Mad Men fashion, inspired by MAM

Tamara Leigh analyzes '60s fashion trends, on full display both on "Mad Men" and at the Milwaukee Art Museum's After Dark event last Friday.

By - Mar 27th, 2013 04:00 am


Mad Men was the perfect theme for the Milwaukee Art Museum’s After Dark event last Friday, March 22. Taking a break from the NCAA play­offs never looked so good as die­hard fans of AMC’s hit show came out in style to the Calatrava.

That one is never too old for dress-­up was visibly apparent as guests at the MAM arrived already in character as Mad Men cast members—from dapper Don Draper or Roger Sterling to the Mad women in vintage 60’s as Betty Draper, or hot redhead Joan, or even as the later ’60s versions of Megan Draper in mini­skirts.The Modern Day Mad Man at the MAM

So what makes a man “Mad”? According to the show’s fashion designer, Janie Bryant, it’s the tailoring and attention to detail that makes or breaks the look of today’s Don Drapers. When it comes to hitting the era on the mark, it takes more than just a suit with a thin lapel and narrow tie. To nail the Madison Avenue Ad Man, include a tie clip, cuff links, pocket square, fedora, and a refined, yet masculine, wrist watch. Minus the cell phone, one such Milwaukee man in attendance was spot on the style.


The Brass Rooster sold hats to MAM patrons.

To add to the ambiance of the era—as it seems a cocktail glass is as much an extension of the cast’s wardrobe as it is a prop on the show—the After Dark event featured a duo of bartenders mixing & shaking Mad Men cocktails. John & Kate McLaughlin, local owners of The Brass Rooster, were also on hand to display and sell their custom collection of men’s hats. For those wanting to support the McLaughlins’ craftsmanship men’s hat business, check out their Kickstarter campaign at The Brass Rooster.

For the ladies, there was plenty of evidence of Mad M
‘s early fashion years. In fitting historical perspective for an art museum event, one cannot appreciate the popularity of the ’60s pillbox hat, clutch purse, pearls, and the perfectly paired dress and coat ensemble with matching shoes without understanding how Mad Men art imitates the life of style icon Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy. The First Lady’s fashion designer, Oleg Cassini, was to Mrs. Kennedy what Janie Bryant is to Mad Men’s leading ladies (and men). The Bardot neckline with its draping neckline baring both shoulders, made famous by the French actress Brigitte Bardot, was also present at the MAM as it is in the show. Most of the women at the After Dark event dressed in vintage costumes from classic 60s Mad Men’s early years.


A dapper couple in Mad Men attire.

However, the show’s upcoming sixth season will take us to 1967 or even further, and the younger Mad Men fans at the MAM were quick to reflect this time shift to the then-modern icons of Twiggy, Andy Warhol, Edie Sedgwick, and even Nancy Sinatra, in her white patent leather boots made for walking (and dancing). Even Jackie Kennedy, after the assassination of JFK, became known more for her big sunglasses and chiffon head scarves than the overtly fashion trend­setter attire that was her signature during her stay at the White House.

Barring any bad news that Don Draper might appear in a leisure suit in any upcoming shows, the later 1960s pop culture style of bold geometrics, bright colors and shorter hemlines, will not only be seen on the screen, but also in stores, as Banana Republic has once again partnered with AMC in bringing the Mad Men Mod collection to market for Spring 2013.

For anyone who may have missed the Milwaukee Art Museum’s March After Dark night out, there’s still more madness to be had with the upcoming two-hour Mad Men season premiere airing Sunday, April 7, at 8 p.m. (CT) on AMC. The best of the Mad Men’s style and ’60s influence on fashion doesn’t have to be limited to costuming events or theme parties.

What will be your favorite Mad Men look or character’s style to work into your wardrobe this spring?

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