After seven seasons, “Mad Men,” arguably one of television’s most fashionable shows in history, is coming to an end.
AMC’s 1960s period drama transports audiences back to an era predating Surgeon General Warnings, a time when everyone in the workplace would enjoy cigarettes and booze at lunchtime and both men and women were fashion forward.
The mastermind behind the show’s fashion is costume designer Janie Bryant, who was inspired by 1960s catalogs, Southern style and vintage shops in the Los Angeles area.
Through the show, Bryant played an important role in bringing the worlds of fashion and costume design closer together.
And she managed to rekindle sixties style in the twenty-first century, where comfort oftentimes comes before class.
Do pillbox hats, pearl necklaces, kitten heels, cardigans matched with sleek pencil skirts, matte red lipstick and cat-eye makeup sound familiar? How about stylized hair, tailored men’s suits, folded pocket squares and the occasional fedora?
All of these staples have become the trends of mainstream fashion over the last seven years of the show’s run.
Not only did audiences fall in love with the clothes on the screen, but they also took the time to transform their entire wardrobes. By 2011, Bryant helped Banana Republic design a 1960s “Mad Men” inspired collection for regular consumers. Meanwhile, fashion greats such as Miuccia Prada and Marc Jacobs designed retro clothing with the more voluptuous women of the ’60s for their showcases.
The embodiment of the curvy figure is actress Christina Hendricks who plays bombshell Joan Holloway on the show.
Even before the first season’s end, fans wrote countless articles and letters about how Hendricks’ character actually helped them to accept their own curvy bodies and embrace fashion.
Full-figured women were not the only ones finding inspiration on the show. Female audiences still remain in awe of Betty Draper, portrayed by January Jones, who is often compared to Grace Kelly.
In the first season, her style resembled that of a 1950s housewife, very prim and proper.
Despite the sweet and innocent housewife characteristic that pervaded Betty Draper’s wardrobe, it remains oddly alluring, like something of Jackie O.
The style of Meagan Draper, played by Jessica Paré, brought cat eye makeup back into style. And bright red lipstick can be seen on countless women both in the workplace and out on the town.
Although, the female leads were not the only ones to have impressive fashion moments.
The men, too, quickly became fashion icons. Don Draper, portrayed by Jon Hamm, is the show’s womanizing, hard-drinking protagonist.
His sleek and tailored Brooks Brothers suits are rarely ever a solid black or gray in the episodes.
At first glance, the suits appear to be of a single dominant color, but the threads used to construct the jacket and trousers are actually made from multiple colors, which make small intricate patterns.
Bryant’s attention to detail in Don Draper’s wardrobe was meant to make him stand out among the other male characters.
During the 1960s, business suits were designed with the classic pinstripe pattern because it was considered more formal than overt patterns, which were considered too casual for the workplace.
While Draper’s suits were made to incorporate different patterns, they were always simple and understated.
It is no coincidence that, after “Mad Men” started airing on AMC in 2007, men’s retail sales climbed upwards the following year. Martini shakers, cuff links, pocket squares and tailored suits saw huge upswings.
To many, the crisp, man-in-power look is much more appealing in contrast to the business-casual, metrosexual looks of the 1990s and early 2000s.
As the show’s story line extended into the following decade, changes in the characters’ wardrobes and styles reflected the evolving trends. Bryant continues to pay close attention to the times in order to make the looks on the show as authentic as possible.
Fashion trends have certainly changed with “Mad Men.” Just like the show’s 1970s flair with plaid pantsuits for empowered women, tie-dye mini-dresses, bell-bottoms and crop tops, retailers have turned out similar clothing for consumers.
With the end of “Mad Men” comes the end of an era of fashion influence and trend-setting.
Who will audiences look to next for their retro style? What fate is in store for the martini shaker industry?