Don Draper – men want to be him and women want to be with him. That old cliché is dead on for Mad Men’s complex and debonair Lothario. In the last 7 years, the fictional ad man has redefined masculine style and inspired a new generation to look to the swinging 60s for fashion inspiration.
Draper’s classic clothes and accessories represent a time in history when men and women never appeared in public without being polished and presentable. And in a time when many consider it acceptable to run errands in pajamas, today’s stylish man should take several pages out of Don’s style playbook.
1. Don Draper’s Suit
Don Draper’s suits are not particularly distinctive, which is what makes them so perfect. People shouldn’t notice something specific about your suit; they should simply notice how good you look in it. Don’s suits are almost all gray, with the exception of a few navy and black ones. And his shirts are uniformly white – no splashy colors or patterns for this iconoclast. Here are a few specifics to be noted when trying to recreate the look:
- Plain point, crisply starched collar that touches the jacket lapels
- Slim cut: tapered waist jacket and narrowly cut trousers that taper at the ankle
- 2-button jacket with diagonal pocket
- Plain front trousers
You could easily put together a suit like this yourself as long as you use a discerning eye and a good tailor. Brooks Brothers is a good source as they make the suits for the show, so they offer several styles with the appropriate vintage details you’ll need to get the look.
2. Don Draper’s Pocket Square
The suit is just the beginning when it comes to pulling of the Don Draper look. It’s all about the little touches that reveal his level of class and style. He’s impeccable, but not showy, so he uses a pocket square, but keeps it very conservative. It’s always plain white, folded into a flat square that just barely peeks out of the pocket. If you truly want to capture the Mad Men elegance, don’t mess around with colors or fussy folds. Keep it simple.
3. Don Draper’s Watch
We see a progression of timepieces on Don as the years go by. And don’t think this is accidental; the watches reflect his steady increase in status and salary. There is some debate around whether all the watches he wears are historically accurate or not, but they are all certainly beautiful. These are the various models he’s gone through:
They’re all vintage models, but the brands offer updated versions of the same styles. Today’s Omega Seamaster, for example, has a decidedly more modern look, but retains the same understated elegance of the Deville. Though you might not be able to spring for the vintage versions Don sports, you should go for a luxury brand and a classic style.
4. Don Draper’s Tie
True to the era, Draper wears ties that are on the narrow side. Most often, they’re a solid color in satin, but he’s also been known to wear stripes and textured fabrics, like twill. They always hit just above the belt (where they ought to) and are tied using the basic four-in-hand knot. The Draper touch of cool? A tie bar. Go for a very minimalist straight bar in silver and you can’t go wrong. Remember, the Draper is in the details.
5. Don Draper’s Belt
Simplicity is the name of the game – Don’s belts are narrow, feature a simple gold buckle and match his shoes. It’s not rocket science, it’s understated style.
6. Don Draper’s Cufflinks
Draper normally wears double cuffs, which require cufflinks. Though you may be new to dapper dressing, you shouldn’t be intimidated by this classy accessory. As you’d expect, Don wears subtle, simple links. The ones we see most often are squares in matte silver and rounded-tip gold triangles. The point is that, if you look, you see them, but they don’t draw your attention otherwise.
While there are plenty of humorous or niche cufflinks available, they should be avoided. A pair of links that features a sports team or fishing rod may be a conversation piece but it won’t carry the sophistication and maturity of a simple design.
7. Don Draper’s Sunglasses
There’s no question when it comes to Mad Men-esque cool shades. It’s got to be aviators. There’s a huge variety out there, so you should opt for frames that suit you in color and shape. Don sports a square pair from Randolph Engineering Sunglasses, but that particular style might not look great on you. It’s best to go into a legitimate eyewear store and try on several different types. The key is that, when you put them on, you feel painfully cool.
8. Don Draper’s Hat
The 60s were definitely an era that embraced the hat, for both men and women. Though Fedoras have gotten a very bad rap in recent years, that doesn’t mean you can’t pull one off. Just look at Draper – his peaked, felt Fedoras are distinguished and hip at the same time. You may not choose to wear a hat every day, but a modern gentleman has at least one proper one that fits him well and can be donned (pun intended) for the right occasion.
9. Don Draper’s Swag
Sorry guys, but this one you can’t buy. Don’s style is more than the sum of its parts; an important component is that certain je ne sais quoi that commands attention. It’s all about exuding confidence, which is much easier to do when you feel great about your clothes and accessories.
Once you’ve put the effort into having your suit custom-tailored, investing in a high-quality watch, and ensuring that every detail is in place, you’ll naturally set your shoulders back, walk a little taller and look people in the eye like you mean business. Just don’t be surprised when you start getting a new kind of attention from the ladies or when the boss gives you a special project and a friendly pat on the back…that’s just the Draper effect working its magic.
Author Bio: Ed Bush is a managing partner at Barmakian Jewelers, New England’s premiere purveyor of diamonds, watches and fine jewelry. With over 100 years of experience, Barmakian Jewelers prides itself on its personal, attentive service and customized designs. For luxury watch brands like Tag Heuer, Breitling and Omega in Boston and everywhere, visit Barmakian Jewelers or connect with us on Google+.