Thursday, October 14, 2010

Has Mad Men Really Changed the Way We Dress?

Isn't it interesting how Mad Men has become synonymous with retro fashion? Anything from sheath dresses to skinny ties to regular old pencil skirts are now described as having "Mad Men style." I'm a huge fan of the show, and the fashion is undeniably one of the main attractions. It's given us a language for clothes, in a way. I look at vintage sewing patterns (or even things on ModCloth) now and think, "Oh, that's totally a Joan dress" or "Peggy would so wear that." And the show has definitely put early 60s fashion—which can become a gray area between poodle skirts and love beads in the cultural lexicon—on the map.

But perhaps the descriptor has become a little broad. I've seen patterns from the 40s marketed as "Mad Men style" (huh?) and chain stores like Banana Republic have gotten in on the action to push what looked like pretty straightforward business casual to me.

Banana Republic window display
And it's not as though retro was not a trend before four years ago. But there is something undeniable about the way the show has touched a sartorial nerve. Perhaps the stage had been set—after all, companies like Stop Staring had been making reproduction wiggle dresses long before a certain curvaceous redhead graced our screens. Is it possible that Mad Men came along at the perfect time in the zeitgeist and helped us put a name to something that was already building? Or do we really dress differently because of Mad Men? Perhaps a little of both. One thing is for sure: we can probably never  look at a red wiggle dress the same way again.

What do you think? Has Mad Men changed the way you dress?


  1. I think what Mad Men has done is offer women a way of dressing for work like grown-ups without being boring. I've struggled with this for years - how to look grown-up and stylish and interesting for my job without looking like I work in a bank or looking like a student, and I certainly get a lot of inspiration from Mad Men even if I wouldn't actually replicate a perfect 1960s retro look (a bit too costumey!).

  2. Mad Men has only made an alternative style, mainstream. Rockabilly, and retro styles have been 'popular' looks in the underground, fetish and burlesque scenes for years - I (and many others) was buying 'vintage' clothes 20 years ago from dusty old warehouse/cellar type shops in the back of Camden Market (amongst other places) when 'mainstream' fashionable folk didn't want them. Dita von Teese - who started off in the fetish scene back in the early 90s, blazed a trail for the burlesque revival, perfected the modern retro look, made it popular, at the same time as Alexander McQueen (et al) put fetish on the catwalk. It's all part of the same thing - a rich resource for individual creativity, and it just so happens that the 'make do and mend' mentality of times gone by fits in with our modern urge to find a simpler, more sustainable way of living.

  3. No, it hasn't had any effect on how I dress, but I was always more into the 70s Yves Saint Laurent/Le Smoking style than the early 60s (or even much of the late 60s) styles.

  4. I agree with juliaB the style was always there. Mad Men did the same thing so many good TV series do by showing a unique style or point of view that people already like and want but haven't seen represented on TV, or film yet. They also do it to things that have been on TV before but they are less often good.

  5. I think JuliaB summed it up quite well. I think Mad Men has introduced what for many of us is a "normal" way of dressing into the mainstream, and made it socially acceptable as opposed to just something that people on the fringes are into. It's nice to see too that grooming and good dressing are starting to take a tiny foothold again, after the decade of track suits and smaller/tighter clothes made "dressing down" the thing to do. From that perspective, I think yes, Mad Men has changed things a bit. Will it stay? Nope--fashion and culture is too changeable. But for the duration it's a nice little diversion.

    It hasn't changed how I personally dress or perceive vintage though. I've always had a soft spot for the early 60s--long before Mad Men was even an idea in someone's head. Although I don't wear a ton of clothes from that era, it's nice to see one of the last truly elegant eras (fashion wise) celebrated and respected in the popular consciousness.

    I have to admit, I haven't kept up with this season (no cable), but am slightly curious to see how the styles are evolving as the show is progressing towards the inevitable mod look. Can't wait for it to be on dvd! ;)

    ♥ Casey | blog

  6. I don't watch TV, so I've never seen the show, which means I can't really say much.

    However, is it possible that our nostalgia for a simpler time (including an already present retro clothing trend) is what gave seed to the premise of the show?

