Friday, July 9, 2010

Mad Men fashion; or, When did we stop dressing up?

So by this point many of you are probably thinking I'm beyond obsessive about certain television shows (and you're right -- I am, just like I'm obsessive about red nail polish and poodles and George Michael). You're probably also thinking "All right, we all get it. Mad Men is the greatest show ever created. Get over it already." But I can't, and here's why:

The fashion, oh the fashion. Not like the writing and acting and directing already make the show incredible, but head costume designer Janie Bryant truly knows how to round out the storytelling with the outfits she chooses for each character based on their story arc.

"Everyone thinks that Janie’s job consists of picking cool clothes, but she’s really a storyteller. She cares about who the character is and what we are trying to say about them. If I write a fur in there—say, Don gives Betty a fur—I know that we can develop a history of that coat and how it relays a bit of the sad story of their marriage," said Matt Weiner recently to The Wall Street Journal, in a fantastic article describing how Mad Men has not only "reshaped television, but inspired the fashion world, popularizing the clothes of the era, from sharp suits to fitted dresses."

Thank God. I've personally had my fill of ill-fitting denim, tired tank tops, and sad androgynous flats from Urban Outfitters. When did we start thinking "dressing up" was only for special occasions and that it's somehow appropriate to perpetually "slum it"? In my humble opinion men and women should be expected to look...well...like men and women, not like teenyboppers or like they've been home with the flu all weekend or like disheveled vagrants. No one likes the look of a vagrant except maybe Janis Joplin and that strung-out hippie I met recently on the beach, though even he said he was into demons more.

Men: You look best in tailored wool suits with pocket squares during the week or Penguin-brand garb as casualwear on the weekends. Women: Dresses and pencil skirts during the week; if no dresses are on hand then sleeveless blouses and capris for weekend outings, mmk? There's never a wrong time to wear heels. And while you're at it, a little red lipstick never hurt anyone.

18 comments:

besswess said...

My sentiments exactly. Yes, you can find me in my sweaty running gear grabbing a gallon of milk at the grocery store, but most of the time, people accuse me of being overdressed. Oh well. Better to be remembered as overdressed than looking like a slob.
BTW...I wore my pearls today. I feel so vintage. :)

Jessica @ Acting Adult said...

I totally agree, but I'm guilty of wanting to be comfy rather than dress nicely. But oh, how I want to bring back hats!

Cali Bar Girl said...

I totally agree with you! I used to wear dresses or skirts to class in law school (and heels because I'm short!) but it became a "thing" with some of my other classmates who didn't like the fact that I "dressed up" for class everyday.

What's wrong with wanting to just look nice and presentable? When did looking like a scrub and coming to class in PJs become the norm and wearing dresses become a bad thing?

CameronPoe2409 said...

Joan from Mad Men and Emma Pilsbury from Glee are the new style icons. I am planning twinset and pencil skirt outfits with my brooch collection for my office wardrobe!

Kirsten said...

I loooove Joan's look.

I also love the scenes that Betty is getting the power back in her marriage (like when she is telling Don she is leaving him) she's wearing pants.

I love how the fashion really does tell a story throughout the series.

Ugh. I'm far too obsessed with this show!

colfin said...

Love this post! And LOVE the clothing! Wish I could dress like that every day!!!!!

lawschoolwife said...

I would dress up more if I had Betty and Don's money!! I love the clothes, I'm especially a fan of Betty. And, don't hate me, I'm still mad at her for leaving Don, for some inexplicable reason!

paranoidasteroid said...

Have you seen this blog where they break down the Mad Men costumes as part of the character's development?

http://projectrungay.blogspot.com/search/label/Mad%20Style?max-results=18

Carolyn said...

I TOTES agree!!! That's one thing I LOVE about NYC - people here are dressier and aren't afraid to take fashion risks. Too bad it's too unbearably hot right now to wear anything but shorts and a loose top though... :(

Kate said...

The apparel from then to today has really lost some of its charm, I agree!

legallymarried said...

Absolutely - these women look stunning, sophisticated and just plain gorgeous in their glamorous outfits. Far better than the "less is more" clothes we see everywhere today. Thanks for a great virtual fashion show! :)

Amber said...

I totally agree! There is not much occasion to dress up in my part of the state -- but we find ways to do it anyway.

My favorite part about Mad Men (just recently started watching it) is the costumes and the curves!! I could totally pull off some of those dresses!

I am pretty lucky though, my bf has that same white jacket as Don Draper. He bought it several years ago at a resale shop -- right out of the 40s! :)

Jem said...

Here here! I second this! I wish we could go back to a time when people actually dressed up to go out to the store, not just for an important occassion. I love the classic looks of Mad Men, for both men and women, hopefully the styles sported on the show will start rubbing off on people! Wouldn't it be great to see people wearing hats and gloves again? Ohh... that would be a dream :)

Anonymous said...

I love this post! The fashion is amazing. Can't wait for the new season to start. I have to know if Betty is going to marry Harry!

I found this blog other readers may enjoy checking out--http://whitebison.wordpress.com/2010/07/17/mad-men-countdown-betty-drapers-fashion-past-and-future/

This post considers what kind of wedding dress Betty would wear if she were to marry Harry.

Thanks again! I'm a big fan!

Kimberly said...

Thank you! THANK YOU. I've been feeling this way for years and I'm glad I'm not the only one!

I caught so much flack for dressing up to go to class when I was in graduate school in the 90's. Yes, my clothing was usually thrifted or vintage. Yes, my style was very funky. But my fellow students couldn't believe I went to the trouble to wear makeup, style my hair, and wear an "outfit" every day. Well, of course, I'm dressed up. I'm in PUBLIC, aren't I? I think it started on campuses, this idea that going to class really isn't putting yourself on public view, and rags, pajama bottoms, and flip-flops are just fine.

Problem is, people are now carrying that over into workplaces that either don't have a dress code or don't enforce what they have. The smarter younger women at my office have caught on and realize that the more professional they appear, the more seriously they will be taken, and so skirts and heels are preferable to capris and sandals, even in the heat. The ones who dress more sloppily - I don't know if no one's ever taught them how to dress professionally, or if they just don't care.

Stephanie said...

I could not have said it better. I can't wait for the new season!

AJ said...

I couldn't agree more. Let me paraphrase Coco Chanel “I don't understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little - if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that's the day she has a date with destiny. And it's best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

And let me say that MadMen's fashion is so impeccable! ♥

Wil Harris said...

This is a great post! I recently did a post about Mad Men's fashion on my blog. I love the fashion from the 60s.
Every time I got out I always try to look my best, even if I'm going to run errands.

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