Gatsby’s Sweater and Linen Slacks (2013)

A very jovial Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013).

A very jovial Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013).

Vitals

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, eagerly romantic millionaire and bootlegger

Long Island, NY, Summer 1922

Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin

Background

Today in 1920, Prohibition went into effect, kicking off a decade-long party known to many as the “roaring twenties” and most famously coined “the Jazz Age” by F. Scott Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald would have certainly been the expert, having written the novel that defined the decade and, by extension, the entire country. That novel, The Great Gatsby, didn’t have much success at the time, and Fitzgerald himself considered his masterpiece to be a flop at the time of his death in 1940.

However, the book has been ubiquitous in both high school English classrooms and movie theaters since then, with film adaptations released every few years (1926, 1949, 1974, 2000, 2013) as well as looser adaptations of the main story such as a hip hop film (2000’s G), an operatic treatment, and even the second season of the Showtime series Californication, placing protagonist Hank Moody in the Nick Carraway role.

The most recent adaptation was released last May with imaginative Australian auteur Baz Luhrmann at the helm. Many, including myself, were worried about the Bollywood look of the trailers and the rap-infused soundtrack. I was very pleasantly surprised when I saw the film, with stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, and Tobey Maguire all kicking ass. In terms of a straight retelling of the story, the 1974 version starring Robert Redford will always be the most definitive, but the newest may be the most entertaining version. (Of course, I could get into a 500-page thesis here about why Gatsby can never be authoritatively transferred onto the screen, but this isn’t the place.)

About halfway through, loyal – if somewhat unreliable – narrator Nick helps reunite Gatsby with the love of his life, Nick’s cousin Daisy. The two have an awkward reconnection – funnier than the slightly corny reunion in Jack Clayton’s 1974 film – and soon set off to explore Gatsby’s massive estate. Still insecure, Gatsby insists that Nick comes along, allowing plenty of opportunities for Tobey Maguire to awkwardkly chuckle.

What’d He Wear?

DiCaprio sports a very universally fashionable look for this sequence, which looks just as cool in 2014 as it would have in 1922. In the 1974 film, Redford’s Gatsby kept on his white three-piece suit for this whole scene, but DiCaprio’s sportier Gatsby seizes the opportunity to throw on a much more casual pullover sweater and slacks. This makes sense as the gang engages in plenty of summer fun including golfing, boating, and photo sessions. Also, since Gatsby gets rained on in his white suit, he would probably want to change out of it as soon as possible.

Not to mention that Daisy sure seems to like it.

Not to mention that Daisy sure seems to like it.

He wears a very comfortable-looking beige crew neck sweater. It is very soft – likely cashmere – and has wide tonal horizontal stripes. The cuffs are ribbed, but Gatsby wears the sleeves rolled up to his elbow anyway.

Chicks dig dudes in soft sweaters.

Chicks dig dudes in soft sweaters.

Of course, if you want a Gatsby-esque sweater, you could always go the completely literal route and pick up this little number
If you live in Brooklyn, I expect to see you wearing this in that overpriced corner bar while you nurse a PBR and discuss the relative merits of Bon Iver. And by “expect to see you”, I mean I would avoid you.

Gatsby wears a pair of equally comfortable cream-colored linen trousers. They are lightweight with a generous fit. Baggy trousers like these were a common casual style for men during this era, which suffered from exaggeration at its height – as all fads do – with the brief popularity of “Oxford bags“.

With all of her gushing about Gatsby's shirts, that bitch Daisy doesn't say one thing about his pants.

With all of her gushing about Gatsby’s shirts, that bitch Daisy doesn’t say one thing about his pants.

Gatsby’s trousers are flat front with frogmouth front pockets and rear pockets that button on a large pointed flap. The bottoms are plain-hemmed with a short break.

Gatsby continues the light earth tones through down to his feet, where he wears a pair of cream-colored leather laced shoes with brown rubber soles. Light brown ribbed dress socks carry the leg line from the pants into the shoes.

She doesn't wax lyrical about his shoes either, but - in her defense - we don't really see much of those.

She doesn’t wax lyrical about his shoes either, but – in her defense – we don’t really see much of those.

Gatsby wears a large silver ring on his right pinky. At first glance, the face of Gatsby’s ring appears to just be a plain black rectangular stone, perhaps onyx. A closer look reveals a teal center with intensity that varies in different light. Almost definitely intentional, the teal evokes the image of the green light on the end of Daisy’s dock.

Gatsby's ring is actually the first glimpse we get of him in the film.

Gatsby’s ring is actually the first glimpse we get of him in the film.

Redford’s Gatsby had also worn a ring on his right hand, but it was the plain silver ring that Redford wore in nearly all of his films, so that was more likely an actor’s choice than a costumer’s choice.

