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How To Dress Like Mad Men

Updated on March 29, 2014

The Appeal of Mad Men

Mad Men made its debut on AMC in 2007, and ever since it has been setting the pace for fashion-forward men on television. Set at an ad agency in the early 1960's, the New York City on Mad Men is nothing like the NYC we know today, yet the show has been popular enough to push fashion from 50 years ago back on to the modern scene.

Don Draper is the central character of Mad Men, and also among the most fashionable. Read below as I show you how to achieve that Don Draper look.

In addition to this basic guide, I'm going to be doing individual guides for each character on the show:

How to dress like Roger Sterling in Mad Men

How to dress like Pete Campbell 

The Men of Mad Men

The Suit

First and foremost, Mad Men is all about the suits. These were the days before business casual on Madison Avenue. If you had a job at an ad agency, you wore a suit to the office every day. Colors to go with are black, gray, or a very dark blue (but usually just stick with black or gray).

The most important part of the suit is the fit. If it doesn't fit right, you won't look right wearing it. You need to consider the cost of custom tailoring a necessary expense when buying a suit.

For the perfect Mad Men suit, find one with a jacket that has thin lapels. Thin lapels went out of style in the 1970's and 1980's as big egos and big lapels and shoulders became the fashion rage. The more subtle thin lapels of the 1960's are in style more often it's a classy look that doesn't make the wearer look like a jerk whose trying to make up for inadequacies by "peacocking" with big lapels. In other words, a Mad Men suit is going to be in style for most of your life, no matter how tastes change. 

Your suit pants should be worn high, perhaps higher than you are used to. I know low rise was in style for jeans recently, but that trend has never been the case for suit pants. If you're wearing your suit pants low, you probably look like you have no idea how to wear a suit. Have the pants tailored to sit about an inch below your belly button.

Dress shirt

Go with a white dress shirt, made with better quality materials. That means no to Wal-Mart or JC Penney dress shirts, yes to Brooks Brothers. You also might be able to find a decent dress shirt at your local Salvation Army or even a thrift store. Make sure you get the right size. If it's too big and leaves a lot of slack on your lower back or sleeves when you try it on, don't buy it. Dress shirt sleeves should run to your thumb joint when your hands are at your sides, while the rest of the shirt should fit snug enough to show off the form of your upper body, but not so tight as to make it hard to breathe and move around.

Mad Men Ties

A lot of people think a skinny black tie is the right one for a Mad Men ensemble. This is not really the case. You want a slender tie, but it probably shouldn't be the super skinny tie that has become popular with modern hipsters. Black, gray, and blue all work well.

The Collar Bar

Many people don't even know what a collar bar is, but it should be a part of your Mad Men look. The collar bar goes under the tie knot and keeps the points of the collar aligned and pushed out and accentuates the tie knot. In many ways, it shows off your ability to properly tie a tie.

Pocket Square

Perhaps the simplest part. Once again, go with white. If you don't know the different ways to fold a pocket square, Google it. Go with a flat fold most of the time, but you can sometimes switch it up with a one point fold.

What else?

There are a few things that should be obvious but I'll mention them anyway:

  • Black dress shoes
  • Black socks
  • Black leather belt
  • A decent silver or gold watch. The Rolex look is nice, but you can find that look from many companies without having to pay Rolex prices. Always go with a metal or leather band (no canvas). Avoid watches that are too "busy". That includes most "navigator" watches with 6 different dials, 24 times zones, etc. You just want something to tell time and look good on your wrist.
  • Cuff links. The french cuff look is very Mad Men. Consider this when buying your dress shirt.

What else would you add to make the Mad Men look?

Submit a Comment

  • DTR0005 profile image

    Doug Robinson 

    7 years ago from Midwest

    Wingtip shoes? Classic touch.

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