  7. sorry, that should have been "our nostalgia for a perceived simpler time"

  8. I know that I am a nerd but 'Steampunk' is pulling a similar revival of much older vintage in geek chic clothing. (1890's-1910's Britan) Anything even vaguely Victorian gets the stamp of Steampunk. Everything get spray painted copper and died brown. It's fantastic... and obnoxious.
    I hate when a style I like (Madmen, Steampunk) becomes a popular phrase and they slap it on anything they want to sell.
    There have always been and will always be revivals/re-imagining of 'vintage' clothing. If you look back at a time line of fashion we've been recycling silhouettes and colors and patterns forever. I think Madmen was just riding the wave of popularity.
    Personally I'm glad everyone loves the sixties right now because I'm a pretty classic 'hourglass' figure and I look good in the dresses. I'm sure the next style will be something that looks awful on me like the Regency era or Flapper dresses.

  9. Mad Men has certainly made the retro look enviable to the mainstream, and of course Joan has made the world so much more verbal in their love for a full figure..but I agree that sometimes the descriptor of "Mad Men Style" is being pushed. I mean, a sheath dress is just a classic, be it modern or retro, and the final impression you choose to make is all in personal styling.

    Mid-century Modern furnishings started to become hot on Craigslist and Ebay a few years prior to Mad Men, and now it just allows people to get higher prices on their vintage finds.

    I admit I love Mad Men first and foremost for its excellent subtle storytelling and characters, but I'd be a liar if I said I didn't love the style. Peggy coming into her own style and confidence fashion-wise this season has delighted me especially.

  10. I will say that I will love to see more vintage inspired textiles becoming available as well, because there's no print I love as much as an impressionist floral....

  11. Yes, Mad Men has changed how I dress. Before Mad Men, I was a total Betty dresser. I don't like to wear what other people wear nor do I like to follow trends, so I've moved toward mid-30's to early 40's dressing. I hated that whenever I would wear an old favorite 50's dress, people would call me Betty so I stopped wearing them.

  12. I think that Mad Men is just part of the general drift of style. I remember a few years ago speculating with my hubby what would be next, style wise (a/k/a - what's being sold at Target, Pottery Barn, Banana, etc.) we thought the two options were vintage (back to the simpler time, retrench) or global (reaching out to a new world, open up.) Things have really gone vintage - with Mad Men, the banana marketing (yes, not really mad men at all!), and pottery barn's apothecary drawers, old magnifying glasses as well as even restoration hardware's subway signs and old keys. Not all the same era, but a throwback aesthetic to make us all feel nice and cozy.

    I started planning my June 2010 wedding in 2009 and we went with a 'vintge' eclectic theme (full circle skirts and granny china. and lots of burlap. we're cheap) In the short year of planning, I started to notice that even in the chain stores' wedding aisles, there were lots of wedding accessories that fit right in with my theme that hadn't been there when we started out!

    I think Mad Men has both been a result of the general trend in retail marketing as well as CREATED the trend in retail marketing. As a plus size girl, all I can say that I'm pleased for anything that will create a better availability for accessories and hard-to-sew (hello giant crinoline!) items in my size!

  13. It's a temporary effect. Recessions have a way of getting Americans nostalgic for the past...and the 1960s is more recent (and relatable) than the many more Americans who lived through the 1960s than the 1940s are still alive. Once the recession is over, the interest in 1960s clothes will die. Ditto intrigue with Mad Men; that will dip once the recovery really hits. But since Mad Men is here and vintage 1960s clothes are accessible as the nearest vintage store...definitely enjoy!

  14. ooooo.... andrea just reminded me of the sex in the city, are you a miranda or a carrie??

