If you have been living under a rock, Mad Men is a 16-time Emmy nominated show about a New York ad agency in 1960 – 62. The clothes are inspiring, the sets are insanely authentic, the storyline is riveting, and the cigarettes and cocktails are plentiful.
I happen to be especially obsessed with the riding attire of Betty Draper, wife of the protagonist. During the first season, she was a bored housewife, sure her husband was cheating on her (which he was) and struggling with her place in the world. By season two, the now-confident Betty has taken up English riding to fill her time, and she dresses like the Queen of England meets Jackie Kennedy.
As a lifelong rider myself, I am jealous and dumbfounded at the pristine, put together attire she wears when riding. Not a hair out of place, not a smudge on her shirt. Cashmere, silk scarves and gorgeous wool coats accompany her blond hair so perfectly coiffed under a velvet helmet. Perhaps they had grooms back then to do all the dirty work, but I am constantly amazed and intrigued by her attire.
I actually have in my closet a piece of riding attire from a by-gone (and more glamorous) era. A dark green pair of riding breeches was passed down to me from my grandmother and I have saved them for years. Of course I couldn’t fit into them even at the age of twelve (I blame it on over-zealous vitamin taking at an early age, but I am twice as tall and broad as any of my female ancestors), but I will always save them and their ridiculous but wonderful balloon hips and leather knee patches sewn by hand sometime after 1910.
Betty Draper looks as chic away from the barn as she does in the saddle, with floor-length evening gowns, full skirts and fitted dresses always a part of her wardrobe. If I could only look as chic in the saddle as Mrs. Draper, let alone on the streets, life would we as swell as it seems on Mad Men. Someone get me a martini and a cigarette…