Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious ad exec and suburban dad
Ossining, New York, July 1963
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Seven Twenty Three” (Episode 3.07)
Air Date: September 27, 2009
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
“Why can’t you stare into the eclipse? I mean, what’s it gonna do, really? I stare at the sun every day,” wonders Carlton Hanson (Kristoffer Polaha), the philandering husband in Don and Betty Draper’s suburban social set.
After a few dismissive seconds staring through his sunglasses, Don merely responds by asking “You stare at the sun every day?”
In all of the excitement of the total solar eclipse crossing the U.S. yesterday, I had almost forgotten about this brief scene in Mad Men‘s third season when Don and Carlton accompany their kids to build camera obscuras to view the solar eclipse of July 20, 1963 with their idealistic new teacher, Suzanne Farrell (Abigail Spencer).
Though only one of an army of suburban dads in plaid shirts who stand ogling the attractive Miss Farrell, it is of course Don that finds himself in conversation with her. In a moment that parallels Helen Bishop calling Carlton out for his more obvious attempts in the first season, Suzanne proves to be more than used to “the game” even if Don didn’t quite know he was playing it yet: “Most just come right out and ask if I’m going to be around… You’re all the same. The drinking. The philandering.”
Hit where it hurts by that last word – after all, he’s gone an entire year without an extramarital affair! – Don sidles away from the children observing the eclipse before responding with a twist on his favorite advertising adage: “I was just making conversation. You can change it if you want to.”
Don: Where I come from, schoolteachers especially used to say “You shouldn’t judge a book by its cover.”
Suzanne: So you’re different, huh?
Don: Is that impossible?
Suzanne: You’re all wearing the same shirt.
Don smirks. She got him there.
What’d He Wear?
It may be easy for Suzanne to dismiss Don Draper’s choice of casual attire as yet another plaid short-sleeved shirt favored by the dads of the “Silent Generation”, but the ace work of Mad Men‘s costume designer Janie Bryant differentiates Don’s shirt from the pack.
This is the most prominent appearance of Don’s brown and azure plaid cotton sport shirt with its curved one-piece collar that rolls over the non-functional top button on the right side. Aside from this relatively useless top button, there are five mother-of-pearl buttons down the plain front to the straight-hemmed bottom.
Rather than the traditional patch pocket, the pocket on left side of Don’s chest is jetted for a cleaner look against the bold but organized plaid pattern of his shirt.
The day is “hot as hell,” as Roger observed to Don in the elevator the previous morning, so Don forgoes his usual undershirt, which would also cause an unsightly white triangle in the space of his open-necked collar.
There are double shoulder pleats on each side of the back for four total back pleats. The shirt’s short set-in sleeves extend halfway down each bicep with a fixed turned-up cuff that is sewn all the way around.
With their military heritage, khaki chinos are a reasonable weekend trouser for a war veteran like Don. In “Seven Twenty Three”, he wears a loose-fitting pair of lighter cream-colored flat front chinos with slightly slanted side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
Though the shirt is worn untucked, covering the waistband, Don reels back to get a look at Carlton’s camera obscura handiwork and gives viewers a glimpse of his dark brown leather belt with its shining brass buckle.
Loafers are the ideal shoes for a casual outfit like this, and Don’s dark brown slip-ons both coordinate with his belt as well as the earth tones present in his shirt and chinos. The quick look at his footwear also reveals a dark pair of socks, though whether they’re brown or the less seasonal black isn’t clear.
(The most comfortable option, in my opinion, would likely be cream or tan cotton socks that continues the leg line of his trousers while also keeping cool… although I guess absorbing the sun’s light isn’t as much of an issue with a solar eclipse.)
In the second and third seasons of Mad Men, Don Draper wore a yellow gold Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique luxury watch with a rose gold squared case on a brown alligator strap.
Interested in a Reverso? You could pay up to $50,000 – or more! – for a new one.
Far more accessible are Don’s rugged square-framed sunglasses, confirmed by BAMF Style reader Preston Fassel to be the American Optical Flight Goggle 58 (FG-58), developed in 1958 to meet U.S. Air Force specifications right down to the “bayonet” temples designed to flex around the head while wearing a flight helmet.
To read more about the correct identification and history of Don’s AO FG-58 aviators, check out Preston’s thoroughly researched (and thoroughly entertianing) article for 20/20 magazine and this article from Primer.
Randolph Engineering, which was founded in the early ’70s and has been supplying handcrafted eyewear to the U.S. military since 1982, promotes the fact that Don’s sunglasses resemble their battle-tested RE Aviator in 23k yellow gold.
You can pick up a pair of American Optical sunglasses on Amazon for less than $60, a fraction of the price of Randolph’s $180 pair.
Don Draper may be wearing the uniform of a standard suburban dad, but his eye-catching duo-toned plaid shirt and simple yet elegant gold accessories separate him from the rest of the schlubs in the pack… as well as the fact that he looks like Jon Hamm.
- Brown and azure blue plaid cotton sport shirt with curved one-piece collar, plain front with five mother-of-pearl buttons, jetted chest pocket, cuffed short sleeves, double side pleats, and straight hem
- Cream-colored cotton chino flat front trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with brass buckle
- Dark brown slip-on loafers
- Dark brown socks
- American Optical Flight Goggle 58 (FG-58) square-framed aviator sunglasses in yellow gold with brown lenses and “bayonet” temples
- Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso Classique wristwatch with a rose gold case, square white dial, and brown alligator leather strap
Don goes sans undershirt, as he does when briefly wearing the shirt again in a fourth season episode when chronicling his post-divorce progress.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
…don’t be one of the people Googling “my eyes hurt” today! Always wear proper eyewear if you plan on staring at the sun.
So how do people live… elsewhere?
Thanks to my friend Dan for reminding me yesterday about this episode, just in time for me to acknowledge it with an Instagram post before the eclipse was first spotted over Oregon. Incidentally, Dan’s birthday was Sunday so please join me in wishing a happy belated birthday to the very helpful Dan!