“Mad Men” Episode 2 (“Christmas Comes But Once a Year) revolves around the Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce holiday soiree which starts off being a small, no-frills shindig where employees were to feast on “a block of Velveeta”. However, the team has no choice but to blow-up the festivities beyond their budget in an effort to impress Lucky Striker Lee Garner Jr. who invites himself at the last minute. Roger, once always in control of every situation, finds himself reluctantly playing Santa at the party when Lee insists on it (and then proceeds to instruct every member of the staff to sit on Santa’s lap for a picture). “Old-fashioned” becomes a cuss word of sorts for Peggy when her boyfriend uses it to describe her when she won’t put out. In turn, Peggy uses it to insult Freddie Rumsen (who is back, clean and sober with a new account from Ponds cold cream) when he makes the assumption that all girls want to get married. And Don…well, Don misses spending Christmas with his family and tries to fill the void by drinking, chasing any skirt that comes across his path, and drinking some more.
Depressing! So at least the colorful Christmas party frocks added some holiday cheer to the otherwise greyish shades which hovered over the episode. There were a lot of bold hues, shine and texture with dresses that had sequin details and metallic flourishes. Trudy sported a candy apple red stunner with delicately beaded neckline and cuffs. Also in red was Joan, whose dress featured a bow at the back that made her (according to Roger) “look like a present”. Allison’s blue-green brocade shift must have impressed Don at least a little since he eventually lured her into his bed (or, more accurately, onto the sofa). Even Pete was looking more fashion-forward with his burgundy double-breased blazer which reflected the growing influence of the British Invasion taking over pop culture in late ’64 (which was also acknowledged when Don asks Allison to buy Sally some Beatles records for X-Mas). It was Jane who wore the dress of the evening: off-white, sleeveless and A-line in silhouette with a metallic jeweled collar reminiscent of Elizabeth Taylor in Cleopatra (which became very influential in fashion after its release in 1963).
Brocade shifts and gem-tone party dresses can be had easily if you know where to look and are a lot more fun than your standard LBD. The styles are fairly transcendent of decade and possess a timelessness without the dreaded word “classic” being attached to them.
Paul & Joe
Locally, find these or similar dresses at the following locations
- Delia*s- Oxford Valley Mall (Langhorn, PA)
- Nordstrom- King of Prussia Mall (King of Prussia)
- Barneys CO-OP- Rittenhouse Square (Philadelphia, PA)
- Saks Fifth Avenue & Neiman Marcus outlets, at Franklin Mills Mall (Philadelphia, PA)
Cleopatra image from 20th Century Fox
Dress photos (top to bottom)- The Outnet, Stylebop, Stylebop, Delia*s
Illustration- S. Appel
This is the second in a series of articles following the dashing style of “Mad Man” on AMC. Subscribe above and make sure to visit the Mad Men Style blog