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April 02, 2012



I've already commented on this at MUA, but here goes:

Betty wears L'Interdit or another powdery floral aldehyde like Climat, to go with her repression. Femme is too boozy and ripe for her, No. 5 too common -- that's what GIs brought back after the war for their girls.
Peggy wears the refreshing and new (1964) chypre Coty Imprevu. Soon, she reps it.
Joan wears Shalimar -- she's been pictured dabbing it on the show, I believe
Vivara or Fidji are good choices for Megan
The Life gal maybe wears Bandit? But that's too cliche. She's an American. She wear Elizabeth Arden Blue Grass.


I'll have to look for the Makeup Alley thread, rednails. It did seem too ripe a subject not to already have been tackled somewhere. I love your choices for Repressed Betty, particularly L'Interdit. I chose the kinds of fragrances that would still read as "classy," but that are veering toward the other Betty she could be, or maybe secretly wants to be, as evidenced by the episode when she picks up a guy at a bar and has sex with him in public (I think its in public anyway). I knew Joan wore something classic. Shalimar seems perfect. Thanks for weighing in!


I seem to recall Peggy putting on perfume in the opening credits to some episode - though I might be confusing it with Joan putting on Shalimar since I remember it being a Guerlain bottle. Anyway, if Peggy wears Guerlain too it might be Mitsouko, L'Heure Bleue or Sous le vent, though it's not like she could afford it!
I've just seen the first few seasons so I'm not really up to date on character development, but I imagine Peggy would wear something green like Norell, Miss Balmain, Y, Jolie Madame or Miss Dior.
Betty probably wears Diorissimo during the day and Bal a Versailles at night. Maybe Arpege but that seems too "matronly" - she has a youthful image after all.
For Joan? Hmmm... Youth Dew or Tabu? No, not classy enough (even if it's more in her price range she probably gets expensive perfume from men). Shalimar fits the bill but I can see (smell?) her in Fracas or Bandit as well. Or maybe Diorling?
By the way, Peggy didn't terminate her pregnancy, she completely repressed it and had a baby whom her mother and sister takes care of. And I'd say the sex was consensual (though there are some rather nasty rape scenes, between Joan and her fiance for example).


Hi Tove, Thanks for correcting me about Peggy's pregnancy. Why did I think she got an abortion? Clearly, it's been a while since I watched the show! Love your choices for Betty — daytime and nighttime. For Peggy, I had a hard time deciding what she'd wear, because I wanted to take into account that she couldn't really afford much for a while. But green scents...make sense for her. Miss Balmain sounded good for Megan (insouciant and all that), but I don't think it came out until 1967. For Joan, I think anything expensive and feminine works. And I know Arpège smells rich, and so much of its ad campaign was about its being a perfume men bought for women...Thanks for weighing in!


Norell wasn't marketed until 1968. I remember well when it was introduced. It was worn prominently by the most glamorous and treacherous woman in my family's life -- she was both my mom's best friend and my dad's mistress. A memorable scent.


What would the men of Mad Men wear? Does Betty pick Don's perfume? Or Megan - but I haven't gotten to that yet? I expect they smell like cigarettes and alcohol, mostly, but I imagine they would wear cologne as well. I think of Don wearing something expensive, something classy, and also traditionally masculine (perhaps woody-spicy-bozzy) but at the same time something that smells like a dozen other colognes, something non-memorable that would make him blend in, not stand out through original scent choice. I can't think of what exactly - some expensive equivalent of Aramis? Roger would wear something a little too youthful and sporty, I imagine, and a little too much of it too - maybe some marine/aquatic Creed concoction? I don't think Cooper wears scent but if he does it's probably some traditional aftershave from an English firm like Penhaligon's. Could be something unexpectedly floral, a masculine fragrance from another era, like Hammam Bouquet or Blenheim Bouquet. Pete, with his connection to toothpaste, might wear some minty-green cologne in a sickly mixture with nervous sweat! Can you think of specific fragrances?


