Don Draper Is A Terrible Style Icon

If you aspire to look like Don Draper, what you're essentially saying is, "I want to dress in a way that pleases everybody." Zero of Draper's style choices are informed by what he's actually into—he just wears it because it's what he feels like he's supposed to. He's a veteran after all, so he's no stranger to being wholly dependent on a uniform. And as Jon Hamm's iconic character has progressed, it's become all the more evident that his outwardly impeccable sartorial tendencies are nothing but part of the facade he's created for himself.

To dress like Don Draper is to give into the dress code. It's taking the "personal" out of "personal style." It's being a suit and not wearing one because you want to. Draper is more of a testament to the power that a tall, athletic frame can bring to a tailored suit rather than the instant zap of confidence that comes from putting on something that makes you feel like a million bucks. Don Draper is a champion of conformity, not self-expression.

Sure, Draper's had his risky style moments. He's worn Hawaiian shirts under sportcoats. He's worn bold striped ties and isn't afraid of plaid blazers either. But there is a reason he's never consciously out dressed his superior, Roger Sterling: because when it comes to Mad Men's true Patrick Bateman analog, it's him. Sterling is a self-aware, preening, lifestyle terrorist. He wears everything with an air of "these clothes make me better than you." Both of these men are terrible people, but at least Sterling's the real deal.

Don Draper is no more than the rich douchebag who buys nice clothes and forgets about them just because he can. He could keep a stockpile of Charvet or Finamore shirts in his desk drawer and treat them like Uniqlo T-shirts. He's the ancestor to the modern hypebeast, a poser who cops expensive things because he thinks throwing it on will make you respect him. He is an aesthetic ready to be displayed in a Banana Republic window and sold to you for an exorbitant markup. Ironically, all Don Draper ever was…was a product.

In the pantheon of old white dudes whose photos regularly end up on The Impossible Cool, the guys who epitomized rebel style (Keith Ricards, Steve McQueen, Serge Gainsbourg) always outshine the nattiest dressers. And it's because their clothes are a natural extension of themselves. They're not dressing for the job they want or how they want to be perceived—they were just dressing themselves to the tune of "I woke up like this." If you take Keith Richards out of the "Who the Fuck Is Mick Jagger?" T-shirt, he's still Keith Richards. You take Don Draper out of the suit and comb away his side part, he's Dick Whitman. That's not style; that's a costume.

36 Responses to “Don Draper Is A Terrible Style Icon”

  1. Ethan Dulles

    hey-yo! Jian back on the four-pins! Glad that you’re back, bro!

  2. Mephisto

    If you think Steve McQueen wasn’t a product then you’re a retard

    • Rox

      so true! what a retard. that 4PINS crit runs deep. these comments are like str8 outta them highly sophisticate classes they teach at places like SWA(r)Thmore – cuz i’m assuming that’s one of the “cool” lib-art schools out there.

  3. kingleeroi

    but complex put up a list of 10 suits that i should buy cuz don would wear em

  4. Anthony

    Ah, the conformity of the non-conformists. For a group of people who are cool with guys wearing tights and will promote anything Kanye West sniffs at, this is the epitome of doublespeak. If the suit is a uniform then it’s time to state the obvious. Almost all of you guys are straight posers.

    • WAVY

      Not to mention a year and a half ago he was ALL ABOUT that suited up life… That’s him in 2012 I doubt he was wearing J’s that day smfh. And I bet he was blushing when he overheard girls say ”this dude looks soooo Don Draper”. For the record: they thought his tiny poser ass was gay as fuck. They still do. I can *No homo* this without offending him since he also pretends he’s mad into Cam’ron since day one lol

      • Jian

        Actually, I still wear suits. The difference is I wear them because I feel like it, not because that’s what everyone in my office wears, nor because I feel obligated to in whatever role my job is.

        Do Lawrence and James give me shit for showing up to work an EG sport coat while they type away in nylon track pants and John Elliott hoodies? Sure. But I do me.

        Nerd-182 gets it: you should aspire to dress like someone who you ACTUALLY are.

        Yes, Don Draper looks great in a suit, I don’t deny him that, nor any guy. But again, he’s dressing in the complete opposite of “doing him.” Should guys wear suits? Sure. But not because of Don Draper. His whole put-together steez over the seasons only makes it easier to tell when the man’s totally fallen apart:

        • WAVY

          You still manage to let it be known that you wear EG sport coats ”when you feel like it”. You’re still tryna stunt on people when you do. In fact, it’s the ONLY reason why you do it. And you know what? We all do. Don, Lawrence and James also do. If you keep it real with yourself, you’ll have to admit it was never about ”doing you” unless you mean masturbating. There is no such thing as dressing like the person you really are wtf is that even supposed to mean. Men make clothes, not the other way around. There is no need to write a new set of artificial moral rules every time the fashion trends shift only to justify our own consumerist thirst for relevancy. In other words, fuck outta here with dat bullshit breh breh

          • bangthekang

            murked. it’s true though, nobody dresses purely for themselves

          • nerd-182

            There is no such thing as dressing like the person you really are wtf is that even supposed to mean. Men make clothes, not the other way around.

