much effort into being so effortlessly Parisian, starting today.

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1. It’s kind of sexist, when you think about it.
The whole “be more like this mythical French woman” trope is sort of an upscale version of those “How To Stay Sexy For Your Man” books. As far as I know, no one’s running around telling American men constantly that they need to look and act like Jean Dujardin in order to be appealing. No one is presenting French men as the one thing American guys should aspire to, thus implying — on some level — that they’re not good enough as they are. The entire idea is gendered in a way that puts yet another form of pressure on us to be something that we may not organically be, or may not even want to be, which is the last thing we need.

2. “Effortless” is all a façade.
In the Sexy Parisian Secrets world, “effortless sexy” implies: being thin; having clear, glowy skin; possessing undone hair that falls perfectly, and wearing expertly cut clothes that hang off you in just the right way (likely because you are so thin). Even if you were physically predisposed to these things, you’d have to put in some effort to pull them all off on a daily basis. And frankly, most of us are not. Me, for example — how exactly do I go about “dewy” and “no-makeup chic” when I am constantly battling adult acne and dry winter skin? I guess I just put a bag over my head and paste Louise Bourgoin’s face on it.

3. For as many women who actually fall into the stereotypes, there are many more who don’t.
Simply wearing makeup or having some color in her closet doesn’t mean a woman’s got nothing to teach us about her culture, that she is an outlier who has no place in the vox populi. It just means her style and success in the various domains of womanhood are more dependent on individual lifestyle choices than country of birth. And, the longer we focus on the idea of the waif-like Gauloise-smoking Parisienne who raises obedient-yet-clever children with ease, the less we understand — and respect — what it really means to be a woman.

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4. French women read the How To Be Parisian stuff, too.
The concept of being that perfectly chic girl is just as foreign to many Parisian women as it is to us. When La Parisienne hit shelves a few years ago, every girlfriend I had in Paris bought a copy and consumed it just as naively as their American counterparts, and the latest book on the subject has been selling just as well there. They, too, are eager for the secrets to mastering the messy bun and bold lip, because — get this — they aren’t born knowing.

5. Parisian women are equally obsessed with New Yorkers.
And, they’re constantly talking or reading about NYC (specifically Williamsburg, lately), and dropping English words into French sentences in humble-braggy ways. For a lot of chic young French women, being savvy in a distinctly New York way is incredibly desirable. So, the thirst for cultural copycatting goes both ways, and they are no more in possession of magical information about life than we are. They are looking right back at us for a lot of the answers.

6. Paris is a real city with real diversity.
It’s full of people who are not a singular white, thin woman in a messy topknot and Breton-striped shirt. And yet, this is rarely (if ever) included in the many odes to “French style.”How to be Parisian, for example, doesn’t mention the incredible array of hijab fashion you will see on the street every day in Paris. And, while it would be wrong to imply that France (and Paris in particular) is a bastion of diversity — or that French culture has mastered embracing different backgrounds — the reality is that these outdated notions of What Is Parisian only perpetuate the real problems of representation in the country itself.

As long as we want to imagine that France still looks like a Doisneau photograph, we ignore the very real people who make up the France of today. We don’t acknowledge the many women of color, or the women who can’t afford designer labels, or the women who don’t fit into a sample-size skinny jeans. Those women are French, too. They may not look or shop like Clémence Poésy, but that doesn’t mean we can’t learn something from them. Even if that something isn’t “use expensive face cream and have lots of sex,” which seems to be all we want to hear.

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This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME career

How to Fight for Your Right to Leave Work by 6 PM

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Give yourself a break

Question: I leave work every day at 6:30 PM — because I come in at 8:30 AM, and working for 10 hours is enough for one day and one brain. I meet deadlines, and I don’t leave anything undone that can’t wait until the next day. But, sometimes it seems like there’s an unspoken competition at work over “who stayed the latest.” Every morning, other women are like, “OMG, I was here till 9!” or “I was here till 11 PM.” I always respond with something like, “I can’t believe you stayed so late! You’re crazy!” — which I guess just encourages them. How do I keep my regular work hours without feeling like I’m in last place in the who-stayed-the-latest race? I worry that everyone around me will think I’m a slacker for wanting to head out on time.

Answer: In the halcyon days of my youth, I attended a fancy-schmancy Liberal Arts College — the kind with no frats and a tuition that I’m still pimping my Etsy page to pay off. (There’s a strong market for throw pillows.) Before you roll your eyes and close this window, there’s a reason why I’m telling you this.

