‘Mad Men’ Fashion: Then & Now

Sure, you know the cats on Mad Men dress way better than you. Maybe your dad rocked those smooth suits (while your mom layered in shapely foundation garments), but is that style strictly period? Doesn’t matter — fashion is meaningless out of context, and it doesn’t hurt that the habitués of Sterling Cooper and environs have their wardrobe overseen by the killer eye of costume designer Janie Bryant. Check out our gallery of sartorial stardom, then hit the jump for Bryant’s take on the major characters’ personal style — what makes a Don Draper ensemble, who’s the show cupcake, what series creator Matthew Weiner considers over the top, and what (and who) each character might wear on the Mad Men of today.

imageDon Draper (Jon Hamm) “First of all, I think that he’s a very mysterious character. There’s a lot of information he doesn’t reveal about himself, so I really wanted to have that reflected in his costume design. I tried to maintain minimal color for him. I think just the way his nature is — it’s not ostentatious. It’s very cool, very minimal. I think there’s a very sleek style to his character. He’s also very masculine. To me, those colors … the grays, I will do a streak of burgundy or I should say deep red … it’s all very masculine.” The Contemporary Don: “Paul Smith. Definitely Brooks Brothers. He’s conservative in a way, so I think that that’s classic American style. I would say Paul Smith has the more narrow cut. Let’s see … Joseph Abboud. Maybe some Burberry.”

imageRoger Sterling (John Slattery) “I think of his character as more old school. He’s an older generation, so I love designing the three-piece suit for him, and also the double-breasted suit. It’s much more an older generation kind of style. And that’s why I love the clubbed colors for him, and that’s why he has more accessories. I’ll do the beautiful collar pin for him. I love all his accessories. Jon Hamm always wears the French-cut shirt, and so does John Slattery. He has a little more — if you will — flair for his costume. I’ll accessorize more for Sterling. I think that’s also about wealth and personal grooming.” The Contemporary Roger: “Paul Stuart. Not too many designers are doing the three-piece suit. I love them. Or if they do design them, it’s done in a forward kind of way, and his style is so much more classic and classically cut. I guess Hugo Boss. They’re doing more of the period kind of influence. I’m so immersed in my period realm.”

imagePete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) “I’m really inspired by Frank Sinatra and the whole Rat Pack in Pete’s style and design. I love all the different blue suits of the period. You see the kind of blues you just don’t see today. They’re wider and brighter. It would be a total fashion thing for the period. I think of him as the younger generation — what’s happening, what’s to come. I always call it the ‘Pete Campbell Blue.’ I keep him in variations — the sharkskin blue, or that brighter blue. Or this year, because a little bit of time has gone by and he’s matured a little bit more, to do a blue-green plaid. He always has some Pete Campbell blue in his costume, whether it be the tie or the suit.” The Contemporary Pete: “Gosh, I don’t know. Nobody really makes those blue suits. The cut is very narrow — so maybe John Varvatos. I think he’s doing the narrow, slim, slim cut. Tom Ford, maybe along those lines.”

imageBetty Draper (January Jones) “Very much of a throwback to the late 1950s. I love to design clothes for her that are very fitted at the bodice and at the waist and having that real full skirt. I always call her my ‘cupcake.’ It’s that image of perfection. For me, especially for Don Draper as with Betty, it’s about the image and how people perceive them to be. There’s all the secrets at home. I think that she dresses as the image of perfection, whether it be the cigarette pants and the perfect sweater or cardigan. Or the nipped waist or the full skirt. It’s also about, for her, unwrapping the package. When [series creator] Matt Weiner and I were having a discussion about her costume, he said, ‘I love the image of her having a lot of room underneath that skirt … space between her legs.’ He’s so funny. It’s all about having the layers — the petticoats, the girdles, the stockings, and the slip, and the bra. It’s also about having so much time at home to perfect that image. That really is her style.” The Contemporary Betty: “I was going through my Vogue last night and I was looking at Bottega Veneta. Those sleek dresses are more for Joan or Peggy. I guess Prada was doing the fuller skirts. In a way, I guess Oscar de la Renta, because he has the beautiful fabrics with his gowns, and a lot of times he’ll do the fuller skirts too.”

imageJoan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) “She’s a woman who knows what looks great on her as far as a character goes, and I always design clothes for her that feature her best assets. She has such a beautiful figure, and it’s so much fun to design for her. For all of the ladies, the foundation garments are so important for me because that’s the start of everything. If you have proper foundation, then your garments fit properly over them. Joan — I love showing her hourglass figure. Her character is so commanding, and her clothes really speak that, I think. And also, I love to keep her in jewel tones. I think they’re so beautiful on her, and for me, it’s that image of strength and having that real command in the office. When she’s on set, she just screams. I really love to maintain that design for her.” The Contemporary Joan: “A lot of the designers this year are really doing that look — not Marc Jacobs, but Michael Kors. Kors has designed a lot of those silhouettes. His line is so beautiful. I love it. All of the silk prints, so gorgeous. All of the sheets. He would be one of the main ones for a modern Joan. Yeah, for sure.”

imagePeggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) “She is definitely like that schoolgirl in the office. I do a lot of pleated skirts for her. It’s a little bit prim, a little bit proper, but there’s always a lot of prep going. I also love to design things for her that are very textured. Usually, I’ll do a blouse and a skirt. With her skirt, I like to have the pleats and the fullness around the waist. You know what, sometimes she’ll wear a sheet. I do so many different silhouettes for her. But whatever the silhouette is, it definitely always has the schoolgirl theme to it. In a way she’s buttoned up — not as a nut — but like she has a Catholic upbringing. I definitely think there’s a conservative nature to her.” The Contemporary Peggy: “That could be very Marc Jacobs. Maybe a little bit of Burberry.”

imageSalvatore Romano (Bryan Batt) “I have a lot of fun with him, mixing up silhouettes, like three-piece suit separates. Always separates, always to show his flair in a subtle way. Matt Weiner sometimes looks at how I’m dressing Bryan and says, ‘Jesus, it’s so over the top!’ But I like the extra color, accessories, period cufflinks, tattersall vest, or a beautiful period tweed with red vest.” The Contemporary Salvatore: “I think Gucci and Yves Saint Laurent.”

imageBertram Cooper (Robert Morse) “Those yellow argyle socks … I came from a textile family, and my dad wore those socks! It’s the whole golf thing. He’s sort of stuck in period 1930s character. Real tweedy suits, beautiful bowties.” The Contemporary Bertram: “Brooks Brothers. You can still get your suspenders, your tattersall shirts, your bowties.”

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