    I'm totally WANT to be Joan-dressed carrie, but really am more of a Joyce-dressed miranda. How I love mixing my pop culture references.

    also - it's funny, i could care less if people think i'm influenced by joan, but I get so MAD when I do something around the house that involves thrifting, paint and tools to walk into Target or Anthropologie and see the same thing available for sale (a certain ring of rusty old keys comes to mind...)! I guess I'm more protective of my interior design creativity cred than my fashion sense!

  15. I've never seen the show--I don't get that channel--so I wonder if it mostly seems that way to people who watch it and talk to each other about it. Retro has been "in" in a lot of non-mainstream circles for years.

    I agree that I think it mostly mainstreamed a formerly non-mainstream clothing concept. I think it also hit at a time when domesticity and traditional gender roles are being sort of reclaimed and made over--all the cooking shows on TV, the absolute mania for retro aprons, even the new intensity of middle-class parenting--and, even though (I think?) most of the female characters are working professionals and the housewife character is unhappy, there is some nostalgia for a decade that at least seems simpler in retrospect.

    I wonder, too, if the fact that the economy is so bad makes the idea of America during the postwar golden years, when a lot of people were still on the way up out of the poverty of the Depression and World War II, especially appealing. You want to feel like you, too, could pull yourself up by your own bootstraps.

  16. I hate these TV-show inspired trends where every manufacturer jumps on the bandwagon because something is "hot." Honestly, in my neck of the woods I don't see this as a trend. As so many others have said, people have been playing with vintage styles forever. I don't even believe bad economic times make us long to dress as we did in good economic times -- that's a media-driven story, imo.

    I also think the "Mad Men" look is not very flattering or comfortable for most women today.

    It's funny to me how suddenly it's all about "Mad Men" when you could see the exact same styles any day of the week for the past forty years watching re-runs of "Betwitched"! And a LOT more people have seen "Betwitched" than "Mad Men."

  17. Its shown me personally, that covering up is as sexy as letting it all hang out, For a size 14 uk, I was never really sure how to dress myself for my curves. I knew that the girls that go out in tiny shorts etc was not a look for me but Joan's character made me think that I could be attractive by taking the moral highground and holding myself with a good demeanor with my clothes ON!
    I love vintage but I was buying the wrong thing for my shape. I was scared to show off curves so I drowned them, Now I have a small collection of sheath dresses and I feel so much better. I think vintage in the "fadshion" sense before mad men was scruffy. Now its sleeker and womanly Hooray!

  18. It hasn't affected the way I dress, but I've noticed that it definitely has changed the reactions I get from people about my clothes. Instead of more general comments I get a lot more "That's very Mad Men", from people. I have to say, although on the one hand it's good that people are now recognizing the styles and many have gained an appreciation for them that they didn't have before, I run into a lot more of the mistaken "Mad Men" identification than anything else, which I tend to find frustrating. No my 1940s suit is not "Mad Men". They're very different things (although a lot of that is probably just my inner costume history nerd fighting with the general public who doesn't know what the "New Look" is and why it's different from a "Joan dress").

  19. It's the media grasping for straws.

    "Mad Men" has had zero effect on the way I dress. The clothes of the women at the company and the associated wives are interesting in their context, but they're also uncomfortable, expensive,and costumey. Girdle impressions on the flesh actually aren't that attractive. Nor are stinky breath and yellow teeth from smoking.

    I hate to say this, because on a deep level I believe that one should have some freedom in one's choice of presentation, but Joan's clothes are far too provocative and distracting for any woman who wants to be taken seriously in a male-dominated office. Hint: things haven't changed that much. Christina Hendricks is very pretty, but they've made her character into a sartorial caricature: Va-Va-Voom Joan. Cue the Bond movie theme.

    The only woman whose clothing I'd even consider wearing is the character who's lesbian. I can't remember her name, but she's David Mamet's daughter. I have to keep reminding myself that in the 60s wearing a blazer, buttondown shirt, and slacks to work meant you might be gay. I see now that tasteful preppie actually ages well.

