We confess, our love of Mad Men extends from Sunday night all the way through the following weekend when we get our fix again. Yes, the cinematography is moody, the plot lines are appropriately subtle and the characters are complex. But, it’s the authentic style of the mid-60s that gets our juices flowing every time.
From this week forward, we will present a Style Recap on Mondays after each new episode premiers, with our editors’ favorite looks from the show. With season 5 taking place in 1966, we’re really coming to a turn in the road when it comes to men’s and women’s fashion. The colors and prints are a bit flashier, the men are taking more chances with their suits and sport coats, and the uncertainty of the time is clearly evident in costume designer Janie Bryant’s choices.
Episode 5 was called “Signal 30,” all about internal and external wreckage — doing things we don’t really want to do and living up to expectations. As Don and Megan drive out to Greenwich, Connecticut (the “country”) to visit with Pete, Trudy, Ken and Cynthia, we see the main mad man in plaid for the very first time (we also loved his novelty crown motif tie). Later at the office, Lane, the lone Brit at the agency, embraces mixed patterns in a way that almost makes us think he’s Thom Browne’s imaginary grandfather.
The ladies’ dresses at Pete’s house illustrate how silhouettes continue to move north as a burst of color and print becomes the norm. The episode also allowed us to see how lingerie is changing when the boys visit a high end brothel in the city. Forget the girdles and granny panties, and embrace the animal prints and sexy cut! In Pete’s miserably out of place driver’s ed class, we catch a glimpse of how an adolescent of the time becomes more comfortable with her body as she sports more body conscious fabrics and grownup accessories. Also notice the striped mock neck knit of “Mr. Handsome”, a telling sign that younger men are trying to be anything but square. And how can you deny the greatness of Mr. Draper in a solid white T-shirt as he fixed Pete’s sink? There’s a reason it’s a time-honored icon of masculinity.
Finally, we couldn’t help but observe Don’s three-button suit at the end of the episode. The two-button, center vent jackets of the previous seasons seem to be giving way to a more European influence. Is less shirt and tie an obvious signal of more irreverent times to come?
The times they are a-changin’. Until next week…. —Michael Fisher