The epic fashion juggernaut that is Mad Men has been influencing fashion since the debut of the show in 2007. It’s been decades since below-the-knee pencil skirts, prim blouses, scarves and retro housedresses have been this cool.
1. Focus on Fit
Tailoring is essential. No matter what these women wear it’s crazy fitted, like an Olympic swimmer’s swimsuit. There’s no mistake that each of the outfits on the show were altered to fit each actor exactly. There’s no way Joan would be even half as sexy if her signature jewel toned dresses were, dare I say it, ill-fitting. Make your local tailor your best friend.
2. Foundation Garments
Unless you’re a beatnik like Midge, you need to get the gals front and center. Get measured; find out your real bra size. This is also a chance to buy the ultimate in 60s-era comfort: lacy granny panties. Think: vintage, pastel, high-waist, with lots of lace. The scene where Roger rides the model around the office in season one? Like that. Very pretty, feminine and more comfortable than the scourge of modern panties: thongs. You can skip the girdles.
3. Make up is all out and matte
There is no shine nor sparkle in the makeup. And every woman wore a full face: powder, blush, mascara, eyeliner, lipstick. To really nail this look, go heavy on the eyeliner and wing it out. Then, a matte lipstick in a pink or red. Think: peaches and cream. The look is much more dramatic for every day than it is now. If you’re a mascara and chapstick kind of girl, you really can’t go overboard.
4. Dress demurely
This is not an era that is about skin (yet). Dresses are mid-knee or just below, and necklines are not cleavage-happy. And no midriffs! The outstanding factor is that the early 60s look is all about (very narrow and stereotypical) femininity. No matter if the skirt silhouette is slim like a pencil or full like a cupcake, it’s all about the hourglass. Keep in mind that dresses were the dominant garment of a woman’s wardrobe, and they all had emphasis at the waist. It’s the same for trousers too: on women, the pants were narrow had a high rise to make the hourglass nothing but va-va-voom.
5. Match your accessories
Shoes, belt, and handbag all match. Wear only one type of metal jewelry at a time. The women tended to wear more accessories than we do these days, but unless there was a special occasion there were rarely statement pieces that really stood out. The exception: scarves. As Joan tells Peggy in the first episode: “Men love scarves.” Silk scarves worn a million ways, in fun patterns and colors (which of course match the outfit) are a great way to be bold.
–By Erin K. O’Neill