    Should we also start smoking and drinking those ridiculously named, high-calorie alcoholic concoctions listed on the MM site?

    Being well groomed and turned out doesn't equal MM-style. Big cities have lots of nicely dressed people, and they don't look like they're strolling down Sixth Avenue in 1965. The sheath dress has never gone out of style for women working in formal business environments. People who like vintage know how to wear it in such a way that it doesn't look like a costume. One tip is not doing it from top to toe.

    I really enjoy the show, but the women's costumes, with the exception of those of the lesbian character, speak volumes about the ways they're constricted.

  20. Squeeeee. I love mad men so much-alas I have only watched the first season but I am addicted. One day I would love to look like Joan- I do go round saying how this is such a "joan dress" or such a "betty pattern". I am even obsessed with button earrings now. Do you have any recommendations of particular "joan" dress patterns?

    I think it is true the retro has always been around but I think mad men has been an inspiration to get back into it. Not just for fashion but I watch another episode and I feel excited about getting back into sewing, painting my nails, red lipstick or even putting my hair in rollers!

    It has also given me the confidence to wear my retro stuff-not because the programme is set in the 60s, but because of the women on the programme. I like how the women are confident in themselves and whatever they wear they shine! It has, even if it sound silly, made me think differently about how I appear ion the outside and the inside :)

  21. I don't watch Mad Men. I hated it after 4 episodes. By then it had caught on, and I stopped watching because I hated the way women were spoken to. I had to live through it, and was still sensitive to the experience. So, no, I don't wear stockings, girdles and garters, dresses, spike heels, or hats. All I am ever tempted to do is have a matching pair of gloves and neck scarf. In an unusual color. And often wear brooches and graduated pearls. But Mad Men had nothing to do with it, I am just old.

  22. It hasn't changed the way I dress, but it's changed the way I wish I dress. Does that count?

  23. The show just (finally) started airing here in Germany last week, so it can't have changed the way we dress directly. If there is an influence it has to have come "across the ocean"...
    But I do agree, that popular TV-Shows influence our visual perception. I think that if you see a style regularly, you will get used to it and those styles will slowly creep into your comfort zone. And isn't this a good thing?! ;)

  24. MM definitely had an influence on the way that I dress. I'm not all vintag-y every day, but rotating that style into the mix has been fun and elevated my look. Is it overmarketed and possibly overexposed? Sure. But isn't MM style a nice change from ultra low-rise jeans and skintight dresses?

    MM's effect on mainstream style has been fascinating to watch. Much like the fashions of "Miami Vice" had an impact on our societal dressing (even Peter wore pink and grey together, methinks!) I can't think that's a bad thing here.

  25. Mad men hasn't really changed the way I dress, actually, you have, Gertie. Your blog was the first sign to me that women of our generation could not only get away with wearing vintage, they could turn heads and look not just unique, but amazing.

  26. It hasn't changed the way I dress (I've been a vintage girl for years; when I started it was called second-hand!) but it has made other people more aware of the styles I choose and less likely to raise their eyebrows at my vintage or vintage-inspired clothing.

    I'm about to start making New Look 6000, which is quite clearly intended as a Joan-inspired dress and is popular enough to keep selling out at my local fabric shop. The main image on the pattern envelope is of a red wiggle dress with demure but interesting collar and vintage-looking buttons. I suppose we can only be thankful they didn't pick a red headed model!

  27. It's an easy way to put a label on something... and makes for some fun theme parties! Today at work is "Mad Men" day, all the ladies and the gents are sporting an early 60s look. Fun!

  28. It hasn't changed the way I dress so much, but it has changed other people's perceptions of what is available to me. I have an extreme hourglass figure, and now when I complain that it's hard to find off-the-rack clothing to fit me, I inevitably hear, But you could dress like Joan! All the Mad Men style out there now! Which gets it wrong on two counts:

    1) As someone mentioned above, much of Joan's clothing on the show is decidedly not appropriate for a contemporary work environment, and
    2) Those clothes are made for the actress. What, just because Christina Hendricks exists, there's suddenly going to be dresses for F-cup ladies at Banana Republic. Ha.

