Lane Pryce - Mad Men - in Three Piece Suit

Lane Pryce’s Clothes in Mad Men

Lane Pryce is the British partner of Mad Men’s Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce, and he is responsible for the finances. As you would expect it from an Englishman, he is always well put together, and he always pays meticulous attention to his outward appearance, through both his clothes and his behavior.

Mad Men Season 4 - Lane in Glencheck Suit

Mad Men Season 4 – Lane in a Glencheck Suit

In our series about Mad Men, I would like to continue with a portrait of Lane Pryce.

The Character Lane Pryce – Spoiler Alert

Lane – played by Jarred Harris – entered Mad Men upon the British takeover. At first he was an employee; in a climactic moment, the team decided that Lane would fire all of them so they could start the new Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce agency with Lane as a full partner. Initially, he moved with his son and wife Rebecca to the US, and even though he seems to be a devoted husband, his wife’s homesickness drives them temporarily apart.

Lane Pryce with His Playboy Bunny

Lane Pryce with his Playboy Bunny

In the meantime, he has an affair with a playboy bunny, but when Rebecca returns, his fling ends. Interestingly, Lane always seems to have fantasies about having an affair – he is certainly not impervious to his environment – and tries to pursue the available opportunities. But his shyness in combination with his manners never really get him far in that regard. Although he has a soft spot for Joan, there is never more than a (uninvited) kiss.

Lane Pryce with Sliding Over the Calf Socks

Lane Pryce with Sliding Over the Calf Socks

It is interesting to see how, over the seasons, he is torn between being the well behaved, proper Englishman and following his apparent yearning for excitement. Compared to his associates, his desires seem school boyish. Furthermore, it seems that he always reveals more of his true self when he has had a drink or two. All of a sudden, his reserved attitude becomes more relaxed.
Lane is responsible for the business finances and he is quite effective at keeping the ship afloat even when circumstances demand drastic changes, such as a major lay off.

Lane in Contrasting Red Vest 1966

Lane in Contrasting Red Vest 1966

In season 5 of Mad Men, he learns that he owes 2,900 GBP in tax money, which stems from the  liquidation of his portfolio in order to invest in Sterling Cooper Draper Pryce. On the one hand, he feels that his work and efforts for the company are not always fully appreciated and on the other hand, it would be extremely humiliating for him to ask anyone, especially his partners, for money. As such, he also abstains from telling his wife about their difficult financial situation and instead, he hopes to a bonus via a credit extension will save him. When bonus payments are postponed, he panics and forges a check. However, his fellow partners find the check, and Don asks him to resign by thinking about an “elegant exit” over the weekend. Devastated and humiliated, he starts to drink and when he arrives at home, he learns that his wife just bought him a Jaguar E-Type as a gift. He cannot bear the thought of failure and so he decides to commit suicide.

Lane Pryce in Tweed Vest

Lane Pryce in Tweed Vest

After his first attempt of carbon monoxide poisoning fails due to the Jags’ technical problems, he goes to the office and hangs himself, leaving a resignation letter as his only suicide note.

The Style of Lane Pryce

Unlike his American colleagues, Lane’s clothes clearly have a British influence. He usually wears a vest, often contrasting in different colors, textures and materials. For example, he sometimes has a beige tattersall vest with a green and brown overcheck or gray tweed at the office. As an educated British chap, I am sure he would know that these materials are not really business appropriate; they are typical materials for hunting, but the non-British costume designer may not be aware of these differences.

Lane Pryce in Tattersall Vest

Lane Pryce in Tattersall Vest

His suits are typical 1960’s business suits in charcoal and fine pinstripes, grey prince of wales check (aka glencheck) or navy. The lapels are generally slim, though not as slim as his younger colleagues. His suits are clearly not from Savile Row, which is obvious from the lack of buttonholes on the sleeves. For a man his position, with his self esteem and upper-class pedigree, I would expect no less than bespoke suits, especially considering his income. However, it seems like his suits based on American Ready to Wear garments from the period. Based on his consistent choice of British patterns and combinations, it doesn’t seem likely that he’d buy cheaper clothes in New York. Typically, he wears double cuffs, a semi -spread collar, conservative ties and a slightly contrasting pocket squares. As you’d expect from a upper-class Brit, he wears over the calf socks, though sometimes, you can see that they slide down all the way to his ankle. This is a problem you will encounter with inexpensive socks, and a man in his position would not be satisfied with that result.

Skinny Lapels And tie Stick Pin

Skinny Lapels And tie Stick Pin

His ties are often held in place by a tie stick pin and in his vests, he often wears a watch chain. These little details clearly set him further apart from his American peers sartorially speaking, but I think his outfits are interesting without being ostentatious. Only once does he wear a bright red vest, and that’s only because he celebrates the English victory at the soccer world cup in 1966. Although he is not into sports, he creates a lead the Jaguar, which will win the firm an advertising contract eventually.

Overall, his clothes underline his British heritage and his reserved character, which (in general) I liked. Despite the fact that the details were not accurate, I thought Lane seemed genuinely English and I appreciated his differentiated outfits and personality on Mad Men.

What is your favorite Lane Pryce outfit?

5 replies
  1. Ahmed Sajeel says:

    Very interesting observations. And while Mr. Pryce was a man of position and always came across as well-groomed, but not so much a clothes horse. Distinctly English in his preferences, but that seemed to betray more a case of training, rather than evolved taste. Idiosyncracy of the odd waistcoat is also a rather British, than a personal expression (something I occassionally enjoy and employ myself too). In fact the ’20’s and the 30’s clothes that we so appreciate, were evolutionary for the time, in that they incorporated country sports elements with such abandon. Not exactly sweat pants, but Glenn Plaid was nothing if not for hunting along the Scottish moors. Oh, but that is another discussion for another time … Sorry I seem to have gone off all askew 🙂

  2. Alec Rogers says:

    I think your assessment is right on – it seems like more of an American designer’s take on a 1960s British businessman, and while some details may be lacking overall, the effort made to differentiate him with some signature British design details is appreciated. I didn’t see any reference to the peak lapel in the last photo, though.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Janie Bryant likes to emphasizes authenticity and love for period costumes and while other elements of the show are painstakingly detailed and authentic (no apples on display because 1960s apples were smaller) the male wardrobe certainly is not authentic.

  3. Mark E. Seitelman says:

    Pryce’s clothes are a caricature. I am surprised that he has not been dressed in a bowler hat and fox hunting pink.

    I would say that the biggest problem with Pryce’s costumes is the use of a contrasting vest. This would not have worn by a chief financial officer even at an advertising agency.

    I find that the mens suits are ill-fitting. E.g., Roger Sterling’s belt peeking-out from the bottom of his vest.

    Compare Mad Men to an authentic film of the era, such as “The Apartment.”

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