Mad Style: For Immediate Release

Posted on May 08, 2013

It really wasn’t until we looked at the clothes that we realized how much this entire episode was a response to an episode from last season.

Okay, let’s get right to it, because we don’t think we ever received so many messages about a hairstyle before in our lives. Yes, Joannie is wearing her hair down in the office and it wouldn’t be out of line to conclude that it represents a new day dawning in her life and a new acceptance of her role as an executive.

Except she’s worn her hair down before, both times in the first season. First, she wore it down in  S1E3’s “The Marriage of Figaro:”

 

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But it’s not uncommon for a character’s “look” to be in flux in the first several episodes of a series. We tend to consider this something of an outlier, because Joan has steadfastly worn her hair up in practically every scene since.

Except this one:

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The night Bert Cooper called her into the office (away from her hookup for the night) in order to type up telegrams informing all the clients of Roger’s heart attack. This was a more deliberate costuming choice, because it demonstrated the difference between how Joan presents herself to the office, and how she presents herself when she’s out of it. Because of that, and because this latest scene is set on a Saturday in the office with Bert Cooper (hence the casualness), we tend to think the hair down is something of a light callback to that earlier scene. What a difference 8 years make, from a secretary having an affair with a partner to a financial officer preparing her company to go public.

 

But we have to admit, we tend to agree with those people who think her hair is just a little anachronistic here. Yes, looser styles and hair worn down was becoming the norm in the late ’60s, but this feathered, curled ‘do just doesn’t look like 1968. More 1978. We did a LOT of research into late ’60s hairstyles in order to find one that resembled this, and we couldn’t do it. There were a few with the parted bangs, like she’s sporting here. In fact, Sharon Tate favored the look at the time. But it was worn straighter and framed the face more instead of being curled away from it. We don’t spend too much time on the historical accuracy of the looks (partly because they’re almost always dead-on), but since we got so many questions about this one, we figured we’d take the time. She looks great, but she doesn’t look 1968 to us.

Her silhouette remains largely the same, although this blouse is new to us. We think this outfit works as a declarative statement regarding Joan’s status, but it’s somewhat illusory. Her hair’s not quite right and the outfit’s not really as different from her previous ones as you might think. It tends to reflect her partnership fairly well; illusory and not as revolutionary as she’d hoped.

The pink in her blouse will be echoed in several other female characters’ costumes this episode. Pete is dressed in drab green and blue, signaling the downward, adultery-fueled spiral of his own life. Bert is, of course, dressed like it’s 1920.

 

It’s Mother’s Day and she asked him to come, so of course she put on the showiest, most romantic peignor set she owns. Clearly, she’s thawing and ready to accept him back, even as she pretends to be considering the idea, but it’s a tease, like the outfit she’s wearing. You get a peek, Pete, and then it all gets wrapped up and whisked away under a veil of femininity.

 

We didn’t think the outfits in this scene were all that interesting or notable, except for Arnie, who continues a very long-standing theme of depicting unbalanced power in the Draper apartment by having one person in sleepwear while other people are dressed. Interesting that it’s Arnie who’s put in the powerless position this time, but as we’ll see later, he’s feeling pretty powerless in his job at the moment.

It’s also interesting that he’s framed by figures in blue and green. The B&G combo has recurred so frequently and consistently this season that it’s hard not to look for meaning in it. And after this episode, we’re inclined to swing back toward the idea that the combination signals adultery. Don and Marie aren’t adulterous with each other, but they are the only adulterers in the scene and Arnie’s the only cuckold.

Megan stands apart from the drama, another woman in black, which is also a recurring motif this season and one we tend to think calls back to the funerals of MLK and RFK.

 

This was an adorable scene and we love Peggy’s latest coat, but we couldn’t help noting the blue and green in the scene. It’s a sickness at this point, you guys. We can’t stop.

But yeah, as sweetly domestic as these apartment scenes were, they were also dealing with Peggy’s growing feelings about Ted, which means maybe we’re not so nuts to notice all the B&G.

Once again, these two are so different in their styles and trajectories that it’s hard to see them working in the long term. He gets more counter-culture every time we see him and she still looks like a good girl.

Dig that Korvette’s shopping bag. She was picking up curtains from her mother, so we suspect that’s where she got it. Korvette’s was not a discount store in the Woolworth’s sense, but it was definitely a department store with a more working-class feel to it.

 

These men are costumed so distinctly that you really don’t need dialogue to come to conclusions about them. Frank is clearly an artistic type (dig that neck scarf), Jim is clearly a suave, corporate type, and Ted is somewhere in the middle, dressed in a jacket and tie, but rendered in bright, modern colors; a go-getter.  You can practically hear the various arguments that played out over the years among the three of them. And it’s notable that Frank is dressed in shades that call back to the other two men; blue and golden brown. And as the only one not dressed in typical executive wear, it’s clear he’s not as entrenched in this world as the other two men anymore.

 

A thin column of blissfully uncomplicated creamy white, surrounded by flowers on all sides. As bitchy as Marie is to everyone, we tend to think she sees the writing on the wall with the Draper marriage far more clearly than her daughter does. There’s a sense in the blocking of this scene of Megan being surrounded on all sides by people who appreciate her and people who disapprove of her.

