The TV series Mad Men plot starts in 1960, where we can see that hairstyle is mostly short, greased, combed, flat and facial hair style is freshly shaven.

Matthew Weiner seems to have worked close to mid/late 60s reality and trends for his characters and we can notice most of them adopting various trends that were growing popular back then. For facial hair: big beards, whiskers, moustache... For hair: ungreased, uncombed, mid-long.

However, Donald Draper stays always the same and keeps his hair flat, greased and combed. I think that this is meaningful for the character development.

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    I don't have a source yet to back this up and make into an answer, but my guess has to do with the way Don was raised and some of the experiences he had in childhood during the Depression Era (I think he was born in 1926). One also has to consider that Hippie culture (a lot of facial hair on men) emerged towards end of the sixties and that it was the younger generations that ended up having mass facial hair, rebelling against "the establishment", which Don was apart of. In addition the character was chronically depressed. Nov 15, 2018 at 17:17
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    I will try to source it but the way I see it is mainly two-fold: 1) from a storytelling point of view, despite his existential doubts Don remains an extremely confident person: think for example on how he views his advertising work, he is never seeking for someone to validate his idea, whereas other characters (Peggy, Pete) are often seeking his approval. In that sense, he does not adhere to fashion trends, like for example Roger Sterling does (whose look evolves throughout the show) because he has his own style and he is confident about it (cont’d). Nov 15, 2018 at 18:31
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    2) secondly, and this is more speculative, I wonder whether Matthew Weiner kept Don’s (facial) hair style (and his general style) unchanged in order to give some anchor to viewers: if all the characters in the show had abruptly changed their hair and clothing style from season to season depending on evolving fashion trends, part of the audience might have lost the emotional connection to the show. Keeping Don practically unchanged would thus be a way to ensure the cyclicality every show needs so that the viewer knows that at least some things won’t change. Nov 15, 2018 at 18:37
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    @TripoelcaCosalbarYmos Those comments would be a reasonably good answer Dec 13, 2018 at 9:04
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    My guess is it helps illustrate the generation he is from. He is on the cusp of the GI/Silent generation vs other characters like Megan who are from the tail end of the Silent Generation and Sally who is a Baby Boomer. Throughout the series there are examples of the generational differences he has with others. Two that come to mind are when he and Harry go to the Stones concert and the groupies refer to them as Mr. Tate and Darin from Bewitched and when Megan brings him the Revolver album to make him more hip to the current music scene.
    – Rosie
    Feb 23, 2021 at 22:33

1 Answer 1


I would say a large symbolic part of this is the fact that Don in many ways represents a version of the American male that was pushed away by the counter culture of the 1960s. In this way Don reflects the order of things in the patriarchal American 50s and the clash between those norms and the social changes of the decade portrayed in the show. This also is seen throughout Don's story arc where he often rejects change and when he accepts it finds the new order of things hard to reconcile with his own identity.

This is also a significant part of the overarching plot of Mad Men as it deals with an idealized version of the American dream. In part showing this ideal version of America as something false through the shows depictions of sexism, alcohol abuse and racism, and in part by showing how this vision in many ways deteriorated through cultural change in the 1960s.

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