- Associated Press - Sunday, March 18, 2012

From the moment “Mad Men” debuted, the stylized AMC drama about the men and women who work in Madison Avenue advertising in the 1960s has been a tastemaker favorite.

A steady parade of Betty, Peggy and Joan look-alikes have appeared on the catwalks as designers interpreted their favorite looks from the early ‘60s. But time has marched on in season five, mimicking the fast evolution of fashion during that decade.

Viewers likely can expect skirts to be a little shorter and eyelashes to be thicker when the new season premieres Sunday. Psychedelic colors and patterns could be coming into fashion, too.

The nipped-waist, full-skirt, almost petticoated silhouette that introduced the female characters in season one, set in 1960, would look out of touch with what was happening in the world just a few years later. After Jackie Kennedy started stepping out in more body-conscious sheath dresses and looser shifts, everyone did. And the collective eye was adjusting to the minis introduced in London by designer Mary Quant that were making their way across the Atlantic when the show left off last season in 1965.

For men, change likely won’t be as obvious, but by the mid-‘60s not every shirt had to be white and not all haircuts were buzzed above the ears. Thank the Beatles and their mop-top haircuts for that.

“The world was changing incredibly fast then,” said Scott F. Stoddart, dean of liberal arts at Manhattan’s Fashion Institute of Technology. “It starts in the ‘60s, and the ‘70s were just as packed - it was a trajectory. Things slowed down a little in the ‘80s, which were actually more conservative, more like the ‘50s when the whole decade looked the same.”

Culturally, beatniks were becoming mods, rock ‘n’ roll was taking hold, and the move from stockings to pantyhose - and eventual bra-burning - all influenced mid-‘60s fashion. It probably all will mean a lot to upwardly mobile Peggy Olson, who started off wearing matronly clothes when she was Don Draper’s secretary but is a feminist at heart, said Mr. Stoddart, who wrote “Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series.”

He’s most interested in the fashion evolution of Draper’s daughter, Sally, who will be in middle school in suburbia, which eventually becomes a hub of change with girls wearing dungarees.

Sally, he said, is “a rebel in the making.”

That was the norm for adolescents and teens, who adopted Lyndon Johnson’s daughters as their style role models in a way that Jackie Kennedy had been for their mothers.

“They were hipper,” Mr. Stoddart explained. “They were parting their hair in the middle.”

Don Draper probably won’t like that one bit on Sally, Mr. Stoddart observed, because for all his smoking, drinking and womanizing, he’s more conservative than one would think. He notes an earlier episode in the series where Don wasn’t pleased at all to see then-wife Betty in a bikini.

“If you look at the whole decade, from 1960 to 1970, you still have some people who weren’t changing, but the younger people were pushing fashion in a totally different direction,” agreed Janie Bryant, the show’s costume designer.

The character is essential to the costume, Ms. Bryant said. The retro moment largely credited to “Mad Men” - and bringing back styles she personally loves - is icing on the cake.

“It’s amazing to me how the fashion has been this huge explosion,” she said. “I’m telling the story of the characters through the clothes, but it’s not about a ‘fashion show,’ and I think that’s why people are so excited.”

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