As AMC’s Mad Men concludes its latest season, the show has now spanned five years from the early to mid-1960’s – and five seasons of sleek 60’s fashions in the boardroom and out. Even though the employees of Mad Men’s feature ad agency Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce have much to learn about business etiquette, the office style is certainly on pointe. The men and women of Mad Men all have distinctive and varied tastes, yet each character seems to master the basic fundamentals of a great outfit. Here are a few style tips from Mad Men that go beyond the 1960’s setting of the show – and that you can take back to the office.
The Men: Don Draper, Roger Sterling
As the men of the ad agency stride through its halls and on the streets of Manhattan, their sleek suits paired with their confidence contribute to their suaveness and authority. Though the outfit looks effortless, there are many details to consider to make a simple suit look its finest:
Cut and Fit of a Suit.
Much of the polished look of the ad men comes from the cut and fit of their suits: each character wears his suit tailored to a perfect fit. The sleeves rest just at the base of the thumb; there is no excess fabric at the bottom of the trousers or in the suit jacket.
A tip from Mad Men’s costume designer Janie Bryant to men shopping for suits: Keep trying suits smaller and smaller (often smaller than you think!) until you get the perfect fit.
The Subtle Elements.
The finer details truly complete the outfit. Don Draper would never leave home without his pocket square, watch, cufflinks, tie clip, hat, and of course, a great tie. Investing in high-quality yet simple accessories is a great idea for the well-dressed businessman: a pair of fine, basic cufflinks or a classic watch will never go out of style.
Be Prepared to Look Fresh.
The ad men always sport a crisp, white shirt under their suit jackets. So how do those shirts stay so sharp? Cut to a scene of Don Draper reaching for a fresh white shirt from a stack in his desk drawer. This is where the motto “be prepared” comes in handy – especially if you need to make a smooth transition from a long day at the office to an evening out on the town.
The Women: Joan Harris, Peggy Olson, Betty Francis
Even under moments of extreme pressure, the women of Mad Men seem to be nearly always put-together. Like their male counterparts, the harmony of their looks lies in the details and the versatility between different contexts.
If the dress fits, wear it.
For both men and women, how your clothes fit is a major influence on how they look. AMC costume designer Janie Bryant notes that what makes Joan Harris such a Mad Men style icon is how her clothes work for her: “I always saw [Joan] as a character who knew what shapes work for her body.”
(View the full interview with Janie Bryant here.)
Don’t forget your overcoat.
The women’s mod 1960’s outfits look great inside the boardroom. But when they travel outside in the chilly Manhattan fall or winter, they pay close attention to their outwear, too. A fine hat is essential, paired with tailored gloves and a trim overcoat of wool or another fine yet heavy fabric.
On light weather days, Betty can be seen with a silk scarf over her trench coat and leather driving gloves.
Marry form with function.
Office manager Joan Harris nearly always appears with her signature long necklace with a gold pen attached. The delicate gold chain adds elegance to her outfit, and this Women’s Day article notes its ability to make one look taller and slimmer by creating a vertical line down the body. Yet the same necklace never fails to come in handy when it’s time to take notes at a partners meeting.
To be sure, the partners of Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce have a lot to learn about treating their employees equally and with respect – perhaps they might benefit from a business etiquette seminar? Nevertheless, the characters of Mad Men never fail to look suave and confident – a credit to their mastery of the fundamental elements of style!
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