Gatsby wears a wristwatch through the film with a stainless rectangular case and a white face with a sub-dial on a stainless steel bracelet. Some have speculated this watch to be a modern Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. Modern or not, the Reverso is one of many anachronisms in Luhrmann’s adaptation as it was introduced in 1931, nearly ten years after the film is set. Still, it is a classy and fashion-forward look for Gatsby and a wristwatch would make sense for a young millionaire who had served in World War I.

Gatsby's watch and, inset, the most similar Reverso model I could find on the Internet.

Gatsby’s watch and, inset, the most similar Reverso model I could find on the Internet.

Go Big or Go Home

To my delight, the whole scene was played much more for laughs (as was the whole film) than in any adaptation we’ve seen before. These weren’t cheap laughs we were getting, but legitimately fun ’20s-y laughs that gave the audience an occasional wink; Baz and Co. know this was done before, so why not make this one stand out?

For example, when Daisy suddenly begins sobbing as Gatsby giddily tosses his shirts around the room, her proclamation about the “beautiful shirts” comes off as a very convincing and genuine cover for an otherwise embarrassing moment. More power to Carey Mulligan here for not going the Mia Farrow route and declaring genuine admiration for the shirts to the point of tears.

Everything about the scene is more fun, in fact, from the gang actually dancing to the music to their aquatic adventures, Kramer-ishly knocking golf balls into the water. They even have cocktails! There was champagne in the ’74 version, but Baz’s crew embraces the ’20s innovation of mixology as Gatsby, Nick, and Daisy partake in orange juice-based drinks like the Mimosa or the Bronx.

Somehow, Leo looks like he's actually having less fun when he has a drink in his hand. GO FIGURE!

Somehow, Leo looks like he’s actually having less fun when he has a drink in his hand. GO FIGURE!

What to Imbibe

Well, obviously Mimosas and Bronx cocktails. Since Mimosas are both obvious and everywhere, let’s talk about the Bronx, a very 1920s cocktail that F. Scott actually featured in the hands of Anthony Patch and his cohorts in The Beautiful and Damned.

Nick with an awkward smile and a Bronx cocktail.

In the film, Gatsby opts for a Mimosa, but he serves Nick an orange-looking drink in a martini glass that is most likely supposed to be a Bronx. Despite its ubiquity in the era, called the #3 most popular cocktail in 1934’s volume Burke’s Complete Cocktail & Drinking Recipes and even warranting a mention in The Thin Man that same year, the Bronx is hardly known today and certainly isn’t as popular in books or film as the Martini or the Manhattan.

Bronx Cocktail

The Bronx cocktail is basically a Perfect Martini with orange juice added, making it the ideal breakfast cocktail if you’ve got a sweet tooth. (If you have a salt tooth, the obvious choice would be a Bloody Mary.) The origins of the drink are disputed, but it was definitely invented sometime in the first decade of the 20th century, and it definitely wasn’t invented in the Bronx. The two theories are:

  • Created by bartender Johnnie Solon at the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel in Manhattan
  • Created by Bronx-born restauranteur Joseph Sormani in Philadelphia around 1905

Given that Solon’s introduction of the drink has a more defined story, and that Sormani is said to have merely “discovered” the drink, I tend to believe that Solon created the drink, based on a story told me the Waldorf-Astoria historian Albert Stevens Crockett. Solon supposedly rose to the challenge of a customer and a waiter to create a new drink by introducing gin to the Duplex, a fairly popular vermouth-heavy cocktail.

The Bronx became a sensation and – when made correctly – can still be an enjoyable pre-dinner (or breakfast) cocktail. It is sweet and flavorful without being overly sticky like so many inferior Sex and the City-inspired chocoberrysyrupfruit-tinis that litter the menus of our world’s lesser restaurants.

If you want a "fruit" cocktail, this is the only way for a man to go.

If you want a “fruit” cocktail, this is the only way for a man to go.

Gary Regan and Mardee Haidin Regan, on their Amazon guide to drinking, describe the drink as:

Gin is the base ingredient, orange juice is the mixer, and sweet and dry vermouths are added almost as an afterthought.

While this is certainly inaccurate, I could never let you use only that as your guide to mixing such a delicious drink. The IBA, which knows a thing or two about mixology, prescribes the following:

Pour six parts of gin – Gordon’s if you follow Solon’s original recipe – into an ice-filled cocktail shaker, followed by three parts orange juice, three parts sweet red vermouth, and two parts dry vermouth. It’s important to have slightly more sweet vermouth than dry; this is, after all, a fruit-based cocktail. Shake the concoction well – to two-step time,  as Nick Charles would suggest – and strain into a chilled martini glass. If you’ve got time, garnish it with an orange twist.

