Don Draper’s California Adventure

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in "The Mountain King", the twelfth and penultimate episode of Mad Men's second season.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper in “The Mountain King”, the twelfth and penultimate episode of Mad Men‘s second season.


Jon Hamm as Don Draper aka Dick Whitman, overwhelmed Madison Avenue ad man

Los Angeles, September 1962

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “The Jet Set” (Episode 2.11); “The Mountain King” (Episode 2.12)
Air Date: October 12, 2008; October 19, 2008
Director: Phil Abraham; Alan Taylor
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant


By the end of Season 2 – or 1962 in the show’s timeframe – Don Draper has endured a year of struggling. Although excelling at work, still wowing clients right and left, his home life is in turmoil after his wife finally kicked him out when his extramarital dalliances became one affair too many. When he’s sent to California on a business trip, he gradually begins to realize the opportunity open to him and he embraces the chance to take an impromptu vacation.

Of course, he forgot to tell anyone he was going on vacation and just hopped in a Mercedes with a wild PYT he met in the hotel bar.

After a little afternoon in the sun with Joy, he is once again confronted by his difficult home life when they converse with another man who is juggling two kids and going through a rough separation with his wife. Does this send him home to his wife?

Yes, it does… just not the one anyone was expecting to see.

What’d He Wear?

The Business Suit

Don typically travels in a gray suit, likely to maintain his image as “the man in the gray flannel suit”, stereotyping himself as a conservative businessman rather than the womanizing war deserter. Since he’s going out to the left coast, Don wisely keeps climate in mind and wears light gray in a lightweight material that takes on a silky shine under the California sun.

The single-breasted jacket is very progressive example of 1960s cool. The lapels are very slim with rounded notches, almost resembling shawl lapels save for the small notch on each side. As Don began abandoning pocketsquares halfway through season two, the breast pocket is used primarily for his sunglasses. There are also two straight flapped hip pockets.

Don gleefully accepts a glass of champagne.

Don gleefully accepts a glass of champagne.

Don’s jacket has a somewhat boxy fit despite being shaped by front darts. It closes with two black buttons in the front and also features three non-functioning smaller black buttons on each cuff.

The suit’s flat front trousers are naturally the same material with a sharp crease down each leg to the plain-hemmed bottoms. There are four pockets: two open pockets on the sides and two jetted pockets on the rear which each fasten with a bullet. Don wears a thin black leather belt with a square brass buckle.


His shirt is a Don Draper standard, a white poplin dress shirt with spread collar and French cuffs. It fastens down a front placket and naturally has a breast pocket for his Lucky Strikes.

The cuff links in the shirt are comprised of two staggered square stones, one in amber gold and one in dark charcoal.

His tie is a dull dark blue with a light silver space-age “flash-burst” pattern in the center. It is tied with a very small and tight four-in-hand knot.


Don is already exhausted from all the sex he’s about to have.

Don’s hat is the same dark gray short-brimmed felt fedora with a wide black band that he has worn all throughout the second season.

Don Draper, G-Man.

Don Draper, G-Man.

Don sports the same footwear through most of his three-week jaunt through SoCal, a pair of well-worn black leather 3-eyelet split-toe derby shoes with taupe dress socks.

Don, somewhat worse for wear (left) than he was when he first arrived (right). Note his jacket over a chair.

Don, somewhat worse for wear (left) than he was when he first arrived (right).
Note his jacket over a chair.

For what might be the first time in the series, Don wears sunglasses. Given his background, they are a pair of military-inspired Russell Engineering aviators with brass frames.

"Shut up and drive."

“Shut up and drive.”

The suit is very slick. Even Joy and her group of friends speculate on whether or not Don is “a spy”. Although James Bond was yet to hit theaters in Dr. No (only months away at this point), the image of Don as a sharp-dressed man with powerful secrets was no coincidence.

Since the airline lost his luggage, this is Don’s primary suit in California. After the flight, he wears it for the national security conference the next day and, thus, is still wearing it when he hops into the car with Joy.

After leaving the nomads in Palm Springs, Don once again wears this suit, although now paired with the dark blue polo he was given, when visiting Anna in San Pedro.

Dick Whitman heads home.

Dick Whitman heads home.


The Casual Blazer

Probably a new purchase after TWA lost his bags, Don’s light blue sport coat joins the illustrious list of casual blazers that Don wears over the course of the series. While not as loud as some of his later plaid ones in seasons 5 and 6, it is still flashier than the very understated blazers of the first season.

The jacket, as per usual for Don, is single-breasted with notch lapels, although these notches are larger and more traditional than the ones on his gray suit coat. The material looks like dupioni silk, a very popular material for men in this era which has now unfortunately been mostly relegated to bridesmaids’ dresses.

Don's relaxed look in California is much more progressive and fashion-forward than his conservative cardigans and sport coats in New York.

