Every clique has the de facto stylish person, the one who introduces everyone in the crew to a trend or brand that, like Reaganomics, trickles through to even the most swagless individual on the squad. It’s sort of like Meryl Streep’s epic “you think this has nothing to do with you” speech from The Devil Wears Prada, except via the most handsome dude in the gang.
That’s really the operative factor though, because the thing about beautiful people, and conventionally attractive dudes, is that the general populace aspires to be like them a little bit more than well, everyone else. Which is how you’ve got a new generation of would-be stylish men idolizing the protagonist of Mad Men, who is by all means a terrible person who happens to look amazing in a suit.
To call Don Draper a timeless style icon is like calling Christopher Columbus one of the greatest explorers who ever lived. The realities of who he really is and the evidence of the terrible things he’s done should outweigh the fact that respectively, one looks pretty spiffy in sharkskin and the other gets a lot of credit for discovering a country that was already there. I’ve caught a ton of flack for disparaging Don Draper’s style icon status before, but my opinion still hasn’t changed.
Don Draper is the ür menswear mook. He is patient zero for the rampant spread of what I’ve come to call “no style-style.” Instead of khaki jeans and a navy blazer, the new lifestyle terrorists walk among us in cuffed selvedge jeans, Italian knit ties (with sterling silver tie bars, natch), and well, I suppose the navy blazer is still there. Draper’s uniform has inspired a new generation of douchebags to channel a look that says: “I want to look handsome, because I have the personality of drying paint.”
To call Don Draper a timeless style icon is like calling Christopher Columbus one of the greatest explorers who ever lived.
The menswear mook essentially, is #menswear's version of the basic bro. The guy who passed the 101 classes with flying colors then decided he was done learning. It's likely he cleaned up a little, noticed he got more female attention, noticed he got more compliments at work, and that was his only goal. Which is totally fine, but doesn't change the fact that he's still a bro in menswear. You can take the critter pants off the basic bro, but you can never quite remove the insufferableness.
The cool dude on the sales floor who wears Common Projects Achilles and a John Elliott Villain hoodie on Casual Fridays? Totally a menswear mook. The Long Island native who works a finance 9-5 but spends an exorbitant amount of disposable income on aftermarket Jordans and KITH Mercer pants? Yep: Menswear mook.
What Don Draper’s really done is usher in a whole new era of natty nincompoops. The kind of guy with little to no interest in menswear beyond “just wanting to look good in his clothes.” It’s the demographic old-school men’s rags like GQ and Esquire have been pandering to for decades, and the kind of surface-area style consumer that regularly pores over sites like Articles of Style, Style Girlfriend, Valet, and A Continuous Lean. The guy that loves "style" but is deathly afraid of "fashion."
This is the dude that is happy enough with his Filson briefcase, Bonobos chinos, Gitman Vintage oxfords, Alden wingtips (in shell cordovan if he’s a baller), and side part secured by a quarter-sized dollop of Baxter’s pomade and maintained with a Kent 82T foldable comb. He’s totally content in being sold an aesthetic because he never once wanted to think about style for himself. Instead of the girlfriend dressing him, he has the Internet, and of course, Don Draper. That's why I couldn't be happier that this season of Mad Men is his swan song.
Don Draper is a character who has always used dapperness as subterfuge and a shield for his own insecurities. His very existence has shown men how to hide behind a suit and a side part. He is the asshole who posts swanky selfies on Instagram with the caption "Swag is for boys, class is for men." He is a dandified monster, a scared puppy in what he thinks is wolf's clothing. And that is the essence of a menswear mook: a culturally hapless idiot who wears clothing in place of confidence.