How to Get a Mad Men Don Draper Inspired Haircut

A Slick Versatile Style That Means Business

Don Draper Haircut
Photo © Cindy Ord | Getty Images

The Mad Men Don Draper inspired haircut is all the rage these days (and the show is pretty good, too) but, in my opinion, has always been a stylish option. The haircut is basically a classic taper with a very clean slick side part. What I love about this haircut is that it is very versatile. You can wear the style, as actor John Hamm wears it on Mad Men in a very formal fashion (slicked back with a neat side part) or you can wear it with a matte finish product for a less formal, yet impeccably well groomed look.

The style may also be worn with the top combed forward or tousled around loosely for a more casual look. There’s lot’s of options in this classic style, which is one of the reasons I love it. Most guys get stuck wearing the same look every day, but this style allows you to get multiple looks out of the same haircut. But how do you get the look? Here’s the step-by-step on how get the Mad Men signature Don Draper haircut.

1) Cut it.
It all starts with the haircut. For this one, you’ll need to find a barber (an old-school barber at that) -- one who knows how to do a properly tapered haircut. Have your barber cut the hair short on the back and sides (leaving enough length to comb back). The neckline should be left in a natural taper and the top should be left longer (let’s go with about one inch on the sides and back and at least three inches on top). While I generally don’t cut hair specific to a part (not doing so gives you more styling options), you may wish to ask your barber if your hair needs to be cut in order to allow it to part more easily -- remember, the part is key to the Don Draper haircut, so you’ve gotta make sure it parts right.

I also suggest printing out this article (with the picture) and taking it to your barber -- just in case he's living under a rock and doesn't watch Mad Men.

2) Style it.
For this style, you’ll need to go with a high-shine pomade (I really love Suavecito Firme Hold Pomade for this purpose). After shampooing, while the hair is still damp, apply a fairly liberal dose of pomade (a nickel-sized amount) and comb your hair straight back.

Now, create a side part on the left side of your head (or right, if it parts better that way). Comb the hair to the side while pushing the bangs up and back. If you notice you’re not getting enough height in the front, a blow dryer can be used to give you some lift (using a brush, apply a little heat while directing the front up and to the side). It’s also important to note that, in order to really pull offf this style, the side part must be perfect -- it need to be straight and clean. If you’re concerned that the pomade won’t hold your hair in place, use a bit of strong-hold hairspray to set the style. To select the right styling product, you’ll want to choose a stronger product for very thick hair or a lighter product for fine hair.

Because you’re all pomaded up for this style, I recommend washing your hair before bed every night as you don’t want your pillow to get all greasy (and you don’t want styling product building up on your hair or scalp). Shampooing your hair in the morning will also help eliminate any “bed head” and make styling easier. Because of the more frequent shampoos, it’s essential to use proper shampooing technique and products.

Now, you know how to get the classic Don Draper haircut.

Pair that with a sharp suit and you’re ready for business.