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Will hems drop as ‘Mad Men’ nears decade’s end?

From left, Betty Francis (January Jones), Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), Megan Draper (Jessica Pare), Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) in season seven of “Mad Men.”

Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

From left, Betty Francis (January Jones), Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka), Megan Draper (Jessica Pare), Don Draper (Jon Hamm), Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) in season seven of “Mad Men.”

“Mad Men” creator Matthew Weiner holds his cards suffocatingly close when it comes to revealing plot points of his drama. This makes it particularly frustrating for fashion prognosticators to talk about the clothes of season seven, and you can’t talk “Mad Men” without talking wardrobe.

Season six left us in 1968 (Thanksgiving to be exact), so it’s logical to assume the series resumes in 1969. Given that the close of the 1960s was a watershed moment for culture and fashion, can we expect to see a rebellious young Sally Draper (Kiernan Shipka) chopping her blond locks into a Twiggy-like pixie cut and burning her bras while Betty frowns upon the scene and sips a rum and Tab?

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“I’ve said for four years that Sally Draper is the one to watch. Her wardrobe is going to be the most interesting because she’s the right age. She’s slammed between the generation gap,” said Scott Stoddart, dean of the School of Liberal Arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology and author of “Analyzing Mad Men: Critical Essays on the Television Series.”

Megan Draper (Jessica Paré), seen in an ultra mini, Pucci-inspired dress in a delicious series of photos teasing the new season, could also be used by “Mad Men” costume designer Janie Bryant to show how the slightly more sophisticated look of the 1970s started creeping into fashion at the end of the 1960s.

“I’m at least hoping that we see the uber-fashion-conscious Megan lowering her hemlines,” said Amanda Hallay, a professor and cultural historian at LIM College in New York. “The enormous impact of Faye Dunaway’s costumes in ‘Bonnie and Clyde,’ with her slinky, knee-length skirts and skinny sweaters, launched a huge fashion trend and helped end the reign of the mini. Surely fashionable Megan won’t still be showing her thighs by the season finale.”

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More difficult to determine is the fashion fate of Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks), Betty Francis (January Jones), and Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss).

In those promo photos for season seven, Peggy’s skirt has crept further up her thigh, and her blouse is adorned with a daisy brooch. Corporate flower power, perhaps? Betty has taken on the heavily sprayed coiffure and poly-blend dresses favored by hausfraus of the era. And Joan, well, she’s still dressing like Joan.

“When the show started at the beginning of the 1960s, Joan had the perfect figure,” Stoddart said. “She had the curves and the Marilyn Monroe bust. By the end of the decade, that wasn’t the chic thing. Clothes were meant to fit an emaciated frame, like Twiggy. [Joan] won’t have very many options.”

And as women’s lib takes root, it seems unlikely that Betty will retreat from her 1950s, Grace Kelly-inspired ways. Last season, she looked terribly outdated and out of touch with youth culture as she went to an East Village flophouse hunting for a friend of Sally’s. Meanwhile, Sally was slipping into a pair of Nancy Sinatra go-go boots.

“Really, 1969 was a crucible year in fashion just because there were so many things developing,” said Lauren Whitley, curator of the department of textile and fashion arts at the Museum of Fine Arts. “Yves Saint Laurent was on one end, and kids protesting in army jackets and jeans were on the other. But it somehow made sense.”

The changes appear less dramatic to the men of "Mad Men.” In those photos, Roger Sterling (John Slattery), in full midlife crisis bloom, is wearing double-breasted blazers and plaid slacks. Sideburns are growing all around. And what of our anti-hero, Don Draper (Jon Hamm)?

He looks unchanged.

“He appreciates the youth culture, but he keeps it at a distance,” Stoddart said. “It suits the character of the American male. Men are the last ones who like change.”

Christopher Muther can be reached at christopher.muther@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @Chris_Muther.
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