            HONESTLY WHAT DOES THAT EVEN FUCKING MEAN? worst four pins comment of 2014

  5. Chris

    Or you can dress like him, because that’s just the kinda shit you’re into. Dumb article.

  6. nerd-182

    I certainly appreciate the sentiment in this article: Don Draper is a terrible style icon, although certainly a good dresser.
    I think the issue is somewhat overstated in the article though. Don Draper is a terrible style icon because he is wearing a uniform but that doesn’t mean that aspiring to look like him is necessarily a bad thing. For some people, it’s important to show that uniform is the first step towards style: master the basics then break the rules and demonstrate that you’re your own man. That’s when you become a style icon while being a good dresser. hence why draper is the model for many men’s style of dress, because he is the epitome of uniform.
    Conversely it’s entirely possible to be a style icon while being a terrible dresser. Keith Richards looks like a clown by anybody’s normal standards, but because he has the personality to match, people view his ridiculous dress as perfectly appropriate. That’s why supreme looks so cool on kids who skate: they own the look and it feels right on them. But that doesn’t make dressing like a rock star or supreme fan the “best” way to dress. The platonic ideal of men’s style STILL looks something like Don Draper. If that feels bland to you, that’s because it is.

    Essentially, you should aspire to dress like someone who you ACTUALLY are. That’s why Don Draper looks good: he is a business man, he dresses the part. That doesn’t make him a style icon though. A man becomes a style icon when he owns a look unique to him.

    TL;DR version: fashion trumps style for normal people, style is developed with time and taste.

  7. Dillon

    But I bet if he wore some $500 tapered sweatpants and a t-shirt with holes in it you´d suck him off, no?

    • WAVY

      Hahahaha damn right he would.But he would have 2 years ago with the suit too let’s not forget. And he will 6 months from now with whatever is hype at that moment smfh

  8. maxm2764

    Truth is, Don Draper has more style than everyone at Four-Pins combined. Oh, and he’s a much better writer than them, too.

  9. Evil Merino

    Don Draper isn’t a style icon, his demeanor and dress sense was indicative of the time period. The suit is a uniform? It’s 2014, most standard work attire (for the
    people reading Four-Pins) is definitely NOT a suit. Any lawyers or
    business execs reading this – my bad. If anything, wearing a suit today
    is going against what MOST people wear. Personally? I dig the thought of having a closet full of Finamore and Mercer & Sons that I could treat like Uniqlo. The whole menswear culture is focused around elitism and flexing as much as possible. Why hate on it?

  10. Ross

    i do agree roger dresses better, but by better i mean more interesting. otherwise i don’t see anything wrong with a suit and tie “uniform” if thats what you want to wear. better than the asshats who wear pyrex, HBA, and brands of that nature all the time..

  11. Dagoat Man

    Jian DeLeon is the menswear blog equivalent of drake’s bitchmade strug’n’b catalog

  12. Tom L Lange

    These guys fail to comprehend. YES, there is a bit of conformity in wearing a suit: It starts with the notion that THIS is a requirement of “gentlemen” in certain certain contexts. If you are a Wall St. broker, up-and-coming-politician, businessman on Madison Avenue, or Savile Row, or an attorney in court… Guess what? ALL of them are conforming. Why? Because that is what the job requires and expects. Want to be successful in those areas? You HAVE to dress the part…It comes with the territory.

    I don’t like the notion, but it still is par for the course. Just as much as ridiculous style expressions/over-the-top dress SHOULD be reserved for the golf course.

    Not to mention: the 20-somethings out there-trying to look good-in a suit-> Probably ALL have it wrong when they put on a watch.

    Morons… the lot of them. If you want to ACTUALLY look the part, virtually every watch sold at your average jeweler, and 99% of the watches that Rolex makes-will tell the world: I am a cretin. Whether I have money (in the case of the Rolex) or not, I surely don’t know how to look the part of a gentleman…

  13. Anon Anonymity

    Get a load of this guy!

    You’ve obviously never watched the show but thats fine. I had no idea presenting yourself as a well put together adult was uncool. The clothes dont make the man, but they reinforce who he is.

    I bet your idea of dressing up is a stretched out band t-shirt and ripped levis with one of those grey unisex, striped stoner hoodies.

    By the way, the suit is a uniform since he works a white collar job with formal dress atire as the norm. Try it out sometime.


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