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Clothes Make the Character: Janie Bryant on the Wardrobe of Mad Men | Interviews

In noting the differences between Megan Draper and Betty Draper, Bryant observed the latter was raised within a very specific mindset: “Women of Betty’s generation were sold a bill of goods, about their appearance, what they did with their time, how they kept house, how they raised their children and kept husbands happy, all through advertising. But Megan’s generation is different. 


“Let it go, baby.”

“Mad Men” was a show about change. Peggy was capable of change, and did change; so did Joan, Betty, and Pete. A more subtle evolution, though no less significant, is that of Stan Rizzo (Jay R. Ferguson). SCDP’s new art director is no one’s favorite when the audience first meets him in season four. He constantly sexually harasses Peggy, even forcibly kissing her before the Playtex pitch. Throughout that season, Stan wears a leather jacket and solid colored polos with minimal horizontal stripes, or striped polos in classic colors only. His attire, much like his personality, is bold, large, almost loud in its classic American chauvinism. He does not wear a button down shirt until season five, and even then Stan opts for a non-regulation, pale mint green shirt.

Bryant said Weiner told her the character would evolve: “When Stan first comes on the show, I had this idea of him being a football coach. It was all classic American costume design for him. I loved the vertical stripes to accentuate his chest, the polo shirts and tight sleeves accentuated his biceps. So he was the perfect triangle.” 

But Weiner did tell Bryant that Stan would become more “hippy dippy” as time wore on. 

“I loved how that costume design turned him into much more of a man of enlightenment. It’s a great example of how we change and evolve as humans. And you really do see this character mature in that way. He really does expand into this new consciousness.” This is borne out by the fringed suede jacket, paisleys (neckerchiefs, shirts, ties), denim shirts, sweater and turtleneck pairings, even a bolo tie.

At the beginning of this interview, Bryant was asked to describe her role on the set of a film or TV show. She responded: “I help to tell the story of a character through silhouette, color, tone, texture.” That’s true, but she does a great deal more than that—so much so that if you were to turn off the sound during “Dark Shadows” (season five, episode nine), you’d understand its plot. Betty Francis, waiting to pick up her children, wanders into the new Draper home. She spies the sexy, slim young woman who calls herself Mrs. Draper. Megan and Betty have never met, and for a second Betty, draped in a classic WASP blue and white swan print silk scarf, and a brown and tan houndstooth coat, wonders if she should initiate the encounter. Time runs out, however, as Megan, dressed in an orange paisley silk blouse, a brown suede vest, and trousers, walks into her living room, and two out of three Mrs. Drapers meet each other for the first time.

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