Mad Style: Peggy Olson, S2 Part1
Season 2 Episode 1 – “For Those Who Think Young”
After the shock she received at the end of Season 1 (spoilers going forward, so you’re warned), we see an efficient, confident and knowledgeable Peggy going through her work day as if nothing had happened to her. She has a meeting with Sal and Pete, batting ideas around for the newly acquired (through Pete’s father-in-law) Clearasil account. After Sal leaves, Pete, who’s getting a ton of pressure from his in-laws about giving them a grandchild, asks Peggy, “Do you want to have kids?” After a (dare we say it?) pregnant pause, she answers “Eventually.”Later she presents her ideas to Don for the Mohawk airlines account. Don torpedoes her original idea and schools her on the lazy fallacy of “sex sells,” which is, according to him, a bit of conventional wisdom put forth by people who don’t understand the creative process in advertising. “They can’t do what we do and they hate us for it.” It doesn’t escape Peggy’s notice that Don uses “we” when talking about what he considers the most important aspect of the industry. Don is educating her on the Don Draper philosophy of advertising, which is that creative reigns supreme and is largely underestimated. What follows is an electrifying back and forth between the two of them as she offers ideas, he quickly edits them, and she comes back with another idea, until she finally comes up with the brilliant tagline “What did you bring me, Daddy?” It’s such an obviously brilliant line that it stops Don momentarily in his tracks and he says quietly, “You can put that one in your book.” They play off each other beautifully and there is an obvious mutual respect thing going on. It’s one of our all time favorite scenes of the series.
This is one of the nicest outfits we’ve ever seen her in. Peggy never really achieves the heights of Joan or Betty in her wardrobe, but her clothes look a little more expensive and a little less dowdy than they were last year. Her dowdiness was due to a combination of her dislike of unwanted male attention in the office, Catholic schoolgirl sensibilities, and of course, a pregnancy. All (or a lot) of that is behind her and we see her, not so much taking chances, but at least making the effort to look good every day. We love that skirt, which looks considerably more expensive than her S1 outfits. Peggy changes up her silhouette a lot, but she clearly likes pleated skirts and this isn’t the first or the last we’ll see on her. Once again, she’s in a shade of yellow which brings to mind the various scenes she’s worn it before; scenes, like these, where either her career or the consequences of her relationship with Pete were center stage. Peggy’s office clothes still have that common sense functionality to them, however. The rolled up sleeves and the fitted, but not too much, blouse; it’s all very Peggy. The little pussy bow at the top is Peggy’s version of frivolity. It’s not that she’s humorless or sexless, far from it. It’s just that she’s practical and works hard and doesn’t see the office as a social place.
Peggy finds herself at Paul Kinsey’s house party, having herself a fine old time making out with one of his old Princeton classmates. “So you work for these stuffed shirts?” he asks her, and she corrects him happily, “I work WITH them.” Later, after they’ve taken the very important relationship step of moving their makeout session to the hallway, he tries to convince her to come home with him. She smiles, pats him on the shoulder, and says, “Eugene, I’m in the persuasion business and frankly I’m disappointed by your presentation.” She picks up her coat and walks out with a smile on her face.We’re not so proud that we can’t admit we’re learning as we’re going. We originally said that Peggy never wears florals, but here she is wearing a vibrant, almost passionate, red-rose-on-black floral print. Red’s also not a color she wears much. She’s fun and social and sexual here and the eye-catching print demonstrates that. Of course, it’s still got the schoolgirl collar and sad little bow, but she’s got a peek of black crinolines at the bottom of her hem that’s, well, a little sexy for her. It’s also notable that the only other time that she wore a floral was on that disastrous blind date and the dress was almost certainly her sister’s.
Peggy visits her Ma and sister, and while there are some cute and funny bits here, the scene is oppressive. Peggy compliments her mother’s new hairdo. Her mother snorts in derision upon the mention of her hairdresser’s name, Monsieur Pierre. “He’s got some funny ideas.” The rest of the scene is nothing but an endless litany of family pressure. “You came for dinner and you already ate?” “I think your father would like it if you lit a candle for him.” “We never see you!” “She’s not gonna be here forever.” “Would it kill you to go?” “Did you bring the vacuum?” “Did you empty the bag?”"You’re not gonna say goodnight?” That is literally about 95% of their lines. Peggy is happy to see them and warm at the start of the scene but her mouth’s a straight line of repressed fury by the end of it.This would be a really cute outfit for an 18-year-old girl in 1962, but it’s decidedly juvenile for a 22-year-old Manhattan career girl. Peggy reverts when she’s around her family, mainly because they don’t see her as anything but a child that needs to be fussed over and told what to do. She always favors the schoolgirl type looks, but this one’s a little more overt.
