The Mad Men Women

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The heat is breaking, they say.  We didn’t have it as bad as others across the country, that’s for sure, but it’s been hot everywhere.  Uncomfortable. Sticky.

This morning my sister and I went out for a late breakfast. The place was packed – she said a lot of folks go there right after church.  I looked around and saw sneakers, sandals, bare legs, bare arms, shorts, t-shirts, sundresses.  Normal summertime attire.  What you see every day in July around here.

Lately I’ve been catching up on Season Five of “Mad Men,” the brilliant and award-winning drama that depicts a fictional Madison Avenue (hence, the “Mad Men”) advertising agency in the 1960s.  Certainly fashion for women had started to change by 1967, but I’ve been captivated by Joan, Peggy, and Betty and their true-to-date clothes.

I’m old enough to remember when homes/offices/churches didn’t have air conditioning; nevertheless, men wore business suits (tight collar, necktie), and women wore dresses.  And what they had to wear under those dresses!  The pointy brassière, rubberized girdle, garters, stockings were staples in a woman’s wardrobe.  Even in the 1980s, I wouldn’t think of going to work (a bank) with bare legs.  Pantyhose.  Every day.

Women did wear a lot more clothes then, and the clothes were beautiful: tailored, hand-sewn, finest fabrics.  No “printed racer-back tank dress” for $19.99 (made in China, yes).  Most women didn’t have a closetful of clothes.  What they had was quality, and would last.

This morning I was grateful to be able to dress more comfortably.  But watching those episodes of “Mad Men” has made me a little nostalgic.  A tiny little bit.  Well, maybe in October.

5 thoughts on “The Mad Men Women

  1. My friends think I’m a little silly becuse I get excited over bound button holes, finished seams, and full linings in straight skirts and always winter pants. I love it when I see perfectly matched plaids or prints — it doesn’t happen much anymore. Thanks for the post. It reminded me of all the things I was forced to learn in 4-H and still know how to do.

  2. Thanks, Gemma and Lottie. I really can’t imagine wearing all those foundation pieces, especially in the heat with no A/C. As much as I love Peggy, I’m structured more like Joan, and I have to say, the end result is simply gorgeous.

  3. I’m hooked on Mad Men. Haven’t seen series 5 yet but looking forward to it.
    Yes, can you imagine having to wear all of that kit and caboodle underneath?
    On the plus side I would probably look at least 2 dress sizes smaller with a rubberized corset, a roll on, and a proper up-lifting bra instead of the knackered old thing that I’m wearing right now!

    Women looked so stylish and lovely in those days and you are right when you say that they didnt have as many clothes but what they did have was quality and beautifully made, attention to detail etc and it was a very feminine look too unlike today.

    Tracksuit bottoms, trainers and the dreaded lycra have done nothing to advance us in the style stakes and as for the kaftan type thing that I tend to throw on most days (Indonesia’s answer to the housecoat called a dastah) don’t even get my husband started on the subject – he absolutely hates me wearing it and would infinitely prefer that I dressed like Joan, or Betty or Peggy.

    I’m the first to admit that I need to have a radical rethink about my wardrobe, the question is do I just change the outside appearance or should I go for the undergarments too?

    Great post Martha, thank you.

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