Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious ad exec and suburban dad
Ossining, New York, April 1960
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Marriage of Figaro” (Episode 1.03)
Air Date: August 2, 2007
Director: Ed Bianchi
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
In addition to Mad Men‘s first mention of Dick Whitman, “Marriage of Figaro” includes a snazzy casual outfit for a slick spring weekend in the suburbs.
The first two episodes certainly hinted at the deep layers lurking beneath the man first introduced to us as Don Draper, but it is “Marriage of Figaro” that breaks Mad Men‘s ground in exploring our ostensible protagonist’s isolation and loneliness… a quality that Todd VanDerWerff of The AV Club described as “his essential unhappiness.”
It’s a polarizing quality, for sure, and it’s telling that this episode turned off several objectively decent viewers like my dad and my girlfriend’s brother who were disgusted by following this lead character’s selfish forays into infidelity.
Sticking with the show, audiences get a better understanding of Don’s superficial selfishness as a manifestation of his self-loathing and depression. VanDerWerff drew several interesting conclusions in his analysis, calling out the episode’s “very deliberate work/home split, following Don Draper in both environments and seeing how he fits (or doesn’t fit) in either one.”
Following his failed seduction of Rachel Menken on the avian rooftop of her family’s department store, Don is tasked the following morning with preparing for his daughter’s sixth birthday party. Fueled by a seemingly endless chain of cigarettes and beer, Don draws the dazzled eyes of Betty’s circle, setting the tone for the suburban flirtations to follow, all in varying degrees of subtlety. He and Helen Bishop (Darby Stanchfield), the much-gossiped-about single mother, form a wordless but natural bond as they both gaze out over the party where neither of them belong.
None too pleased to see her husband in such close proximity to a woman who scandalizes Ossining with her walking(!), Betty scurries outside to remind Don of his paternal duties. Without a word for the rest of the episode, Don picks up the cake but, in his ennui, he bypasses the house and finds himself lighting a Lucky by the train tracks, hours later.
The party long over with every child – particularly his own – feeling let down, Don returns home far too late with a dog in tow for Sally. The dog is his ultimate redemption in the eyes of his suddenly grateful six-year-old that he disappointed just enough to save the day with his grand gesture.
What’d He Wear?
The previous episode, “Ladies Room” (1.02), was the first to provide a closer look at Don Draper’s home life, but “Marriage of Figaro” provides the first true on screen casual outfits. Following the all-brown “workman’s” ensemble he wears when building Sally’s playhouse, he dresses for the party in a navy twill sport jacket, black knit polo, and gray trousers.
I was pleased to get a request to write about this outfit as it has stood out to me since I first saw the episode nearly ten years ago…and it always seemed a little too cool for a suburban dad to be wearing for his six-year-old daughter’s birthday party, yet another indication that perhaps Don doesn’t belong.
“Marriage of Figaro” appears to be the sole appearance for this navy blue sportcoat, constructed from what appears to be cashmere twill. On her Instagram account, costume designer Janie Bryant posted a photo from her archives with handwritten notes that identify the jacket as “Collection Helen Larson ‘Malibu Imperial’ #40282926.”
Malibu Imperial was a luxury clothier in Beverly Hills that reportedly made several of David McCallum’s mod suit as Illya Kuryakin on The Man from U.N.C.L.E. Searches for vintage Malibu Imperial jackets from the era yield many cashmere examples, leading to my hypothesis that Jon Hamm is wearing a vintage cashmere twill jacket in this sequence.
The single-breasted sportcoat has a single-button closure and a single button on each cuff, all dark brown plastic sew-through buttons. The narrow notch lapels have swelled edges and rounded notch corners that contribute to a slightly softened appearance.
The jacket’s short length is something that would be more fashionable later in the decade. It has a ventless back and padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads. There is a welted breast pocket and the straight hip pockets have wide jetting.
Don wears a black soft knit polo shirt with a gray placket of three flat gray plastic buttons. No shirt cuffs are visible under the jacket’s long sleeves, so it can be deduced that Don’s polo is short-sleeved, a theory that gains additional credence as some production photos from “Marriage of Figaro” appear to show Don wearing his shirt without the sportcoat, revealing the shirt’s short set-in sleeves.
This type of soft knit polo is often marketed as a sweater or “sweater-knit polo” and can be made from a variety of fabrics ranging from acrylic to cashmere. A cashmere knit polo would match the luxury of Don’s jacket and lifestyle, but a cashmere garment is much more difficult to wash than acrylic or cotton. After being worn all day on a warm spring afternoon without an undershirt as Don does here, the shirt would certainly be due for the laundry.