Peggy submits and shows up to church that week, looking every inch the penitent. She is asked to hold Anita’s baby while she receives Communion and again, her face shows us someone who is suppressing a TON of emotions.This outfit is of higher quality than her normal work clothes. This would be filed in that part of her closet that every good Catholic of the period had: “Church clothes.” They’re to be worn only on Sunday, preferably only in church. Which usually meant a little more money was spent on this than on her regular work-a-day clothes. It also means there’s very little wear and tear because it’s only worn occasionally and briefly. Assuming she has more than one church outfit, which she would have, and as we’ll see, she did. Gloves and hat? Required.
Peggy sits in church on Passion Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, listening to an oppressive sermon about sin and bearing the cross and being imperfect. She goes out for fresh air and meets Father Gil, who’s in the middle of punishing some unruly boys by making them stand in the corner. They make small talk, he figures out that she was trying to duck out, and pointedly invites her back inside. Later, he attends Sunday dinner at Anita’s apartment. Peggy is almost entirely in the background during dinner and only speaks up when her mother proudly tells Father about Peggy’s writing. Father Gil is intrigued and asks for her help in writing a sermon he’s preparing.Father Gil will ultimately force Peggy to deal with the events at the end of last season, so we can’t help but notice she’s holding a “Peggy yellow” coat when she meets him. More gray church clothes. This suit is nicer than a lot of what she wears in the office, although we can’t help but point out the relatively cheap-looking buttons and not so great fit.
Easter Sunday in the church courtyard, watching the Easter egg hunt. Fr. Gil has been made aware of Peggy’s pregnancy by an angry Anita during confession, and he hands her a blue egg, “For the little one,” referring to Anita’s youngest. Peggy knows that he knows about it.This is a pretty dress and more than likely a brand new one. It looks it. It’s an appropriate pink for Easter, and it would be just like Peggy to find the pairing with a serious brown to be very appealing. Since the scene was all about fertility, the blue and pink color scheme common in baby nurseries and baby showers is played up a bit. There’s the blue of the egg, and then there are the shades of blue evident in the other women’s clothing. In addition, Peggy once again is in a dress that isn’t quite adult and isn’t quite a child’s. The only other figure wearing pink is a little girl in a dress very similar to Peggy’s in shape and color. All the women are wearing more fitted dresses and suits. It’s deliberately contradictory. Peggy’s motherhood is being referred to, but the entire scene is staged to make her look more child-like than the other women.
Season 2 Episode 5 – “The New Girl”
Peggy finds herself embroiled in Don’s tumultuous life when he drunkenly crashes a car with his mistress, Bobbie Barrett. Don is arrested and Peggy is tapped to bail him out. Bobbie can’t be seen either in public or by her husband with a big shiner on her face, so Peggy offers to let her stay at her place until the swelling goes down. The next couple of days see the two women circling each other as Bobbie tries to figure Peggy out and Peggy doesn’t want to be figured out. At one point, Bobbie mentions that her memories of the accident are hazy and get weirder all the time, to which Peggy replies, “If you’re lucky it’ll disappear.” It’s unclear if Peggy’s talking about the memories or the shiner, but given the revelations of this episode, it’s a pretty decent summation of her life philosophy, courtesy of Don Draper, who memorably advises her in a flashback to her time in the hospital, “This never happened. It will shock you how much it never happened.”The only reason we’re highlighting this outfit is because it’s something of a rarity for Peggy. Everyday clothes. Neither work nor church nor party clothes. Very practical and no-nonsense, and a little endearingly sloppy on her. Very much in contrast to Bobbie’s Butterfield-8 getup. This is what Peggy threw on in the middle of the night when she got Don’s phone call and it looks it. Note how much she matches the tones of her apartment and how much Bobbie stands out against them. They’re both uncomfortable with the situation and the clothes tell you exactly why. One of them belongs there and the other doesn’t.
This is another of her everyday non-work outfits. It’s cute, but the cotton and the crinolines wouldn’t really be considered professional enough for work. This is twice we’ve seen her in a pale pink away from the office. It’s not really a color she wears at work.
