It may be 1965 on Mad Men, but Don, Sally, Betty, and Roger’s problems are summed up best by Bowie in 1971: “Time may change me, but I can’t trace time.” Betty, Roger, and Sally cannot get over their issues and move on, but the world is changing around them rapidly. Betty will forever loathe Don, Roger will loathe the Japanese, and Sally is acting out over her parents’ neglect and harsh techniques.
Even though Betty’s anger is spiraling out of control, I’m happy to have her back after a two episode absence, mostly for the dramatic return of her amazing wardrobe. Her 1950s housewife look of seasons one, two, and three has given way to her ice queen wardrobe of 1965. Gone are her full skirts and flouncy blonde locks, replaced by super slim, stoic pieces and the worst helmet hair I have ever seen.
Her first look is a blue turtleneck that’s knit so tight it needs a zipper down the back to allow the wearer to put it on. Worn with slim black and gray horizontal striped pants, something only an ex-model could pull off, this look is cut so close to the body that any excruciating movement and it would rip at the seams, much like Betty herself. She later wears an ivory cardigan with red floral trim over a blue dress, a white nightie with a pink ruffly cover-up, and finally, a sky blue dress with white piping and pearls to meet with Dr. Edna. Every look is neurotically perfect, from the tailoring to the accessories, I’m guessing from the lack of wire hangers in her closet–if you get my drift.
With the return of Betty comes the return of Henry Francis. Henry is unwelcome in my heart not only because I’m a loyal Don supporter, but because his penchant for hideous sweaters is rivaled only by that of Bill Cosby. The cross over collared sweater he wears feels uncomfortable and creepy. I guess the real problem is this: important men of 1965 have a dress code. Suits or shirts; no sweaters. Even when Don drops off the kids he’s in a fedora and red polo shirt. Why is Henry always in a sweater? Is it that he is weak or because he’s untrustworthy? Either way, I expect more from a politician type. His perma-sweater is signaling his strange nature, and I’m just waiting for that to manifest itself.
Also making a triumphant return is the wonderful Sally Draper. Sally is one of the most intriguing and best-developed characters on Mad Men, and she’s only ten! Sally’s first look is an ivory sweater over a patterned shirt and knee socks, deceptively innocent looking, until she chops her hair off in a Taylor Momsen mullet. No worries though, it gets repaired into a Betty Draper bob in no time. She later wears a pink and white nightgown complete with ruffles and sugary sweetness to counter her masturbatory acts. Finally, Sally gets her punk out at Dr. Edna’s in, what I can only assume was a subtle “F*** You” to Betty, a plaid jumper and shocking orange tights. Even more shocking was Carla’s bowler hat. I expect more from you Carla.
Family matters aside, the fashion at SCDP took a swift turn to chic with the arrival of the Japanese businessmen representing Honda, who all wore ties with an embroidered “H” on them. Everyone was on their best behavior to woo the clients, particularly Pete, whose electric blue suit was nowhere to be found. Instead he wears a series of gray suits that are authoritative but not overwhelming. Pete also rocks some of the skinniest ties since Hedi Slimane in this episode. Burt’s bow ties and careful mix and match aesthetic was spot on last night, as was Lane’s fantastic black suit jacket, black and gray vest, white shirt, and red tie ensemble.
But Roger. You know how to tell Roger Sterling is a conservative thinker? Because this entire episode he wears black on black three piece suits, potentially the most conservative thing you can wear other than a Richard Nixon costume. Roger is the silver fox of SCDP, but he’s starting to get a little too silver and a lot less foxy.
Don Draper also makes a triumphant return this episode, playing Don Draper better than he had ever before. Seemingly out of his binge drinking bender, Don is the only person that when met with a challenge, rises to the occasion instead of acting rashly. Don’s diagonal monochrome ties, the bane of my existence, took a hiatus for some newer black and gray thick striped ones. His gray suit during the meeting with Honda is unbearably wonderful, and his date night outfit with Bethany was quirky and relaxed. Bethany was channeling Holly Golightly verbatim, wearing a copy of Holly’s signature Givenchy black dress and a sophisticated updo.
The ladies at SCDP are struggling with change, too. Joan’s repitition of outfits, however real, is ruining her fashion potential. I’m not a fan of her navy and white ruffled dress or her plum colored suit. Joan was always a sexpot, but the changes at SCDP have made her more of a business woman, I just wish that those two could find a happier meeting point. Faye still looks like a glorified flight attendant, but her cunning is what make her fun. She drinks sake with Don in a yellow, navy, and white tie neck blouse and black pencil skirt, pumps off on the floor. Her faux wedding ring is a wise move in the sex crazed world of 1960s business, but a strange decision for a psychologist.
Finally, Peggy hit it home last night in a red and blue plaid dress, a black high necked dress with gradient beige striped pleats, and a black sweater and red skirt to ride in circles on a Honda motorbike. The last image of Peggy on the Honda was Irving Penn-ish, and brought back some classic Mad Men style that was a mainstay of previous seasons.