Mad Men, 1970 Style – Don Draper’s Last Suit

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.12: "Lost Horizon")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.12: “Lost Horizon”)

Vitals

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, ad man at the pinnacle of professional success… and personal disillusionment

New York City, Summer 1970

Series: Mad Men
Episodes:
– “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10), dir. Jennifer Getzinger, aired 4/19/2015
– “Time & Life” (Episode 7.11), dir. Jared Harris, aired 4/26/2015
– “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12), dir. Phil Abraham, aired 5/3/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Considering its significance, the final business suit that Don Draper (Jon Hamm) wears on-screen in Mad Men makes a rather ignominious debut, though it does get a shining moment of glory as Don – the erstwhile Dick Whitman – gets a glimpse of what he really wants his life to be.

In “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10), three episodes before the finale, our slick ad man is summoned to settle an office dispute between Pete Campbell (Vincent Kartheiser) and Peggy Olson (Elizabeth Moss) after brainstorming a “future-of-the-company” speech with Ted Chaough (Kevin Rahm). The day ends on an even duller note as Don is forced to provide conciliatory advice for the considerably twerpy junior copywriter Mathis (Trevor Einhorn), recalling his own fumble with Lucky Strike as a client ten years earlier.

Just two episodes later in “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12), it’s early September 1970 and one-time rival McCann-Erickson is living its advertising dream of counting Don Draper among its creative ranks. Don begins the workday with a reassuring “heh, look where we are now” exchange with Joan Harris (Christina Hendricks) before joining his confederates to listen to the research about an upcoming pitch for potential client Miller beer.

Don should be living his best life, at the ostensible top of his profession and somehow positioned to keep getting even higher. Yet, as Peggy Lee serenaded us in the opening moments of this final season, Don can’t help but wonder “is that all there is?”

“Having seen a McCann box lunch brainstorming session, it’s pretty clear that he’d rather reign in hell than serve in advertising heaven,” wrote reviewer John Swansburg for Slate.

In a shot that television critic Todd VanDerWerff describes as the single shot that explains the entirety of Mad Men, Don lets his attention drift from the meeting. While his fellow shirt-sleeved drones are content to listen to tired research, the fully suited Don gradually looks toward the window, turning his back on his can of Coke that represents the show’s dream client – Coca-Cola – unable to take his eyes away from the potential freedom of a jet flying across the New York skyline.

The subtle moment is sold by the mastery of Phil Abraham's direction and Jon Hamm's nonverbal acting. As Abraham told Vanity Fair: "We worked on this unease, this unsettling moment that Don experiences where he sees the guys flip the binders over at exactly the right time and they all take out their pens. The research guy is droning on, and [Don] turns, looks out the window, and sees a chance for flight—What am I doing here?—and he leaves." Perfect shot, indeed.

The subtle moment is sold by the mastery of Phil Abraham’s direction and Jon Hamm’s nonverbal acting. As Abraham told Vanity Fair: “We worked on this unease, this unsettling moment that Don experiences where he sees the guys flip the binders over at exactly the right time and they all take out their pens. The research guy is droning on, and [Don] turns, looks out the window, and sees a chance for flight—What am I doing here?—and he leaves.” Perfect shot, indeed.

And thus begins Don Draper’s final journey, first in search of his family, then his lost love, and finally himself. The first leg of his trip takes him to Rye, New York, where he doesn’t find his kids but just his solitary ex-wife Betty (January Jones) for what will be – unbeknownst to either of them – the last time they see each other. The brief visit is laced with humor and tenderness that we haven’t seen since the best days of their marriage in the show’s early seasons.

As though some cosmic force – and no, it isn’t Bert Cooper yet – is telling him to leave her with positive vibes, Don ends their conversation with parting words of encouragement: “Knock ’em dead, Birdie.”

A final moment of positivity between two former spouses.

A final moment of positivity between two former spouses.

