Thomas Crown, the “Boston Wrangler”

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

Vitals

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire playboy and heist mastermind

Boston, Summer 1968

Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine

Background

In an edgy move given the city’s recent history, The Thomas Crown Affair‘s soundtrack composer Michel Legrand named a track from the album “The Boston Wrangler”*. The track in question centers around a brief two minute scene where Crown, under heavy surveillance at his home, manages to sneak out and incapacitate a guard, all while cheekily puffing away on a stogie. I’m not sure if there was any initial blowback from the track’s name, but the instrumental itself is a fine example of the jazzy ’60s cool that defined the movie’s style.

* In case you’re not a criminal history person, the track’s title is a pun on the “Boston Strangler”, a serial killer who had recently been convicted for multiple murders.

What’d He Wear?

Although he’s as dapper as they come in his three-piece suits, Crown is no stranger to casual attire when it comes to non-business activities. When it comes to sneaking around at night, Crown avoids his genre contemporary James Bond’s poor choice of wearing all black and opts for shades of blue to better blend in with the night.

In place of a shirt, Crown wears a casual blue lightweight windbreaker. The front zips closed with a white diamond-shaped metal slider over wide white tape. The standing collar, which he wears open, can close with a white plastic button through a white-stitched buttonhole.

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There are three external pockets on Crown’s jacket. The two patch pockets just above the waistline have rounded, white-stitched flaps that close with white plastic buttons. There is also a patch pocket on his upper right sleeve that has a white horizontal zipper across the top. The sleeves also close with a single white button through each cuff’s pointed end.

Crown takes care of a privacy issue.

Crown takes care of a privacy issue.

White stitching is present throughout the jacket, from the pocket flaps to the yoke on the upper back. Both the right and left sides of the waistband have a short adjustable tab that closes on one of two white buttons; Crown wears the jacket looser on the further front of the two buttons.

Crown’s pants are a pair of very dark blue wash denim jeans with a straight leg and plain hems. They break high over his blue canvas sneakers, which have thick white rubber soles and wide white laces. He wears dark socks, likely black.

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To inconspicuously shield his face, Crown wears a plain dark blue baseball cap.

Definitely less conspicuous than a ski mask. Plus, it's not an easy to smoke a cigar when wearing a ski mask.

Definitely less conspicuous than a ski mask. Plus, it’s not an easy to smoke a cigar when wearing a ski mask.

Steve McQueen also wears his usual gold St. Christopher pendant on a thin gold chain.

Go Big or Go Home

While other movie characters might handle this situation more violently, Crown carries it out with an easy brand of cool that looks more mischievous than criminal… much like his bank robberies. The fact that he does the whole job with a thin cigar and Michel Legrand’s funk-tacular jazz in the background makes it all the cooler.

How to Get the Look

Crown dresses comfortably and inconspicuously for his late night jaunt.

  • Blue casual lightweight windbreaker w/ white zip front, button-fastening standing collar, flapped button-down patch pockets, zip upper right sleeve pocket, 1-button cuffs, and adjustable 2-button side tabs
  • Dark blue denim straight leg jeans
  • Blue canvas sneakers with wide white laces and thick white rubber soles
  • Black socks
  • Dark blue baseball cap
  • Gold pendant on thin gold chain

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the film. Or just check out the sequence in particular here.

Footnotes

The sequence was influential enough to receive an homage on House, M.D. in the 2011 episode “Two Stories”. Although not an exact replica, Dr. House’s version of McQueen’s attire is pretty damn close.

Hugh Laurie channels Steve McQueen.

Hugh Laurie channels Steve McQueen.

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