What Would Don Do?


Our recent post on the new business casual dress code at JP Morgan and PricewaterhouseCoopers inspired this quip in the comments section:

So glad Weiner ended ‘Mad Men’ so I never will have to watch a 60-year-old Don Draper wear a size large OCBD with Top-Siders and chinos to the office.

Which got me wondering: just what would Don do if his office voted to go casual? Probably smoke and drink himself to death (which he was doing anyway, granted). So with help from one of Ivy’s Facebook group members, we came up with this:


Actually Don goes casual at the office in the episode entitled “Three Sundays.” But it was on a Sunday and at least he wore his tassel loafers. — CC


33 Comments on "What Would Don Do?"

  1. Is there something particularly wrong with a “size large oxford?” I mean, at 6’2″, I think Don has to wear whatever fits…
    Perhaps that was supposed to mock traditional fit shirts, but I prefer to read things as they’re written.

    I will, however, part from the consensus: Lung cancer is much worse than business casual.

  2. A Bridge Too Far | August 16, 2016 at 6:43 pm |

    While Don might have thought business causal was a mortal sin, I doubt he would have asked, “What would Jesus do?” At least I don’t recall any scenes that took place in a church or any references to religion during the series, and he always seemed to be a-religious to me, though I could be mistaken on that. Regardless, I think Don would have eventually traded in his tassels for snaffles and opted for Guccis. But that’s as far as he would have gone. There’s good reasoning for this: At the end of the series it was the 1970s. We never saw Don in tie-dye or see his sideburns lengthen. That’s why he’d stay the course with his wardrobe. He did smoke a little weed, though, so he wasn’t totally corruptible. That’s why he go a little Gucci.

  3. If I hadn’t seen it with my own eyes, I wouldn’t believe it: there exists a bracelet that has imprinted on it the words, “What Would Don Draper Do”. It obviously encourages decision making that no self-respecting Baptist or Presbyterian church lady would ever consider.

  4. (To: MrErik). The harm in a size large OCBD is not the size of the man but the fact that the manufacturers have caved to mass production sport shirt sizing over trad sizing of 16 / 35.

    (To: A Bridge too Far). As for Jesus, Don referenced him at least twice. Once, in “The Good News,” indirectly and, sadly, with disrespect, before dancing with Anna Draper’s niece Stephanie. Also, in “The Hobo Code” when he tells a client that Jesus “either lives in your heart or He doesn’t.” Very true, by the way.

    Thanks for using my quote, Christian.

  5. A Bridge Too Far | August 17, 2016 at 7:12 am |

    The only direct religious quote I recall from that series was from my favorite character, Roger Sterling: “When God closes a door, he opens a dress.” That about sums it all up.

  6. @A Bridge Too Far: “At least I don’t recall any scenes that took place in a church or any references to religion during the series, and he always seemed to be a-religious to me, though I could be mistaken on that.”

    Are you being purposely obtuse, or have you never actually watched the series?

  7. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | August 17, 2016 at 9:27 am |

    Pete Campbell and Roger Sterling were always better dressed. People keep forgetting that it was those 2 that were “legit” and Don was actually a fraud. He was well put together, yes, but you’d have to imagine he was imitating Roger or the execs at Sterling Cooper.

  8. Admittedly, Chewco, Don looked far less put togehter when he was a fur salesman. But both Pete and Roger, with side burns, wide lapels and ties, and Roger’s garish plaid jackets paired with odd slacks, succommed to the 1970s fashion demise which Weiner, thankfully, never allowed Don to follow.

  9. But how do you handle an office that leans more casual? I sadly have an entire closet of jackets and ties that lay dormant thanks to a “startup culture”. If I wear chinos, it’s considered fancy.

  10. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | August 17, 2016 at 11:55 am |

    Joelvau: This was his typical attire and I think you can still get away with wearing this today: http://cdn0.vox-cdn.com/assets/4266213/roger.jpg

    Zack: Geez, where do you work? Schlumberger?

  11. What would Dick Whitman — wearing his Don Draper stolen identity — do? I’d ask instead, to what lengths must Dick go to maintain his Don cover. Yeah, he’d go casual, but only once it hit critical mass, only to blend in, blending being the essential piece to the Outsider plot device. #standoutwhileblendingin

  12. Charlottesville | August 17, 2016 at 12:24 pm |

    Chewco — The pic of Roger c. 1970 reminded me of this outfit worn by Dick Cavett: http://celebsontv.blogspot.com/2010/06/raquel-welch-dick-cavett-show-1970-06.html . And remember that his TV wardrobe was provided by J. Press. I note that Raquel Welch still looks pretty good, but Janis Joplin’s look (last photo) has not aged well.

