As is often the case with celebrities, Christina Hendricks looks a lot smaller in person than she does on TV. Sans the bouffant hairdo, long-line-waist bra, girdle, stockings, and slip she dons as the smoldering Joan Holloway on Mad Men, it's natural that she'd shrink a little. And yet, even off-duty, Hendricks is very much a womanly woman. "I can't just throw on a backless dress or flimsy top with spaghetti straps," the 34-year-old declares. "I need a bra!" As for that fiery red hair? "I've been dyeing it since I was about 10" — a result of an obsession with the Canadian TV series based on the Anne of Green Gables books. Here, she shares her tips for dressing a Hollywood figure that's more Monroe than Moss.

MC: Are you cool with people making such a fuss about your figure?

CH: In the beginning, it was odd to have so much attention brought to my body type. I thought, "Uh-oh, brace yourself." But everyone has been so positive. During the first season, a woman came up to me at dinner and said, "I just want to thank you — watching you has made me proud of my body." I thought, What an amazing thing for someone to say! To make anyone feel good about themselves makes me feel good.

MC: How has playing Joan Holloway affected your sense of style?

CH: I'm definitely learning from Joan. My personal style is very romantic. I'm drawn to things that have a feminine flair, whether it's a ruffle or an embellishment. Joan is much more streamlined, so I'm learning how that works on my figure. I'm a fan of the pencil skirt now. I used to think they were so conservative, but then I realized if you wear one that's tight enough, it's really sexy.

MC: What is your mantra for dressing?

CH: Highlight the things you like. I like my small waist, so whenever I wear a dress or blouse, I always make sure you can see my waistline. It gives me more of an hourglass shape.

MC: What would you say to women who want to minimize their curves?

CH: Instead of trying to downplay your curves, find a designer or style that glorifies them. There are designers who simply don't design for people with shape and there are those — like L'Wren Scott or Roland Mouret — who do exactly that. Once you find what looks best on you, stick with it.

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