How to Dress for Success – Mad Men / Pan Am Style

We are not fashion professionals and we aren’t going to pretend to know anything about hemlines or fabric textures. What we do know is what we like; and what we like is pretty much everything you’ll ever see on ‘Mad Men’ or ‘Pan Am’.

Now we don’t want to discount Don Draper’s style, because damn, that man was born to wear clothes! However, we are enamored with the ladies in these two amazing programs. And let’s face it; men’s fashion hasn’t really changed in the last 40 years. If the men of today would pull their pants up and wear a tie every now and then they would look just like Don Draper. But that’s a rant for another blog.

What we especially love is the difference between how our gorgeous gals are treated in both shows. In ‘Mad Men’ the women are treated as pretty pieces of interior design, there to look good and keep quiet. To pour the drinks and light the cigarettes and make short work of the typing.

On ‘Pan Am’, there is nothing more important than their stewardesses. The pilots can be replaced, but one girl goes missing and helicopters are sent to bring in a replacement. They are the face of the company and yet, are still treated like prize pigs going to the county fair every time they put their uniforms on. They are weighed and poked and prodded every time they get ready for work.

We’ve been thinking about it and we’ve put together our very own rules for dressing for success – with or without sleeping your way to top.

Let’s all pay our respects to the amazingly styled Joan Holloway (Christina Hendricks) first and foremost.

As the Office Manager at Sterling Cooper, Joan was in charge of all the other ladies in the office, making sure they stay in line and get their jobs done. Eventually she was even given the job of looking over scripts and advertisement placements, a feat that no one would have ever thought possible for a woman.

And how did our girl reach this high status at a company full of leering men in a time when ladies had just been allowed into the work place? By showing those men in the office how much women she really is.

Joan’s wardrobe is full of tight fitting, jewel-toned, high-waisted dresses, skirts and blouses. She accents all the parts of her amazing body that makes the men forget what they were doing the minute she walks into the room.

Her shoes are always heels, her hair is always perfectly coiffed and her lips are ALWAYS red. Even when she smokes, and there is a lot of smoking, she uses a cigarette holder like a proper lady. She walks around the office like she owns the place and rightly so.

She knows she’s sexy and she uses it to her advantage. She sleeps her way to top and makes no apologies for it. She is doing everything in her power to land herself a man that will give her the option of not working at all.

Peggy Olsen (Elisabeth Moss) on the other hand, has no idea at all how to get ahead, even with help from Joan and sleeping with someone on her first day at work.

Peggy’s outfits are almost the exact opposite of Joan, having a lot of loose, ill-fitting sweaters and A LOT of plaid dresses. The colours she wears are muted and varying shades of beige. She looks like all she wants to do is fade into the background. The promotions she does get are because Don Draper wants to screw with someone else in the office. Not to mention, Joan has a daily rant on her poor job performance.

Arguably, the ladies over at ‘Pan Am’ have it a little easier in the wardrobe department. Their uniforms are the epitome of 60’s fashion: electric blue, tight-waisted, over-sized buttons and white gloves. Not to mention the adorable pill-box hat.

However, that doesn’t mean those girls don’t work hard at looking good. Their hair is never out of place, even when wearing those little hats. Not to mention having to keep it shoulder length or shorter. Their makeup is always subtle and professional. Plus, you can’t tell us that there isn’t some sort of weight restriction as well. And if we had to smile as much as they are expected to do we would kill someone. If they can get grounded from one uniform violation, there is probably more pressure on them to look good than on any of the girls in Mad Men.

There was nothing more impressive than Maggie’s (Christina Ricci) transformation from all-black-wearing-beatnik to sleek and sexy Pan Am stewardess. From wild and unruly, to composed and professional. Amazing.

The best piece of advice we can leave you with, is from the fabulous Ms. Holloway:

Go home, take a paper bag, cut some eye holes out of it. Put it over your head, get undressed and look at yourself in the mirror. Really evaluate where your strengths and weaknesses are, and be honest.”


About surlygurls

We’re two SurlyGurls brought together by a love of all things awesome and an equal hate of all things which are an affront to awesomeness everywhere.

Posted on September 27, 2011, in FASHION, OPINION, TELEVISION, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I have recently decided to start wearing 50s style dresses to the office. I just love them!…they are not actually vintage, they are just styled that way.
    I also have a collection of 60s and 70s dresses, but they are just too outdated to actually wear. I suppose I could alter some of them so they don’t make me look like I am part of a time-capsule.

  2. Although I have yet to watch an episode of Mad Men, I am glad that the show has brought back so many mid-century trends that are absolutely delicious to see! Being a big fan of vintage-style clothing, I’m glad that it is bad – and with all of the class and style that comes with it!

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