  13. The greatest WASP fight ever was Pete Campbell and the headmaster of the Greenwich school that wouldn’t admit his daughter arguing over a centuries old family feud that involved Campbell’s ancestors pruning some branches off the headmaster’s family tree. “The king ordered it!”

  14. A Bridge Too Far | August 17, 2016 at 1:04 pm |

    That series always made me wonder if the writers and producers were trying to make the point that the WASP/establishment culture was bankrupt from its outset? It always seemed that the way those folks acted–the heavy drinking, womanizing, and lack of respect for just about anything and anyone, especially themselves–was pretty amoral. Was dressing well supposed to be some sort of redemptive character trait? Or was it saying that that was just a front for a totally debauched culture?

  15. Lane Pryce talking to his wife about never being asked where he went to school spoke volumes to me. In America, the class in which you are born has nothing to do with your success or failure in life. Though the characters in the series were pretty much immoral in most ways, they did dress well, and isn’t the act of dressing well pretty much license to behave badly-I believe I saw that somewhere in relation to FEC.

    Lane’s fist fight with Campbell as a matter of honor was fun as well and a good way straighten out a smart ass co-worker. Wouldn’t you agree Bridge?



  16. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | August 17, 2016 at 1:44 pm |

    Cville: Ah yes, I believe the double-breasted silhouette is making a comeback!

    I looks like Cavett is wearing the “proper” version, with 6×2 buttons – the most visually satisfying in my opinion. 4×1 buttons died in the 80s and thank goodness for that. I wonder if one like his is available at J. Press today. Cavett was a real gentleman, and he had that transatlantic accent to show it.

    For me, its a little inappropriate to overdress at work whereas it is just as inappropriate to underdress when going out – especially to dinner.

  17. A Bridge Too Far | August 17, 2016 at 2:09 pm |

    Ah yes, Will, I do remember that. About honor? No, I don’t think so. As I recall, it started over someone having gum stuck to their pubis. That’s not a badge of honor in my book. Pryce was another great character from that series. He was the very model of a modern major Englishman. In the end, though, he was destroyed by his own culture, embezzling money because he couldn’t face the disdain for being broke he knew would be forthcoming from his peers. So, he hung himself. The culture gave him no way out and he accepted that, even though he was living in America. Pretty sad methinks.

  18. I always thought the main critique of WASP culture on that show was its desire to be and stay exclusive, and the entitlement that came with that. Which is why it’s such a turning point not just for the show, but for the 1960s elite when ultra-WASP Pete discovers Don’s secret identity, broadcasts it, and no one cares.
    “Who cares?” Bertram Cooper says. “This country was built and run by men with worse stories than whatever you’ve imagined here.”
    Campbell can’t understand why a man who isn’t actually one of the elite, but merely pretending, isn’t drawn and quartered. It’s the breakdown of class based on merit instead of birthright.
    Roger always seemed like the inverse of Pete. Possibly due to his time in the navy in WWII, he at times tried to undercut his to-the-manor-born upbringing, like when he claimed to have taken a tramper down to Hilton Head in his youth, only to have it later revealed it was a yacht. He seems far more willing than Pete to accept the changes in culture (see his willingness to try LSD; although he draws the line at his daughter’s hippie commune).

  19. Charlottesville | August 17, 2016 at 3:58 pm |

    Chewco — You are right about the 6×2 DB blazer. Cavett’s looks a bit shorter and with a higher button stance than the classic version, but it was probably fairly conservative for 1970, when the so-called “Victorian” double breasted velvet look of the late 60’s was still around. I know that J. Press carried double breasted suits (in seersucker, at least) as recently as 8 or so years ago, but the jacket was a bit longer, much like the Polo version. I have no problems with DB suits and blazers, and think Bruce Boyer, for one, looks great in his. At the risk of being expelled from the Ivy Style comment section, I have to admit that I have 2 DB suits from Polo and a custom DB blazer from my Washington tailor. However, I probably wear them only once a year, if that. They somehow seem more appropriate in Manhattan than in Charlottesville. Perhaps it is related to your observation regarding overdressing. I tend generally to wear the same thing to work and then out to dinner, which generally means a suit and tie, but on the weekend, I may wear a blazer and skip the tie. As it is, I am often one of 2 or 3 men wearing a coat and the only one in a tie. Even 21 no longer requires a tie, although I would never go there without one. I doubt there are 5 places in NY that require a tie, and I can think of none in Washington. In Charlottesville, which is still a fairly traditional place, there is no dress code, even at the best restaurants. I regularly see men at dinner wearing shorts or jeans with t-shirts even in good restaurants, so I suppose I should be grateful for those who at least don khakis and a polo shirt.

  20. Charlottesville | August 17, 2016 at 4:50 pm |

    Correction: I think that the late 60s Austin Powers look was referred to as “Edwardian.” I had the wrong sovereign.