Each year, at finals time at said fancy school, there was a contingent of students who basically moved into the library. Now, studious and stressed-out college students wouldn’t normally draw my ire, except these Poindexters reveled in their misery. They would prominently display their piles of comically oversized tomes and Red Bull cans, shuffle around the Harry Potter-esque grandeur in slippers and clouds of anxiety, loudly bleat about how long they have gone without a shower. At first, I assumed that these students had incredibly rigorous course loads, that I was “doing college wrong.” But, as I began to recognize certain drowsy faces as people from my classes, classes I was preparing for while still showering and sleeping fairly regularly, I realized that the library was a place of performance. These students wanted to be seen: They loved to gripe about surviving on cigarettes and coffee for three days, just to see the combination of awe and pity flutter across our faces. Being busy and stressed was more than just a state of being — it was a declaration of worth.

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I have a hunch something similar is going on with your coworkers. If they are routinely staying in the office that late and their responsibilities don’t differ that much from yours, either they aren’t being productive during the work day or they’re just staying late to stay late. Whether consciously or not, we use busyness as a way to show our significance and importance: I’m needed, I’m necessary, I toil selflessly for the good of the company.

And while I’m being hard on these 11-PM-ers, it’s not exactly their fault. It’s capitalism’s fault. (Can’t you tell that I listened to punk rock in high school?) The economy is sluggish, the job market is tough, and everyone who’s managed to stay steadily employed feels lucky. And so we Assistant Assistants to the Junior Head Marketing Manager take on ever-growing amounts of responsibility, check our emails 24/7, and allow the boundaries between public and private and day and night to blur. But, by doing that, we’re inadvertently helping to perpetuate the problem: If everyone answers emails at 11 PM, people start to expect prompt replies to the emails they send at 11 PM. By remaining plugged in and accessible even after the after-shows have aired, your coworkers are creating a new, unattractive standard. It’s no surprise that you’re feeling the pressure.

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So, what to do? Keep resisting! As long as your boss hasn’t said anything about your work schedule, don’t give in to the crazy. Opt out. Take a lesson from the woman who taught you to grab life by the rhinestones, Dolly Parton. As she sings in “9 to 5” (which is just a jangly, countrified version of The Communist Manifesto, if you ask me), “It’s enough to drive you crazy, if you let it…” And, she’s just talking about an eight-hour day — imagine what Comrade Dolly would say about staying past dinnertime!

And, if you’re one of the many chronic 11-PM-ers, whispering, “I wish I could quit you” to your computer: Give yourself a break. There are other ways to show your value than staying hyperconnected. In fact, unplugging and getting a good night’s rest will undoubtedly increase your productivity and present-mindedness during normal work hours. Boost your work-life balance by giving yourself a firm curfew and turning off your phone at the same time each night. Inform your boss, colleagues, and clients of this new cutoff point and, I assure you, they’ll adapt. Train yourself: Just because you see an email notification doesn’t mean you have to take care of it right away. Unless it’s time-sensitive or you truly have a ton of work to do, fight the urge to shoot off a quick reply or burn the midnight oil. Surely, the overnight janitor won’t miss your sighs and manic stare that much.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME Culture

What Unemployed People Do With Their Time

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While most of unemployed people spend a sizable part of their day job-hunting, plenty of others seem to, well, futz around

Last September, after I got fired from what was painfully close to being my dream job, I was gripped by aimlessness, malaise, and more than a little self-loathing. I imagined myself jobless, penniless, and miserable for the rest of my days. Then, I decided to seize this less-than-shining, underemployed moment to pursue my dream of writing full-time (in my case, as a freelance culture, news, and lifestyle journalist).

Though I was nervous about taking the leap into a profession that’s notoriously competitive and unlucrative, I felt ready to try something new: to work from home on projects of my choosing, without a Big Boss breathing down my neck. I’m lucky to be semi-successful at the freelance thing, because losing or eschewing a traditional job doesn’t always unfold so smoothly for everyone, millennials included.

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Traditional jobs can be hard to come by for millennials — who are shaping up to be the most educated generation in history (but not the most employed; in 2014, 9.1 percent of 18- to 29-year-olds were unemployed). While the job market is picking up for many, that uptick isn’t necessarily helping millennials, for whom job security has been rocky throughout most of their adult lives. As Andrew Hanson, research analyst at Georgetown University, said back in July, “Young people are the first to be let go by companies in a recession and the last to be let back in.” As of July 2014, millennials made up a whopping 40 percent of America’s jobless masses (that equates to 4.6 million people, in case you’re curious).

