The cult-like appeal of Mad Men-inspired fashion, however, stretches far beyond the reaches of costume shops. Brooks Brothers has recently launched a $998 Mad Men suit, and the designer behind it (Janie Bryant, the costume designer for the show) has even laid out her plans to extend the collection into Betty Draper-inspired dresses, eveningwear, and office separates.
So how, exactly, did Man Men become the new Sex and the City, with Don and Betty Draper as the new Carrie Bradshaw? What is it about the slick 1960s aesthetic that has suddenly so captured our imagination with its martini glasses, pocket squares, and skinny gray suits? Most intriguing of all is the fact that the delight in the show's sartorial highlights is not confined to the trend-obsessed women and gay men who so loved SATC. Mad Men has accomplished the unthinkable in making advocates out of reformed hipsters-men formerly uninterested in fashion who suddenly found themselves swooning over a terrifically cut suit, as though they'd just been waiting for the right opportunity. To be sure, the jet-set followers are there, but it is the mix of devotees that gives the show its singular following-a following that retailers all over the country are desperate to cash in on.
I remember going to see Steven Spielberg's 60s-based caper, Catch Me If You Can, and listening to my father prattle on about how the fashion at the time was just flawless. Even if it seemed dated to us now, the silhouettes were so flattering-there was nary a regrettable faux pas in all the new-wealth exuberance the period had generated. It may well be that our interest in a more classic aesthetic is a pendulum swing away from the fashions we've seen in our own society's most recent economic upswing -namely Paris Hilton, Lindsay Lohan, and the Olsen twins (who I'll defend as stylish, though the luxe boho phase of the early 2000s did seem a bit much).
We now find ourselves in a place that, from a fashion perspective, is complicated: Depression-era oxford lace-ups and throwback grunge are on-trend at the same time that fox fur chubbies and 80s power suits are making a comeback. In the world of style's increasingly fragmented signals, Mad Men's crisp, confident style has appeared as a compass of sorts. This look has clearly defined value and substance.
Finally, the show gives us back what we are already nostalgic for as we peer into an uncertain future: The industries that have long been the most glamorous in the city-editors at glossies, Wall Street tycoons, and the slick ad men of Madison Avenue, all of when seem to have all-too-quickly lost their sheen.