After Grey’s Anatomy and Sex and the City but before before Breaking Bad and Downton Abbey, there was Mad Men. Suddenly in our lives, filling the gaping sartorial hourglass shaped hole left by Carrie and the gang, were Don and Betty Draper, Peggy Olsen and Joan Holloway. I was on maternity leave, not my most elegant of times, and heard about it from my son’s father one lazy but routine filled summer’s afternoon.
“It’s amazing!” he said and when he added “And I think I’m slightly in love with Don Draper,” I decided to believe him, after all declaring feelings for a fictional character of the same sex based in the last century is not something one does lightly. I should know, I had a fleeting thing for Jessica Rabbit and Daphne from Scooby Doo.
Now I know Mad Men is not for everyone and I am the only member of my family to have stuck with it. My mum oddly decided to start with series 4, a huge mistake as I strongly believe you must do the fashions in the right order. Mad Men is strictly chronological, bar the flashbacks, and half the fun is anticipating the world events and changes in style, episode by episode.
Mad Men did for ladylike dressing what Friends did for flat shares. The characters make it look easy and the reality of living 24/7 in waist cinchers – or in the case of Friends, each others’ pockets – starts to look like the only way forward, even if in reality it would cause some serious health, not to mention, friendship issues.
The latest, and (sob) final series of Mad Men airing this month will be set in the 1970s. And oh how clever as here we are ensconced firmly in a huge seventies revival. We’ve already got our floppy wide brim hats and tassled handbags on the go so grab yourself a Harvey Wallbanger and an iridescent lipstick and get ready for the last lap. It’s going to be emotional.
Let’s not forget though, the influence of such stylish shows last long after the credits roll up the screen for the last time. We’ve already had a Mad Men collection at Banana Republic and now the show’s costume designer Janie Bryant has her own shoe collection ‘Shoes of Prey’ (of course she has) presumably so you too can buy into whichever season of Mad Men takes your fancy the most.
Personally I loved the first season’s wardrobe best but then I have a weakness for the glamour of the 195os with its nipped in waists, neat handbags and matching shoes. But also Mad Men has been a masterclass in how to dress well whatever the fashion of the day and whatever the body type. Actress Christina Hendricks has an incredible figure but va va voom curves aren’t the easiest to clothe without drifting into brassy territory. However the character of Joan Holloway has remained elegant and poised throughout.
We may be leaving Joan, Betty and Peggy to live out the rest of their lives on the great television in the sky, but the Mad Men style will thankfully linger on.