Don Draper’s Gray Plaid for Summer, Part 2: 1970
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, somewhat less mysterious advertising creative director
New York City, Summer 1970
Series: Mad Men
– “Severance” (Episode 7.08), dir. Scott Hornbacher, aired 4/5/2015
– “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10), dir. Jennifer Getzinger, aired 4/19/2015
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Ten years after Don Draper (Jon Hamm) walked the halls of Sterling Cooper in a gray-blue plaid summer suit, let’s see how the ad man updated his look for the summer of 1970.
As Monday’s post highlighted a suit worn in the eighth and tenth episodes of Mad Men‘s first season, this post looks at a similar suit worn in the eighth and tenth episodes of the seventh and final season as the late spring of 1970 extended into the summer.
“Severance” (Episode 7.08) kicks off the second half of the show’s final season in April 1970 with the refreshed, revalidated, and recently single Don Draper dreaming of Rachel Katz, née Menken (Maggie Siff), ten years after their brief affair that began in “Long Weekend” (Episode 1.10). Don asks his sweetheart of a secretary, Meredith (Stephanie Drake), to find his former paramour, but Meredith learns only that Rachel has recently died… sending him on a lonely spiral that results in an alleyway assignation with a diner waitress named Diana (Elizabeth Reaser).
Two episodes later, Don’s world has drastically changed as he prepares for work in his now-empty “$85,000 fixer-upper” of an apartment while his realtor Melanie nags him to clean the carpets:
You know what it looks like? It looks like a sad person lives here. And what happened to him? He got divorced, spilled wine on the carpeting and didn’t care enough to replace it. Even for himself.
Things aren’t much more peaceful at SC&P, where Don is summoned to the office of Roger Sterling (John Slattery) and asked to write for him a 2,500-word “Gettysburg address” on the future of the company—the episode’s titular forecast. “I’d do it myself,” Roger states, “but one of us is very busy.”
What’d He Wear?
Unlike the gray plaid summer suit seen in the 1960 episodes featured in Monday’s post, the subtle blue complex check on Don’s light gray suit in 1970 gives the suiting more of a blue-ish cast than gray. The cloth itself is likely a lighter-weight worsted.
The suit is detailed in a manner consistent with the widening fashions of 1970 that are ultimately more timeless than the excess of disco-era fads and less dated than some of the details in Don’s gray striped suit that is the final one he would wear on screen. (This suit maker’s label, a black patch with a white border, is briefly visible as Don returns from his alleyway assignation with Diana in “Severance” (Episode 7.08), should anyone here by able to identify it!)
The single-breasted jacket’s notch lapels are far more substantial than the slim lapels of his 1960 suits, rolling to a two-button front with a buttoning point fixed just above the natural waist line. The front buttons and the three buttons on his cuffs are all sky blue plastic. The jacket has a long single vent, a welted breast pocket—where he revives his practice of a neatly folded white pocket square in “The Forecast” (Episode 1.10)—as well as straight hip pockets with wide flaps.
Not only were pleated trousers becoming increasingly unfashionable by the end of the 1960s, but Don Draper was never the sort of man who preferred them. These flat front trousers are no exception, and they are styled like his usual business trousers with side pockets and jetted back pockets. The bottoms are plain-hemmed with a short break, and he wears a black leather belt with a gold single-prong buckle.
Don’s black socks have the gold threading on the toes that indicate they were likely made by Gold Toe, the 100 year old company originally known as Great American Knitting Mills that introduced its signature gold-threaded reinforced toes during the Great Depression as shoppers needed stronger socks rather than more socks. Don appears to wear Gold Toe socks for both business and leisure, sporting them here with his office attire and later wearing them when casually dressed for a cross-continent road trip.
As opposed to the brown footwear that supplemented his gray-blue plaid summer suit of the first season, Don sports a pair of plain black calf lace-up dress shoes, likely derbies, that coordinate with his black leather belt.
Despite his cryptic dream, “Severance” (Episode 7.08) finds Don in relatively high spirits as he’s once again enjoying the bachelor lifestyle and a position of power at the agency. His colorful tie, brightly “downhill”-striped in two shades of blue and yellow gold, reflects his more celebratory stance and the new, bolder look—sometimes bordering on tacky—of the decade to follow.