By the time we catch up with him in the middle of the night outside Cleveland, he’s ditched his tie and the cosmic forces are now more apparent – taking the form of the apparition of Bert Cooper (RIP!), who announces weather reports and – of course – ads over Don’s car radio. “Whither goest thou, America, in thy shiny car of the night?” quotes Bert from On the Road, when Don likens his own sojourn to “riding the rails”.

The rails take Don to Racine, Wisconsin, where he hopes to find his latest paramour, brooding waitress Diana Baur (Elizabeth Reaser), and the answers that finding her may answer for him about him. However, he only encounters her zealot ex-husband Cliff Baur and his new wife Laura. Don tries to pass himself off as “Bill Phillips”, the researcher from the dull Miller Beer meeting – and then a debt collector in search of Diana herself – but his “shiny car”, the Cadillac Coupe de Ville, is one of the status trappings from his soon-to-be-prior life that betrays his gambit.

“The champion shape-shifter has lost his touch—even his seemingly quick-witted backup lie, that he is a collection agent… is quickly found out,” Swanburg mentioned in his Slate review.

The last time we see Don looking like a successful Madison Avenue ad man. By the end of the next episode, his suit-wearing days would be behind him and even his luxury coupe would be in new hands.

The last time we see Don looking like a successful Madison Avenue ad man. By the end of the next episode, his suit-wearing days would be behind him and even his luxury coupe would be in new hands.

We leave Don as he embarks on his new adventure… not at McCann-Erickson, but in search of himself.

What’d He Wear?

Don’s Final Business Suit

We see plenty of new suits from Don Draper’s wardrobe in 1970, but this suit shows the most extensive fashion transformation from the show’s 1960 setting. Since “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12) all but completes the on-screen arc of his professional life in advertising, it’s significant that our first and last glimpses of Don at the office feature him in a gray semi-solid suit, white shirt, and duo-tone striped tie.

Compare Don's final suit with the suit he wore in the show's pilot episode, which premiered 11 years ago this month on July 19, 2007.

Compare Don’s final suit with the suit he wore in the show’s pilot episode, which premiered 11 years ago this month on July 19, 2007.

While Mad Men‘s other characters’ office wardrobes evolved to reflect the rapidly changing fashions of the turbulent decade, Don remained stylish, timeless, yet ultimately conservative in his sharp, two-piece business suits. ’60s counterculture may have tried to push “the man in the gray flannel suit” out of the world, but Don Draper wasn’t ready to go anywhere.

“I like the idea of Don being rooted in these gray suits,” Mad Men‘s costume designer Janie Bryant explained to Vanity Fair for an April 2015 article. “For me, I always go back to the gray suit because that is Don’s armor from himself and from the world.”

Joan and Don share a final ride up to the office in "Lost Horizon" (Episode 7.12).

Joan and Don share a final ride up to the office in “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12).

Don thus makes his last appearance in the office in a gray subtly self-striped suit. His McCann-Erickson colleagues encourage him to remove his jacket for the meeting, but one look at the shirt-sleeved drones tells Don that his satisfaction is best served by leaving it on.

Although Don wears a number of suits during this final season, this one most reflects the bolder and wider trends of the 1970 setting. The two-button jacket itself is his preferred single-breasted, notch-lapel style with the familiar white pocket square neatly folded into the breast pocket, but the era-specific details are emblematic of the early ’70s, from the wide notches of his broad, swelled-edge lapels to the wide hip pocket flaps and long single vent.

The flat front suit trousers also show their early ’70s influence with frogmouth front pockets and wide belt loops to accommodate his thick black leather belt. The trousers also have jetted back pockets – with a button through the left-side pocket – and plain-hemmed bottoms.

MAD MEN

Don wears the traditional footwear of the American businessman, a pair of black calf leather derby shoes. Don’s derbies have a split toe box and four or five eyelets for the black laces. He wears them with high black dress socks.

Still wearing his shoes, Don is interrupted from his usual mid-day office slumber in "The Forecast" (Episode 7.10).

Still wearing his shoes, Don is interrupted from his usual mid-day office slumber in “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10).

Shirts and Ties

In both “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10) and “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12), Don wears this gray suit with one of his usual crisp white cotton shirts, which had been established as his preference as far back as the show’s pilot episode when he was shown to have a desk drawer in his office full of them.

