Don Draper’s Black Tie in 1960
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious and award-winning Madison Avenue ad man
Ossining, New York, Spring 1960
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “5G” (Episode 1.05)
Air Date: August 16, 2007
Director: Lesli Linka Glatter
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Happy birthday to Jon Hamm, born today in 1971!
While Jon is celebrating his birthday, Don Draper also had a reason to celebrate in “5G” after winning the Newkie(?) award. Although Don is dubious about his own achievements, Betty (January Jones) is very proud of him. Don had reason for concern, though, as his photo in Advertising Age gets him some unwanted attention.
This episode was the first to truly begin peeling back the layers of Don Draper, née Dick Whitman. Other than the man who recognized Don on a train a few episodes earlier, the appearance of his wide-eyed but estranged brother Adam Whitman gives our protagonist his first impetus to face his shady past.
What’d He Wear?
“Look at you in this tuxedo,” Betty coos while admiring Don’s dinner suit after returning from the awards dinner. “5G” marks the first of several appearances of Don Draper in black tie, and – set in spring 1960 – this one nicely exemplifies the “Continental look” that could be found on many fashionable gentlemen during the jet age, as Black Tie Guide outlines.
Don’s single-breasted dinner jacket is black wool with slim shawl lapels that are distinctively trimmed with satin edges rather than fully faced. This style was popular during the late 1950s and early 1960s and thus would’ve been very fashionable for Don to wear at this event.
The dinner jacket has a full cut with heavily padded shoulders and a ventless back. Don wears a neatly folded white linen pocket square in the welted breast pocket. His dinner jacket also has jetted hip pockets and 2-button cuffs.
To match his dinner jacket, Don wears black wool formal trousers with double reverse pleats. The trousers have a wide satin stripe on the side of each leg, over the straight on-seam side pockets down to the slightly flared plain-hemmed bottoms. There are two jetted pockets in the back; the left pocket closes with a button but the right pocket does not.
Don covers his waist with a black satin silk cummerbund, appropriately worn with the pleats facing upward. Although originally done for gentlemen to place their concert tickets, this upward-pleated design led to the cummerbund’s moniker of “crumb catcher”; for Don Draper, it likely also caught some loose tobacco from his trusty Lucky Strikes. The cummerbund fastens with a steel buckle through the black back ribbon.
Don’s white formal shirt has a spread collar and French cuffs. The front bib has 1″-wide pleats and a rounded bottom below the third stud. Both the cuff links and the slightly smaller shirt studs are round and black with gold trim. Below the three visible studs on the bib, the shirt buttons are mother-of-pearl.
Don wears a black silk, straight-ended “batwing”-style bow tie, yet another style that was popular during the era.
Don’s choice of footwear is also fashionable, a pair of well-shined black patent leather cap-toe oxfords with black dress socks. He manages to kick off one of the shoes before going to sleep, but uncomfortably wakes up with the other still on.
When changing for work the next morning, Don reveals that he wears his usual undershirt—a white cotton crew-neck T-shirt—under his tuxedo. It can likely be deduced that he’s also wearing his usual white cotton boxer shorts, but that’s both speculation and truly unnecessary knowledge.
Though Don’s watches through the first season included a “tuxedo” dial Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox in the pilot and a prop Rolex Cellini for the duration of the season, he doesn’t appear to be wearing it during this scene. This is unfortunate for Don, as Joe’s mentions that the Memovox was the first automatic wristwatch to include a mechanical alarm function, and our protagonist oversleeps until 8:00 the next morning.
Mad Men audiences wouldn’t see Don Draper in black tie again until two seasons later when accepting an award in “The Color Blue” (Episode 3.10), where he again wears a black dinner jacket with shawl lapels except the lapels in “The Color Blue” are fully faced with black satin. It may be significant to note that these episodes serve as bookends for the Dick Whitman/Don Draper storyline; it is in “5G” that the audience first learns of his true identity but not until “The Color Blue” that Betty does. Her attitude at the black tie awards dinner in “The Color Blue” is notably different than her excitement after the “5G” dinner.
Although he doesn’t wear traditional black tie until two seasons later, Don does wear an off-white dinner jacket during a summer evening on the town in “The Gold Violin” (Episode 2.07).
Go Big or Go Home
Don’s lucky enough to get big at home, if you catch my drift.
Unfortunately for both parties, it was a boozy party and they can hardly get out of their shoes, let alone the more interesting garments. We see some very interesting solutions for the problems facing one feeling lazy after imbibing too much.
Can’t reach the switch to turn off the light? Just yank the cord until you unplug it.
Wake up coughing incessantly? Follow your instincts and grab that pack of unfiltered cigarettes you left on the nightstand. After all, you only live twice.
How to Get the Look
Don’s hangover may mean a rough morning, but owning his own tuxedo means not having to dodge pink elephants while driving a rental back (in addition to the other many pros of not having to rent a dinner suit!)
- Black wool single-breasted 1-button dinner jacket with satin-trimmed shawl lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Black wool double reverse-pleated formal trousers with satin side stripe, on-seam side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White formal shirt with spread collar, 1″-pleated bib front with three black studs, double/French cuffs
- Black satin silk “batwing” bow tie
- Black round cuff links with gold trim
- Black satin silk cummerbund
- Black patent leather 5-eyelet cap-toe balmorals/oxfords
- Black dress socks
- White cotton crew-neck short-sleeve undershirt
- White cotton boxer shorts
- White linen pocket square
Do Yourself a Favor and…
If you’re a fan of good TV, you should really do yourself the favor of catching up on the entire series of Mad Men. Of course, that would include starting at the beginning with the first season; “5G” is – appropriately enough – five episodes in.
What, take that thing on the train like some kid who won at the 4H? Besides, no one wants to look like they care about awards.
Six years old or not, Sally is reasonably perplexed about Don’s award. After six years in the business myself, I’ve never heard of a “Newkie” nor have I ever seen any marketer take home an award with a golden horseshoe (or any horseshoe) on it.
And speaking of awards, it was last month that Jon Hamm himself won his second Golden Globe for his portrayal of Don Draper… although the Golden Globes misprinted his name as John Hamm on the actual award. While this could be some strange reference to Hamm playing a character using a fake name, I think it’s just safe to say that someone messed up. (Especially since he’d already won one before in 2008!)
More trivia: The first person to congratulate Don as he enters the Sterling Cooper office is Allison, working at the front desk. Allison would eventually rise to the position of Don’s personal secretary and fall to the position of one night stand when he drunkenly has sex with her in “Christmas Comes But Once a Year” (Episode 4.02). Allison’s excitement in this episode over Don getting his photo in Ad Age is a sad indication that she must’ve been harboring some long time feelings for her boss before his somewhat unwise and certainly inebriated seduction of her.
Thank you for this article: it suddenly brought back a memory from around 1960, of my own father in his dinner-jacket and bow-tie, and I think there may have been a cummerbund as well. He would have been in his late forties, and he and my mother looked so elegant and proud in their finery. A very touching memory – thank you again for evoking it.
Thanks for sharing that! I’m touched that my post brought back such an incredible memory for you, and I bet your parents looked very sharp that night. Truly a classy, golden era.