Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious advertising creative director
New York City, Summer 1960
Series: Mad Men
– “The Hobo Code” (Episode 1.08), dir. Phil Abraham, aired 9/6/2007
– “Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10), dir. Tim Hunter, aired 9/27/2007
– “Six-Month Leave” (Episode 2.09), dir. Michael Uppendahl, 9/28/2008
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Happy first full week of June! As the weather warms up, let’s take a look at comfortable yet appropriate dressing for the summer workplace with a few cues from the dapper Don Draper.
“The Hobo Code” (Episode 1.08)
Mad Men‘s eighth episode begins as Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) intersects her boss on his way into the office and directs him to the opulent office of the agency’s eccentric founding partner, Bert Cooper (Robert Morse). Don lets his guard down as he anxiously awaits his meeting with Cooper, but his apprehension and insecurity is soon allayed as Cooper hands him a $2,500 bonus check in between rants about Ayn Rand.
Listen, I’m not here to tell you about Jesus. You already know about Jesus. Either he lives in your heart or he doesn’t.
Emboldened by the check, Don stands defiant during his client meeting the same day with the Belle Jolie lipstick team, leading to a victory for the agency for which Don gives Peggy, his secretary and latest member of the copywriting team, her due for her contribution.
While Peggy and the rest of the agency celebrate their latest win, Don visits his Bohemian mistress Midge (Rosemarie DeWitt) in the midst of her hosting some of her beatnik friends as they “get high and listen to Miles.” A few tokes and emotionally revealing Polaroids later, Don decides to end his affair with Midge after realizing that she and the pretentious theater owner Roy are in love. He makes one last-ditch effort for her to join him on an impromptu overseas trip (“Paris. Now. Let’s go.”) before signing his bonus check over to Midge and leaving her forever… or at least until DeWitt gets one last shining moment in the show’s fourth season.
Roy: The cops. You can’t go out there.
Don: You can’t. (leaves)
“Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10)
Two episodes later, summer has passed and it’s Labor Day weekend. We’ve already checked in on Roger Sterling’s style for his long weekend in the city, and Don also plans on staying in Manhattan after seeing his wife Betty (January Jones) off with her widowed father and his “friend” Gloria. In the office that Friday, Don is part of a skeleton crew comparing JFK’s latest ad with that of their prospective client, Richard Nixon, with whom Don identifies for their parallel tracks of “a self-made man” who rose to great heights only a few years after getting out of the military.
Don allows himself some quiet delight when he hears that the Menken family—”father and daughter”—will be coming into the agency for a meeting that day, providing him an opportunity to fuel his attraction for the sophisticated store owner Rachel Menken (Maggie Siff). Following the meeting, the elder Menken, Abraham (Allan Mitchell), sums up Don for his daughter: “He’s very good…persuasive. A little dashing for my taste…”
The day you sign a client is the day you start losing them.
After lamenting the loss of Dr. Scholl’s together, Don reluctantly accompanies Roger (John Slattery) down to the casting area where he watches with cynical bemusement as Roger plays Richard Dawson to the young sets of twins who came to audition for a double-sided aluminum commercial being casted by Fred Rumsen (Joel Murray). Don’s amusement grows to discomfort with the increasingly lecherous turn of events, but Roger compels him to stay and entertain Eleanor (Megan Stier) whose twin sister Mirabelle (Alexis Stier) is the current object of Roger’s affection.
Roger’s insistence turns out to be fortuitous as it means Don is still in the office and able to act fast when the silver-haired ad man suffers a mid-coital heart attack, juxtaposed by the dulcet sounds of the McGuire Sisters’ cover of “Volare”. As a delusional Roger starts calling out for Mirabelle while on the gurney, Don smacks him and reminds him that his wife’s name is Mona. That’s what friends are for.
