Walk A Mile In Don’s Shoes: Mad Men Prop Auction Starts Tomorrow

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“Mad Men” fans rejoice: tomorrow is your chance to get a souvenir from the show. The auction website Screenbid.com is putting up what looks like 1,000 props from the show, including wardrobe items.

I took a look at nearly a dozen and most were from Brooks Brothers, which surprised me, since I’ve publically complained here that the celebrated costuming always looked too slick and Rat Packy and not Madison Avenue Ivy enough. There must be an explanation.

If anyone wins anything, be sure and let us know here. — CC

20 Comments on "Walk A Mile In Don’s Shoes: Mad Men Prop Auction Starts Tomorrow"

  1. Oh, what the hell. I’ll bite.

    “…since I’ve publically complained here that the celebrated costuming always looked too slick and Rat Packy and not Madison Avenue Ivy enough. There must be an explanation.”

    Isn’t the explanation obvious? The “slick,” “Rat Packy” vibe is 100% modern-day Brooks, right? I always thought the “Rat Pack” looked like they outfitted by Italian tailors who tended toward the “slick” (think high supers sharkskins and mohair). If Boyer’s assessment of Brooks (“low-rent Italian department store”) is correct, then it makes all the sense in the world that the Mad Men cast members were supplied by Brooks.

    I just saw the autumn ’15 Southwick swatches. Ugh. Mushy Italian cloth, most of it. Gross.

  2. Well that’s not really what I meant. I don’t think “Mad Men” looked Rat Packy (first voiced here, I think, in the Richard Press interview) because the costumer had chosen contemporary Brooks. I assumed the stuff was Main Street vintage. Especially the neckties (of which more survive than suits).

    Perhaps it’s a combination of the slicked hair, the generally non-oxford-cloth shirts, the shiny/trendy for the time neckties and possibly even the lighting. It’s also possible that the Brooks items chosen were not contemporary to the show’s setting (the suits would have to be 50 years old and would look it), or were the brand’s trendier offerings at the time.

  3. My view remains “Mad Men” reflected Hart, Schaffner, Marx 1960 rather than Brooks Brothers 1960,or J.Press, Paul Stuart, Chipp,or Abercrombie & Fitch 1960 where most of the real mad men bought their clothes. Mr. Boyer as always is on target with his low grade department store assessment. Any resemblance of Tom Buchanan’s Brooks faux Fence Club outfits in the recent Gatsby flick would have 1920s Brooks customer and Cottage Clubber F. Scott turning in his grave like a windmill.

  4. Some thoughts:
    1-In early 60s Italians were not dress like members of rat pack.
    The rat pack outfitter was the los angeles tailor Sy Devore,and for every Italian of that age the suits of Sinatra,Dean Martin,Sammy Davis Jr and Peter Lawford would be identified as 100% American.
    In Italy lapels and ties were never so skinny,trouser not so short;the two styles were very different.

    2-If in early 60s Hollywood did a movie or a TV series on Madison Avenue,how you think that they dress the characters?
    How was dress the Madison Avenue advertising men,Darrin Stephens (Dick York) the husband of Samantha in “bewitched”,or Rock Hudson in “Lover Come Back” (1961)?
    Not in Ivy style,but with “slick” fashionable style at the last vogue in Los Angeles.
    I think that the guys of Mad Men costume department have dress Don and friends not as real Madison Avenue advertising men of early 60s,but like actors of early 60s in a movie on Madison Avenue shot in Hollywood.

  5. I was not a fan of MM (for a myriad of reasons). Even from a saratorial perspective, the show seems to miss much of the Madison Ave look…this is a topic “Take Ivy” spent a fair amount of pages with.

    Although I am not a Mad man, it’s my understanding that many of these men simply traded the college campus for the office and brought with them a polished version of their ivy/natrual shouldered look? From what (admittedly little) I’ve seen of MM, most of the male characters sport a clean updated American/continental look….more padded/square shoulders and narrow straight collars.

    Again, I am not trying to speak as an authority but these were my observations.

  6. Roger Sack | July 30, 2015 at 10:14 pm |

    The previous comments are correct. I was well socialized in the Ivy style at the time.
    I was attending Cornell, bastion of Ivy purism among a significant portion of students.
    I also was a New Yorker, whose father dressed in a tweedy Ivy style and whose business
    partner was a prominent photographer who did work for Madison Ave ( as well as publications
    such as Fortune and Artictural Forum).I also met many Mad Ave types. MM portrayed not only
    a Hollywod version of Ivy, but something of a mid-American version. I imagined that’s what Ad Men
    wore in Detroit or Cincinatti.

  7. I happened to be in Bologna recently, and came across a Brooks Brothers that, I was told, was two years old. Everything in the store was Red Fleece. Nothing that would fit me, even though I am far from overweight (just a grown-up).

    On the other hand, there is a very expensive tailor in Florence called Liverano, whose house style is a 3-button-rolled-to-two with soft shoulders, vented or unvented: http://liverano.com/en/our-style

    I’m not at all a cognoscenti, but the Italian style seems to have some range to it. Carmelo?