    (I know, all the more reason to sew my own...)

  29. Good grief, MM Viewer: Nobody said anything about adopting the lifestyle wholesale! All she asked was if it had influenced the way we dress.

    I agree that Joan's clothes, from what I've seen, are pushing the envelope, but in 1960, of course, there was a different level of formality in general. Men who wear hats now are considered sort of quaint, but they were pretty standard then. Judging the clothing of 50 years ago by today's standards is not really fair--if they altered the costumes on the show to be livable in 2010, there would be no point in setting it in 1960. Shows set in past decades ought to have authentic-looking clothing, even if it reminds us that we're glad we don't have to wear all of it now.

  30. I have only watched a few of the episodes and that only of the first season where they were still trying to capture the style of the 60's. Honestly, I've become more acquainted with vintage through blogs like yours and others who share the vintage love and have found my own love of certain eras through this medium.

    Although for me, the love of vintage was there before. I wore all of my mom's 70's formals to my high school dances with pride and that was in the 90's. I just needed something to spark that fire again! And watching you and others bring back these fabulous styles gives me so much inspiration!

    I also agree with Casey, it won't stay. Just the other day at work I was wearing my great grandmother's vintage opal jewelry and a lady remarked that it was pretty, where did I get it? I told her it was vintage and she actually said, "That's surprisingly beautiful for a vintage piece. Normally its all so ugly." Ha ha ha.

  31. I can't say the show has changed the way I dress, but that era certainly shaped my fashion sense. Lived it, dressed it, still carry elements of the late 50-s to mid 6-'s style. For example, Peggy's current style would have been more my norm. Love my pearls, never met a cardigan that didn't work for me, pencil skirts always a standard as well as the essential a-line dress. Never did the wiggle-dress (honestly, I didn't even know what that was until a couple days ago:)) Of course at that time I did not have a curve, now,too many. As stated previously though, girdles were torture, pointed tip bras could poke an eye out (if you know what I mean!) and nylon stockings with girdle or garter belt were a pain. I just think that the fashion invoked by Mad Men is fun TV and like similar trends, it will wane and pass. However, those of us who like to invoke bits and pieces of Vintage style will carry on as before. Enjoy it.

  32. I agree with some other people that the style has always been there, it has just made it more mainstream and not such a spectacle to dress in retro wear. In some ways I love this, as I can now find more retro styled clothing. But of course, it does strangely make me sad that it has become something "trendy."

    But I do love Mad Men and I think it has definitely impacted how I sew and think about making my own retro styled pieces. I frequently pause Mad Men to inspect Joan's dresses and think "how can I make that?" A even posted on my blog about how in love I am with Joan's season 4 wardrobe!

  33. I wear way less vintage (and vintage style) that I used to. But a lot of that is due my advancing age (41) and the lack of good vintage at reasonable prices in my advancing size! Plus, no way in h#!! am I going to wear spandx/girdles on a daily basis.

  34. it's changed the way i *think* about dressing myself and both reaffirmed and destroyed being proud of my curves.

    living in a big city, you're probably apt to see more people with the resources and the reasons to wear clothes that could be mad men inspired. out in a more suburban or rural setting, hardly anything has changed at all. heck, some people are still into retro out here- they haven't changed how they dress since the late 70's or early 80's. *shudder*

    i like that retro styles are more accessible now, but unfortunately, for my life, wearing the wiggle dresses i KNOW i'd rock just isn't a good idea. unfortunately for me, wearing vintage clothes means behaving, moving, and even breathing differently.

    what has happened tho, is that i've been braver at trying my hand at making clothes with a vintage cut: things that define the waist and not the high hip, skirts that fall to the knee, pants cut different than when i was in high school and even now, shirts with a retro cut and feel to them. it's also helped me to understand how clothing is constructed (and so has this blog), and thusly become more confident in the clothes i D wear.

