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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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?