With the huge resurgence in the popularity of vintage aesthetics that’s been going on lately, it’s no surprise that the TV show Mad Men has been such a big hit. Mad Men takes place in the 1960s and revolves around the advertising agency Sterling Cooper Draper Price and the intertwining and dramatic lives of its employees. Although undoubtedly the show itself is an entertaining work of art (it has won 15 Emmys and four Golden Globes), I adore it for its amazing visual appeal.
The clothes on Mad Men are like candy to my eyes; the classically chic silhouette of the 1960s is pulled off with an effortless flair. Everywhere you look you see another character in a candy-colored coat or beautiful fitted dress. The clothes harken back to a long-forgotten era of women who dressed like women. Women who did not own a pair of ripped jean shorts and would not be caught dead in sweat pants.
The ladies of Mad Men have endeared themselves into my heart with their classy, individualistic styles. Although it may seem a little far-fetched to walk around in pumps and waist-cinching frocks all day, their looks can be used to inspire a little more grace and sophistication into our modern day wardrobes.
I took four of the most influential female characters on Mad Men and broke down what exactly makes their styles so appealing and unique. Never fear though, I also included tips for achieving the same classic essence in your own look.
We begin with Betty Francis, formally Betty Draper and ex-wife to leading male Don. Betty is the embodiment of perfection: no hair is out of place and no wrinkle can be found. The costume designer for Mad Men, Janie Bryant, has said she looks to vintage copies of magazines like Ladies Home Journal and Good Housekeeping to find inspiration for Betty’s costumes. Betty mainly wears a clean palate of lavenders, cool blues, and crisp winter whites. The focus with this character is on modesty and sharp tailoring. Her look can easily be evoked through the use of cool pastel shades, clean white button-ups, and high waisted or waist defining garments.
In contrast with Betty, we have Peggy Olsen, one of the hardest working characters on the show. Peggy constantly has to prove herself and her skills as a copywriter to an office full of rather sexist men. She opts for more basic masculine-like pieces, such as simple button-up shirts and plain skirts. Peggy has the most “old-fashioned” aesthetic of any of the ladies on Mad Men and doesn’t advertise her sexuality through her clothes. If you want to try out her more simplistic look, go for darker, more professional colors along with Peter Pan collared shirts that display minimal décolletage.
Crowd favorite and head secretary Joan Harris is a redheaded bombshell. She uses her sexuality to her advantage in her personal life and in the work place (let’s be honest, I wish my ass had that kind of power). Joan is the kind of woman that will knock you out from ten blocks away; her secret to dressing is in knowing what clothing shapes work best for her body. Joan is quite possibly the most voluptuous character on the show, and although not all of us are blessed with her amazing hourglass shape, we can highlight our own best features. Joan often wears a palate of jewel-toned colors, which look amazing on pretty much every skin tone. The main thing to take away from Joan’s outfits is keeping your clothes body hugging and waist nipping. Bringing focus to your waist accentuates the curves you do have by giving the illusion of slightly larger breasts and hips. You can bring the focus of an outfit to your waist many ways; one of the easiest ways is to belt your outfit at your natural waist (which is just slightly below your ribcage).
Okay, pause, can we talk about this dress for a minute? I mean, look at this, it makes me want to salivate and cry all at once. I could write those sheer chiffon accordion sleeves Shakespearian sonnets. Anyways, we are onto someone who is fast becoming one of my favorite characters on the show, Megan Draper (maybe I’m biased since I’m also named Megan?). Megan is the new, younger wife of Don Draper and is the show’s sex kitten. She has her finger on the pulse of modern sixties style and is rocking shorter skirts and darker colors than everyone else. She excels at the quintessential sixties mod look; think cat eyes, short shift dresses, and bobs. I am a huge personal fan of this almost Warhol-like look; the key lies in clean, straight shift dresses with short hems and bold, graphic patterns.
So go out there ladies, put away your sports bras and fight for the return of timeless elegance. With how easy it is to add some 1960s glamour to your life, you’d be mad not to.