I’ll Take (a) Manhattan

Une femme will admit to being more than a little obsessed with Mad Men. Perhaps it’s nostalgia, or reliving my days working in advertising in New York, but I’m checking out the website daily on the lookout for any information about new episodes, and of course, pictures of the clothes. I’ve “Mad Men’ed” myself into inumerable permutations, and today found something quite delicous, the Mad Men Cocktail Guide. Being one who does not like sweet drinks, I’ve decided the next time we’re out on the town, I’m going to try a Manhattan.

But most of all, I’ve been dying to see what everyone is wearing, and the Season 3 Gallery photos have provided an enticing glimpse of 1964:


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  1. I remember those days, and how difficult it was to find business attire! It was bad enough that we were treated like fluff, but did we have to look like it too? Notice the men look very modern.

  2. That Malandrino silk jersey dress- gorgeous- so chic but not costume-y.

    Since I was there for the ’60s, I have to be careful how much ’60s I channel. At 61, I can reference vintage but rarely look right in a full on look.

    As for Manhattans, Le Duc makes them by the bottle (in both bourbon and rye varieties) and keeps them in the fridge, a trick we learned from our friend, the elderly Mrs. Ambrose.

  3. Wouldn’t dresses have started to morph a bit by 1964 with the mod influence, or would that have been a bit later in a business milieu?

    I can remember 1964, but I was a girl, and am trying to remember what teens and “ladies” wore.

  4. I prefer a classic gin martini, with even less vermouth than that recipe has, and thus even less sweet. Although then I often wonder why I don’t just drink the Bombay Sapphire straight from the bottle!
    And I love Duchesse’s suggestion which would work as well for martinis, no? except that there’s a bit of a temperance-valve in the time it takes to rustle up the next drink from scratch as opposed to having it ready-to-pour in the fridge!
    truth be told, although we did martinis quite a bit several years ago, I find them too lethal to indulge in often. Two before dinner makes one a sometimes-too-entertaining dinner guest!

  5. I am a bit obsessed with Mad Men fashion too, so thank you for this great post.
    And, I’m not a Manhattan fan, but I do like to drink a Rob Roy sweet every once in a while, which of course is just a Manhattan but with Scotch instead of whiskey.

  6. Rita – on one hand yes, it must have been difficult for working women to appear professional with what was available at the time, especially once the moved beyond the ranks of “secretary.”

    Duchesse – I’ve come to the conclusion that going seriously 60’s requires the undergarments as well, and I’m not going there. I love the look but I’ll channel through accessories and maybe the occasional ankle pants and cropped jacket. I’ll skip the next version of “Mod” too, and leave it for the younger set.

  7. lagatta – from what I’m remembering, the Mod look really hit after the Beatles, in around 1965-66. It was part of the whole “British Invasion” that encompassed music, art and fashion. I was seven in 1964, and do remember women’s clothing looking not unlike what’s shown here, though by then I wasn’t seeing hats on men or gloves on women (except for church or dressy occasions) in California.

    materfamilias – oy, I can’t drink gin, after one particular night when I was 22, the rest is better left undescribed. Like 007, I generally go for vodka martinis, or scotch. Hardly anyone I know drinks cocktails regularly anymore; it’s more like a special occasion thing. A shame, in a way, they seem so civilized.

  8. Sher – I tried a Cosmo once but it was too sweet for me. I have been known to enjoy a Cape Cod, though.

    Jackie certainly was a fashion icon. She wore primarily Oleg Cassini, IIRC, and some Oscar de la Renta. After she married Onassis, I always picture her in those Pucci shifts.

    Sal – I know, wouldn’t you move mountains to find a dress like that???

  9. I do a Cosmo 😉

    Mad Men just brings back memories of Jackie as First Lady. A lot of the style of taht time came from her. Is that correct? Or was she wearing a special designer of the time? And all those sheath dresses and wiggle dresses…. I should credit someone else.

  10. Remember, all this was pre-pantyhose! So – think girdles from waist to mid-thigh – or garter belts – and hooking your nylons onto them with those hook-and-pad contraptions (can’t remember the correct term). And then trying to sit so those contraptions didn’t show through your skirt.

    Plus the horror if a bra strap so much as caught a ray of sunshine!

