Kill off Don Draper. Kill him fast. Because as season 7 of Mad Men premieres this week—starting off in the historical year of 1969—fashion is only slated to get worse.
In 1970, Sonny and Cher popularized a horrible trend, when they went on air donning bell-bottoms. And things only devolved from there, culminating in John Travolta’s role in Saturday Night Fever, which convinced the world to snag chest hair in gold chains while they sweated away in polyester leisure suits.
But in 1969, as the world sat on the precipice of fashion ruination, garb had gone groovy. (In fact, the word “groovy” was born in 1959 and peaked in use around 1975.) Culture had changed. Television and air travel (the latter of which quadrupled between the '50s and '60s) created a more globally inspired style palette. As explained by Life, in a photographic retrospective of the era: “By 1969, America’s youth had not only soaked in more visual and auditory stimuli in a few years than most previous generations combined, but had re-imagined virtually all of that input in the form of sartorial self-expression.”
Relatively rule-free mixing and matching was in. Hippy fashion was in—especially for the younger crowd. Trends included fringed suede jackets, kaftans, psychedelic prints, and hemp. It was the year of Woodstock, after all.
There were still vestiges of the more rigid '60s. Sharply silhouetted, long maxi coats had their moment in the sun—and jumpers of all styles (from coat-style dresses to one-piece jumpsuits) are quite popular. Dresses featured newly popular chiffon sleeves and bib fronts.
The biggest, lasting development from the year 1969—beside the Gap opening to sell Levi's and records that year—was the introduction of women's shorts. Pants, which women only started wearing in the '60s (as documented by Peggy Olsen in the series), were abbreviated to mid-thigh in 1969, further cementing gender equality in attire.
As for our anti-hero Don Draper, what would 1969 have meant for his wardrobe?
It was the year Ralph Lauren first opened in a store within Bloomingdales NYC. The designer's iconic Polo shirts didn’t hit until 1972, but in 1969, Lauren debuted his first full line of men’s suits inspired by the 1930s. White flannel. Big lapels. And heavily pleated, deep-cuffed, corduroy pants.
So for Season 7, will Don Draper go full Gatsby?
Over his dead body.
[Image: Vernon Merritt III—The Life Picture Collection/Getty Images]