Friends or not, Don’s existential crisis is now in full swing as he finds himself at Rachel Menken’s apartment door, admitting his vulnerability (“I don’t like feeling like this”) and asking to come in. She knows just as well as we do what’s about to happen next…
“Six-Month Leave” (Episode 2.09)
Two years later, Don is more amused and accepting of Fred Rumsen’s drunken antics than his colleagues on the accounts side of Sterling Cooper. However, one pair of Rumsen’s piss-soaked pants is one too many even for Don to allow the affable alcoholic to remain aboard his creative ship, so Don and Roger invite an ousted Freddie out for one final night on the town, ending up at an underground gambling den where Don provides the alias of “Tilden Katz”, co-opted from the straitlaced new husband of his one-time lover Rachel. It’s far from the only ghost of Don’s extra-marital affairs as he runs into the acerbic shock comic Jimmy Barrett (Patrick Fischler)… or it may be more accurate to saw that Don’s fist runs into Jimmy’s jaw.
What’d He Wear?
Don Draper seems to have a suit for everything. In the first two seasons, we see plenty of this medium gray suit with its muted blue plaid on summer days that begin in the office and extend just a little too long into the night. The plaid differentiates the suit from the shiny gray suit with a subdued windowpane that Don often wears during the first three seasons, including his memorable first attempt to woo Rachel Menken in “Marriage of Figaro” (Episode 1.03).
This suit also has a sheen to it that suggests the possibility of a wool/mohair blend as mohair was quite en vogue at the start of the 1960s.
The single-breasted suit jacket has narrow lapels with the then-fashionable “half clover” notches that are rounded on the bottom corner. The lapels roll to a two-button front, positioned to button at his natural waist line, and he wears a neatly folded white pocket square in the jacket’s welted breast pocket.
Don’s jacket has straight hip pockets that are covered with flaps. The short double vents and spaced two-button cuffs are also details that were popular on men’s tailoring in the early 1960s.
The suit has matching flat front trousers with straight side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms. Through the belt loops, Don wears a dark brown leather belt with a silver-toned enclosed box-style buckle in a rectangular shape, a type of belt that he would wear across most of the show’s earlier seasons… though there is a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it continuity error in “Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10) where Don rises from his office chair and reveals a squared gold single-prong belt buckle.
Don has a rotating cycle of black and brown dress shoes that he wears to the office, though he correctly coordinates his belt to his footwear in these episodes with a pair of cap-toe oxfords in a dark brown shade close to burgundy, best seen in “Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10) as he chats with Eleanor Ames in his office. His taupe dress socks neatly harmonize with his gray trousers and brown shoes.
Don wears strictly white cotton dress shirts to the office during the first season, set years before his business style would evolve to include non-white dress shirts made from blue or striped fabric. These shirts, which Don hides a backup stash of in his office drawer, have semi-spread collars, front plackets, and breast pockets for his endless packs of Lucky Strike cigarettes.
Double (French) cuffs are a standard fixture of any shirt that Don Draper wears to the office. In “The Hobo Code” (Episode 1.08), his French cuffs are worn with a pair of large gold links consisting of an oval outer ring with “X”-shaped bars that cross over the center opening. Two episodes later in “Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10), our philandering ad man dresses his wrists with a set of more conventional gold rectangular-shaped cuff links recessed at the edges.
Don’s neckwear for both of this suit’s first season appearances are skinny ties in a cool tone of French blue, a color that nicely calls out the suiting’s subtle plaid.
“The Hobo Code” (Episode 1.08) finds Don wearing a duo-toned “downhill”-striped tie with wide cornflower blue stripes—each bisected by two thin French blue stripes—on a French blue ground.
In “Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10), Don wears a solid-colored silk tie in a slightly darker shade of cornflower blue.
As one updates his clothing for the seasons, so should he update his supplemental accessories. Especially in “The Hobo Code” (Episode 1.08), we see Don’s summer hat, a gray straw short-brimmed trilby with a black-and-purple striped band that spends more screen time in this episode in his hands than on his head.
After wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox with a replacement “tuxedo dial” in the pilot episode, Don evidently switched to a prop Rolex Cellini in a similar colorway through the rest of the first season with the black-and-white dial, steel case, and black leather strap suggesting to some viewers that it’s the same watch.
