Mad Men: Lane Pryce’s Business Suit and Tweed Waistcoat on New Year’s Day
Jared Harris as Lane Pryce, advertising agency financial chief
New York City, New Year’s Day 1965
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “The Good News” (Episode 4.03)
Air Date: August 8, 2010
Director: Jennifer Getzinger
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
Even with the increasing adoption of hybrid and remote workplaces, there are still many returning to offices and cubicles for the first day of the new year, a specific occupational dread that provides a “welcome distraction” for at least one lonely Brit during the final act of “The Good News”, the third episode of Mad Men‘s fourth season.
The reserved Lane Pryce hadn’t been too popular at work following his introduction to the Sterling Cooper offices the past season, though he finally ingratiated himself to the partners by doing them all the surprising favor of firing them—and himself—thus freeing them to reorganize the agency as the independent Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce.
A year later, SCDP gives the impression to clients that it’s thriving, though the British bean counter knows better that “things are precarious, financially.” The Pryce marriage isn’t doing much better, as the “quite severe” Rebecca (Embeth Davidtz) yearns for dear old England while Lane increasingly appreciates his adopted home.
Thus, Lane finds himself alone at the start of the new year, bound to his desk with little respite aside from a “very large” sandwich. He’s surprised by the early return of Don Draper (Jon Hamm), who encourages him to abandon his desk for a Scotch-soaked day of movies, medium rare steak, and meeting Don’s “lady friends.”
What’d He Wear?
With the SCDP office presumably closed for New Year’s Day, there was little chance of Lane Pryce seeing his colleagues but the dignified Brit still dresses to his usual standard in a smart business suit, odd waistcoat, pocket square, and tie.
Lane is arguably a more interesting dresser than Don Draper, more willing to exhibit his personality through individualistic touches like odd waistcoats, brighter ties, and the occasionally fussy addition of a tie pin or watch chain. He also varies his wardrobe with more regularity, rotating through two- and three-piece suits, single- and double-breasted jackets, notch and peak lapels, and waistcoats of nearly every color, cut, and pattern. (In 2019, Brett White penned a fine retrospective appreciation of Lane’s singular style for Decider.)
For his day in the office—which becomes an evening out on the town with Don—Lane wears a dark navy worsted wool suit patterned with a gray pinstripe. The single-breasted, two-button jacket has notch lapels, a single vent, and three-button cuffs. The jacket also has straight flapped hip pockets and a welted breast pocket, which Lane dresses with a neatly folded white pocket square that he doesn’t bother to revitalize the following day.
This wouldn’t be the sole occasion that Lane wears this suit; I believe he also wears it for the surprising events of “Signal 30” (Episode 5.05) the following season. However, Lane’s habit of adding character to his costume via his contrasting waistcoats adds variety to his wardrobe. (We in the States have colloquialized these sleeveless garments as “vests”, but a dignified Englishman like Lane would surely refer to it as a waistcoat.)
Appropriate for the winter chill of a New Year’s Day in Gotham, Lane layers his suit jacket over a heavy tweed waistcoat, detailed with five black buttons and two jetted pockets. The coarse woolen tweed is a woven in a birdseye pattern, predominantly light gray but mixed with colorful flecks. Back in England, Lane’s decision to wear a sporting cloth like tweed to the office may have been considered inappropriate. Indeed, I believe it’s not until the fourth season that we see him “dressing down” for the office in less businesslike waistcoats in tattersall and tweed, embracing the looser atmosphere of the American business world after dissolving his ties from his British overlords in the previous season.
The navy pinstripe suit’s matching flat front trousers have belt loops, though Lane still relies on his English grooming sensibilities to forego a belt with a waistcoat. That said, there’s little to stop him from leaping up from his chair at the steakhouse, holding “this beautiful piece of American meat” over his groin and declaring “I got a big Texas belt buckle… yee haw!”