NB: Make sure you keep your vermouth refrigerated. Vermouth has a much shorter shelf life than the other items on your bar, and it will taste a bit off if you don’t refrigerate it. Of course, if you’re making a Martini the way Noel Coward, Winston Churchill, and I make them, you’re using barely a drop of vermouth that will not influence the drink too heavily. But with a vermouth-driven drink like the Bronx, you do not want 35% of the composition of your drink tasting “a bit off”. If you have some vermouth sitting out right now, and you don’t remember when you bought it, toss it out. Even if it’s a step up like Noilly Prat, you’ve wasted it. Luckily for us, vermouth is cheap. Go buy yourself new bottles of dry and sweet today. Since you want to refrigerate both before you forget, crack ’em both open and make yourself a Bronx tonight. If you hate it, chug it and just use the gin and vermouth for a classic Martini to cleanse your palate and make you a more interesting person.

How to Get the Look

This is one of the few combinations that you can wear in both 1922 and 2014 and look stylish. It’s a refreshing look for summer that will keep you feeling cool and comfortable while on the water or romancing some other guy’s wife.

Beige sweaters and linen pants are just the thing for sympathetic cuckolders!

Beige sweaters and linen pants are just the thing for sympathetic cuckolders!

  • Beige cashmere crew neck sweater with wide horizontal tonal stripes and ribbed cuffs
  • Cream-colored flat front linen casual trousers with frogmouth side pockets, button-flapped rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Cream-colored leather laced shoes with brown hard rubber soles
  • Light brown ribbed socks
  • Stainless wristwatch with a rectangular white face and single sub-dial
    • Some have suggested that Leo is wearing a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso here, which may be anachronistic, but it is stylish.
  • Large silver pinky ring with a rectangular onyx stone accented with a teal-colored center

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie. Of course, you should read F. Scott Fitzgerald’s book too.

The Quote

I knew it was a great mistake for a man like me to fall in love…

14 comments

  1. Teeritz

    That watch has got me bugged. On his wrist, it appears that the case has a slight curve to it, much like the Longines Dolce Vita series. However, I haven’t found any pictures of this model with Arabic numerals and a circular sub-seconds dial at the six o’clock edge of the main dial. Although, the Dolce Vita range has been a great seller and I know that Longines has chopped and changed models over the years. Some folks are saying its a Reverso, but I’m not so sure. The Reverso case is flat. This is gonna bug me.

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  2. Teeritz

    Aww, hell! I just read about the Bronx cocktail. I’ve got a bottle of Noilly Prat up in the drinks cupboard. UNrefridgerated! I opened it last APRIL when I posted about my Dry Martini recipe.Dammit. Although, our fridge died on Sunday anyway and a new one is due to be delivered tomorrow. I’m gonna have to hunt up some Lillet Blanc to replace the Noilly Prat. Shoot!

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    • luckystrike721

      Noilly Prat is my favorite go-to vermouth. I had gotten a bottle around April as well (although it was probably 2012…) and it was one of the big daddy bottles rather than the 375s that vermouth typically is sold in. I was going to put it in the fridge, but space was limited and I figured it wouldn’t be a problem. Most of my martinis only use a spritz of vermouth anyway, so I hadn’t noticed how aged my NP was until I sat down and made myself a Bronx while writing this post. I nearly spit it out! (Nearly)

      I wonder how Lillet Blanc would work in a Bronx. Want to research that for the good of BAMF Style? It seems like a very Bondian touch, does it not?

      Like

  3. girlsdofilm

    Costumes and cocktails? What an excellent combination 😉 This is one of my favourite books and I’m always very overly critical of film/TV adaptations. That said, I thought Gatsby’s wardrobe for the shirt throwing scene was excellent – a much better fit than Redford’s suit, as you observed. So much was written about the Prada tie-in, it’s great to be able to read about the menswear. Great post, as always!

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Thank you very much! It is one of my favorite books as well. I always look to filmed adaptations with expected dread, but this Gatsby pleasantly surprised me. I liked the Redford version (as you’ll see from its multiple inclusions on this blog), but it does feel dated with some of the direction, pacing, and over-acting *cough*”beautiful shirts”*cough*.

      The new Gatsby is as much 2013 as it is 1922, so I’m curious to see how it will age. However, the pacing keeps it from ever getting boring, so even if it does “age”, I think it will always be fresh for viewers in decades to come.

      BTW, speaking of the ’20s, I was planning on trying to do a post soon about the original Scarface from 1932 (a favorite of mine). Would you mind if I linked to your post from last year in my post? I loved your analysis, and I’d be doing my subscribers a favor by telling them to get over there and read it!

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  4. Pingback: Gatsby’s Caramel Suit and Yellow Duesenberg (2013 Version) | BAMF Style
  5. Lu

    WHERE CAN I FIND THIS SWEATER?? ….I really really would love to know where to find this sweater!!?? Any ideas people?? Just a design that’s even close would be awesome!!!!!

    Like

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