  35. It's changed the way I dress a little because it's now easier to find these styles because they're "trendy" and therefore in the shops.

  36. Little Black Car:

    Good Grief! You missed my points so completely that I simply don't have time to explain them again. But certainly, it was fair to discuss the lifestyle, which has been promoted in the media and on the show's website, and which the unthoughtful actually think is glamorous. I don't think MM is intended to be nostalgic, but surprisingly, many do.

    I think the tendency of people, or maybe it's the media, to talk of women as a "Betty" or a "Joan" or a "Peggy" is just a new form of an old problem -- forcing women into slots.

    The men on MM, at least the execs, wear suits that flatter and protect. You don't hear about contemporary men being called a "Don" or a "Roger," or a "Pete," even though men's suits are more similar to each other than are the dresses that the women characters wear.

    That's because the man wears the outfit, not the other way around. Women should be striving for that kind of individuality.

  37. I'm a huge fan of Mad Men, and I love the clothes. As a teen in the late 70s/early 80s I was crazy about the whole fifties revival trend, and Mad Men just brings back all that retro love.

    However, I've realized that midcentury style just doesn't suit my personality or my life. I'd definitely consider a 60s-inspired dress for a special occasion, but everyday vintage dressing for me would just feel too much like a costume.

    I do think Mad Men has helped to bring sartorial style to the attention of people who probably never gave it much thought before. I don't remember seeing so much thoughtful public discussion of the meaning of clothes until people started dissecting why the MM characters wear what they wear. And I think more understanding of fashion and taking it seriously - as a form of communication and a reflection of social climate - can only be a good thing.

    What I'd like to see more of now is the same kind of discussion of the styles of other not-so-distant eras, and the cultural trends that influenced them, as well.

  38. I understand your frustration with the not exactly authentic looks labelled as "mad men" like the banana republic sheaths. Unfortunately, I think that for any trend, esp. one that is as dramatic as vintage can be, in order for it to make commercial sense to a large company, the idea has to be watered down enough not to offend anyone. An overly retro dress in a real office may be considered too bold or "fun" for many employers.(SADLY).
    I personally believe that all fashion only moves in one direction: reverse. Old styles are always being reinterpreted and are around us in hidden ways and I think that's b/c the past forms a natural inspiration for so many designers. Think of the 40s new look by dior and how it was really a reinterpretation of victorian silhouettes. Even 20s dresses I've heard of being inspired by traditional mid-eastern or Hellenic garments.
    It seems that MadMan has also made dressing up nice and good grooming "trendy" again and b/c of my upbringing I find this sorta comforting.
    I like how said the show gives us a vocabulary, like "that is so Joan." It reminds me that just b/c we think of a particular 60s look, actually everyone did have their own personal style back then too.

  39. MMV:

    . . . OK, if you say I totally missed your point, I'll take your word for it, but I'm not sure how else one was to take the bit about smoking and alcohol. It all seems to be taking a television show a bit too seriously.

    The biggest part of the American population probably has never seen MM and doesn't care. I've never seen it and I don't really care. My take is that describing somebody as a "Joan" or whatever is mostly shorthand for describing her style (pictures are worth a thousand words, right? I don't know your friend but if you say she's Molly Ringwald in Pretty in Pink, I get it in one sentence). Not much different than saying somebody is a goth or a punk-rocker or a rockabilly. It does not, nor is it intended to, describe the depths of their character.

  40. Super post! Mad Men might have changed it somehow, and what I like with it (the change) is that it is another alternative to high street fashion, and an alternative that has made me more confident in my curves. That hasn't always been appreciated within fashion industry, but now I can wear pencil skirts or full circle skirts, and feel great (sometimes a little costumey, but still great) about it! It also gives us the opportunity to dress up on an everyday basis, which I love.

    However, I didn't start watching Mad Men until this spring, but I've been interested in rockabilly and retro styles for a couple of years. So did Mad men nurture the fashion industry, or was it a coincidental match that fashion industry can cash in on? I would say, anyway, that the Mad Men style is being pushed, a little too far.

