John Slattery as Roger Sterling, hedonistic Madison Avenue ad executive
New York City, spring 1969 and spring 1970
Series: Mad Men
– “The Monolith” (Episode 7.04), dir. Scott Hornbacher, aired 5/4/2014
– “Severance” (Episode 7.08), dir.Scott Hornbacher, aired 4/5/2015
– “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14), dir.Matthew Weiner, aired 5/17/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Though we in the Northern Hemisphere welcomed spring yesterday, some cities (I can speak personally for Pittsburgh) were greeted by the new season with a fresh onslaught of snowfall.
Bitterness aside… spring often finds well-dressed gents pushing their heavy flannel suits to the back of the closet and bringing forth items perfect for greeting sunnier days ahead. The double-breasted navy blazer remains a stalwart menswear staple for transitioning into the warm and wonderful days of spring, whether sporting it for an evening in the Riviera, greeting the morning on your yacht… or spending the afternoon in your Midtown Manhattan office, counting down the days to retirement.
Naturally, the latter situation brings to mind one Roger Sterling, the increasingly redundant but effortlessly witty Madison Avenue executive on AMC’s Mad Men. An old-school playboy with a nautical background, Roger is just the type to sport a navy double-breasted blazer. Roger was one of the few original characters from the show’s early days who seemed to have fun with the fashion evolution of the advancing decade, blending his personal preferences with the emerging trends of the late 1960s.
What’d He Wear?
This isn’t the first we see of Roger Sterling in a navy double-breasted blazer. SC&P’s head of accounts had started playing around with the look on screen during the previous season, sporting a four-on-two button blazer at the company’s Christmas party and a six-on-two button blazer with a day cravat for a drug-addled adventure with Don Draper and Harry Crane in California during the season’s tenth episode.
By 1969, the trend in tailored jackets was a clean and close fit. With its close and structured fit and two parallel columns of three buttons each, Roger’s serge blazer echoes the classic naval uniform “reefer jacket”, thus making it an appropriate style for this proud veteran officer of the U.S. Navy.
This particular blazer makes its first appearance in “The Monolith” (Episode 7.04) when the agency announces that it will be installing its titular IBM computer… and Roger finds out that his daughter has been living on a hippie commune.
Roger’s navy serge double-breasted blazer, as mentioned, has six flat gold shank buttons that are neatly arranged in two straight columns of three buttons each. He tends to wear only the lowest two buttons fastened, so it is either a six-on-two or he is neglecting to fasten the top button. There are three matching buttons on the end of each sleeve. The blazer also has a welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, and single vent. Based on other items from Roger’s closet, as well as the show’s stated affiliation with the brand, it may have been made by Brooks Brothers.
In “The Monolith”, Roger follows the then-contemporary trend of balancing an odd jacket with patterned trousers, wearing a pair of Prince of Wales check trousers with a pink overcheck on a black-and-white glen plaid pattern. The trousers are likely flat front and worn with his typical black leather belt with its diamond-studded buckle embellished with a gold “S”… for Sterling, of course. The trousers have a straight fit and plain-hemmed bottoms.
As the seasons progressed, Roger evolved from more complicated shirts with collar bars and cuff links to a simple, standard white cotton dress shirt with a semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and rounded single-button cuffs by the seventh season. The only added touch? His “R.H.S.” monogram on the left cuff.
Roger wears a maroon silk tie with dotted beige stripes in the “downhill” direction of right-down-to-left. He completes the look with a tan silk pocket square with orange and navy dots, worn in the blazer’s breast pocket.
The combination of a navy blazer, white shirt, red tie, and gray trousers is a surprisingly trad suggestion for SC&P’s trailblazing fashion plate, but Roger Sterling puts his own stylish spin on it with mod touches from head to toe… and speaking of toes, Roger’s footwear by the final two seasons is almost exclusively a pair of mod black leather boots along the lines of the “Beatle boots” that had swept the nation during the British Invasion.
Roger’s Florsheim Imperial boots are black calf with plain toes and fastened with a zipper along the inside of each boot. He wears them here with black cotton lisle socks, as he does in most scenes regardless of his trousers.
