Robert De Niro as Carl Van Loon, intimidating and volatile finance tycoon
New York City, Spring 2010
Release Date: March 18, 2011
Director: Neil Burger
Costume Designer: Jenny Gering
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Robert De Niro has been making the news lately, whether for his political takes or even a fan having calculated the exact year that the actor “gave up” in his career. (2002, if you’re curious.) Let’s shove all that aside and just wish a happy birthday to this legendary actor, born 73 years ago today in Greenwich Village.
Limitless is one of the few post-2002 movies in his career with a pretty positive Rotten Tomatoes ranking (70%, last I checked) with De Niro sliding back into the role of a force to be reckoned with. A powerful, no-nonsense corporate raider with a keen eye for bullshit, De Niro’s Carl Van Loon is the type that anyone in the finance business would kill to work with. When Eddie Morra (Bradley Cooper) get his chance, the two sit down for a Gordon Gekko-style lunch meeting that leads to an impromptu assignment that could make or break Eddie’s future in the finance world.
What’d He Wear?
A strong navy suit, crisp white shirt, and red silk tie is considered a classic business outfit. Sticking within the confines of these few colors, Carl Van Loon allows his expression to come out through sartorial details that one can only see when he allows them close enough to see.
For his first meeting with Eddie, Van Loon wears a dark navy blue lightweight wool suit with tonal herringbone stripes. The single-breasted, 2-button suit jacket has wide and sharp peak lapels with a buttonhole through the left lapel. The shoulders are padded and – in tandem with the sharp lapel peaks and roped sleeveheads – create a strong silhouette to provide an atmosphere of intimidation that Van Loon likes for his lunch meetings… or anyone he meets, for that matter.
The jacket has functioning 4-button cuffs, flapped hip pockets, and a welted breast pocket, which catches Eddie’s eye for the subtly luxurious red silk display kerchief carefully folded to poke out.
The low rise suit trousers have a flat front, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms. Van Loon wears them with a black coated leather belt that has a gold single-claw buckle.
Van Loon matches his belt to his shoes with a pair of black leather balmorals with long, pointed toes. His dark socks are probably blue to continue the trouser leg line.
For his lunch meeting with Eddie, Van Loon wears a solid white cotton dress shirt with a point collar and French cuffs, fastened with gold cluster links. While super-slim cutaway spread collars have been very trendy on men’s shirts for the last few years, Van Loon knows what works best for him and eschews the fads in favor of something more personally flattering.
Van Loon’s first tie appears to be solidly dark red with light specks from a distance, but a closer examination (both from Eddie and the audience) when he sits down reveals a very complex pattern of navy, maroon, and white. This woven silk tie has a series of differing and ornate red shapes that encapsulate a white four-dot series or a four-pointed white “floral” burst, all connected by a loose navy grid. There may be a better description for this pattern, but – if there is – I don’t know it.
Later, during a meeting at his firm, Van Loon wears the same suit (right down to the pocket square) but with a two-tone light blue butcher’s stripe dress shirt. This shirt has a tab collar with a gold collar pin. Over the pin, he wears a silk tie with a similar color scheme to the first; this tie has a repeating pattern of light blue and tan broken squares, each with a dot in the center that exposes the dark red ground of the tie. The tan squares also have an “X” in the same shade of blue as the alternating squares on the tie.
While sizing up Van Loon’s attire, Eddie’s eye lingers on the stunning 18-carat white gold Breguet Classique 5197 self-winding watch on Van Loon’s left wrist. Like the rest of his wardrobe, the watch looks elegant in its simplicity but a closer look reveals a complex silvered gold dial layout with staggered Roman numeral markings and a 6:00 date window.
One strong aspect of Carl Van Loon’s wardrobe is his brand of individualized fashionability. Single-breasted jackets with peak lapels have been enjoying a resurgence lately, so it’s not surprising to see a slick businessman like Van Loon sporting one tailored for him. Although he doesn’t always defer to trends, he is certainly aware of them. He dresses appropriately for his body type, conforming the trends to suit him as one would expect for a man who can masterfully manipulate most of those around him.
Go Big or Go Home
…and go home in a sleek black Maybach. While more old-school money types may be chauffeured around town in a Rolls-Royce, Bentley, Cadillac, or Mercedes-Benz, Van Loon is seen around the city in a rare Maybach 62, a full-size luxury sedan that was one of the first models rolled out under the Maybach marque after the century-old brand was revived by Daimler.
The ultra-premium Maybach would be short-lived, unable to totally recover from the 2008 financial crisis despite (or perhaps due to) it receiving first place in that year’s Luxury Brand Status Index. This provides an interesting parallel to Van Loon’s career, rendered essentially obsolete by the end of the film in the wake of Eddie Morra’s unstoppable success. (Maybach hadn’t even announced that 2013 would be the last year of production until more than six months after Limitless was released, making this an even more intuitive decision than the filmmakers may have even realized!)
How to Get the Look
Carl Van Loon’s suit paints him as a fashionable, confident, and patriotic businessman.
- Navy blue herringbone tonal-striped lightweight wool suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with wide peak lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, and 4-button cuffs
- Flat front low rise trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White cotton dress shirt with point collar and double/French cuffs
- Red, blue, and white complex-patterened silk tie
- Round gold cluster cuff links
- Black coated leather belt with gold single-claw buckle
- Black leather pointed-toe balmorals
- Dark blue dress socks
- Breguet Classique 5197 wristwatch with white gold round 35.5mm case, silvered gold dial with 6:00 date window, and black alligator leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie and, if you see Robert De Niro, wish him a happy birthday from BAMF Style.