Mad Men Series: Feminist Trailblazer Peggy Olsen
With Mad Men back on for its 5th Season we can once again get caught up in lives (and fashions) of all our favorite characters. This is one show in which fashion plays a really key role. Not just in communicating the setting, but one of the central themes of Mad Men is identity and how we humans create our public identities, and fashion plays a very big part in how one presents their public identity. Not that we need an excuse to drool over the fashion deliciousness found in this show though.
Throughout the course of this season, we will be highlighting some of our favorite characters… as well as their wardrobes and how to get their looks. Set in the pivotal year of 1966, this season has already started off by showing how dramatically the fashions changed (especially for woman) in the mid-decade 1960s. Megan Draper’s (played by Jessica Paré) sexy LBD, specifically a trapeze minidress with the sheer butterfly sleeves and rhinestone collar, that she wore will serenading Don Draper at his 40th birthday party is the perfect example of how spectacularly fashions changed during the era.
We will save Megan for a future post though… First we are going to highlight one of the show’s main characters – Peggy Olsen (played by Elizabeth Moss).
When she first came on the scene no one would have been likely to call her a feminist, but that’s exactly what Peggy Olsen is with her ascendency from the secretarial pool to a major player at the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency. She is a trail-blazer based on the real trailblazers like Joy Golden (often referred to as the “the real Peggy Olsen”) who was one of the first female copywriters on Madison Avenue. You can find Golden here talking about the world of advertising and sex at the office.
Peggy started out as a naïve and timid (or at least playing at timid) secretary wearing peter pan colors and girlish dresses with crinolines and bows. While her wardrobe can still best be described as conservative, she has definitely diverged from those overly girly clothes into more masculine looks as her position and attitude has changed. So far in season 5, she is wearing less patterns, boxier and less form-fitting styles, and even strayed into the “uniform” look of menswear with the white blouse and tan pleated skirt she wore in episode 3.
Her skirt lengths have also shortened (as have most of the woman’s), she is wearing more color-blocked styles and monochromatic styles (again, as are many of the women) and the detailing on her clothing is more masculine too. Like this black dress with a black and white striped grosgrain ribbon down the front…it is quite reminiscent of a men’s tie.
We look forward to seeing the changes in store for Peggy Olsen, both her character arc as well as in her wardrobe, in this upcoming season.
Get Peggy’s Look
Peggy’s look this season is definitely more grown up for her, but is still pretty conservative (no peekaboo cleavage or anything too form fitting). She also tends to be somewhat of a minimalist, but don’t be afraid to add a few accessories to update her a little bit.
Need some inspiration? Here are a few Peggy-esque outfit suggestions for you to try out. All the items are available for purchase.
Dress: Retro Dress from ModCloth
Shoes: Ivanka Trump Patent Leather Slingbacks at Zappos
Bag: Camel Bag from Banana Republic
Bracelet: Vintage Lucite Bracelet at Etsy
Earrings: Vintage Bakelite Earrings at Etsy
Dress: Vintage Chiffon Dress at Etsy
Shoes: Anne Klein Oxford Heels at Zappos
Earrings: Earrings from Anthropologie
Skirt: Pleated Skirt from Modcloth
Blouse: Tie-Neck Blouse from Banana Republic
Shoes: Flats from Zappos
Bracelets: Nadri ‘Pavé Bombe’ Hinged Bangles at Nordstrom
By Jen Wallace
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