Check that Bonwit bag. The Calvets don’t do Korvette’s, darling.

 

A snapshot, because it’s all such a treat for the eyes.

 

A woman in black. Two people in the Draper residence; one dressed, the other undressed. Repeating motifs.

Megan’s quite the clotheshorse, isn’t she? Betty had a hell of a wardrobe back in the day, but we don’t think it comes close to Megan’s. And Betty was a model.

We’re not prudish about smoking, but the idea of smoking inside a closet full of expensive clothing makes us want to reach through the screen and pull it out of her hands. “Do you know how much all this stuff is going to be worth in 40 years?”

 

Once again, metallics on a woman signals wealth, and Megan’s probably the wealthiest woman at the table. Marie is dark and ominous, which reflects her mood, and Peaches is a frilly drink umbrella of a woman; curled, and ruffled and mostly just plain silly-looking.

There were several callbacks, both in story and in costuming, to last season’s “The Other Woman,” which dealt with Joan’s night of prostitution, Peggy flying the SCDP coop, and Megan not being taken seriously by anyone regarding her acting dreams. So Megan’s “Valley of the Dolls”-style dress above reminds us quite a bit of her audition outfit from that episode:

We noted at the time that her audition clothing wasn’t showy enough and that she was too timid in her approach. Now scroll up. Girl definitely learned her lesson in a short amount of time.

 

Another snapshot of three distinctly different ways of dressing men. Pete dresses old for his age, it has to be said. Ken’s clothes reflect his sunny, care-free personality and stand in opposition to Pete’s buttoned-up, dour, conservative grey. Bob’s just cute.

Okay, no. Bob’s there to model the styles of the younger, college-grad set. He’s almost always depicted in a jacket and pants instead of a suit.

 

It’s interesting that the men are all wearing yellow ties, except for Pete, but we honestly don’t know if there’s anything to be gleaned from that. The real story in this scene is Joan’s dress, which is another callback to “The Other Woman.” Don unloading Herb and merging with CGC were both his attempts at reversing two things that didn’t sit well with him from that episode; “saving” Joan from prostitution and corralling Peggy back into his sphere.

So it seems to us that Joan’s dress here, where she yells at the partners about how they handled her prostitution and fallout, is a reflection of this dress:

When she stood proudly with the partners the morning after her night with Herb, thinking they would protect her from the fallout.

It also could be said that the green she’s wearing calls back to the green bathrobe she wore when Don tried to talk her out of doing it:

Either way, it’s clear to us that Don never got over his failure to save Joan and the current scene is reflecting that in Joan’s costuming. In fact, if we want to be really poetic about it; Joan sees herself as that executive who earned herself a spot in the partnership (reflecting the dress she wore the next morning); Don sees her as a whore he failed to save (reflecting the bathrobe she wore when he tried).

By the way, Kenny is not officially privy to the information about Joan sleeping with Herb (although he obviously knew). It’s notable that Joan’s so mad at Don she’s openly referring to it in front of Kenny. To be honest, everyone involved in Joan’s ascent handled it pretty badly, or at the least, very naively. Including Joan.

 

All right.

Blue and Green = Adultery.

We’re done pussyfooting around it.

 

We think the costuming here is meant to be ironic. Peggy’s indulging in a romantic fantasy while she and her boyfriend pretty much look like shit. The brilliant pink of her housecoat calls back to Trudy’s romantic peignoir – and looks pretty hilariously shabby in comparison. And of course her fantasy is in a brilliant red velvet smoking jacket to make poor Abe look all the worse to her.

We will never stop laughing at “SOMETHING… by Ralph Waldo Emerson.”

 

Okay, first: That bar is spectacular – and PERFECTLY of its time. This is what a million cheap lounges in the ’70s would try (and fail) to recreate.

Second: yes, they’re both in yellow shirts, signaling the coming together of two people who are otherwise dressed (and thus think) very differently. Don’s jacket also picks up some of the color of Ted’s sweater.

A word about Ted’s style. We’ve joked about his groovy sweaters and turtlenecks, and while it’s true his clothes are more showy and youthful than Don’s, it should be pointed out that he’s essentially working a Perry Como/Andy Williams kind of look. He’s a slightly more stylish middle-aged dad than Don is, but he’s definitely working a middle-aged dad look.

 

Another callback to Trudy’s pink peignor; this time a somewhat sad one. Ever since she kicked him out, her clothing has become much more subdued. Gone are the wild florals and cupcake skirts.

 

The final – and strongest – callback to “The Other Woman.” The above is what she wore when she found out Don had once again taken control of her life against her will.

This is what she wore when she tried to break that cycle:

Don is trying to reverse the actions and decisions of the two women he respects the most, against their wishes and without consulting them. As exciting as this merger is for story possibilities, we doubt it’s going to be a good thing in the long run. Like his marriage to Megan, it’s all about Don using people to construct a life around him that makes him feel better about himself, with virtually no thought as to how the people around him feel.

 

We feel so sorry for her right now.  She didn’t even get an entire year away from him before he pulled her back in.

 

[Stills: tomandlorenzo.com]

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