The Styles of AMC's Mad Men – Menswear of the 1960s
Who ever thought the 1960s would be so cool? With the success of AMC's “Mad Men,” tight-fitted gray suits and crisp spread collars are suddenly getting a second look. There's more going on than a simple “man in the gray flannel suit” look, however…join us in a series of articles taking an in-depth look at each of the Mad Men's personal style!
Paul Kinsey starts out fairly indistinguishable from his fellow Mad Men, just one of many secondary characters, but by the later seasons's he's a distinctive gentleman with a very personalized style. His mastery of facial hair and the sporting of emerging fashion trends (breaking from the traditional 50's style) deserves attention in of itself.
In addition, Kinsey does an excellent job dressing his stout frame with complimentary mens clothing items. This skill is just as applicable today as it was in the early 1960s, and so Paul Kinsey's style is worthy of close examination.
Paul Kinsey's Mad Men Style
The Heavyset Man and the Sack Suit
Pre-beard Kinsey is a more noticeably solid man than post-beard Kinsey, but he still dresses to minimize the effect. Unlike some of the slimmer Mad Men, he gets nothing but benefit out of the classic sack suit: soft in the shoulders, not too tight in the arms, and only minimally tapered at the waist. Don Draper and others at Sterling Cooper sometimes prefer a closer fit with a more tapered waist, but Kinsey sticks with the classic look and wears it loose and unbuttoned whenever possible.
He wears dark solids more than many of his fellow Mad Men as well. The smooth planes of unbroken color on either side of his torso help make the visible shirtfront seem narrower. Since his hair is much darker than his skin (unlike low-contrast Ken Cosgrove), the stark contrast is actually a good match, making white shirts and dark suits a flattering option all around.
What you don't see on Paul is a lot of thick cloth or unnecessary detailing. He sports a pocket square from time to time, always in a narrow fold, but his suits are otherwise very straightforward. The 3 or 2 button single-breasted style with the lapels folded deep on his chest gives him a clean, upward-spreading “V” of shirt fabric that narrows him more than the torso-covering cloth of a vested or double-breasted suit.
Shirts and Ties the Mad Men Way
As a businessman in the early 1960s, Paul has a lot less freedom of choice in his shirts and ties than modern men enjoy. White shirts were the unbroken rule in office clothing (and novelty ties were right out). Like many of his fellow Mad Men, Paul expresses a touch of individuality with French cuffs, using his choice of cufflink as a small personal note.
Otherwise, he wears much the same shirt as everyone else: plain white, neatly-pressed, the point collar spread at about a forty-five degree angle and long enough to fall just short of his suit's lapels.
His ties are almost always diagonally striped, and the colors are usually clearly contrasted and sharply set against one another — this is another good point of comparison with the fairer-complexioned Ken Cosgrove, who is always careful to have colors gradate slowly from one to the next.
Beards and Business Wear
The most notable style characteristic of Paul Kinsey is now his beard. This is the early 1960s, and facial hair is a touchy style for professional men, especially upwardly-ambitious ones like Paul (though we do know that he prides himself on being forward-thinking and socially liberal).
But on a more practical note, growing the beard adds some helpful lines to his face: the “handlebar” part of the mustache fills in creases that otherwise make his cheeks look jowly, and the chin hair helps limit the double-chin effect.
But what happens to make the beard appropriate for Paul's position? The first thing that any man considering wearing a beard to work needs to note is that Paul's beard is always trimmed impeccably. He's been sure to shave the cheeks enough that there's a clean line on each side saying “look, I shaved to this point” — no one can accuse him of just letting whatever hair he can grow go wild.
Paul also changes his hairstyle up a bit when he starts sporting the beard, combing it more to the side and less straight back so that the beard appears a natural extension of the hair on his head, which flows down into it. And while gray doesn't completely leave his wardrobe, brown suits become a staple after Paul grows his beard. Note the brown suits are in a suitably dark shade to contrast with his white shirts – the same way that his dark beard contrasts with his light colored face.
Casual Clothes the Mad Men Way
We get to see a little more of Paul's casual fashion than some of the other Mad Men. He's very aggressively dressed-down when he gets the opportunity for it, wearing unmatched jackets and trousers, colored shirts, and even (in one episode) a striped wool (mohair?) sweater. As Paul's characterized as the most socially progressive of the Mad Men, it stands to reason that we see a little of the drastic fashion changes that come in the late 1960s starting to play out on him first:
The key to Paul's casual fashion is that he keeps the same colors and cut as his work clothes, matching his choices to his complexion and his frame. And, of course, he's never in the wrong outfit for the wrong place — like all the Mad Men, he knows when to wear the unmatched jacket and trousers, and when to break out the sharp gray suit and professional tie.
Paul Kinsey is not the most varied dresser — those honors fall to Don Draper or Roger Sterling — but he's one of the best at matching his body to his clothing and the leader in introducing trends. The unbroken color and loose cut of his suit work well with his broad frame, and Kinsey's beard — a good fashion choice in its own right — is always carefully-tended and echoed in his clothing.
With a bit of an iconoclastic streak that shows through in his off-work outfits, Kinsey is definitely a Mad Man to watch for any modern dressers!