Don would again wear a Jaeger-LeCoultre in the second and third seasons when he strapped on a rose gold Reverso which Betty has engraved for him. He’s wearing the Reverso when this plaid summer suit makes its return for his and Roger’s send-off of Fred Rumsen in “Six-Month Leave” (Episode 2.09), set in August 1962.
In addition to the new watch, Don appoints the suit in “Six-Month Leave” with a dark teal silk tie, silver disc-shaped cuff links with an engraved “X” in the center of each, and his vintage black leather Brooks Brothers belt with its box-style buckle, coordinated to match his black leather cap-toe derby shoes.
What to Imbibe
A dedicated whiskey drinker, Mad Men wastes no time in establishing Canadian Club as Don’s elixir of choice, drinking it neat and on the rocks and no doubt as an ingredient in Old Fashioneds when imbibing outside the office.
In “The Hobo Code” (Episode 1.08), Don’s then-secretary Peggy Olson enters his office following his bellowed demand for “Ice!” and is greeted with her own roly-poly glass of Canadian Club to celebrate her successful copy with the Sterling Cooper creative team.
Don is feeling less celebratory two episodes later when he knocks at Rachel Menken’s door late at night. One suspects he would drink just about anything, and Rachel takes a bottle of J&B Rare from her own collection to pour drams of this popular blended Scotch whisky for both her and Don.
It’s perhaps worth noting that, while Canadian Club does not appear to be among the contents of Rachel’s home bar, she does have a bottle of Crown Royal that could have satiated Don’s Canadian whisky preference. This itself may be an anachronism as Crown Royal, while it was first distilled in Canada in 1939, was not legally introduced to the United States market until later in the 1960s. Crown Royal made considerable progress in the 55 years since it was first legally introduced, now considered the top-selling Canadian whisky in the U.S.
The ironically booze-soaked parting celebrations for Fred Rumsen in “Six-Month Leave” (Episode 2.09) begin in Roger Sterling’s office, where the silver-haired accounts man pours glasses of Jameson on the rocks for Don and himself that afternoon.
Once Freddie gets the bad news about the enforced leave of absence following his “snafu”, they begin drinking on his level with Don indulging in his usual Old Fashioned cocktails at dinner, followed by his usual “Canadian Club, neat” at the casino where Roger also orders himself a Gibson martini (made with Wolfschmidt vodka) and straight Old Grand-dad bourbon on the rocks for Fred.
“See, I find if I stick with the clear liquors, I know where I stand,” Roger shares with Don as their boozy night draws to an end. “I’m the opposite,” Don confirms over his dwindling glass of brown.
How to Get the Look
Gray single-breasted suits have been the de facto “uniform” of American business for the better part of a century, though Don Draper shows us how he could make this office classic seasonal and stylish—without sacrificing his penchant for professionalism—for the summer of 1960.
- Gray with subtle blue plaid effect wool or wool/mohair blend suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with slim “half clover” notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, spaced 2-button cuffs, and short double vents
- Flat front trousers with belt loops, slightly slanted side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White cotton dress shirt with semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and double/French cuffs
- Gold cuff links
- French blue solid or striped skinny straight silk tie
- Dark brown leather belt with rounded-corner box-style buckle
- Dark brown leather oxford shoes
- Taupe cotton lisle dress socks
- Gray straw summer trilby with black-and-purple striped band
- Jaeger-LeCoultre Memovox steel-cased wristwatch with black-and-white “tuxedo dial” and black leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the whole series.
Well, I hate to break it to you, but there is no “big lie”. There is no system. The universe is indifferent.
Interestingly, Don wears this suit to bookend the sole moments that he is not actively engaged in an extramarital affair during the first season (aside from the season finale)—wearing it when he breaks things off with Midge in “The Hobo Code” (Episode 1.08) and again when he begins his brief affair with Rachel in “Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10).