  8. What’s interesting (to me, at least) is how the affiliations change over time. Mention “Natural shoulder” or “Ivy” or “New Haven” or “Princeton” style to a young (or even middle aged) guy these days, and you’ll likely receive a confused tilt of the head, followed by “Say again?” or “I don’t quite understand.” Say “preppy” or, even better, “traditional” or “Polo” (the brand), and you’ll receive a knowing nod from undergrads at plenty of Southern colleges (particularly certain private liberal-arts colleges, prep schools, and big university fraternities), as well as Princeton and maybe a small handful of Northeastern colleges. If the tweedy, loafered, pipe-smoking BMOC once called to mind all things “Brooksy,” “Old Blue” (Boola-Boola, Mory’s, blah-blah-blah)* and/or “Old Nassau,” today he (likely sans pipe) is more likely to invoke images of pledge weeks and game days at Sewanee, UVA, HSC (where road trips to locals women’s colleges remain a weekend rite) and W&L. Manhattan “ad men” don’t rush to J. Squeeze, Brooks, or Chipp. Not anymore. But plenty of Southern gents who favor “traditional” clothing devour the modern-day versions of natural shoulder (the phrase Ben Silver uses) clothing.

    * “Bonesy bullshit” and “Dink Stover crap”–A. Whitney Griswold

  9. Did anyone else come across this gem?
    http://auction.screenbid.com/view-auctions/catalog/id/38/lot/15220/?url=%2Fview-auctions%2Fcatalog%2Fid%2F38%2F%3Fpage%3D35

    Why is it that the collar roll pictured is better than the collar roll on BB’s current OCBD offering? Is it possible that this piece was made to resemble the collars of the heyday?

  10. Addendum–
    Paul Winston once reflected upon decades in the traditional clothing trade–the best-dressed men were “graduates of Princeton and UVA.”

  11. JDD–

    Yes. Brooks’ shirts are made by Garland, whose makes shirts for Ratio Clothing and Michael Spencer, who offer unlined, longer (3.5″) collars. So, yes, possible. Likely.

  12. Why would they wear boxy too big suits? They were in advertising not a middle class class insurance salesman.

  13. Refer to JFKs tailored fit suits, not boxy Nixonesque awful attire.

  14. Charlottesville | July 31, 2015 at 11:16 am |

    S.E. – Thanks for the comments on Southern schools, including those in Virginia with which I have a good bit of familiarity. I see some natural shoulders, and some un-darted, 2 button sport coats (probably Southwick from Eljo’s) in my part of the country, but most of the youngsters seem to go with the snug, wasp-waisted look similar to contemporary Polo. This style is fairly widely imitated, and is no-doubt what is generally available at most shopping malls, although the Polo blue-label version looks better than most, if you are willing to go up a size. I also note that I see more bow ties now than I had in recent years past, but thankfully not the Brooklyn hipster bartender sort (http://www.amazon.com/Bow-Book-James-Gulliver-Hancock/dp/0789329190/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1438355478&sr=1-1&keywords=bow+tie+book ).

  15. Roy R. Platt | July 31, 2015 at 11:35 am |

    Although there is a massive amount of both film and photographs taken in both New York and Hollywood in the sixties (and everywhere else since the invention of photography) people who weren’t there continue to imagine (and believe) all sorts of bizarre things about what people looked like.

    I was there then, and people in show business in Hollywood looked like this:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1rhpoEzu59c

  16. I would be eager to hear from Squeeze and Paul Winston, among others–what, according to their rough but educated estimation, percentage of men in America wore Ivy style consistently back in the Heyday (let’s go with CC’s time span). 20% 40? Surely not more than half.

  17. I may be able to provide some insight. I”ve had a vintage menswear industry magazine for a month or so now, and it’s probably finally time to scan and summarize it. Should give us some insight on the size of the market at the time.

  18. I graduated from a Southern college in 1963. I can say without question that 100% of Greeks wore Ivy as did probably 80-90% of the student body as a whole. In my first job at a large aerospace manufacturer, I worked with a group of Arthur Young (now Ernst and Young)consultants from all over the U.S., almost all of whom wore Ivy. However, of the hundreds and hundreds of rank and file older engineers and admins at my company, almost none wore Ivy. My conclusion was that during the Ivy heyday the more professional the occupation, the more likely that Ivy was worn.

    My feeling was that “Mad Men” never got the men’s clothes right. Advertising guys should have been much more Ivy. As much as I liked the series, the clothes always bugged me.

  19. The 1957 film “Will Success Spoil Rock Hunter” is a good example of an Ivy heyday Hollywood depiction of the ad industry. Actually it’s a pretty clever satire of advertising, TV, and celebrity culture – and they get in several gags at Brooks Brothers’ expense.

    There are a couple of places where the ad execs in the film make fun of Brooks Brothers for their great success, despite their complete incompetence. I think these jokes reflect the knowledge at the time that the rage for “Ivy League” clothing was really just the long-standing Brooks Brothers look now suddenly fashionable. From the ad industry’s perspective, BB had lucked into a situation where the whole rest of the industry was doing their advertising for them.

  20. RJG | July 31, 2015 at 9:18 am |
    “On the other hand, there is a very expensive tailor in Florence called Liverano, whose house style is a 3-button-rolled-to-two with soft shoulders, vented or unvented: http://liverano.com/en/our-style

    I’m not at all a cognoscenti, but the Italian style seems to have some range to it. Carmelo”?

    Well,the suits of Liverano have not front darts,but slanted,oblique, darts.
    Is the typical Florentine cut.
    Shoulders are natural,single breasted have 3 roll 2 lapels,so there is some similarity with the Ivy sack.
    But waist is gently suppressed and the coat have open quarters a bit cut away and rounded,but the trousers are high rise so the belt is not visible.
    The house make also a fine double breasted too.

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