As of March 2017, Macy’s offers an all-cotton Polo Ralph Lauren “Men’s Polo Sweater” for $185 (link) that looks to be a nice modern substitute for Don’s polo. If you have more of a Don-sized clothing budget, the Dunhill “Archive Knit Polo” for $595 (link) is a luxurious, textural knit 70% cashmere and 30% silk blend that has all the elements of Draper’s shirt, from the buttons and wide collar to the elasticized ends of the elbow-length sleeves.
Although Don opts for a short-sleeve polo, long-sleeve shirts are often recommended when worn with jackets to avoid sweat and body oils from affecting the sleeves of the jacket. Plenty of long-sleeve options can be found, including this 100% acrylic shirt from Alberto Cardinali for $13 (link), the slightly more fashionable acrylic/cotton blend from Gameyly for $44 (link), and a nice Club Room merino wool and acrylic blend with a hidden fly front for under $80 (link). Shoppers looking to channel Don’s cashmere-oriented sensibilities can find affordable 3-button polos from Cashmere Boutique or Shephe, all for typically less than $150.
The light gray semi-solid wool trousers continue to cool, wintry tones of Don’s navy jacket and black shirt, all nicely offset by the warmth of his coordinated dark brown leather shoes and belt and further grounded by the jacket’s dark brown buttons.
The slim brown leather belt has a small box-out buckle in tarnished brass.
Don wears a pair of dark brown leather split-toe penny loafers with his thin beige socks barely visible between his shoes and the full break of the trousers.
The wristwatch that Don wears throughout the first season has been strongly hypothesized to be a steel Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox with a replacement black and white “tuxedo dial” and a black leather strap.
The Memovox was very innovative when introduced in 1956 as it was the first automatic wristwatch to include a mechanical alarm function. It was produced through the 1960s and revived in 2012. Don would stick with Jaeger-LeCoultre, wearing the Reverso style in the second and third seasons, before he switched to his Rolex Explorer in the fourth season and his Omega Seamaster DeVille for Mad Men‘s final three seasons.
Go Big or Go Home
…and, if you’re supposed to be home for your daughter’s birthday party, just go home!
Of course, you should make an effort to get there in style. For Don Draper, this means a sleek gold 1960 Buick LeSabre convertible (provided by Aardvark Picture Vehicle Props) from the era was Buick was one of the masters of tailfin styling and not old-man-who-won’t-get-out-of-the-left-lane-even-though-he’s-going-well-under-the-speed-limit.
Apropos the episode title, Don plays “Marriage of Figaro” on the hi-fi at home…evidently there’s nothing better for a six-year-old’s birthday party than Mozart. If you’re looking for something a little more accessible for your party music, Bobby Vinton’s “P.S. I Love You” kicks in at the finale and plays through the end credits, emblematic of the Draper family serving only as an afterthought in Don’s clouded mind.
If that’s too tame for your taste, kick things into a higher gear while sticking to the “mint juleps in the early ’60s” theme; Ray Charles’ “One Mint Julep” is the brassy instrumental that will get things going for you.
Music is only one of your responsibilities when making your guests feel happy and comfortable. Leering is not okay.
What to Imbibe
“Mint juleps!” announces Betty as she makes the rounds with a set of silver cups neatly assorted on a matching tray.
“It’s that time of year,” she adds. Time of year aside, it makes sense that Don would enjoy a mint julep as his signature drink, the old fashioned, shares the mint julep’s base ingredients of whiskey and sugar syrup.
While well worth the effort, making a proper mint julep can be a complicated process, as I have previously outlined in a post that found Sean Connery’s James Bond enjoying a julep or two next to the villainous Auric Goldfinger and his pilot, Pussy Galore.
If you’re in a rush and just trying to meet the typical demand of bored adults at a child’s birthday party, you can follow Betty’s example of pouring an entire fifth of bourbon into a pitcher of ice, spraying in some soda water, and letting guests fill their own glasses.
How to Get the Look
Don Draper’s suave suburban style sets him apart from the predatory patriarchs at his daughter’s sixth birthday party.
- Navy blue cashmere twill single-breasted 1-button sportcoat with slim notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 1-button cuffs, ventless back
- Black soft knit short-sleeve polo with large collar, 3-button placket, and elbow-length set-in sleeves with elasticized cuffs
- Light gray semi-solid wool flat front trousers with belt loops, slightly slanted side pockets, jetted back pocekts, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with a small brass box-out buckle
- Dark brown leather split-toe penny loafers
- Thin beige socks
- Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox steel-cased wristwatch with black-and-white “tuxedo dial” and black leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Glenn, I’m pretty sure there are some peanut butter sandwiches and a BB gun out there in the backyard. Why don’t you come with me?