Don’s white shirt has a semi-spread collar, front placket, and breast pocket for his Old Golds… as he is decidedly no longer a Lucky Strike devotee after they dropped his agency’s account in the show’s fourth season. Don’s shirts at the office are invariably equipped with double (French) cuffs, and he wears a set of silver embossed rectangle links in “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10).

"The Forecast" (Episode 7.10)

“The Forecast” (Episode 7.10)

Don wears exclusively striped ties with this suit, all withs tripes that follow the traditional American “downhill” direction of running from the right shoulder down to the left hip. The stripe patterns are also more complex than the typical rep or club stripe with their multiple colors and alternating widths.

In “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10), Don wears a tie striped in light gray, navy, and yellow that appears to be a vintage Countess Mara item per the navy-stitched logo on the blade, which I had originally believed to be a “CK” for Calvin Klein. (Luckily, astute BAMF Style reader Jeb caught this and provided a correction. Thanks, Jeb!)

"The Forecast" (Episode 7.10)

“The Forecast” (Episode 7.10)

The final season of Mad Men found Don going beyond his comfort zone of all white or off-white dress shirts and exploring the possibilities of stripes and light blue shirts with his business suits.

For a dinner with Pete Campbell and now-client Ken Cosgrove in “Time & Life” (Episode 7.11), Don wears a light blue shirt with a set of gold-framed cuff links in the French cuffs. His tie is “downhill”-striped in gray and navy with narrow shadow stripes in the alternating color above each bolder stripe.

"Time & Life" (Episode 7.11)

“Time & Life” (Episode 7.11)

The classic white shirt returns for Don’s final appearance at the office in “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12), and he wears a set of silver onyx-filled rectangular cuff links. His tie continues the “downhill”-striped tradition of the others with maroon and light gray stripes that alternate in thickness as they cascade from the thick four-in-hand knot down to the blade of the considerably wide tie.

"Lost Horizon" (Episode 7.12)

“Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12)

Don’s Accessories

“The Forecast” (Episode 7.10) finds our favorite ad man strolling into the office on a warm early summer day, the perfect weather to swap out his usual felt fedora in favor of a blue-gray short-brimmed trilby made from fine Milanese Pinzano straw. This particular hat with its black striped band was part of the ScreenBid auction that ran after the show’s production ended, as reported here by the Los Angeles Times.

Summer hat in hand, Don strolls up to his office at SC&P in "The Forecast" (Episode 7.10).

Summer hat in hand, Don strolls up to his office at SC&P in “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10).

As confirmed by Preston Fassel in his March 2016 article for 20/20 Magazine, Don’s sunglasses of choice in the first few seasons were the American Optical Flight Goggle 58… rather than the commonly reported Randolph Engineering aviators. Developed for U.S. military pilots in – you guessed it – 1958, the AO FG-58 offers its wearers a squared “navigator” frame as opposed to the rounder frame of the traditional aviator-style eyewear. Just over a decade after their introduction, the AO FG-58 was the preferred eyewear for the flight crew of Apollo 11, the NASA mission that landed the first humans on the moon.

When Don embarks on his own great American road trip in “Lost Horizon” (Episode 7.12), his gold aviators make their return, shielding his eyes from the sun as he barrels across the heartland. However, he appears to have switched models to the Ray-Ban Caravan, distinguished from the AO model by “squatter profile than the AO, with a more rectangular shape and thinner wire temples,” as reported to me by the helpful Mr. Fassel in the comments section of this post.

Even Don's snappy sunglasses can't hide his dubious inspection of a heartland hitchhiker.

Even Don’s snappy sunglasses can’t hide his dubious inspection of a heartland hitchhiker.

These functional sunglasses aren’t the only accessory that Don keeps after “freeing” himself of his clothes and car, the trappings of his previous life as an unsatisfied ad man. From the first episode of the fifth season through the final scenes at the Big Sur commune, Don continues to wear his Omega Seamaster DeVille. Of course, a classic Omega luxury watch isn’t the sort of thing you just give away. (Then again… neither is a Coupe de Ville, and we see how that works out.)

