Why the Knick is TV’s Most Stylish Show.

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Don Draper is not the best dressed man on TV.

There, I said it and I meant it. Now, the FCC might kick down my door at any second for speaking ill of the holy Don Draper, but I just can’t hold my tongue any longer. Mad Men is not the most stylish show on TV, The Knick is.

Now before you start crying out that this statement is sacrilege, allow me to explain. After seven seasons the slim-suited, slicked-haired, tie-barred “Mad Men Look” is just plain boring. When Mad Men premiered in 2007 (2007!), it was nothing short of a sensation. Don Draper’s sharp flannel suits, pressed white shirts and narrow ties were undeniably cool. The style of the show was clean, modern, and pretty much still worked just as well in ‘07 as it did in ‘67. Suddenly, everywhere you looked, whether it was a glossy magazine editorial or your standard suburban office building, you could find a Don Draper lookalike. With the detached gaze to boot.

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But after seven years, Mad Men style has run its course. The narrow gray flannel suit can only go so far, and quite frankly if I see one more tie bar I’ll be reaching for a Windsor knotted noose. Thankfully, this August Steven Soderbergh introduced The Knick, which is not only the best new show on TV, it is the best dressed show period. The Knick follows the intrepid (oh, and drug addicted) Dr. John Thackery, played by Clive Owen and the rest of New York City’s Knickerbocker Hospital at the turn of the twentieth century. It’s a bloody, brooding, and at times brutal look at the volatility of not just medicine in the coming of age era of the early 1900’s, but of life in general. Seriously, it’s an incredible show, just watch it. You’ll soon notice that while these increasingly unpredictable characters are perform all sorts of precarious procedures, they’re doing so in some remarkable costumes that were designed by Ellen Mirojnick and produced by none other than Martin Greenfield.

Whereas Draper’s stock grey suit had become staid, The Knick’s costumes are as fascinating as the characters that wear them. With each episode, thanks in no small part to Soderbergh’s impeccable camerawork, we’re given a new perspective on men’s style of the 1900’s. Watching The Knick is like playing a game of “spot the difference.” From a distance, these men don’t dress that differently from, but as the camera moves in, you’re able to see details that reveal quite a lot about the slow, yet steady, evolution that men’s style has taken over time. It’s this narrower focus that separates The Knick from a large scale show like Boardwalk Empire which tends to provide a more surface level look at the style of that era. With The Knick though, the cinematography clearly captures the detachable collars, button stances, scooped waistcoats, bowler hats, Thackery’s beloved white boots and other nuances that become like a window into the 1900’s. It’s both entertaining, and educational, (a word that was once only used negatively when talking about TV) and despite their antiquated outfits, these men could go toe to toe with Draper any day. Now that we have The Knick, we finally have a reason to turn off the Mad Men chatter, and tune into the new most stylish show on TV.

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Comments on “Why the Knick is TV’s Most Stylish Show.

    J.on October 17, 2014 @ 11:47 AM:

    You may want to check out Peaky Blinders on Netflix if you like The Knick. It’s incredible.

    David S.on October 17, 2014 @ 12:59 PM:

    Thanks, J. — I’ve seen that and been curious.

    Good eye, Jake. I just binge watched MAD MEN Seasons 1 – 6 while convalescing from rotator cuff surgery. I don’t think Don Draper was the one to watch for sartorial interest. It’s Roger Sterling. The man’s a clothes horse, maybe even a dandy at times, in his continual hunt for the newest young thing to make him feel anything but mature.

    I’m sure that MAD MEN’s appeal was that it began in, what, 1962? The year DR. NO came out. Nostalgia for “early space race” duds couldn’t be better timed with the resurgence of Bond. The writers even pointed out — repeatedly! — that Draper’s preferred recreational reading was Ian Fleming Bond novels. Fit right in with Draper’s self-destructive taste for carousing and philandering (never made much sense when he had January Jones at home with fresh baked cookies that most men would cry for). Since he was an exec, he could afford the top drawer business man duds that Bond would wear in a UK variance.

    But as the series drove on to the late Sixties, draper’s attire followed, and what was classic, conservative and retro-chic in the early decade, started looking staid, conservative and boring standing next to late-era beatniks, hippies, flower children. Middle age apparently looks like a J.C. Penney catalog for Dad, unless your ol’ Rog’, still drinking and carousing. The Sterling wardrobe has been the one I watched: lapels, shirts, and his ties particularly, remind me of some of the vintage ones I inherited from my pop.

    I wouldn’t call the doctors on THE KNICK dandies, but the conservative intricacies of turn of the century clothing could start a whole new nostalgia current. Certainly when they get disheveled, it’s farther to fall with all those buttons, studs, collars, undergarments, etc. Thackery going to pieces is underlined by the disarray of his clothing.

    Brenton October 17, 2014 @ 3:19 PM:

    I don’t know if I will be jumping on the Dandy Knick style (pocket watches are cumbersome).

    Brenton October 17, 2014 @ 3:21 PM:

    Ian Fleming is timelessly “cool.” Few things beat a Vesper martini, shaken or stirred.

    jasonon October 17, 2014 @ 6:53 PM:

    was just going to say the exact same about Peaky Blinders.

    Jackon October 19, 2014 @ 10:59 AM:

    a 3rd for Peaky Blinders. Cillian Murphy’s suits…

    Leon knifeon October 26, 2014 @ 10:58 AM:

    I loved that black leather doctors bag, definitely must have, so stylish…

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