Don’s relaxed look in California is much more progressive and fashion-forward than his conservative cardigans and sport coats in New York.

It is clearly meant to be worn casually with the breast and hip patch pockets. It buttons in the front with two mother-of-pearl buttons. There are also three buttons on the cuffs and a single rear vent.

Don will later wear this jacket while vacationing in Rome and “flirting” with Betty. Evidently, wearing the jacket makes him feel like a mysterious, intriguing stranger in a foreign, romantic land. However, we don’t see Don with any bags when he hops into Joy’s car or getting to Anna’s house. Either Pete Campbell was nice enough to recover Don’s stuff from his room, or the hotel forwarded on his belongings at Don’s request.

His trousers are gray, but do not appear to be the same as his suit trousers. Although also flat front pants with plain-hemmed bottoms, the color looks like more of an elephant gray.

He does, however, wear the same white shirt with French cuffs. His necktie is a new tie with a gray and dark blue diagonal check. The tie pattern somewhat resembles the band on James Bond’s straw pork pie hat in Thunderball.

Don seriously just maintains this gaze through the whole scene. The entirety of his own dialogue is: "Old fashioned." "Why?" "No." 'No." "Don." "I am." "Maybe another time." "Pete, this is Joy, and Rocky, and the Count Mon De Forte."

Don seriously just maintains this gaze through the whole scene. The entirety of his own dialogue is:
“Old fashioned.”
“I am.”
“Maybe another time.”
“Pete, this is Joy, and Rocky, and the Count Mon De Forte.”
Definitely a man of few words.


Palm Springs Getaway

Joy digs up some clothes for Don from a fellow member of their nomadic clan. Strangely, the shirt is very fitting for Don’s sense of style and the cream-colored trousers look only slightly out of place next to his usual wardrobe. This clothing speaks about the nature of this particular “counterculture”. Unlike hippies and their modern offspring, the insufferable hipsters, these folks dress the way they want to; if it looks different than others, so be it.

Don’s new friends aren’t striving to be so uniquely different that they become uncomfortable, as opposed to the pretentious hipsters who wear cardigans, flannel shirts, tight jeans, and wool caps in 90-degree heat just to “make a statement”. Little do they know, all of their friends are trying to make the exact same statement.

Sorry about the hipster rant. Basically, I’m saying that I’m pro-Don’s nomad clan and anti-annoying hipster.

Not quite the look of '60s counterculture as we've come to expect...

Not quite the look of ’60s counterculture as we’ve come to expect…

Don’s new shirt, which he evidently gets to keep, is a dark navy blue short-sleeve Ban-Lon knit polo with a white-tipped collar. Taking a closer look, the white piping on the collar is a staggered line around the collar down the short placket. On the placket are three brown buttons; Don buttons the lower two.

Don’s new pants, which he evidently leaves in Palm Springs, are cream cotton flat front trousers. They are styled like his other pants with belt loops and plain-hemmed bottoms. The pockets are also similar, with open side pockets and jetted rear pockets that close with a button.

Don wears a very well-worn light brown leather belt, presumably also belonging to the nomads. Unlike his usual closed-buckle belts, this one has a single-prong buckle in the front.

These are the few glimpses we get of the details on Don's pants. Trust me, the shot on the right is the only way I was able to get a cap of his belt.

These are the few glimpses we get of the details on Don’s pants. Trust me, the shot on the right is the only way I was able to get a cap of his belt.

Accessory-wise, we don’t see anything other than his watch. There are no shots of his feet, but let’s just go ahead and say he’s barefoot.

Life as Dick Whitman

After getting to San Pedro in the gray suit and new blue polo, Don quickly settles into the role of Dick Whitman, family man. He sets up what seems to be a semi-permanent residence with Anna for a few weeks, even wearing her ex-boyfriend Harold’s clothes despite poor unseen Harold’s apparently long legs (“These pants have a 38 inseam!”)

Primarily, his new clothes consist of loose-fitting sport shirts and trousers. It’s fun watching Don truly being a family man, as opposed to the image of a family man he portrays in Ossining. Here, he is happy just to buy groceries, fix a broken chair, and relax on the porch while chatting with his “wife”.

The first of Harold’s outfits that Don/Dick wears is a mustard plaid wool sport shirt and the aforementioned size 38 pants. There is an invasive blue plaid in varying sizes that dominates the shirt, which also has a camp collar. The gray baggy trousers have cuffed bottoms. Don wears these with black socks and his black split-toe derbies from earlier.

Don and Anna, together again.

Dick and Anna, together again.

Don/Dick is next seen out grocery shopping, distracted by a few guys working on ’34 Ford hot rods. He wears a dark windbreaker, another sport shirt, and a pair of flat front khakis with plain-hemmed bottoms. The windbreaker is a dark charcoal canvas zip-up. His shirt is light blue with white piping and buttons. It is extra casual with a straight cut across the bottom and no top button.