The next time we see Roger in his navy double-breasted blazer, he has sprouted a walrus mustache that would distract and entertain viewers for the duration of the final season. “Severance” (episode 7.08) finds Roger seated with Ferg Donnelly (and the less said about Ferg, the better!) for an antagonistic conversation with Ken Cosgrove (Aaron Staton).
Now sporting his walrus-like whiskers that would see him through the end of the season, Roger wears the same shirt with another dot-striped tie and gray checked trousers. The tie consists of alternating stripes of red and pale blue dots in the “downhill” right-down-to-left direction on a navy ground, while the trousers are light gray wool with a faint multi-color check and plain-hemmed bottoms. His blue and red paisley silk pocket square echoes the color scheme of his tie.
Our last look at Roger Sterling comes in the final moments of the final episode, “Person to Person” (Episode 7.14), with a vignette of the former ad man and former bachelor settling into retired life with Marie, enjoying lobsters, champagne, and lobsters.
Now that he’s out of the office, Roger’s made a total departure from his white button-up shirt and tie aesthetic, sporting a royal blue cotton shirt with a large point collar worn open at the neck to reveal a gold and navy paisley silk day cravat. The shirt has white mother-of-pearl buttons down the front placket and on the single-button rounded cuffs, and he appears to be embracing his new life of leisure by wearing it untucked over the top of his charcoal trousers.
There’s some indication that Roger has made good on his promise to marry Marie, as he now wears a second ring – a gold signet ring – on the third finger of his left hand… though this could just be a nod to the increasingly excess amount of jewelry worn by men in the ’70s.
Like many a stylish fellow in the ’60s (think Sinatra), Roger Sterling opts for a ring on his pinky. Though no screen time is dedicated solely to Roger’s left pinky ring, it is possibly the ornate gold high school class ring that was auctioned after the show wrapped production embossed with “PHS” and indicating a graduation year of 1927.
From the fifth season onward, Roger Sterling wore a Tudor Oyster Prince, aptly named for his princely disposition. Roger’s particular Tudor, ref. 7967, has a steel case with an elegant round black-and-white “tuxedo” dial and no crown guards, worn on a plain black leather strap. You can find out more about the process of sourcing watches for Roger, Don, Megan, and Pete from Derek Dier in this 2015 article by Benjamin Clymer for Hodiknee.
How to Get the Look
With his military background, it’s natural that Roger would gravitate to the double-breasted blazer as it resembles the “reefer jacket” he would have worn as a lieutenant in the U.S. Navy during World War II. A quarter-century later, as the business world grows more lax in its workplace wardrobe parameters, Roger is able to revert to a more dressed-down style in line with his glory days as one of the Canoe Club’s finest.
- Navy wool serge double-breasted blazer with peak lapels, 6-on-3 gold shank button layout, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, single back vent, and 3-button cuffs
- White cotton shirt with semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and 1-button rounded cuffs
- Maroon silk tie with beige dot-stripes
- Black-and-white plaid (with pink overcheck) Prince of Wales check flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather belt with diamond-studded “S” belt buckle
- Black leather zip-side plain-toe ankle boots
- Black cotton lisle socks
- Tudor Oyster Prince (ref. 7967) watch with steel case and black-and-white “tuxedo” dial on black leather strap
- Gold class ring with black filling
Can’t get enough of Roger Sterling in a blue blazer? Season 7’s got you covered with a bold blue double-breasted blazer that makes appearances in two pivotal episodes, to be covered by BAMF Style at a later date. Stay tuned!
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Well, we’re getting a computer. It’s gonna do lots of magical things like make Harry Crane seem important.
John Slattery can be seen wearing a very similar blazer in flight-themed promotional material for the first half of the seventh season. Though the two blazers may look the same at first glance, it’s worth noting that the blazer worn in the promotional material has mother-of-pearl sew-through buttons (rather than flat gold shank buttons) and swelled edges like the brighter blue blazer that he wears in “Time & Life” (Episode 7.11). The promo blazer’s Tautz-like peak lapels are also slightly different than the more conventional peak lapels in the show version.
The rest of his outfit – at least the shirt, trousers, and boots – remains unchanged for its appearance in that season’s fourth episode as featured in this post. (His tie would also be replaced with a slightly different one that follows the same color scheme and motif.)