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You’re a professional guy. Confident. Successful. You’re about to leave for a business trip that includes everything from presenting a report to “casual” cocktail chats. And you have absolutely no idea what to pack.

Hey, you’ve got some fashion smarts. You’re fully aware of the authoritative presence conferred by your business suit, not to mention the psychological benefit to you— you just feel more professional, powerful, in-control. You’re channeling Don Draper (of AMC’s Mad Men), in fact. But how do you translate Don’s 1960s adman look to a modern working wardrobe?


Let’s take a closer look, not so much at the specific design details of the dapper Don’s executive style, but more at the overall concepts.

  • Think subtle. Stay away from bold colors, wildly-patterned shirts or ties, and exaggerated cuts.
  • Think sleek. For the suit, the key is in the fit; look for broader shoulders that taper to the waist (no boxy jackets or baggy trousers need apply for this fashion job). Narrow is a crucial part of this look: narrow waist, narrow lapels, narrow trouser legs, narrow ties.
  • Think status. Details really count with this approach to professional style. Don almost always has a pristine pocket square, and he certainly pays attention to the finishing touches, such as tastefully substantial cuff links, and, of course, the highest-quality silk ties. (You’ll find more details on the Draper look here.)

And speaking of men’s silk ties, here’s a trick for coaxing many looks out of a few pieces: develop a repertoire of different ways to knot your ties. Yes, there’s the classic Windsor, Half-Windsor, Pratt, and Four-in-Hand. (If you’re making a professional move from, say, Seattle to New York City, you might benefit from this tying tutorial, complete with videos and illustrations). And those classic knots work very well with ties that are patterned, striped, or just boldly solid-colored.

But if you’re inspired by the subtly powerful Draper look, you might want to try adding the Eldredge knot to your list. This is a fascinating (and attention-getting) knot that’s gaining popularity with professional men in 2013, and with good reason. Its intricate, origami-like finish speaks of more than mere fashion-trend-following: it says here is attention to detail, and willingness to experiment outside the sartorial box. It says, in effect, that here is original thinking.

And because the Eldredge works best with solid-color ties (the better to showcase its complex technique), it’s the perfect knot to integrate into your Mad Men-influenced professional style.


How does all this help you with your packing? Believe it or not, cultivating a modern version of Don Draper’s ’60s style can enable you to pack easily and efficiently for that multi-tasking trip. This is definitely a time when quality outweighs quantity; for example, a suit tailored with high-quality, tightly-woven gabardine is less likely to wrinkle (saving you time and steam). Add at least one shirt per trip day, and a variety of ties, cuff links, and possibly pocket squares. (You know what a difference it makes just to change from lace-ups to loafers!)

Keeping the garments you pack to a minimum and bringing a variety of accessories is a great strategy, especially when you have lots of different events to cover. Yes, it does take some planning, even strategic thinking, but all that advance effort will produce a successful, confident image that will last beyond your business week. Mr. Draper would approve.

By Liz Becker


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