Femme Fatales

Our love for Mad Men is no secret (as seen here and here) but with the finale of Season 6 behind us, and what a season it was, let’s take a moment to reflect on how the fashion has evolved through the seasons.

Betty Draper, Joan Harris, Peggy Olson, Megan Draper; while some of them we hate to love and others we love to hate, there is no denying that the women of Mad Men have style. The highly acclaimed AMC series about advertising executives takes us on a journey of fashion through the 1950s and ‘60s, from Betty Draper’s Betty Crocker’s A-line frocks, to Megan Draper’s psychadelic paisley two-piece bikini.

mad men women

Fashion has always imitated life, and the radical changes happening during these tumultuous decades in America is well documented throughout the show. In the first seasons of Mad Men, the repression of sexuality and feminism can be seen through the demure evening frocks, layers of undergarments (girdles, anyone?), and cleavage as rare as Don Draper’s soberness.

Betty Draper was the quintessential housewife, flouncing through life with pearls, headbands, cardigans and a pack of Lucky Strikes. A shining fashion star during these seasons is Joan Harris, office secretary and sexpot; she highlights her curves with tight knit sweaters, nipped in pencil skirts and sky high heels. Her fiery red hair and matching lipstick amp up her femininity and, dare we say, swagger?


As the seasons progress, and the 50s blends into the 60s, Don’s choice of wife isn’t the only change. The political and social movements loosen up fashion rules, allowing pants, shorts and mini dresses-who could forget Megan’s rendition of “Zou Bisou Bisou”, while wearing a short black mesh-paneled dress and enough eyeliner to make Cleopatra blush?


Peggy Olson also comes out of her shell, both literally and figuratively, in the later seasons. Her usually prim fashion choices (turtlenecks, low heeled shoes, bangs) start to evolve to include sleeveless blouses and (gasp!) trousers. Her sex appeal is demonstrated in a more subtle way than other characters, with hints of cleavage and differently styled hair accentuating her fashion risks.
Peggy-OlsenIt’s been a fashion roller coaster thus far, and it’s not stopping anytime soon; season 7 brings promise of the feathered hair and platform heels of the 1970s. Here’s to hoping Joan rocks bell bottoms.

Style for style,
Toronto-based guest contributor

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