Christie’s auction from December 2015 sold four watches that had appeared on the show, including Don’s Omega from the final seasons. Per the auction listing, “the watches were leased to the show by vintage watch specialist Derek Dier, who has supplied watches to the movie industry, noted musicians, actors, writers, artists, international dignitaries and Fortune 500 CEOs. Mad Men Property Master Ellen Freund worked with Dier to select the watches.”

The Christie’s page further describes the watch as: “Signed Omega, Automatic, Seamaster, De Ville, Ref. 166.020, Movement No. 23’943’081, Circa 1960.” The stainless wristwatch with its black dial, date indicator, and black textured leather strap eventually sold for $11,875.

What to Imbibe

Even the most casual Mad Men viewer could likely tell you Don’s drink of choice: a heavy pour of Canadian Club from a bottle in his office, or an Old Fashioned cocktail for nights on the town.

“Draper drinks rye,” Joan Holloway told Draper’s then-secretary Peggy Olson in the pilot episode, to which Peggy responds: “Rye is Canadian, right?”

You may laugh at Peggy’s ignorance of the subject, but at least she’s trying to figure it out. A decade later in “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10), the young copywriter Mathis tries to needle his way onto Don’s good side by gifting him a bottle of Chivas Regal 12. A fine blended whisky for sure, but it reveals that Mathis knows little about his boss. While Don has been known to keep various Scotch whisky (including Chivas) in his office from time to time, the only time he drinks Scotch on-screen was a desperate night in Rachel Menken’s apartment in the first season that found Don downing a dram of J&B.

So close, Mathis.

So close, Mathis.

The following episode starts with Pete Campbell and Ken Cosgrove waiting for their dinner meeting with Don to begin. After being dismissed from Sterling Cooper & Partners, Ken had taken a position with their client, Dow Chemical, where he has since promised to make SC&P jump through hoops to keep his business. Unlike Pete, Ken has no qualms about not waiting for Don before drinking the evening’s wine selection, Château Margaux 1953, “often considered the best there is,” according to Ken.

What to Drive

It’s not necessarily #CarWeek, but Don’s Caddy gets so many glamour shots in its penultimate episode, that I feel behooved to give it a little more love than just a few sporadic mentions scattered throughout this post.

Don Draper drives from New York to Racine in the 1965 Cadillac Coupe de Ville that he has been driving since the fifth season premiere. This silver ’65 Coupe de Ville replaced Don’s earlier Caddy that he purchased in the show’s second season when a salesman convinced him that it was the car he needed for proving his success to the world.

Don's shining Cadillac Coupe de Ville, parked outside the Baur home. Once a symbol of his prestigious status in the New York ad world, it now represents his best shot at freedom from it.

Don’s shining Cadillac Coupe de Ville, parked outside the Baur home. Once a symbol of his prestigious status in the New York ad world, it now represents his best shot at freedom from it.

1965 was the first model year of the redesigned third generation Cadillac Coupe de Ville, though it continued the 129.5-inch wheelbase of its predecessor and the 429 cubic-inch V8, though the engine would be increased in size to a 472 cubic-inch V8 for the 1968 model year. The Coupe de Ville would undergo another redesign for 1971.

1965 Cadillac Coupe de Ville

MAD MEN

Body Style: 2-door convertible

Layout: front-engine, rear-wheel-drive (RWD)

Engine: 429 cid (7.0 L) Cadillac V8 with Carter 4-barrel carburetor

Power: 340 hp (253.5 kW; 343 PS) @ 4600 rpm

Torque: 480 lb·ft (651 N·m) @ 3000 rpm

Transmission: 3-speed automatic

Wheelbase: 129.5 inches (3289 mm)

Length: 224.0 inches (5690 mm)

Width: 79.9 inches (2029 mm)

Height: 55.6 inches (1412 mm)

In August 2015, less than three months after the show’s finale aired, the actual ’65 Cadillac Coupe de Ville driven by Don in the show was auctioned by Screenbid, yielding $48,980. As Bob Sorokanich noted for Road & Track, the “sale price includes $39,500 for the car, plus a 24 percent commission to Screenbid, the auction host. That’s pretty strong money for a ’65 Coupe de Ville, which Hagertys tends to value around $13,000.”

