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How to dress like Pete Campbell in Mad Men

Updated on March 14, 2011

Pete Campbell - From Preppy to Sophisticated

See also: How to dress like Roger Sterling

Pete Campbell is one of the more interesting characters on the hit TV show Mad Men, which airs on AMC. He's sneaky and conniving, but he's also vulnerable and at times very weak. Some of these characters show up in his clothing choices, and it's very telling of both his character and the details that the makers of this show go into to make the office evolve.

In the first couple of seasons, Pete Campbell's suits seemed a bit out of place. He was well-dressed, but his clothing was also making him stand out too much. He wasn't blending well with the middle-age men at the office, and his suits were making him look like exactly what he was: a recent college grad just trying to see if he can cut it with the big boys.

As time passes by, we see Campbell's clothing choices change. He begins by trying to mimic the looks of Don Draper, his office rival but also a man he aspires to be. In recent seasons, as he's climbed the corporate ladder, Campbell has begun to look less like a boy and more like "one of the boys", so to speak.

Let's take a look at what it takes to achieve that Pete Campbell appearance:

The Pete Campbell Suit - The Early Seasons

In early seasons, Campbell's suits were usually blue, and they had very narrow lapels. He would only wear a few suits per season, which makes sense because we know he was not living as comfortably as other people at Sterling-Cooper and probably couldn't afford a new suit for every day of the month.

The narrow lapels were a poor choice for Campbell because he's got a baby face. Narrow lapels make his face look even wider and more youthful. Youthful is good if you're 45 and you want to look like you're 35. It's bad if you're 25 and it makes you look like you're 15.

The pants that Campbell wore with his suits were not well fitted in early seasons. They were baggy in the seat area, which gave the impression of a boy trying on his daddy's clothes. You always want to look like a suit and pants were made for the body you have now, not the one you hope to have in a few years. That's where tailoring plays a big factor. 

Pete Campbell's Suit - The Later Years

As Campbell begins to learn the ways of men's style his wardrobe evolves. He moves away from his blue suits to more mature colors like brown. He even adds some checkered patterns, which go well with his character's youthful personality without making him look like he's dressed for a high school choir performance. His lapels become wider, making his face appear thinner and more mature. 

Many of Campbell's changes seem to move his style more towards that of Don Draper's. At times they look like they could be related, something I'm sure Don would hate to even think about.  

Pete Campbell's Ties

In the early seasons, Pete Campbell wears a lot of striped ties. The colors of these ties often coincides with the schools Campbell has attended, including the Buckley School (powder blue) and Dartmouth (green). It's quite likely that he would have kept the ties he wore as part of the uniform at these institutions (or in the case of Dartmouth, for school pride) and is now wearing them at the office. The ties are skinny to match his lapels in the early seasons, and once again they make his face appear even wider than it is. 

In recent seasons, Campbell has switched to more solid colors and moved away from just showing school spirit. In addition, he's done away with the tie bar, which accentuated his lack of height by cutting a horizontal line in his mid-section, and gone to the more Don Draper-approved tie pin.  

Pete Campbell - Other Accessories

Pete Campbell is shorter than most of the other characters on the show, and he makes some style mistakes in the early seasons that make this problem worse. As mentioned before, tie bars should be avoided on shorter people because they provide a visual point to cut the body in two sections. On that same token, belts can also do this to an even greater extent. This is why you often see shorter men wearing suspenders instead of belts. Campbell can be seen wearing suspenders in several episodes. 

Pete Campbell's shoes

From what I can tell, Campbell just wears ordinary black leather dress shoes. They are polished (obviously), since he doesn't want to look like a slob. Don't be fooled by those skinny ties in the early seasons, Campbell is the opposite of a hipster. 

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  • I am DB Cooper profile image
    Author

    I am DB Cooper 7 years ago from Whereabouts unknown at this time

    The Don Draper how-to is probably going to have to be a multi-hub series. He's such an important character, and his different styles are very reflective of his mood in very subtle ways. It's coming though.

  • wavegirl22 profile image

    Shari 7 years ago from New York, NY

    Now Mad Men happens to be a favorite of mine. Loved your Hub on how to dress like Roger Sterling but this one on Pete, well who really wants to do anything like him ;) Im waiting with bated breathe for How to dress like Don Draper. Hottie if ever there was one!

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