'Mad Men' fashion brings modern flair to mid-century style

The fashion sense of the 1960s is back in style, likely due to many pop culture influences including “Mad Men,” “The Help” and Kate Middleton.
by Heather Warlick Published: February 29, 2012

The fashion of the 1960s hasn't been so popular since, well, the 1960s. From movies such as “The Help” and TV's “Mad Men,” and other pop culture influences, the ladylike silhouette of the '60s woman and the starched, professional look sported by many a hardworking man throughout the decade are back en force in boutiques and department stores.

“We haven't done dresses and skirts for such a long time, now it's their return,” said Cindi Shelby, owner of Ruth Meyers in Nichols Hills Plaza. She recently returned from New York City where she was buying for fall. The current trend toward this ladylike style of dress will continue throughout spring and summer and into fall, Shelby said.

“I think it's interesting how Kate Middleton is also a factor in the return of the ladylike,” Shelby said. From pencil and classic A-line skirts to full circle skirts and of course, her trademark shimmery hosiery, Middleton's strong influence on today's fashion is palpable at many local boutiques.

“Mad Men,” which returns for its fifth season on March 25, has also made a strong impact on fashion trends both for men and women.

“I think it's very accurate and kind of a sweet spot of what is happening in men's fashion,” said Spencer Stone, owner of Spencer Stone Company, a men's clothing boutique that specializes in modern styling of classic menswear. While the show's costumers are tight-lipped about how the show's fashion sense will develop as it skips forward into the late 1960s for its new season, the men's styles are unlikely to change much, Stone said, because they remained somewhat staid throughout the decade for men of a conservative, professional social status.

Not so for women's fashions, Shelby said — at least for some women. As the mid-'60s slipped into the late '60s and early '70s, the Women's Liberation movement seeped into the styles of the day and many of the cupcake dresses and sweetheart hairstyles of the earlier '60s were tossed in favor of bohemian and hippy-vibed frocks made of the high-tech fabric of the day — polyester. Perhaps these styles wouldn't have as been popular among conservative housewives of the late '60s, but many women in the workforce, college-age women and teens rebelled against the propriety of fashion set by their mothers and conventional peers. Bell-bottom polyester power suits and short skirts with tall go-go boots ala Nancy Sinatra replaced the sweet Sandra Dee style carried over from the 1950s.

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by Heather Warlick
Life & Style Editor
Since graduating from University of Central Oklahoma with a Bachelor's Degree in Journalism, Staff Writer Heather Warlick has written stories for The Oklahoman's Life section. Her beats have included science, health, home and garden, family,...
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