Notorious – Cary Grant’s Dark Pinstripe Suit
Cary Grant as T.R. Devlin, American government agent
Miami and Rio de Janeiro, Spring 1946
Release Date: September 6, 1946
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
It’s impossible to over-celebrate the elegant yet understated sartorialism of Cary Grant, born this day in 1904. One of my favorite of Grant’s movies is Notorious, the 1946 espionage adventure that paired him with Ingrid Bergman as a pair of American spies tasked with exposing Alexander Sebastian, a former Nazi played with charmingly evil affability by Claude Rains.
Notorious was the second collaboration between Grant and director Alfred Hitchcock, and it marked the start of a string of wildly successful and ultimately timeless movies that Hitch would direct over the next two decades. Grant and Bergman would also pair up again a dozen years later for Stanley Donen’s 1958 rom-com Indiscreet.
What’d He Wear?
T.R. Devlin’s main suit through most of Notorious is a sharp pinstripe suit in dark flannel, perhaps a bit warm for his tropical spring days and nights in Miami and Rio, but the perfect business suit for a 1940s G-man. Devlin’s suit is likely charcoal or dark gray, as a colorized photo suggests.
The long single-breasted suit jacket is typical of the ’40s drape cut with its full chest, ventless back, and wide, padded shoulders. The notch lapels roll down to a three-button front, of which Devlin always and correctly wears only the middle button fastened. The hip pockets are jetted and each sleeve ends with three buttons on the cuff.
Devlin’s suit jacket has a welted breast pocket, where he occasionally wears a white or printed silk display kerchief that likely added a touch of color to the outfit.
The reverse-pleated trousers rise high on Grant’s waist to meet the tie blade under the jacket’s center button. The bottoms are finished with plain hems. An indication of Grant’s supreme tailoring is the relationship between the jacket’s waist button, trouser rise, and tie blade all coming together at the waist for a harmonious flow. All that is visible above the button is the shirt and tie, and only the trousers are visible below it. Well done, Cary Grant’s tailor.
Since Grant liked soft collars and was playing an American in Notorious, his white shirts all have button-down collars with the characteristically incongruous detail of French cuffs rather than button cuffs. These types of shirts, though rare, are still available from traditional clothiers like Brooks Brothers (such as this striped shirt…for $375!)
Devlin’s usual tie with this suit is very dark silk, likely black, tied in a four-in-hand knot.
One scene of Devlin meeting with his supervisor, Captain Paul Prescott (Louis Cahern), finds him wearing a dark repp tie with thick stripes that alternate between two dark shades, occasionally broken up by a much thinner white stripe. All stripes are in the English left shoulder-to-right hip direction. A colorized lobby card from the time of the film’s release presents this as a tie in duo shades of red and worn with a dark navy suit.
Another quick scene of Devlin and Captain Prescott includes the same suit and shirt with yet another striped tie, this one much lighter in color with double sets of thin white stripes, also in the left-down-to-right direction.
Devlin wears a pair of black leather derby shoes with socks much lighter in color than both the shoes and suiting, possibly a mid-gray.
Cary Grant often wore a Cartier Tank in real life, and that may be the dark-strapped watch that he wears on his wrist in Notorious as well.
How to Get the Look
By the time of Notorious, Cary Grant was already a well-established enough star to incorporate his own style details into his character’s clothing, and this comfortable business suit is no exception.
- Charcoal pinstripe flannel suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted 3-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Single reverse-pleated high-rise trousers with side pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White cotton shirt with button-down collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Black silk tie
- Black leather derby shoes/bluchers
- Gray socks
- Cartier Tank gold dress watch with square white dial on brown leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Interestingly CG has himself a (obviously custom made) button down shirt with french cuffs. I noticed that CG often wore a button down with a suit, something that the older school style mavens claimed was not quite cricket. But then again, he’s Cary Grant and can do as he damn well pleases.
Button down collar with French cuffs? That’s just … odd. Granted the button down collar is sort of an American tradition, with its roots in sport. It suits a G Man. Though…. Buttons for the collar would seem to dictate buttons for the cuffs as well. Simple barrel cuffs, or the not yet invented cocktail cuffs that Turnbull & Asser put Sean Connery into would show a little class. I’m just having a hard time with buttons on the collar and cufflinks on the sleeve ends.
Funny but I actually find a conventional collar with brass or wood stays easier to manage than those little itty bitty buttons, possibly because my fingers are older.
Thanks for another interesting article!
Cary Grant set the bar for men’s dressing in all of the era’s of his career. yet is was never the most fashionable, but he knew what looked good on him and only wore classic pieces. The button down collar shirt with french cuffs works for Cary, but someone like Don Draper would go what the….. ? A Cary Grant post is always welcome. I’d love to see some posts from Mad Men Season Seven on Don’s changing style and also some more on Roger Sterling.
I think that suit might actually be pencilstripe, not pinstripe. Pinstripes are thinner and likely wouldn’t be as visible as the stripes in the images are.