As usual, the statistics for women lead to a more complicated narrative. For women 25 to 54, unemployment is 30%. The number of working women has climbed overall during the later part of the 20th century, but those numbers have been sinking since 2000, partially due to economic trends, but also to a recent rise in stay-at-home parenting. (Notably, in wealthier areas, like the Salt Lake City suburbs and the Upper East Side of New York City, rates of women working are lower than in other US regions.) Rates of female unemployment are also higher in more rural and poverty-stricken regions, of course, like the Deep South, Appalachia, Northern Michigan, and various locations in the middle of the country. (Education, or lack thereof, plays a major part.)

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Plenty of American men are jobless, too (in November, 5.4 percent of men over the age of 20). Unemployed guys, reports The New York Times, work out less and feel that they have worse relationships with their families than when they were members of a workforce. Women, on the other hand, are “more likely to say that their health and their relationships with friends and family have improved since they stopped working.”

Maybe that’s because, according to this New York Times interactive that documents the average daily activities of 147 unemployed men and women aged 25-54, females tend to spend a lot more time doing housework and “caring for others” than their unemployed dude counterparts; women spend a whopping six hours on both, while men spend less than three each.

And though plenty of unemployed people spend a sizable part of their day job-hunting, plenty of others seem to, well, futz around. They tend to sleep more than their working peers (slightly more than an additional hour), and devote much more time to entertainment like TV and movies — especially the men. Out of the 65 people who spent more of their day watching movies and TV than doing anything else, 46 were men; only 19 were women. And both men and women sans jobs “spend about 1.5 times as much time socializing as the average employed person.”

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The day-to-day lifestyles of the thousands of Americans eschewing traditional 9-5 workplaces — either by choice or necessity — look dramatically different from those with “normal” jobs, indeed. But as more millennials struggle to find and hold onto jobs in a competitive, overcrowded market, it seems likely that their everyday habits will be forced to evolve, whether that includes six hours of TV, socializing, traveling, care-taking or…something else altogether.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

TIME advice

How to Make Your Apartment Look Clean in 5 Minutes

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Focus on tidying the stuff at eye level

Whether you want to be prepared for a visit from a neighbor or you just need some peace of mind before you walk out of the door, you want your place looking presentable — fast. Here are 10 ways to eliminate mess, in under five minutes.

Snap A Pic

Before you dive in, take a quick photo of the space. “It’s so easy to get used to clutter that has been in one spot for a while,” points out Emma Chapman, the lifestyle blogger behind A Beautiful Mess. “Glancing at the photo and trying to spot anything that looks out of place helps me to notice little things that I may not have spotted before.” You can then quickly move those little things to a proper, or at least less noticeable, place.

Stash Clutter

In a pinch, toss out-of-place odds and ends into a laundry basket (like this woven one) or a bin that you can stow out of eye’s view for sorting later.

Repurpose Empty Spaces

An empty napkin holder can serve as a de facto mail sorter so bills don’t get lost in the shuffle. Corral rogue office supplies in a pretty mug or glass. Take the impromptu cleanup a step further by throwing a patterned tray underneath for a subtle organizational vibe.

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Sweep Up

Your mission: Eliminate little crumbs or dust bunnies that will stick to people’s socks. “It just makes your guests feel dirty,” says Kadi Dulude, owner of NYC cleaning service Wizard of Homes.

Tackle The Bathroom

Wipe any gobs of toothpaste from the sink, and rinse crusted soap from the dish. Make sure the TP roll is plump, and swish a little bleach in the toilet bowl. Forget scrubbing any mildew-y grout — just pull the shower curtain closed.

Rub Down Surfaces

Don’t worry if your cleaning supplies aren’t well stocked: You don’t need anything fancy to give your shelves or tables a once-over. “Go ahead and use water for everyday cleaning. Just wet a microfiber cloth,” says Dulude. (Remember: This won’t disinfect any surfaces.)

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Fluff The Living Room

Flip stained couch cushions to the clean(er) side, fluff your pillows, and fold your throw blanket. Light a scented candle for instant coziness.

Skip The Underneath

Focus on tidying the stuff at eye level. Don’t bother cleaning under furniture or dusting ceiling fans — people won’t be looking there, Dulude says.

Eliminate Pet Hair

Lint rollers are a must-have tool when it comes to tackling pet hairs. Even more effective than the sticky barrel? Throw on some rubber dish gloves and run your hands over your chairs or futon, balling up hair as you go.

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Attend To Allergies

We’re already sneezing and coughing a ton this time of year. Put visitors at ease by paying special attention to windowsills and radiators, which accumulate dust that can trigger serious sniffles, suggests Dulude.

This article originally appeared on Refinery29.com.

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