Just about anyone who’s ever worn a beret – okay, berét for you purists – has all but marked their foreheads with the words “I Am An Artist.” It’s head gear quirkily worn at an angle, as if proclaiming that one’s thought processes and self-expression are delightfully skewed off center.
Which makes Peggy Olson’s (Elisabeth Moss) embrace of the iconic little fashion cap on last night’s seventh season’s premiere episode of “Mad Men” all the more tragic. Peggy is a bona fide creative at SC&P who just can’t seem to truly own her singular smarts and imagination like her mentor Don Draper (Jon Hamm).
Although we’ve seen her go bohemian in the past, Peggy doesn’t favor the beret’s striking black-felt tradition. Instead, she’s chosen a crocheted blend-in-beige number with a pom-pom on the top and additional leather backing on the dome. Yes, life on Madison Avenue can be a battlefield – Freddy Rumsen and even Don himself validate how quickly the bodies can pile up – but Peggy looks as though she’s wearing a home-spun DIY helmet. And, although her headpiece is at a tilt, it’s not, well, cocked.
Cocked is an apt and operative word here. Smart is sexy. Sexy starts in the head. It’s an archetypal Aries Martial thing. And Peggy’s beret – drab like feathers of much of the female species of birds, when “bird” is also slang for a sexually attractive gal – bespeaks her second-rate position in the advertising hierarchy. If we take into account her sobbing fit at the end of the episode – and the fact she never seems to remove the woolen-helmet thingie all day – it’s a safe bet her dissatisfaction is hardly relegated solely to her work life.
In contrast, over in Los Angeles, Megan’s signature head pieces are outsize pendulous earrings – at least four inches long – that literally look like swaying metallic phalluses.
“Mad Men” is known for its authentic displays of fashion trends, as a parade of a decade’s worth of garments refreshes its characters’ physicality. Sometimes, though, as with Peggy’s beret, the best fashion moments bespeak bad choices made by beloved characters. These aberrations reveal an internal barometer that words in a script cannot.
Astrology Fashion Rating: ♂ (Mars)