Mad Style: Why Mad Men is Must See TV for Stylish Men
Has any television show had as much impact on how men dress as Mad Men? We don’t think so. Drop in to many an office and you’re likely to find at least one guy taking his fashion cues from Mad Men style.
Even those who have never seen the show can describe Mad Men style. Who isn’t at least vaguely familiar with the look of Don Draper with his no-nonsense business suits, and traditional styling (those narrow repp ties and stiff, square folded pocket squares)? Those who do watch the show (aka: nearly everyone with a TV or an internet connection) can also tell you that Don Draper gets regularly upstaged (sartorially speaking) by Roger Sterling. This is no accident.
A Method to the Madness
Jon Hamm, who plays Mad Men’s central character, Don Draper, has the cards stacked in his favor. At 6’2″ with his chestnut brown hair and chiseled good looks, Hamm is the embodiment of the phrase tall, dark and handsome. So, making him look good is almost too easy for Mad Men costume designer Janie Bryant. But making the characters look good is not the true goal of a costume designer. Ultimately, they are a part of the storytelling.
In the case of Mad Men, it is a story of a man whose life keeps unraveling and he keeps pulling it back together. That shows in his clothes. He must keep everything in his life buttoned up, pulled together and neatly folded or things begin to cave in. And so his clothes stay buttoned up, pulled together and neatly folded.
As Don struggles with his demons, he works to keep his appearance clean cut. Every crease in his slacks is exactingly sharp. Every shirt, is exceedingly white. In order to maintain the mask of Don Draper, there can be no loose ends, no strand of fiber (or hair on his perfectly coiffed head) that is out of place. The resulting look is cool, calm and under control, but also, a bit…well…tame.
By contrast, Roger Sterling, is free to dress more boldly. Roger, who has never worked anywhere that didn’t have his name on the door (thanks to his father), is the face of the agency. His look matches his status. He’s no peacock but he’s not afraid of a little punch (both the sartorial kind and the alcoholic kind).
Giving the actor who plays Roger, John Slattery, more aggressive styling is almost mandatory. His sharply featured face, crowned by his signature shock of silvery white hair, commands the viewer’s attention and can make any outfit appear timid by comparison. And so, character and casting conspire to ensure that Roger Sterling looks like a boss. And even though every episode of Mad Men takes place over 40 years ago, you’d be every bit the badass if you dressed in Roger’s style today.
How We’d Style the Men of Mad Men
What if Don Draper and Roger Sterling were around today? If Don Draper and Roger Sterling stopped by the Black Lapel Headquarters to get suited up, what would we offer them? For starters, we’d mix them up an Old Fashioned and a Gibson Martini to help ease the sudden transition to the 21st century. We’d give them a contemporary fit, for sure, but we wouldn’t stray too far from their go to looks.
Check it out.
In keeping with Don’s conservative palette and style, we would suggest a gray suit for him. But not just any gray suit. We would follow our own advice and echo his hair color in his suit fabric. The result, a Warm Gray Sharkskin Custom Suit, with its subtle whisper of tan, that plays perfectly off of Don’s skin and hair color and is still subdued enough for the cool, calm and collected man.
A striking face like Roger’s deserves a forceful suit like this Navy Windowpane Custom Double-Breasted Suit. The self-assured look of this suit walks the fine line between confident and well, really confident. This suit will definitely draw a few looks, and when you look this good, you’ll be happy to get a little extra attention.
Are you mad?
Want to cop some of Roger and Don’s style? We’ve got you covered. To get Roger’s look, check out our Introduction to Double-breasted Suits. And for a more toned down look, like Don, our 5 Essentials of the Accidental Minimalist is required reading.
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