With the re-emergence of 60’s style and sensibilities since the hit AMC show, Mad Men, a show that debuted several years ago, it’s almost hard to recall that 60’s fashion existed on its own and thrived in varying degrees for more than a decade. Nevertheless, 60’s style, in this case, men’s fashion during the era was a pivotal force in pop culture then as well as now. To use the term “Mad Men” style refers not only to a type of dress, but also a manner of living and conducting one’s personal affairs. To be blunt about it, mad men style harkens to a simpler time in terms of fashion and its place in society, along with gender roles for both men and women. The style, just like the era, focused on dynamism and dualities in which what men wore essentially represented who they were and in many cases, who they aspired to be.
For men, the “Mad Men” style includes clothing, particularly suits with strong angles, demonstrating on a personal level, masculinity and even dominance. Men were dominant in the 60’s in the workplace, family life, politics, and in sexual relations. The fabrics, colors and construction of the suits that characters like Don Draper wears, are meant to be appealing to men and women alike. For men, such style is supposed to convey dominance and power in order to garner respect from other men, and to assert dominance over them. For women, such style is meant to appeal to their sensual selves, and to project dominance and masculinity to them on a more basic and sexual level.
Although the 60s, particularly the late 60s, saw an uptick in women’s liberation, which also coincided with changing gender norms, .e.g. women working more rather than being stay-at-home wives or mothers, men still dominated. The clothes that they wore such as dark suits, angular ties, naval/peacoats, oxford shoes, etc. were symbols of status and masculinity. Such was particularly the case with famous iconic males of the era such as President John F. Kennedy. In the photograph provided below, JFK's masculine dress is accentuated and complemented by Jackie Kennedy's uber feminine dress.
This essentially was what the 60s was about in terms of dress; while gender norms were gradually changing and being bent, the way men and women respectively dressed still kept traditional norms in place and accentuated the fact that change or no change, men were still the dominant and key players in society.