Costume Commentary: Our "Mad Men" Fashion Highlights, Season 5, Episode 1

Costume Commentary: Our "Mad Men" Fashion Highlights, Season 5, Episode 1
Megan Draper (Jessica Paré) in "Mad Men"
(Photo © Ron Jaffe/AMC)

We suffered in silence for 17 months for the season five premiere of AMC’s “Mad Men," and so it was with great anticipation that we awaited the respite brought by last night’s two-hour television extravaganza. The show, of course, is a pitch-perfect study of the sexism, racism, homophobia, and anti-Semitism of the era, as well as a more general essay on the loneliness that defines the human condition. The women’s costumes in particular seamlessly acknowledge the claustrophobic mores imposed on women — homemakers and professionals — at the dawn of the sexual revolution. Yet from the beginning "Mad Men" has also become a style icon in its own right – it’s been widely praised for its meticulous, historically accurate sets, costumes, and soundtrack, and was even the inspiration for a flimsy, overpriced line of clothing at Banana Republic. 

To mark the new season we — that would be style editor Ann Binlot and senior editor Sarah Kricheff — offer our rundown of important fashion highs and lows from last night’s episode.


Best Birthday Present

Va va va voom! Megan Draper’s black trapeze minidress with the sheer butterfly sleeves and rhinestone collar was so sexy. I’d like that for my 40th birthday. Her rendition of Gillian Hills’s “Zou Bisous Bisous” was the icing on the cake.

Most Likely to Get You Kicked Out of Your Office

I don’t know about that red, navy, and white diagonal striped tie with the blue and navy plaid jacket that Harry Crane was wearing. With that hideous ensemble, it’s no wonder they’re making him trade his office with Pete.

Most Overdressed Office Visit

Joan’s magenta dress with the sequined cuffs and and whispy black flower print. Wow. Who wears that when they’re just going to visit the office? I know it was the ’60s and all, but isn’t that a bit much? Whose eye is she trying to catch? 

Best Ploy to Get Your Husband to Sleep With You

Megan Draper stripped down to her lace black bra and panties while cleaning the house because, as she claimed, she didn’t want to get sweaty. Yeah, right. She could have changed into some house clothes. She clearly wanted to tempt Don Draper.


Most Likely to Start a New Trend in Williamsburg

Peggy’s nerd-cool blue and white saddle shoe pumps added a touch of flair to the character’s usually frumpy sartorial selections. The shoes were paired with a shapeless white, short-sleeved button-down shirt (I wish costume designer Janie Bryant would ditch these awful tops already – even style-challenged Peggy deserves better) and a masculine plaid, knee-length skirt. When it comes to Peggy, I'll take what I can get.

Best Showing From a Bored Wife

Jane Sterling’s stunning orange-and-white swirled floor-length silk dress was a close second – and fabulous counterpoint – to Megan’s sex-kitten party frock. Looking effortlessly chic, Jane’s outfit and weirdly copper ultra-tan were spot-on representations of the character’s place as Roger Sterling’s trophy wife. She has become comfortable with her status, has tons of money and time to burn, and doesn’t have to try too hard (see: Megan) to impress anyone anymore.