You Should Be Reading: Mad Men Style

As the final season of Mad Men resumed on Sunday and the Museum of the Moving Image opened their exhibition of sets, props and costumes from the show, this week I’ll present readings that analyze the fashion of Mad Men. In addition to the articles linked below, Tom Fitzgerald and Lorenzo Marquez’s blog series Mad Style is an incredibly detailed and insightful examination of character’s costumes, hair, makeup and surroundings. For those who can’t make it to MMI, “T Magazine” published images of costumes and moodboards from the exhibition captioned with quotes from the show’s costume designer, Janie Bryant. Bryant also recently spoke with Bloomberg about what she wears to work and how it’s influenced by the 1960s style of the show.

1. Gantz, Katherine. (2011). Mad Men’s Color Schemes: A Changing Palette of Working Women. Studies in Popular Culture, 33 (2), 43-58.

The author presents an examination of color in the television program “Mad Men,” focusing on how the theme of color serves to reflect the complex experience of women in the working world and how it allows them to reveal their secrets. She begins by discussing masculinity and male discourse and goes on to examine clothing colors, particularly as worn by the character of Joan, and how these relate to the social status of women in the workplace. – Full Article Abstract

2. Hamilton, Caroline. (2012). Seeing the World Second Hand: Mad Men and the Vintage Consumer. Cultural Studies Review, 18 (2), 223-241.

An essay is presented on the notion of vintage in the contemporary consumption of audiences of the American Movie Classics Co.’s (AMC) television series “Mad Men.” It examines the notion of vintage consumerism as an aesthetic as well as a category of contemporary consumption reflected in the appreciation and unexpected excitement of audiences. It also cites that ability of “Mad Men” to generate consumer heat through using historical artefacts to reinforce an ephemeral present. – Full Article Abstract

3. Goodlad, Lauren, Lilya Kaganovsky and Robert A. Rushing, eds. (2013). Mad Men, Mad World: Sex, Politics, Style, and the 1960s. Durham: Duke University Press.

Since the show’s debut in 2007, Mad Men has invited viewers to immerse themselves in the lush period settings, ruthless Madison Avenue advertising culture, and arresting characters at the center of its 1960s fictional world. Mad Men, Mad World is a comprehensive analysis of this groundbreaking TV series. Scholars from across the humanities consider the AMC drama from a fascinating array of perspectives, including fashion, history, architecture, civil rights, feminism, consumerism, art, cinema, and the serial format, as well as through theoretical frames such as critical race theory, gender, queer theory, global studies, and psychoanalysis. – Excerpt from Publisher

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