“De Ville” was evidently the theme of Don’s luxurious life from the fifth season onward, as that season premiere introduced both his new Cadillac Coupe de Ville and the Omega Seamaster DeVille that he would have through the end of the series.

What to Listen to

Times have changed since the days of Don Cherry crooning “Band of Gold” in a crowded Manhattan bar. A decade later, Don “rides the rails” in his shiny Cadillac to the sounds of David Bowie’s “Space Oddity” closing out the episode.

Recorded in June 1969 and released as a single three weeks later, Bowie’s dreamy rock ode to a fictional astronaut (“Major Tom”) tapped into the zeitgeist of an era captivated by space travel; indeed, only five days after the release of the single on July 11, 1969, the Apollo 11 astronauts would take off for their mission that would land them on the moon, the world-changing event at the center of Mad Men‘s penultimate season finale.

“Space Oddity” was instantly recognized for its originality, receiving the 1970 Ivor Novello Special Award for Originality and becoming Bowie’s first single to chart in the United Kingdom. Nearly five decades later, it remains significant in pop culture, named one of 500 Songs That Shaped Rock and Roll by the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. David Bowie’s death in January 2016 led to a resurgence of the song’s popularity, and it ranked third in iTunes downloads within two days of the artist’s passing.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.12: "Lost Horizon")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 7.12: “Lost Horizon”)

How to Get the Look

Don Draper’s final office suit may be an evolution of his usual gray-suited style, but the presence of trendy 1970 details makes it the first time the decade’s bolder trends had influenced his business wear.

  • Gray subtly self-striped suit
    • Single-breasted 2-button jacket with wide notch lapels, welted breast pocket, wide-flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long single vent
    • Flat front trousers with wide belt loops, frogmouth front pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • White cotton dress shirt with semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and double/French cuffs
    • Silver-framed cuff links
  • Maroon and light gray “downhill”-striped tie
  • Wide black leather belt with squared steel single-prong buckle
  • Black calf leather split-toe derby shoes
  • Black dress socks
  • Omega Seamaster DeVille wristwatch with stainless 34mm case, textured black crocodile strap, and black dial with date indicator
  • Ray-Ban Caravan gold-framed aviator sunglasses

The suit jacket makes one more appearance in the series’ penultimate episode, “The Milk and Honey Route” (Episode 7.13), when Don wears it to dress up a white shirt and khakis at an American Legion fundraiser in Oklahoma.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the whole series… or just the final season, if you still haven’t caught up or need to complete your collection.

The Quote

I’m really tired, aren’t I?

7 comments

  1. Preston Fassel

    Always love a new Mad Men piece! And thank you for remembering me when referencing Don’s shades. While he does in fact wear the AO aviator for the majority of the show’s run, he switches up a bit in the last few seasons, with an apparent affinity for Ray Bans— these appear to be the Caravan, introduced in 1957. They have a squatter profile than the AO, with a more rectangular shape and thinner wire temples. After Don’s flirtation with the more space-age inspired Ray Ban Olympian in season 5, these seem to be a return to his sun wear roots, especially as the Caravan and AO aviator were both products of the late 50s.

    Like

  2. Jeb

    I actually own a few ties that appear to be very similar to the light gray and navy one he wears, and have the distinctive stitched logo at the bottom they were given to me by my grandfather, and they are by countess mara, a designer that was very popular with the businessmen of the 1970s.

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Thank you! I appreciate that insight here, and I’ll make that correction in the post (and give you credit, of course). I’d read about Countess Mara also being popular with gangsters in the ’30s and ’40s as well. Fascinating brand history!

      Like

  3. Pingback: Mad Men, 1970 Style – On the Road with Don Draper | BAMF Style

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