    I have to admit that I love being one amongst few when it comes to style, loving to stand out a little amongst a crowd. Hence I should hate it when my point of style is fashionable. Still, with this style, I don't. Maybe because there's so many gorgeous people wearing this style (and all the kids still seem to prefer emo/steampunk), and strangely it makes me fell powerful. Like Joan (at least what regards self-confidence). How does that go with feminism, Gertie? It makes me feel like a paradox! Is it the old, women have to feel like women, and men have to feel like men? Now, this is what Mad Men does to me! At least mentally...

  41. All I know is those regular 60s dresses used to go for $20 on ebay and now they're sometimes going for over $100

    The downside of retro clothing becoming popular

  42. It hasn't changed the way I dress, because I have never ever seen a single episode. Kinda wish I had though ;-) the truth is, I have felt like a forties/fifties girl on the inside since I was 18, but it has only been the past few months that I have had the confidence to start being it on the outside, too. x

  43. No - hasn't changed the way I dress as I don't watch it and was into vintage since forever (that could be as it suits my figure too, as some of you gals have said too). I only watched one episode and enjoyed the style mainly because I love vintage and had already been buying vintage patterns and making old school dresses and it was exciting to see it on the telly (I am in Australia).

    As a sewist, part of the appeal of pre-late-60s patterns is that they are more complicated, challenging and beautifully constructed than the 70s and onwards daywear patterns. Look at the difference in difficulty and time taken to make something from the 30s compared to the 90s for example. Some of the pattern books these days look like a beginners sewing class with nothing challenging at all other than the wedding gowns (and even then...). I turn to Vogue Patterns for something more challenging in the Designer or Vintage sections or buy vintage patterns as that is where you can challenge your sewing skills without having to make couture.

    That's why I love your blog so much Gertie - you are helping to bring back the craft of sewing. Sure I love vintage style, but it's about regaining our sewing skills too!

  44. It hasn't changed the way I dress, but I don't get as many weird looks as I used to when I wear that era.

  45. I personally thing MadMen has hit a zeitgeist. I also don't watch much TV but just from the pictures I've seen the clothes are awesome.

    I've really stepped up how I dress at work and I've noticed the other women are doing it too. And in turn the guys start dressing better, or at least paying more attention to grooming. I think this is an awesome thing.

  46. I've frequented thrift stores and antique stores in search of vintage clothing and sewing patterns for a long time. So, Mad Men didn't prompt a change in my style habits, though I do love observing the styles on the show. Since before Mad Men even began I've enjoyed wearing reconstructed vintage items and creating clothing from patterns from the '40s through the '70s. So, my love of vintage is not restricted to the early '60s fashion presented in the show. While Mad Men isn't the originator of the interest in retro styles for me personally, I can definitely see how it has influenced mainstream fashion.

    I identify with some of the previous comments about the frustration with how often people confuse and lump very distinct styles from different eras together. I also don't like how everything retro or vintage that I wear gets compared to Mad Men now. Especially since I wore and was inspired by 60s styles before the show even started.

  47. the last time any tv show had any influence on my wardrobe was "Blossom" in the 90s. I find the Mad Men clothing trend annoying. The same people who started wearing sheath dresses because of Mad Men; are the same people who made fun of me in high school for wearing outdated clothes. People who wore sheath dresses before Mad Men are the original cool people (in my book)

  48. Does MM affect how we dress? Well, I have watched the 'mid century modern' trend over this past decade. From the start of 'Atomic Ranch' magazine in 2004 which helped to visually gel the style in architecture and home dec, to Isaac Mizrahi's little black dresses at Target in the mid decade (2003-2008). Our popular culture had been moving towards this current trend for some time. I think that the MM producers saw this opportunity and nailed the mid-century mod look and life style trend down when they launched the show in 2007. It was just a matter of time for it to affect our visual perceptions and hunger for the 'new'. Do I wear it? Even though I sell the originals, I prefer to wear reproduction styles with some lycra stretch and a more comfortable waistline (sadly, true vintage is not a good fit for me).

