Joan’s Cleavage, Betty’s Derby Day Dress, and Pete’s Madras Suit

Interviews with a point.
March 27 2012 12:42 PM

Joan’s Cleavage, Betty’s Derby Day Dress, and Pete’s Madras Suit

An interview with Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant.

Still from Mad Men season 5

As anticipation for the season premiere of AMC’s Mad Men reached a fever pitch in the past few weeks, some discussed what might become of Don Draper's impulsive May-December marriage to Megan or whether Pete Campbell would prove to be a decent father. But fans with a deep and abiding sense of the show's priorities wondered what exactly everyone would be wearing. For many of us, it’s Mad Men’s costumes that keep us enthralled. The show's costumes function as advertisements, projections of aspirational lifestyles behind which repressed characters struggle to confront the actual messiness of life. And it’s the costumes that help us chart the passage of time, and seismic social change, from Season 1's conservative 1960, to Season 5's uncertain 1966.

The mastermind behind Joan’s bodaciously tight skirts, Peggy’s schoolmarmish blouses, Betty’s immaculate jodhpurs, and Don's slim-cut suits and ties is Janie Bryant, Mad Men's much-celebrated costume designer. Bryant's reimagining of mid-century style helped bring nipped waists to the runways of major designers, Peter Pan collars to the throats of ingénues, skinny ties to the necks of hipsters, inspired clothing to the racks of Banana Republic (Bryant collaborates with the chain on a Mad Men-inspired line), and progressive cuts to the Brooks Brothers suit (she partnered with them, as well). 

In Slate’s slide show, Janie Bryant takes us through seminal looks from Sunday's Season 5 premiere, as well as some of the most iconic outfits from the show’s history—including exclusive looks at some gorgeous costume sketches.

Advertisement

This interview has been condensed and edited.













Julia Felsenthal is an assistant at Slate.

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

160 Countries Host Marches to Demand Action on Climate Change

Politics

Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

Trending News Channel
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Watch Flashes of Lightning Created in a Lab  
  News & Politics
Weigel
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
  Business
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
  Life
Quora
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 4:58 PM Steubenville Gets the Lifetime Treatment (And a Cheerleader Erupts Into Flames)
  Slate Plus
Tv Club
Sept. 21 2014 1:15 PM The Slate Doctor Who Podcast: Episode 5  A spoiler-filled discussion of "Time Heist."
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 21 2014 2:00 PM Colin Farrell Will Star in True Detective’s Second Season
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 6:31 PM The One Big Problem With the Enormous New iPhone
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 21 2014 8:00 AM An Astronaut’s Guided Video Tour of Earth
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.