Likely held up with suspenders (braces), the trousers also have side pockets and are finished on the bottoms with turn-ups (cuffs), which break over the tops of his black leather wingtip monk shoes. These handsome dress shoes bridge the formality of oxfords and derbies, lacking laces in favor of a single strap over the vamp that closes through a buckle—in Lane’s case, a squared gold buckle. Post-series auction listings included several pairs of Lane’s size 10 screen-worn monks, invariably black Peal & Co. shoes by Brooks Brothers.
Perhaps not feeling as jaunty as usual, Lane keeps his accessories minimal and utilitarian: his gold wedding ring on his left hand, despite concerns that his marriage may be over, and his usual tortoise-framed wayfarer-style eyeglasses, made by Bausch & Lomb as indicated in a post-production auction listing.
Lane’s white cotton shirt has a spread collar and double (French) cuffs that he fastens with gold ridged cuff links. Tied with a Windsor knot, his navy blue tie is patterned in an equestrian theme of small, scattered jockey caps and whips. Each little hat has a red-and-cream paneled crown, bisected through the front of the crown by a brown whip. (If one should want to get deep into sartorial significance, this could foreshadow his father—the man who fueled his and Don’s New Year’s Day depravity—later whipping him in the head with his cane.)
Despite their fortification with 25-year-old whisky, Lane and Don still wisely pull on their topcoats before venturing out for an afternoon movie and all their adventures to follow. Lane’s charcoal wool coat extends to above his knees, more closely resembling a “walker coat” than a full-length overcoat. The single-breasted coat has peak lapels, roped sleeve-heads, and straight flapped hip pockets. Lane also wears a woolen scarf in a burgundy, white, and navy shadow plaid with a navy overcheck and fringed ends.
What to Imbibe
As Don moves to tipple from Lane’s office supply, Lane produces a gift-wrapped bottle, explaining “I received something rather special from my father for my birthday.”
“What is it?” Don asks.
“Who knows?” Lane admits with a smirk, as he pops the cork. “He’s one of those alcoholics who thinks that he’s connecting,” he adds, pouring them each a large dram without realizing he may also be describing the man standing before him. Without meditating too hard on that similarity, Don raises his glass to meet Lane’s cin cin, registering his contentment. “There’s almost no…”
“…no bite at all,” Lane concludes with a smile, likely proud to have made an inroad with a colleague… even if it was via the toxic avenue that his own father so frequently explored.
I recall plenty of speculation about the brand of booze so savored by Lane and Don, though a prop auction following the series wrapped proved that this was one of the few instances where the Mad Men production team relied on a fictional brand. Prominently headlined with “Aged 25 years,” the label goes on to read:
This exclusive bottling is from one of the few remaining casks of the 1939 vintage and was selected by the malt master, Thomas Emslie.
A photo of the prop bottle later appeared on Reddit, presumably posted by whoever had obtained the bottle following the auction. As seen on the label, the math adds up as the whisky inside had been casked on May 16, 1939 and bottled June 5, 1964, almost exactly 25 years later and thus gifted by the severe Mr. Pryce to his son sometime over the last half of 1964.
How to Get the Look
Having sided with his American partners by the fourth season of Mad Men, Lane Pryce relaxes his once-rigidly correct dressing for the office, pairing his worsted business suits with seasonally appropriate waistcoats like this birdseye tweed vest that adds character to his pinstripe suit and monk shoes for what could have been a dreary New Year’s Day at the office.
- Navy gray-pinstripe worsted wool suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and single vent
- Flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White cotton shirt with spread collar and double/French cuffs
- Gold ridged cuff links
- Navy tie patterned with jockey caps and whips
- Light gray birdseye tweed 5-button waistcoat with two jetted pockets
- Black leather wingtip monk-strap shoes
- Dark socks
- Tortoise-framed wayfarer-style eyeglasses
- Gold wedding ring
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series.
We’re not homosexuals, we’re divorced!
Janie Bryant did such a fantastic differentiating each male character and reflecting their personality with their suits. Lane, Don, Roger, and Pete for example obviously all wear business suits but they look so different than one another and you get a feel for their personalities from their clothing alone.