Hi Tove: I sooo want Don to wear Aramis (1965). It's incredibly sexy. But would he? Maybe he's more of a Guerlain Vetiver man, or something understated like Canoe by Dana. Maybe Roger's in Habit Rouge. Eau Sauvage didn't come out until 1966, but maybe Roger picks it up when he buys a gift for his wife.  Cooper is definitely in something chic and English: Penhaligon's English Fern? As for who buys them scent, I think they buy it for themselves.


rednails: That's one way to remember a perfume. Good lord!

Anna in Edinburgh

I've never seen Mad Men but it's lovely to see how it inspires informed perfume choices. I wonder whether the actors get to use appropriate scents in their work, to set the mood or get into character?

noetic owl

I have yet to view Mad Men but after this review I am intrigued :) The characters sound scandalous and so interesting! And now I have perfumes to pair them with!


Anna and Neotic Owl: Netflix it from the beginning episodes one weekend. It's truly addictive!


Funny you should mention Mad Men. I just got a bottle of Oscar del Pareta's Volupté off ebay. The stylized bottle and the floral green fragrance convinced me this was a 60s relic, and I indeed thought Mad Men. Happens it is from 1992, by Sophia Grojsman. It would suit Megan, I think.

Here's a photo link: http://www.valentineperfume.com/product_thumbnail_images/t_24593.jpg


Sophia G. likes her green florals, Julie. I've never smelled Volupté, but your description of a green scent sounds perfect for Megan. I'll have to check it out! Great bottle and name.


great post, and I would think you'd love this show, since it is so accurate as to the stylistic details and ads, and perfume ads of this era are one of your great sources for illustrating your pieces. I was Sally Draper's age during the time this show is taking place, and I remember it in vivid detail, especially since having much older sisters really inculcated me into the Feminine Mystique. If you've missed some of them, you can try them on either Netflix or Itunes. Love the cross between perfume and the history of every day life you put into your posts.


Thank you, Lucy! What's uncanny about the show is both its faithfulness to details but its modern-day ability to highlight those details it knows (and could only know from the perspective of the future) would become important to viewers, so it's like watching the past through a present-day filter.

perfumes for women

well written post. I love the vintage pics.


It's funny but only one male character wears a fragrance that anyone notices, and it's Sal, who wears an unnamed "fragrance from Europe". Remember when one of the girls in the reception pool develops a crush on him? It makes me think that the idea of most men wearing scent at that time would be considered strange in an American office. So I can't think of what Don Draper would wear that would have been available at that time as "a man's scent". A traditional Eau de Cologne, such as 4711 or Imperial Bouquet? Something like Pino Silvestre, which usually scented the clients of Italian barber shops throughout Italy?


* In one perfume-notable episode (Season 6, "Man with a Plan", I think?), Peggy is all va-va-voomed up & on her way out to a date after work, desperately trying to make (her married lover) / new partner "Ted" jealous (actor Kevin Rahm). On her way out the door, she intentionally peeks into the conference room to say good night to all the guys... Peggy, usually very conservative, but tonight all low-cut top, tight-fitting skirt, voluptuous eye make up & lipstick, etc. As all of the guys leer at her sexy new persona, one says: "Is that Chanel #5?" - As if to sum it all up, " Look at our little wallflower Peggy! She's no shrinking violet tonight- She's on the prowl ! "

And that long paragraph I just wrote, is all summed up in a single 11 second scene, with the phrase "Is she wearing Chanel #5? " I love that scene! All hail #5 !!!


Peggy wears Chanel No. 5. When asked she said, "That's all I wear." Betty would wear L'Air Du Temps By Nina Ricci. She wants to seem so proper riding her horse and her talk of Bryn Mawr. But she bites her kid's hot dogs in half with her teeth and licks her fingers. She didn't get those horrible table manners at Bryn Mawr. I think she's all talk and no substance. Joan's commodities are office intuition and sexuality. She wears Shalimar. She was dabbing it on in an episode. Meagan wears whatever all the other girls at the shoot are wearing. The real question is what did Ida Blankenship wear? I bet Burt would know.

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