How To Dress Well: Virginia Johnson From Masters Of Sex

Trust the experts: a ‘clothes on’ approach is way sexier than taking ‘em off.

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Ever since SBS started fast-tracking Masters Of Sex, I’ve been tuning in religiously every Thursday night… and it’s all because of Lizzy Caplan. She plays Virginia Johnson, the real-life, twice-divorced, mother of two, former-nightclub singer-turned-research assistant-cum foremother of sexology.

As it becomes fairly apparent within the first half hour of Masters Of Sex, Virginia is a babe. She is also often very naked. Actually, Lizzy Caplan is naked a lot, in other shows that aren’t Masters Of Sex, too. But that is not the point. The point is, for a show that draws its main appeal from people stripping down and getting it on (all in the name of scientific research!), Masters Of Sex is even more impressive when its varying-levels-of-naked cast have their clothes on.

I mean, how could one not lust after Virginia’s plaid high-waisted pencil skirts and sweater-blouses with funny collars? There’s a touch of the geek chic about her style that appeals to my inner dork. Even better, it’s timeless and works in all contexts, regardless of season or social occasion (you would look good wearing this stuff to the office or uni, as well as any other casual gathering).


To be a successful sexologist, one must own an adorably stylish thinking cap.

If you’re truly committed to emulating Johnson, perhaps you might like to start with the basics: underwear. Underwear is very important. It is especially important in a show where people are professionally required to be naked a lot of the time. The show’s stars have to regularly wear girdles and other oldies-style undies in order to appear camera-perfect, according to costume designer, Ane Crabtree.

Also, the clothes! Do invest in some blouses and sweaters (preferably turtleneck), as well as a high-waisted pencil skirt. Experiment with patterns and prints. If it looks like it could be part of the furniture at your nan’s house, then you’re doing something right. When it comes to colour, instead of the usual greens, yellows and purples, go for something that sounds edible, like ‘olive’ or ‘mustard’ or ‘plum’.

But beware! As cute and classy as Johnson’s sweater-skirt ensemble is, there’s always the potential risk of looking like a frumpy grandma. So really, it all comes down to the attitude. Like the modern gal she was, Johnson casually projects the confident air of a liberated woman. To do this is simple: surround yourself with a lot of handsomely nerdy men, befriend them, and then be very cool about it.


Apricot blouse from Etsy: $69.71

Crimson sweater from Etsy: $36.46

Wool belted skirt from Etsy: $25.75

Black pumps from Etsy: $58.86

Cotton girdle corset with garters from Etsy: $53.57

Masters Of Sex airs on SBS ONE on Thursdays at 9:30pm. Catch-up on full episodes at SBS On Demand.

Andy is Junkee’s intern. She is mostly harmless, moderately cheerful and recently discovered she can justify her “drinking” and “drug” problem by telling people she’s a writer. She takes her cafe noir, no sugar thanks.