Mad Men: Burgundy Knitwear for Don Draper’s Lonely Thanksgiving

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 4.01: "Public Relations")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 4.01: “Public Relations”)


Jon Hamm as Don Draper, lonely ad man

Greenwich Village, New York, Thanksgiving 1964

Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Public Relations” (Episode 4.01)
Air Date: July 25, 2010
Director: Phil Abraham
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!


In contrast to the swaggering image he presents as an advertising hot shot, Don Draper has been reduced to a very lonely man at the start of Mad Men‘s fourth season.

A year estranged from his ex-wife Betty with whom he’s splitting custody of his children, Don spends Thanksgiving essentially alone, aside from a few hours in the paid company of Candace (Erin Cummings), a courtesan he calls to slap him in bed to distract him from his solitude… though this would hardly be the last of Don’s self-destructive holiday trysts.

Erin Cummings and Jon Hamm on Mad Men

Not exactly the traditional Thanksgiving scene.

While Thanksgiving this year may look different from the usual for many in the ongoing quarantine situation, I still hope your Turkey Day proves to be more pleasant than Don Draper’s slappy Thanksgiving in apartment 3R.

What’d He Wear?

Though Don knows his clothes are coming off shortly after answering the door, he still maintains a respectable outfit to greet Candace… which turns out to be a fortuitous decision when he can quickly make himself presentable for his unexpected visit from Peggy Olson (Elisabeth Moss) and her mild-mannered fiancé boyfriend Mark (Blake Bashoff).

Don wears a burgundy knit long-sleeved shirt with a unique hybrid collar that has a short, two-button placket that splits out to create a V-neck “Johnny collar” effect. Don’s choice to wear it over one of his usual crew-neck undershirts creates an unsightly white triangle that mars the effect of an otherwise stylish retro shirt. The set-in sleeves are finished with long-ribbed cuffs that mimic the long-ribbed hem, and a button-through patch pocket over the left breast ensures that Don never fall too far from his Lucky Strikes.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men

Don reads Peggy the riot act for her Sugarberry Ham PR stunt that has him dishing out $280 in bail and bribes.

Don pulls himself out of his depression enough to pull on a pair of decent dark gray wool flat front trousers, styled with straight pockets along the side seams and jetted back pockets.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men

Don greets his sole expected Thanksgiving guest, but there’s sadly no turkey or potatoes in Don and Candace’s immediate future. (I won’t comment on the stuffing.)

A few episodes later in “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” (Episode 4.05), Don would wear a more conventionally styled dark red knit long-sleeved polo shirt with a four-button top when dropping off a newly shorn Sally (Kiernan Shipka) with Betty. As he’s out and about in the chillier spring weather, he layers on his charcoal brown tonal plaid woolen topcoat and his usual gray felt trilby with its narrow black grosgrain band.

Kiernan Shipka and Jon Hamm on Mad Men

Another dark red long-sleeved polo-style shirt in “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” as Don drops Sally off with Betty.

What to Imbibe

In another counter of his image as a talented creative director at a slick new agency, Don’s apartment was intentionally designed to look gloomy and depressing, a dark and drab mishmash of styles pulled together for the sake of function over form rather than the swinging bachelor pad viewers may have expected to see once it was established that the smooth, womanizing ad man was living on his own again.

“But surely an iconic drinker has a fashionable bar at home?” you wonder… not so. Particularly in this stage of his self-destruction, Don drinks with no hope for his future, having not yet found that tomorrowland to save him. Thus, no tacky tiki setups or sophisticated liquor cabinets, just an all-too-functional kitchen shelf with a few spare bottles to supplement the Canadian Club kept on the counter so he never need fear that his roly-poly glass will run dry.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men

Featured in nearly every episode of Mad Men as the erstwhile Dick Whitman’s preferred elixir, Canadian Club’s origins date to a more than a century earlier when master distiller Hiram Walker began producing his “Club Whisky” in his distillery along the Detroit River. Though initially distilled in Detroit, Walker moved his operations across the river to Ontario. By the late 1880s, Walker’s American competitors asked that the whiskey’s new country of origin be prominently placed on the label in the hopes of turning away domestic consumers but the plan backfired when the rebranding as “Canadian Club” only made Walker’s product appear even more exclusive to his customers.

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 4.01: "Public Relations")

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 4.01: “Public Relations”)

How to Get the Look

What’s the sartorial lesson here? Despite Don’s desperation, he still maintains a presentable standard of dress while spending Thanksgiving home alone. In fact, his festive-hued knitted polo and slacks are arguably more dressed up than I’ve seen some men dressing when spending the holidays with family, proof that constructing a smart holiday outfit can be both simple and comfortable.

  • Burgundy knit shirt with V-neck collar and short two-button placket, button-through breast pocket, and long-ribbed cuffs and hem
  • White cotton crew-neck short-sleeve undershirt
  • Dark gray wool flat front trousers with belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, and jetted back pockets

Of course, I try to take a non-judgmental “to each his own” approach to dressing, so if you want to spend your Thanksgiving hedonistically ensconced in velvet à la George Costanza or Paulie Walnuts, you do you!

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the whole series.

Fans of Janie Bryant’s costume design will be delighted to learn that she will soon be launching a menswear line with Inherent Clothier with more information to come soon!

The Quote

I ought to let you twist in the wind.


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