  49. Well Mad Men has certainly increased the amount of patterned shifts and sheaths available in stores, so I am snapping them up. 60s have always been my era of choice and I am eagerly awaiting another resurgence, I am hoping as Mad Men moves into the mid 60s, these styles will hit the mass consciousness again and I'll be able to stock up on patterned shifts and A line minis.

    I would say that Mad Men has changed the way I do my hair. Bouffants and buns are now very popular, and 60s style sets are everywhere. I am not immune!

  50. It's all just for fun...TV and fashion both. Actually MM moves through thre years quickly so the girls of MM will be going mod anytime soon! That's the era I'm most nostalgic and comfortable with so it may influence an outfit or two!

  51. It's definitely changed the way I dress. I was in college when MM came out, and so was still adapting my personal style and about to enter the real world, where I'd need more professional outfits. I definitely think it's helped change fashion a bit and has made vintage more accessible (online stores, Etsys) to the masses.

    Great post and I loved reading the discussion!

    - JoAnn

    Enter to win a 1960s vintage handbag!
    Sidewalk Chalk

  52. What Peter said! Even Betty Draper, who does not have an ounce of extra weight on her, wears a long line bra and a girdle *around the house*....shudder

  53. I think Jen O really nailed it--Mad Men-styled clothing picked up on the trend toward Mid-Century Modern in architecture and decor that was already in full swing.

    It probably hasn't changed the way many veteran vintage-wearers dress. It has, however, made more structured clothing styles for women and more interesting suits for men (in cut and fabric) more popular. I'm grateful. I will buy new stuff that fits now, and wear it for years. Of course, I'll buy vintage when it fits, but this current trend means there are more items out there in a variety of sizes in the new lines.

    I think the Mad Men style also has made vintage, for many in the mainstream, less of a "fetish" look. I know I don't like a lot of rockabilly style--it's intentionally cartoonish and garish--but I love more "everyday" or truly "period" vintage looks. I think a lot of people who are attracted to the new Mad Men-inspired clothes are those who had not, in the past, seen these looks as an option in "retro" dressing.

  54. I really think it is just a case of Mad Men coming at the time when the "trend" was starting to *really* take off. I'm not even a vintage/retro dresser, but it irks me when people describe things as "Mad Men" when really they are just 50s/60s inspired. Sure, Joan and Peggy and Betty all have their own styles, and in that way I can look at a dress and say "oh that's a 'Joan' dress," but that doesn't mean that *everything* from that time period could be associated with one of the characters, or the show.

    MM Viewer - I think I disagree on what you said about Joan's outfits being provocative. Really, her necklines are high and her hems are low and she always has sleeves in the office (I think). But she is wearing clothes that fit her, and it's her body and her attitude that give her that sexiness. I mean frankly, she has a larger chest and hips than any other character I can think of on the show. She couldn't hide those assets if she tried.

  55. Vintage is definitely becoming trendy due to shows and images from Mad Men and other sources, and I have to say that I am kind of sad about that. To me vintage is the opposite of trendy; it's classic. The great thing about vintage style is that it never goes out of style because it is not trying to be trendy. Shows like Mad Men, which make it trendy to be vintage, will make it uncool to be vintage in a few years once the fad wears off.

  56. I grew up being the strange girl obsessed with 40's vintage clothing, and then expanded into some 50's stuff. So Mad Men has helped me open up more to silhouettes from the 60's, but it has encouraged me to wear more of what I want to. It has given me permission to indulge further in something I already loved, but without being looked at like I was odd for it.


  57. Though there are pro's and con's to a style I hold so near and dear, I must say it is wonderful that I can finally find high waist cigarette pants easily and without breaking the bank. Heck yes.

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Thanks for your comments; I read each and every one! xo Gertie

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