At the launch of the Brooks Brothers "Mad Men" limited edition men's suit, available from October 19 to November 8 (the date of the season finale) for $998, the actors on the AMC show fessed up to how much their personal wardrobes - and lifestyles - have changed since they started the show. It turns out they've learned their lesson: the power of the well-tailored suit.
"Before the show, my inspiration for clothing came from Pearl Jam and Nirvana: ripped clothes and long hair," says Rich Sommer. "I had zero suits. I was living in New York, temping, and when they'd ask us to wear suits, I'd always say I don't have one." But since he began playing Harry Crane, head of the television department at Sterling Cooper, his style has changed. "I've become more of a fashion conservative. When my time on the show ends, I think I'll wear suits. I love the masculinity of wearing a suit. People respect you. Today I was riding a bus in my scrubs and a guy elbowed me full on. In a suit that wouldn't happen. There's something that commands respect. Growing up, I never understood my dad wearing a suit, the presentation of a suit, but there's something about it, it's a put togetherness. There's a status that comes with the suit. It's not explicit, it's implicit." Sommer has started adding accessories to complete his new look. "I like cufflinks, I have one pair I wore to the Emmy's – I got them for Fathers' day, from my daughter, she's 2 years old. They have a locket with photos of my daughter, and they're monogrammed. I love them. I always wear them with a French cuff shirt."
"I usually wear jeans or hiking pants and comfortable shoes," says Michael Gladis, who plays Paul Kinsey, a copywriter on the show. But he's been wearing suits more often: Thanks to "Mad Men," he now has 13 or 14 suits in his closet. "There's something intangible about it," he says. A guest at the party chimes in: "I'm always attracted to men who wear suits." He accessorizes with a pocket square, just in case he encounters a woman crying, he says.
"Janie turned me into a suit guy," said Vincent Kartheiser, who plays Pete Campbell on the show. The suit goes along with the exciting life he has growing out of the show's success. "To put on a suit is a celebration, to say that there's something fantastic going on. If you own a lot you have a lot of celebrating to do," That description fits him. "The greatest thing" that has come as a result of the show's success "is that there's this group of artists so moved by the show who we get to meet." For example, he recently met Swiss film director Barbet Schroeder. "He was telling me stories of being with Polanski when he was trying to sell 'Knife in the Water,' Kartheiser recalls. As far as other ways his lifestyle his changed: "I get more manicures." Just then a waiter swoops by offering him fried chicken. Kartheiser passes, and the waiter says, "Would you like me to bring you some dessert?" "See, that's how good my life is now: that happens."