Now in a show with so many sharp-dressed guys, where does Mad Men‘s Harry Crane come from?
Even in a row of today’s more casually-dressed businessmen we’d be wondering where those bow ties and thick glasses are coming from.
Next to someone like Don Draper there’s just no room for comparison.
Well, here’s where it gets fun — Harry’s deliberately costumed to look like a bit of a shlub.
In fact, award-winning costume designer Janie Bryant said “I wanted his character to seem more like his wife is shopping for him.”
So gentlemen beware, even professional costumers do not think it’s a good idea to trust your wife when she buys you something and says it’ll look great on you.
But what is there to get out of Harry’s Mad Men style, then, such that it is?
Traditional Suits and Jackets
We’ll start off with the good points. A lot of what Harry does wrong isn’t active errors or serious faux pas. He’s just a little boring next to the very snappy dressers that make up the rest of the main cast.
He wears a very old-fashioned sack suit with an untapered waist, which gives him a very blocky look next to the more streamlined silhouettes of the men in tapered jackets.
He’s also conservative with his colors: his suits are solid grays or occasional browns. The only time we see a really distinctive pattern on Harry is when he breaks out his summer suit, a candy-striped number that’s either a seersucker or, if not actually made from the distinctive wrinkled fabric, at least designed to evoke their effect.
But these aren’t all bad choices to be making. Harry’s a bigger man, so the dark colors help slim him down — they make a nice solid frame for his shirtfront, which seems narrower as a result.
Too much of a taper at the waist would just make his jacket strain when he buttoned it, which would look much worse than the sort of solid, stodgy look he usually sports. And we’re huge fans of his signature…
Wearing a Bow Tie
Now, no one here is going to speak up in defense of Harry’s bow tie-and-glasses combination. The thick black frames are nerdy on their own, even by 1960s standards, and pairing them with a bow tie doesn’t help him. But the ties are spot-on.
The bow tie has remained an acceptable but rarely-seen alternative to the “normal” necktie in business wear since before the early 1960s of Mad Men.
You could still wear one today without meeting any disapproval, though you’d almost certainly get comments. The extra level of skill and care a bow tie requires makes it a sort of mark for a man who thinks consciously about his appearance, especially when it appears in colors that complement your outfit.
For some modern men, the look might just be too dated. But for the secret show-offs out there it’s hard to beat a bow tie as a symbol of just how snappy a dresser you can be.
So keep an eye on Harry Crane as you enjoy Mad Men, or enjoy it all over again on DVD. He’s definitely never going to be the guy that makes you sit up and say “Dang, how do I look like that“…but he might surprise you yet.