Don Draper shops at Ralph's! Or at least Dick Whitman does.

Don Draper shops at Ralph’s! Or at least Dick Whitman does.

Finally, Don/Dick works around the house in a very lightweight ecru short-sleeve camp shirt with a white plaid overlay and a breast pocket for his Luckies. He wears this tucked into his khakis, which he wears with the same black belt he wore earlier.

No wonder that Don/Dick is wearing earthtones when he is at his most "down to earth". Well done, team.

No wonder that Don/Dick is wearing earthtones when he is at his most “down to earth”. Well done, team.

Through his whole adventure, only one accessory remained consistent – his watch, a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique with a yellow gold rectangular case on a brown alligator leather strap.

2013-06-24 09.16.38 pm

To read about Don’s more casual sport coat for his next visit to Anna in the fourth season, check out my post from August 2014.

Go Big or Go Home

Don’s arrival in California is heralded on the soundtrack by the 1962 instrumental “Telstar” by The Tornados, a one-hit wonder band that was plagued by a lawsuit filed by French composed Jean Ledrut. Ledrut claimed, falsely, that the song’s English writer and producer Joe Meek had plagarized the song from “La Marche d’Austerlitz”, a piece of Ledrut’s score from the 1960 film Austerlitz. Ever heard of it? Me neither. The lawsuit prevented Meek from receiving royalties during his lifetime, sadly cut short by suicide in 1967. Three weeks after Meek’s death, the lawsuit was ruled in his favor as it was decided that Meek was unaware of Austerlitz, a film only released in France at the time that wasn’t released in the UK until 1965.

The story behind Meek’s death is a very interesting read. Toward the end of his life, Meek’s then-illegal homosexuality was constantly landing him under police suspicion and his paranoia was growing rapidly. He took a single-barreled shotgun from former Tornados bassist Heinz Burt and, on February 3, 1967, he murdered his landlady Violet Shenton before taking his own life.

The song, a timepiece of space age pop/rock, has found its way onto my iTunes playlist I listen to when beginning an air trip.

Don immediately becomes immersed in the romance of California. At first, we assume its just because of the bathing beauties by the pool, but we soon learn about Dick Whitman’s connection with the place and the happy years he spent with Anna Draper at her San Pedro home. To him, California is an escape from a continually stifling reality. So, escape he does, in the form of an impromptu romp to Palm Springs. The next time you’re in a new – or at least a nice – place, consider heading out on your own with no planning or extra baggage other than a pair of sunglasses and a full pack of Luckies.

And don't be afraid to pick up some new friends along the way.

And don’t be afraid to pick up some new friends along the way.


What to Imbibe

Don drinks to match his surroundings at all stages of his trip to California.

When at the bar, enjoying his role as the mysterious businessman, he goes with his old standby – an Old Fashioned.

After following Joy and her clan up to Palm Springs, he drinks what they drink – champagne by the pool, red wine with dinner, and Campari as a post-prandial digestif.

Finally, when he heads to the safety and comfort of Anna, he takes long swigs from a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon, back when it was the working man’s beer and not the choice of pretentious urban hipsters- (don’t get me started again!)

According to Dennis Hopper, "Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!"

According to Dennis Hopper in Blue Velvet, “Heineken? Fuck that shit! Pabst Blue Ribbon!”


How to Get the Look

After losing his luggage, Don is forced to add to his wardrobe, picking up a few new items each step of the way. He makes the most of a limited wardrobe, stretching it out over various situations.

  • DonCA2-crop1Light blue dupioni silk single-breasted 2-button sport coat with notch lapels, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and single rear vent
  • Light gray silk suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with slim notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and double rear vents
    • Flat front trousers with belt loops, open side pockets, button-through jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • White poplin dress shirt with spread collar, breast pocket, front placket, and double/French cuffs
    • Amber gold & charcoal squared cuff links
  • Dark blue narrow necktie with a white “starburst” central pattern
  • Gray and dark blue checked necktie
  • Black leather belt with a square brass buckle
  • Black leather split-toe 2-eyelet derby shoes
  • Taupe ribbed dress socks
  • Dark gray short-brimmed felt fedora with a wide black band
  • Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique wristwatch with a yellow gold rectangular case on a brown alligator leather strap
  • White short-sleeve crew neck undershirt
  • White cotton boxers

Also, if you drop in on the wife of the dead Army lieutenant whose identity you stole, she may have some men’s clothes laying around you can borrow.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the second season and a plane ticket to California. You never know when you need a three week escape from life. To watch Don’s California Adventure, as I’ve coined it, check out episodes 11 and 12.

The Quote

I have been watching my life. It’s right there. And I keep scratching at it trying to get into it. I can’t.


Joe Miragliotta’s terrific article on Joe’s Daily tracks Don’s watches through the seasons.


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