  21. @Stephen B I completely agree with you about Mad Men’s critic of WASP culture. It was highly accurate as the show sub-textually depicted its downfall and highlighted the reasons for its downfall. I too loved the WASP fight (sounds oxymoronic) between Pete and Mr.Macdonald although it got a little histrionic and boderline soap opera-like. “No Macdonald will ever mix with a Campbell”.

  22. I meant critique, not critic.

  23. You have to understand there wasn’t a WASP producer (Save consultant Lisa Albert, Swarthmore ’81) within a mile of that show which helps explain the unflattering manner in which they’re portrayed. Also explains the absolute nihilistic behavior of Don as well. Not a redeeming characteristic within him. There’s a scene where he derides Betty for being a “Protestant mainliner” which you can imagine was one of the producers many vicarious screeds.

  24. Indeed, one of the meta themes of MM was the breakdown of the Wasp establishment in favor of a more egalitarian society over the course of the 60’s.

    Back to the original post. It has surprised me that MM did not show more characters wearing 3r2 Sacks and BD shirts. Many of the characters were from traditional Eastern / Wasp / Ivy backgrounds where Sacks would have been ubiquitous. The show collaborated with BB in creating the wardrobe selections for the characters, with many items coming from BB archives. Yet very few Sacks and BD shirts.

    The DD we saw was a person trying to blend into the background. But there were glimpses of his adult past before joining SC. I would have liked to have seen more of his evolution from pushy dishevelled fur salesman, to polished Ad Man in 5 years. He was hired during the winter of 1955 as a junior copywriter. By Feb 1960 he was the Creative Director of the firm. That was a heck of a trajectory.

  25. @WFBjr while the writers did everything they could to malign WASPs and their culture, it had a reverse effect on myself. This show made me love and appreciate old clothing and traditional values and only further highlighted modern society’s problems.

  26. @rl1856 yes Mad Men showed just how society changed for, in many ways, the worst. I too had the same thought about how the characters weren’t trad enough but I remembered an early episode where Pete’s parents derided him for being in advertising. It was a profession that was not looked upon favorably by WASPs and Ivy Leaguers alike even though it was, in the early days, dominated by them. Many of the WASP characters may have been trying to cover up their possible Ivy heritage but I also think that the costume designer was ignorant of trad style. The show’s creators probably figured that they couldn’t go wrong by having Brooks provide the clothing.

  27. I think the costume designer knew trad inside and out, but threw all the trad signage into old man Bertram Cooper’s wardrobe. The rest of the young bucks in the office dressed Manhattan/MadAv formal, but when Bert appears in the office wearing his OCBD, bowtie, rumpled light colored suits, the contrast makes its own point. The pic at the top here, Sunday at the office, is loaded with trad signage [including the white base layer t-shirt, polished tassel loafers, the little bit of shirt cuff reveal at the sweater sleeve].

  28. A Bridge Too Far | August 18, 2016 at 9:54 am |

    Unfortunately, the so-called traditional ‘values’ weren’t really values at all, at least according to MM. It was painted as so exclusionary no one seemed happy, unless staring down the far end of a bottle. Is that how values are supposed to work? If they were true values, the universe would recognize them as such. It’s just one ethnic group’s rule-set, nothing more. And in the case of MM, those rules seemed crushing of the individual spirit. As Steven B points out: merit, not heritage was the greater value.

  29. @Flo I’m not sure about that, Bert Cooper just dressed like an old man he never wore 3/2 roll sack suits. I wouldn’t be surprised if the costume designer didn’t know ivy style just as the writers may not have known the specifics of WASP culture. But I agree that the rest of the office dressed in Manhattan business style which is appropriate.

  30. @ WFB: “Protestant mainliner”, or “Protestant Main Liner”? I submit there’s a difference. Although it may be unknowable how the line was written (capitalized) in the script. Unless you can find one on the street in Manhattan.

  31. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | August 18, 2016 at 2:20 pm |

    Cville – I was in Ralph Lauren the other day and I noticed a new DB jacket on a mannequin that looked very proper. I was *this* close to taking the plunge but I was in the process of having alterations done on another jacket (sewing button holes/functional cuffs) and it amounted to almost $200(!!!). So I decided against making any additional purchases that day. Besides, I am about 20 years too young to be walking around in one.

    Next time I head back to cville, maybe having dinner downtown at, say, Hamilton’s, I’ll be on the look out for a gentleman in a DB. Cheers!

  32. It was Main Liner. If I recall correctly when Betty would go visit her family it was to PA. Although she was most likely reared as a mainliner. To call her a Protestant mainliner would be somewhat of an oxymoron I suppose.

  33. @WFBjr how would calling Betty a Protestant Mainliner be oxymoronic? Wouldn’t it be redundant, if anything?

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