Mad Men – Don’s Brown Sweater in “The Grown Ups”
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, Madison Avenue ad man with a crumbling personal life
Ossining, New York, November 1963
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “The Grown-Ups” (Episode 3.12)
Air Date: November 1, 2009
Director: Barbet Schroeder
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Best known for his sharp business suits at the office, Don Draper has a very clear weekend relaxation style that emerges during the series. In the cooler months of spring and fall, Don often pairs a white dress shirt with a dark sweater and trousers. This was first notably seen in the second season’s “Three Sundays” when he and the Sterling Cooper gang bustled around the office on a weekend to prepare the perfect pitch for American Airlines.
A year and a half later, the country is reeling from the recent tragedy of the JFK assassination. The sixties had yet to become the turbulent and violent decade it is now remembered as, and American life was still viewed as the idyllic Norman Rockwell painting or Father Knows Best episode. This all began to change in 1963 as the white picket fence of Leave It to Beaver gave way to presidential assassinations, city-wide riots, and unthinkable racial violence.
The tragedy, and its publicly violent aftermath, is the first major catastrophe to affect the characters of Mad Men. The crash of American Airlines Flight 1, which personally affected Pete Campbell the previous season, rippled throughout the show as characters experienced the disaster and comforted each other with a few back pats and talks. A year and a half later, no one knows how to react. Nothing can be said to make this better. Don deals with the problem as he does with all of his problems, having dealt with grief for much more of his life than the other characters. When Sally asks him what happened after Jack Ruby shoots Oswald, all he can say is “Nothing.”
What’d He Wear?
As the weather gets cooler and the leaves continue to change, you’ll want a comfortable layered look for fall. Don offers a fine example on this cold Sunday morning in late November 1963, lounging around the house in a white shirt, dark sweater, and slacks very similar to his attire in “Three Sundays”. Although Don never leaves the house, it’s a good look for Casual Friday at work even fifty years later, especially if you’re looking to give off a Mad Men vibe without resorting to a full suit and tie (and hat and cuff links and…)
Don wears a white dress shirt, as usual, although this appears to have rounded barrel cuffs unlike his typical double cuff shirts that he wears with his business suits. The shirt also has a breast pocket for his Lucky Strikes, determined by the slight bulge on the left side of his chest. He wears it over one of his usual white cotton short-sleeved undershirts.
Appropriately for fall, Don wears a dark brown cashmere sweater with a slight V-neck. It has full sleeves, but Don rolls them up slightly with his rolled up shirt cuffs over them. He also keeps his shirt collars tucked into the sweater.
Update! In July 2015, ScreenBid.com began auctioning many items featured on the show, including this sweater. The sweater is described as a “brown cashmere Brooks Brothers V-neck sweater”, size medium.
Don’s trousers are light brown flat front slacks that rise high on his waist and have a subtle brown overcheck, which he first wore in the early scenes of “Souvenir” (Episode 3.08) when completing chores around the house. In this instance, he appears to wear them with a thin dark brown leather belt.
These trousers have on-seam side pockets and jetted back pockets with a button through the left. Generous through the hips and legs, the trousers are finished with turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms.
Don wears the same dark brown leather tassel loafers that he wore for a Sunday evening at home at the beginning of “Guy Walks Into an Advertising Agency” (Episode 3.08). His socks appear to be a slightly lighter shade of brown.
“The Grown Ups” marks one of the last episodes for Don’s gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique square-cased dress watch on its brown leather alligator strap. He would switch to a Rolex Explorer in the fourth season and finally to an Omega Seamaster DeVille for the fifth season onward.
Interestingly, the look echoes what Lee Harvey Oswald was wearing at the same time, a white open-neck shirt under a dark wool sweater. While it could be a stretch to hypothesize that Mad Men was fashioning its protagonist after one of the more infamous figures in recent American history, it suggests a subconscious connection between Oswald’s gut shot delivering the final death blow into Don’s marriage to Betty as her reaction to the shooting sends her to Henry Francis and his own offer of marriage.
What to Imbibe
Don makes himself some sort of early afternoon cocktail before the news is interrupted by Jack Ruby and his .38. Based on the ingredients seen—Smirnoff vodka, Worcestershire sauce—and what looks like tomato juice at the bottom of his rocks glass, it’s more than likely that Don planned on spending the afternoon in front of the TV with a Bloody Mary and the probable hope that Betty would be willing to switch over the TV to an NFL game. (Yes, the NFL played two days after JFK’s assassination. In the words of NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle: “It has been traditional in sports for athletes to perform in times of great personal tragedy. Football was Mr. Kennedy’s game. He thrived on competition.”)
Interestingly enough, the last time we had seen Don drink a Bloody Mary was on a lazy Sunday afternoon with Betty in “Three Sundays”; the same episode where he last wore a similar outfit. (He wore a brown casual shirt and khakis for that Bloody Mary scene, though.)
Don has also upgraded his vodka in the interim. In “Three Sundays”, he and Betty drink Bloody Marys made with Wolfschmidt vodka, which one can now find in a green-labeled plastic jug on the sub-bottom shelf at the local liquor store. Wolfschmidt had slightly more prestige during the ’50s and ’60s, showing up in the hands of James Bond in the 1955 novel Moonraker and ordered in at least one of Roger Sterling’s Gibsons on Mad Men, but Smirnoff would have still been considered a more premium choice.
How to Get the Look
Don Draper dresses comfortably but not unfashionably for what was to be a laidback fall afternoon around the house.
- White cotton shirt with a semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and barrel button cuffs
- Dark brown cashmere V-neck sweater
- Light brown checked flat front slacks with belt loops, on-seam side pockets, jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown thin leather belt with gold rectangular buckle
- Dark brown leather tassel loafers
- Brown socks
- Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique wristwatch with a rectangular yellow gold case and brown alligator leather strap
- White short-sleeve crew neck undershirt
- White cotton boxers
Do Yourself a Favor and…
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I know it’s painful, but it’s going to pass.