“The Forecast” (Episode 7.10) features a more classic piece of neckwear, a solid navy silk tie that reflects the sobriety of his latest position with an empty apartment, no romantic prospects, and the potential that his agency won’t last into the next decade. Both ties are wider, consistent with the era’s fashions and the width of his suit jacket lapels.
By 1970, Don shows some comfort with introducing non-white shirts into his office wear though this suit is never accompanied by anything more colorful than the pale ecru shirt seen in “Severance” (Episode 7.08), and he wears a standard white shirt with his solid navy tie in “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10). Both shirts, per usual, have semi-spread collars, front plackets, breast pockets, and double (French) cuffs, which are fastened—at least in “The Forecast”—with a set of ornate gold oval-shaped cuff links.
As “Severance” (Episode 7.08) is still set in the spring, Don arrives at the office with his cooler weather outerwear: a khaki raglan-sleeve raincoat and a traditional dark gray felt short-brimmed trilby with a narrow band.
By “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10) and the heat of a Manhattan summer, Don carries his natty gray Pinzano straw hat with its short brim and mauve-and-gray-striped-on-black band, the same summer hat he brought into the office one weekend a year earlier when wearing his taupe plaid jacket in “The Strategy” (Episode 7.06).
From the fourth season on, Don’s luxury watch was a classic Omega Seamaster DeVille with a stainless steel case, black dial with a 3:00 date indicator window, and a black textured leather strap. Don’s Omega was one of four watches included in a Christie’s auction from December 2015, where it sold for $11,875. 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.
From what one can tell, Don sticks with his tried-and-true undergarments of a white cotton short-sleeved crew-neck T-shirt and white cotton boxer shorts with an elastic waistband.
What to Imbibe
After Don’s decade-and-a-half of pouring whiskey down his throat during the workday finally caught up to him, the partners of SC&P agreed to bring him back on in the spring of 1969 on the condition that he would not be drinking in the office, outside of client hospitality.
Where do the rules stand a year later? When Don is called to Roger’s office in “The Forecast” (Episode 7.10), he carries a curious-looking brown glass bottle with a jaunty blue label.
While I’m somewhat familiar with beverage branding of the ’60s and ’70s, this one had me at a loss. While the bottle would likely be more of a receptacle for beer these days, the label suggests something more family-friendly, along the lines of a cola. There’s always the possibility that it was something fictional created by the prop department, but Mad Men strove for accuracy in reflecting real life brands,
There has been some discussion about it on Reddit, though no one has come to a consensus:
How to Get the Look
Whether it’s the sleeker menswear era of 1960 or the bolder period of 1970, Don Draper (with the help of Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant) remains a prime example of how one can adapt business attire to fit the seasons without sacrificing professionalism.
- Light gray and blue plaid summer-weight worsted wool suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, wide-flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long single vent
- Flat front suit trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White cotton dress shirt with semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and double/French cuffs
- Gold oval ornate cuff links
- Solid navy or blue-and-gold “downhill”-striped wide tie
- Black calf leather derby shoes
- Black Gold Toe dress socks
- Gray Pinzano straw short-brimmed trilby with black, mauve, and gray-striped band
- Omega Seamaster DeVille wristwatch with stainless 34mm case, textured black crocodile strap, and black dial with date indicator
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the whole series.
A lot of wonderful things happened here.
Mad Men has the best costume design in television history. There are so many classic outfits you could have a blog dedicated to it all by itself. In an era where men are always wearing golf/cargo shorts, novelty T-shirts from Target and running shoes at summer gatherings, a casual Don Draper outfit goes hard in contrast to the schlubby casual of today’s standard.
It’s interesting that just dressing like Don in 1970 gets the compliments like it has for me this summer. I’ve added an outfit similar to his Penney’s bag wardrobe from the last episode, “Person to Person”, where all he’s wearing is khaki chinos, white Hanes undershirt, loafers and a plaid short sleeve button down. Something so basic in 1965-70 family barbecues is now dressing up in suburban gatherings today. If you’re relatively fit, keep a nice haircut and sport a pair of AO glasses and wristwatch you will look like a man. Don’t believe me, try it.
I’m more partial to the skinny ties of the late-50s/early 60s as opposed to the classic wide Mike Brady ties of 1970. I do appreciate the colors of the period. Complementary to the Man in the Gray Flannel Suit model Don represented during the Kennedy years.