Mad Men Does Jantzen

We all love Mad Men, right?  I’d watch it just to see the clothes, as it’s rare that TV has gotten the fashions of the not-so-terribly-long-ago-past so right.  Remember the “50’s” fashions on M*A*S*H*, or the “early 60s” on Happy Days?  Those are really hard for a fashion history person like me to watch!

Not that Mad Men is always spot on in the costuming.  As Jonathan at Kickshawproductions points out, the women are often over-dressed, wearing cocktail dresses when they would more likely to have been wearing a suit.  But I’ll forgive that, as the feel for the early years of the Sixties is just so right.

So I was really looking forward to last night’s premier of the fourth season because it had been publicized that Jantzen was to be a potential client of the new ad agency.  Jantzen suits have been used in the costuming in past seasons, and now they were to be used in a storyline.

Spoiler Alert!

The two members of the Jantzen family met with SterlingCooperDraperPryce and made it clear that they were a “family company,”  that they were not interested in a risque or suggestive ad campaign.  The ad that Don actually pitched to the company was covered up, but was suggestive – A model wearing a Jantzen two-piece suit, with the bra top covered with a long strip of paper reading, “So well-built, we can’t show you the second floor.”  Sort of a peek-a-boo effect.

It did not go over well.

But what about the actual Jantzen ads of the time? Was the company, as Don Draper suggested, stodgy, prudish and out of touch with the times?

What is interesting is that Jantzen had a pretty good ad campaign and a cute slogan going for them in the early 1960s; Just wear a smile and a Jantzen:

I couldn’t find any swimsuit ads from this time in my stash of vintage magazines, but this ad is in complete line with comparable ads from other companies.

But more interesting is this actual peek-a-boo ad from 1964:

And so much for not being suggestive:

I’ve often wondered what actual companies think about their portrayal on Mad Men.  Even today, Jantzen does have a conservative image, but what swimsuit company wants the word “stodgy” attached to them, even in fiction.

Or perhaps it’s as Brendan Behan said, “There’s no such thing as bad publicity…”


Posted by Gina Americana:

I did a blog post about Jantzen today too! I’m a Southern girl living in Sweden doing a blog for locals about our classic American style heritage. I faithfully follow your blog and love it because it’s very informative and educational. I especially like the commentary you give on the textile belt…my beloved homeland! %20void(0);

Monday, July 26th 2010 @ 9:35 AM

Posted by KeLLy Ann:

I am totally digging that Orange and White dreamsicle sweater…

Tuesday, July 27th 2010 @ 7:07 AM

Posted by Deanna Littell:

Have a look at my MadMen post.
Also up there are my Butterick patterns from the 60’s that a friend found on your site & forwarded to me. -Deanna

Tuesday, July 27th 2010 @ 7:29 AM

Posted by Deanna Littell:

Woops-here’s my blog post about Mad Men-

Tuesday, July 27th 2010 @ 7:32 AM

Posted by Jonathan:

I have wondered if the producers of Mad Men check with existing companies about using them in the storyline. What if the company doesn’t agree of the history is incorrect – could that be considered libel? Connie Hilton wasn’t exactly portrayed as a nice guy (although from what I have read, he wasn’t), and the Jantzen storyline this past week made me wonder how true the family image of the company was portrayed.I am glad to see I am not the only one who wonders!

Tuesday, July 27th 2010 @ 9:04 AM

Posted by Em:

The ads you found are great. I would wear those shoes in a minute. You do have to wonder what the companies would think of their image being used.

Tuesday, July 27th 2010 @ 9:55 AM

Posted by Sarah:

I suspect that Jantzen is happy to be featured in such a prestigious hit tv show, and prepared to overlook a little bending of the truth!These old Jantzen ads are great. I’ve fallen for those shoes too!

Wednesday, July 28th 2010 @ 12:04 AM

Posted by Lizzie:

Those ARE cute shoes. I’m always looking for flats from the mid 60s.Deanna, how nice of you to post a link to my site on your blog. I have one of your Paraphernalia dresses in my collection. I love the martini charms!

Friday, July 30th 2010 @ 6:26 PM


Filed under Advertisements, Vintage Clothing

2 responses to “Mad Men Does Jantzen

  1. JA

    I just came across this page while doing a google search on Jantzen 1960s. Can you tell me where you found the ad with the four Jantzen models wearing sweaters? My mother is the woman in white. I have a full size (5ftx3ft) version of this ad mounted in a frame, but have not been able to locate the smaller print ad.


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