Mad Style: Season 4 E11 Chinese Wall

Posted on October 07, 2010

Check your teeth for lipstick and put on your metallic dressing gowns, ladies. It’s time once again.


When will the American male get over his thighphobia and return to the days of yore when men bared their thighs proudly? Not much to analyze here, just a snapshot of the Scooby Gang’s beachware for 1965. Love Peggy’s striped sleeveless top.

This is the most glamorous Faye’s ever looked. In fact, they both look pretty amazing here. Like walking advertising illustrations of the period, much like Don and Betty when they had a night out. Pink seems to be a color that denotes a certain vulnerability in the women this season, at least with Faye and Joan. This scene was about Don and the company, but it also foreshadowed the last scene of the episode, where Faye betrayed her ethics for her man.

But patterns, at least with Faye, tend to denote anger and confrontation, especially when paired with black, her “going up against Don” color. The red, which is new for her, is a perfect complement to her rigid body language. She says “anger” from top to bottom. Notice how her hair is straighter and more serious than her date look, which is more traditionally feminine and stylish for the period.

She wore this during her scene with Sally, when Don tried to cast her in the role of surrogate Betty. She’s definitely been recast in the Betty role here, as she puts everything of herself aside for Don, who just cheated on her. Note again the hair, which is back to a Betty-like bounce and curl, rather than her previous Faye-like straight bob.

Another snapshot. Again, no real analysis here except that these are typical casual clothes for the upper middle class of the period. We don’t even smoke but we want those ashtrays.

Here’s Joan, a column of decisive efficiency; a formidable wall of competence. Note how much she stands out here. She could have been dressed in one of her blue or even black outfits, but by putting her in such a focus-pulling color, the fact that she’s standing with the partners and facing the staff is driven home. Despite the unhappiness in her personal life, Joan has done quite well for herself, professionally speaking. Unfortunately, she’d give it up in a second for something more satisfyingly traditional.

We already saw these cute pajamas when Roger sent over a couple of masseuses for her after her husband was shipped off to Vietnam. It serves as a nice callback to that scene, which was what started them off on their affair again, and it also allows Roger to express some disappointment that this is how she dresses when she’s alone. Roger imagines her in lingerie at all times, just waiting for someone to have sex with her; a horny teenage boy’s view of women.

This bright, sunny yellow is definitely her signature color. We think it helps drive home both her youthfulness, as well as her “sunny,” optimistic attitude, especially in relation to all the dour people around her.
Pink definitely doesn’t denote vulnerability with Megan. She was suspiciously direct and in control here. A lot of people thought she looked unattractive in this scene (and folks, we need to remind you that we avoid body snarking and criticisms of people’s looks here) and we think part of the reason is because this would be an example of an outfit that was perfectly stylish in 1965, but looks a little frumpy today. So much of what the cast wears looks perfectly classic to our 2010 eyes, but every once in a while Janie Bryant gives us a visual reminder that times were different. Besides, this A-line skirt and blouse combo is a lot easier for a quickie on an office couch than a tight little sheath dress. That little minx probably wore the outfit specifically because she was planning on a little skirt-lifting.

This outfit makes us laugh because the mismatched quality of it says loud and clear “I spent all night having sex and this was just something I picked up off my bedroom floor and threw on at the last minute.” We’ve seen the top before, but we don’t think we’ve seen the skirt.



And this is her “standing up for herself” dress for 1965. She wore this when she fired Joey for sexual harrassment and here she is wearing it again and dealing with sexual harrassment. Much like the high she got from firing an asshole, acing the presentation makes up for the shit she puts up with. Like we said the last time she wore it, it has a slight (without being obvious) military feel to it. It’s armor that allows her to get through the crap of the day and allows her to get on with her own triumphs.

One thing we noticed looking at these screencaps: Stan Rizzo is no Sal Romano, that’s for sure. We’re too lazy to go through all the previous Mad Style posts to find examples, but Sal was, to our eyes, a better artist than Stan. What’s really impressive is that the production designer for the show thought to use a different art style at all. They could have easily used the same art style and most viewers wouldn’t have noticed, but that’s why this show is so engrossing. The level of attention to detail is astonishing.

And finally, here’s the second Mrs. Roger Sterling in quite the Mrs. Robinson-esque dressing gown. This would have been very of-the-moment and of course, expensive as hell. As fabulous and eye-catching as this ensemble is, however, that’s not what we notice in this scene. What we zeroed in on is the extremely modern leather furniture and glass top coffee table, sticking out like a sore thumb plunked down in the middle of all that old money stuffiness. An oasis of youth and modernity in a sea of old things that are long out of style. If that’s not a metaphor for the Siegel-Sterling marriage, we don’t know what is.

 

[Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com - Photo Credit: amctv.com/originals/madmen]