  11. I remember wearing white gloves and a white patent leather purse for church every Sunday 😉

    Loving today’s version of the 60s and all the updated undergarments to wear them.

  12. I am a manhattan drinker from way back. I like mine perfect — with sweet and dry vermouths — and a few extra drops of bitters. I also prefer them with Canadian whiskey. But I love they way they look in a glass and dang they are yummy. Just don’t at those scary maraschino cherries.

  13. PS… I love the show, too. Interestingly, my mom, who is 66, won’t watch it. In a surprisingly bitter tone, she basically said she’d been there, done that, and had no desire to revisit it. I wonder if any other women her age feel that way. I was born in 1965 when she was 22, and she did work outside of the home for a few years before she got married, but once I came along she was a full-time SAHM until the 80’s. I found her strong reaction to the show really intriguing.

  14. I haven’t seen the show, and while I love the visual and clothing design, alongside the subservient role women played there is another ugliness – I don’t see and Black or Brown people among the agency staff. Not a nice memory at all, that.

    Anyone who remembers the film “9 to 5” taking place a couple of decades later, but almost 30 years ago now, and sees the competent secretary training male executives, the tacit sexual harassment and other indignities faced by “working girls” will have no problem understanding why our mums do not view that era as the good old days (though my mum did always like the postwar “New Look” styles.

  15. Indeed. But despite all those horrors, as little girls didn’t we view adult comportement and dress of the era as terribly sophisticated?

    I have an aunt who was a nurse in the Canadian armed forces; she was my idol as a child as she was unmarried and childless and had WONDERFUL adventures, including trips to Moscow, unimaginable back then. In the mid 1960s we were invited to a cocktail at an officers’ mess in a beautiful garden – of course there was no alcohol in my drink (though I had tasted alcohol before). I thought it was utterly magical – you can imagine the crisp, smart servers.

    Sadly, while aunt did marry later on and have a child, it was not a happy story. Cyberspace is a small world, so I’ll say no more.

    Your post is brilliant, though I think the 1960s and early 1970s changed a lot, made a lot possible. I remember Anita Hill, and remember putting up with a lot of the old boy behaviour she put up with, though I’m not (US) American so our turning points are a bit different, but part of a common heritage among women. And yes, I’ll say a feminist heritage, though on a style blog of course I’ll make the rappel that this has nothing to do with not loving beautiful style and chic chez les femmes comme chez les hommes, and certainly nothing to do with being “man-haters”.

    My mum always had to work, from a very early age. Her father was abusive, at least very cruel (screwed up himself entre autre by racism – he was bicracial) and perhaps sexually abusive. He was a highly-qualified professional – a veterinarian. She was very, very hard on me and I’m sure her background had a lot to do with that. She told wonderful stories of working in the civil service in wartime Ottawa – it was a great liberation for her and the other “girls” despite the hardships – but it was obviously still very much a man’s world.

    I got all the stuff you did in the media, including supposedly “progressive” places such as the organ (!) of a very avant-garde trade-union confederation in Québec. The Miss Boobsley stuff rings true – I was a 32d as a kid so I never knew how to deal with that. And it was always a kind of “inside” joke, à deux degrés as you might understand in French. (This stuff is part of French culture, and it can be anything from a bonding mechanism to a clever disguise for racism and sexism among people who supposedly know better).

  16. I’ve never seen the show, but now I want to watch just for the clothes. They are stunning.

    Someone mentioned not seeing any black or brown faces on the show. I found an old Glamour magazine at the gym — maybe from 1978, when I was in high school — and the same thing struck me. Everyone was white!

    It’s not something that would have crossed my mind back then, even though I lived in probably the most integrated environment of US society there is — a US military base*. We were living in the Panama Canal Zone, where my high school had kids of every color and many nationalities (the embassy brats went to my school). Maybe I would have, though. One of my first thoughts when I got to college was, “Everyone here is white. How weird.”

    * My friend Michael, who is black, told me he didn’t experience racism until his dad retired when he was 14. “The white kids in Memphis didn’t like me because I was black and the black kids thought I was too white.” In the army, all that had mattered was that his dad was a Lt. Col.. But that’s another story — your dad’s rank and what it means, even though it shouldn’t matter.