How ‘Mad Men’ Contributed to My Wardrobe

Photo by Cassie Sardo

Matthew Weiner’s Mad Men is considered one of the greatest shows television has ever aired — primarily for its genius dialogue, unparalleled character development, and incredible commitment to capturing the era in which it takes place; however, I would be remiss to neglect mentioning the show’s amazing and stunning costumes. Weiner’s female characters are a source of inspiration for my own wardrobe and their outfits alone are enough to keep me re-watching episode after episode. Following the evolution of style from the late 50s well into the 70s, Mad Men boasts an authentic recreation of fashion during that age. Betty Draper and Joan Holloway are style icons, inside and outside of the Mad Men world. Even Peggy Olsen, frumpy and modest in the show’s first season, finds herself inspired by the fashion climate in Sterling Cooper’s office. She is empowered and eventually comes into her own.

As much as I wish we all paraded around in Jackie Kennedy-esq suits and dresses reminiscent of Grace Kelly, style has changed obviously and naturally over the years. Still, it doesn’t deter me from trying to emulate my icons in subtle ways. I found a dress in the T.J. Maxx outlet near my apartment priced down from $99 to $30 that reminds me so much of something I would envy while watching Mad Men, perhaps something we’d see Megan Calvet sport in later seasons. It’s a vibrant blue and green, with a noisy retro pattern suggestive of the 60s, falling just above my knees and tying at the waist. The marvelous silky fabric buttons up to meet a collar. With navy blue pumps and my hair done up (when an event gives me the excuse), I live the day with a quiet thrill of echoing the style that I so wholeheartedly love.

My wearing the dress doesn’t change the fact that I exist in 2016, a year dominated by Kardashian fashion and ever-trending athleisure, but I like to be reminded of how style evolved. Fashion is both a reflection of and an influence on our culture. On days I wear the dress to work, I can be reminded that the women in Weiner’s show struggled in ways that I never will because they set the tone for women in the modern workplace. It’s because of women like Peggy and Joan who fought for respect and authority that I might stand on more equal ground in whatever career path I choose. The clothes we wear represent our lifestyles and eventually become symbols for entire eras. It will be interesting to look back 50 years from now and understand how style influenced our own time with a wiser perspective.