Friday, May 18th, 2012

Mad Men's Megan Draper Reads (And Wears) 1966 'Vogue'

Up until this season, the stylish women of "Mad Men" rarely deviated from their set looks. Joan wore her tight, bold dresses; Betty Draper (pre weight-gain) honed her Grace Kelly image; and Jane Siegel was all about flash. (Even Peggy, the most awkward dresser of the group, stuck to mostly menswear-influenced outfits around the office.) It took the new Mrs. Draper and her fabulous wardrobe to give the show what it needed to chronicle the changing fashions of the 60s: a clotheshorse.

And a trendy one at that. We never know what Megan Draper will decide to wear next—now a rhinestone mod mini-dress, next a floor-length gown and cape in watermelon—because she probably doesn’t know either: the editors at Vogue haven't told her yet. Megan might be the first series regular who not only reads Vogue but studies it.

“Do they always give you clothes?" the new copywriter Michael Ginsberg asks Megan when she decides to leave the agency to become an actress. “Or do you have to do it in your own clothes?" It seems obvious the new Mrs. Draper would be a natural at acting: she’s been stepping into a new costume each week through her brand-new, Don Draper-funded wardrobe. By the looks of episodes seven and eight, she (or rather costume designer Janie Bryant) has clearly been taking cues from the 1966 September issues of the magazine. Compare Megan's outfits with the original editorials and her inspirations become obvious.

Megan must have taken notice of the editorial “Paris… New Proportions Rampant… A Fresh Eye On Line And Limb” published on Sept. 15, 1966 (when Vogue used to come out twice a month). Two of her outfits from episode seven (“Lady Lazarus”) look plucked from its pages. While Vogue had already begun to heavily feature houndstooth (a later October 1966 editorial on Paris fashions showed a similar style) the outfit Megan wears to the office at the episode's beginning bears a striking resemblance to the styling in the magazine—she even paired her dress with the lighter stockings shown.

Another outfit, the striking green raincoat she wears on her last day at SCDP, mimics a YSL slicker from the same editorial.

That issue also featured a spread called, “Fashions to Own Right Now.” Megan, with her upgraded status from secretary to young, wealthy wife of Don Draper, now has the power to do so.

Of course, Megan took on many new roles outside the workplace this season, too. She became a wife at home and out on the town. Her more glamorous looks seem to come from another editorial called “New York Collections: American Fashion to Go Out and Buy Now” in the Sept. 1 issue. For example, her shopping outfit from episode six (“At the Codfish Ball”) and her shift dress from episode seven:

Her casual wear—she seems to have a house uniform of cropped pants and sweaters—looks pulled from the very same shoot. (More views of this standard outfit found here.)

And what's with all the Incan prints Megan wears in the office? As it turns out, the magazine featured a more creative shoot in July 1966 on “Incametrics,” set to accompany a travel article on Peru.

The best visual clue? Megan herself. Look through a 1960s issue of Vogue, and Megan would easily fit in among the models. The magazine was not immune to the drastic changes of the decade; Diana Vreeland took its helm in 1963. The storied editor put more downtown trends, more sex appeal and more iconic 60s girls in the magazine’s pages, girls like Edie Sedgwick, Baby Jane Holzer—and like Megan Draper.

When this promotional poster of Don Draper staring rapt at a naked mannequin first appeared to herald in the new season, some predicted that it meant that, despite his recent proposal to Megan Calvet, Don Draper would be philandering again in season five. In retrospect, what it really hinted at seems obvious given the psychology of an ad man. As the laser-sharp Tom and Lorenzo have astutely pointed out at their blog, Don likes a covergirl wife. “That’s the kind of girl Don marries,” Joan observed when Megan ditched advertising for acting. Goodbye Betty, Megan is the updated model.

Related: Footnotes Of Mad Men

Ali Pechman lives in Chicago.

13 Comments / Post A Comment

hockeymom (#143)

I think Jane Sterling looks like she stepped out of a James Bond movie.
I'm going to go with the Bond Girl as inspiration for her look.

LondonLee (#922)

@hockeymom Yes, in the early episodes when the new decade had yet to make itself truly felt I looked at the younger, thinner Jane (compared to Mona and Joan) and said "that's the 60s right there"

Baroness (#273)

@hockeymom I've always loved that as soon as Jane married Roger, she went full Vreeland editorial-looking. Gold caftans for lounging, space-princess get-ups. "THAT's what I want!", right off the page.

areaderwrites (#592)

This is interesting as I have been looking through the Vogue Archive for the Zou Bisou dress. I maintain that garment is actually the top of a tunic-and-pants ensemble from the late 60s, I know I've seen it somewhere (other than on Barbie–"Lemon Flip"), but I can't find a photo.

sunnyciegos (#551)

@areaderwrites The costume designer did an interview for the AMC website where she discussed that dress. It's actually a vintage piece. She had to remake the sleeves, which had been destroyed over the years. But other than that it's exactly what it looks like. I could see it modified as a two-piece, though.

a-duh (#9,375)

I wonder if the prices for 1960s high fashion were more affordable than now? I'm curious, although I suppose the wife of an agency partner would be able to afford more than most.

katnotcat (#10,431)

@a-duh The only price I can see on any of these pages is "about $60" for the Incan print dress (in teeny tiny print on the last pic, yes, I was super curious too). That's equivalent to almost $400 today, so not affordable, but cheaper than a lot of things featured in modern Vogue. Of course, now even mainstream women's mags declared $300 dresses "everyday affordable pieces" so…

Olivia2.0 (#1,716)

This realization, that Megan really is nothing but the "new Betty" (meaning that she's just the updated, idealized version of what "a wife" should be) makes me like Megan A LOT less. I guess I didn't realize it, but now that I do, I'm sort of hating her. I always felt a bit bad for Betty, b/c she was "trapped" but I don't have the same level of sympathy for Megan when she gets all PO'd at Don for coming home late & drunk. First off HELLO HAVE YOU MET DON? Second – I feel like Megan is a little more liberated, and should know better than to have married him, but really, all her bit of liberation has done is give her the balls to yell at him for coming home drunk and late, instead of just getting drunk herself and going to bed.

And, finally, the scene of Megan drinking a glass of red wine while Don ate – ALL TOO FAMILIAR. Amirite? For different reasons, but still the same result.

Ellie (#18,264)

@Olivia2.0 Wack – Megan is nowhere near being "the new Betty."

questingbeast (#201,738)

@Olivia2.0 I sort of see it as a commentary on women's situation in general; Megan is Betty, but 10/15 years later. What's wrong with Betty is clearly supposed to be The Feminine Mystique's 'problem with no name'- she got a husband and children and a nice house, but it's not enough to make her happy. Whereas Megan, only a decade on, is able to stand up to Don and say that what he's doing is bullshit, and that she doesn't want to give up on what she planned to do before they got married. She's benefited from coming from a half-generation later. I think also making her French Canadian and have liberal parents is supposed to make the values dissonance more plausible. It makes me more sympathetic to Betty, rather than less so to Megan.

Jane Donuts (#2,857)

Makes me happy to see you give Tom and Lorenzo a shout out. Consistently the best Mad Men analysis anywhere.

hatsandsuit (#234,726)

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