The next day, and they do a little more bonding before Bobbie gets ready to leave. She comes right out and asks if Peggy is sleeping with Don. Alarmed, Peggy answers no. Bobbie sarcastically mentions that it’s not such a stretch and re-asks the question. Peggy shows a little spine and replies, “It’s a personal question and I’ve already answered you.” Later, Bobbie says, “You’re so young and beautiful,” and Peggy rapidly fires back, “I’m not your competition.” One of those great quiet scenes that the show does so well where two characters verbally pee around each other trying to assert dominance. At the end, both of them wind up with a great deal of respect for the other, and as Bobbie gets ready to leave, she gives her some Bobbie-style wisdom. “You have to start living the life of the person you want to be. You’re never going to get that corner office until you start treating Don like an equal. And no one will tell you this, but you can’t be a man. Don’t even try. Be a woman. It’s powerful business when done correctly.”Again, simple, practical everyday clothes. It’s funny, because her everyday clothes tend to be cuter than her work clothes, if a little understated. She is again, in shades that match her apartment, but this time, so is Bobbie. They understand each other better.
Season 2 Episode 6 – “Maidenform”
Playtex wants to shake up their image in response to the popular maidenform ads and everyone meets up in Don’s office to discuss it. Peggy gets asked the embarrassing question, “Peggy do you wear Playtex? And if so, why?” Then she has her thoughts dismissed by all the other people in the room, none of whom have ever worn or bought a bra. She has a better time in Pete’s office as she and Sal meet there to brainstorm for the Clearasil account. She comes up with the great idea of a series of ads telling a story about two teenagers going on a date and how Clearasil made it possible. She paints an evocative picture of teenage romance and we wonder if it’s coming from something she experienced or something she observed. Pete and Sal like the idea.Yellow again. The same blouse she wore in the scene when she brainstormed with Don. As in that scene, she looks professional and appropriate. Even when in a room with men dismissing her, she kept opening up her mouth and offering her thoughts. Yellow and grey are turning into her power colors.
Pete ran the Clearasil idea past his father and he loved it. He makes an unusual stop in Peggy’s office to tell her and they make small talk about what they did during the weekend. As in the previous scene, he puts pressure on her to use the “Thanks, Clearasil” tagline he came up with. She makes a very veiled remark that implies he should let her do her job, he gets typically snippy, and she cuts him off politely, saying she has work to do.Later, she gets called into Don’s office to hear Paul Kinsey pitch an outrageously narrow-minded idea for the Maidenform account based on the idea that all women can be reduced down to two: either Jackie or Marilyn. The appeal of the message is obvious and congratulations to Paul are made all around. Peggy speaks up.” I don’t know if all women are a Jackie or a Marilyn. Maybe men see them that way,” to which she gets the astonishing reply from Paul, “Bras are for men. Women want to see themselves the way men see them.” When Peggy asks which category she’s supposed to fall into, they snicker and tell her, “Gertrude Stein.”
The rage-inducing humiliations continue as Peggy finds out all the guys are doing a casting session for the Playtex ad and she wasn’t even informed of it even though it’s her account. In a later scene she goes to Joan for advice and gives her an addendum to the advice Bobbie gave her last episode, “If you want to be taken seriously as a woman, stop dressing like a little girl.”
This is the most overt schoolgirl outfit she’s worn yet. This looks EXACTLY like a Catholic high school girl’s outfit. All she needs is a little embroidered patch with the name of the school on it (and to be fair, a slightly fuller skirt). It almost borders on parody, as if this was a Saturday Night Live spoof of the show. The reason she looks so prim and young here is so her later style choice can be even more of a shock to us when we see it.
Playtex likes Paul’s idea but ultimately balks at changing their image. The guys decide to take them out for a night on the town, i.e., a burlesque joint. Peggy overhears them talking about it and shows up on her own in this jawdropping (for her) cocktail dress. They’re all happy and surprised to see her there (it wasn’t unheard of for women to go to burlesque clubs back then) and she uncharacteristically sits on the client’s lap, to his delight. She catches Pete’s disapproving stare and looks down, a little ashamed of herself. We won’t ever see Peggy dress or act this way again. She tried the advice her elders gave to her and realized it wasn’t for her. She was going to have to do it on ambition and talent alone.It’s a gorgeous dress and it’s shocking to see her displaying cleavage. There’s no way this was something in her closet already. Either she borrowed it from a friend (there’s no way in HELL she got this from her sister or mother) or she went out that day and bought it. We kind of can’t imagine any friend of Peggy’s who owns a dress like this, so we’re chalking this up as an expensive impulse buy. And like a lot of impulse buys, it’s not right for her. Like we said, gorgeous dress, but given everything we’ve seen of Peggy and her wardrobe, it’s simply not the right style for her. The fit is fine, the color is beautiful, it’s VERY stylish, and yet it’s just not Peggy Olson. It’s Joan Holloway.
[Screencaps: tomandlorenzo.com - Photo Credit: amctv.com/originals/madmen]