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This episode may be called "Chinese Wall," but I think we could rename it "Opposite Day" -- at least where the clothes are concerned. That's because the wardrobe choices are completely clashing (at least in mood) with the situations onscreen -- kind of like that earlier scene where Miss Blankenship died at her desk, and all the secretaries stood around her body, in Easter Egg colors. They were dressed for a garden party, but standing at a funeral prelude. It was funny. Similar things happen in this episode, which makes the show feel dreamlike and almost surreal.
The main example has to do with "the subordinates" -- the characters with bosses at Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. Despite the bleak circumstances that come with the departure of Lucky Strike, a lot of them are dressed in bright, primary colored outfits that make them look like little children. Pete slips a navy polo underneath a Crayon-blue blazer, Faye's pink dress is the color of Kool-Aid, and Rizzo's blue and yellow striped shirt skews past the Mod look and ends up looking closer to a grown-up Dennis the Menace. Megan's yellow dress matches a Cheerios box. And Danny looks like the very serious, very eager little kid who dresses up for school, his tiny stature and huge tie adding a "sandbox" feel to the scene where Cooper announces the departure of the company's primary client.
Obviously, Don can't partake in this Crayola jamboree. His unsaturated suit looks downright lifeless next to the bright hues of all his employees. Gazing at Don with Roger and Cooper in their black and gray blazers -- both in the boardroom and during the funeral scene -- you can't help but think these guys are three of the apocalypse's Four Horsemen, ready to drain the life from everything and everyone. Or to put it less dramatically: They look like the grown-ups, an idea reinforced by Trudy's father when he declares to Pete, "Your amateur hour is over."
An earlier poignant moment has Roger dressed up in his full suit, sitting on his empty hotel bed, feigning a trip to the Lucky Strike headquarters. It gives the "all dressed up and nowhere to go" phrase a new and urgent meaning. (If you look closely, you'll see that Roger's pants and sleeves are still just a little too short, making him look like a kid who's outgrown his clothes -- or in this case, a man who's too old to be acting like an irresponsible coward.)
The printed blouse that Peggy wore to the "doomsday" office meeting was pretty interesting, too, because it mimicked standard China patterns on plates, vases, and tea sets -- inherently feminine, and also quite fragile. The "will you break?" question was certainly in the air for the office scenes. No wonder that by the time she got to her Playtex presentation, she went back to the navy dress that looks like a sailor's uniform -- a suit of armor for professional battle, indeed.
But back to that printed blouse, with a China pattern and a pussy bow. Did you see that in the last office scene, Megan has a similar one, but pink and red? Yet when Megan said she'd "like to do what you do, or what Miss Olson does," that outfit merely reinforced how the whole reason Peggy can do what she does at SCDP is because she isn't a sex object to Don. Make a pink-and-red version of Peggy, and you've basically changed the game. Of course, it's possible for a woman to be sexually exciting to Don and still be good at her job. (Hello Faye Miller and Rachel Menken.) But neither woman needs Don's approval to move up the corporate ladder. In fact, neither of them needs Don at all, which is probably why he likes them.
Finally, Jane Sterling's metallic kimono was amazing. It had no place next to Roger in his melancholy angst and his unbuttoned vest, but that just heightened the drama.