Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire playboy and heist mastermind
Salem, New Hampshire, Summer 1968
Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
In 1968’s The Thomas Crown Affair, the titular millionaire is every bit the sportsman that you’d expect a Steve McQueen character to be. A brief scene shows Crown spending his weekend recreationally gliding a Schweizer SGS 1-23H through the skies over Salem… although it was actually local pilot Roy McMaster who rode in the cockpit during the actual scenes in flight.
This vignette also featured Steve McQueen sporting casual outerwear that was also a real-life favorite of his: a classic Harrington jacket.
What’d He Wear?
Steve McQueen’s timeless Harrington jacket ensemble is a great weekend look as we approach spring and the warmer months here in the Northern Hemisphere.
Developed by the English company Baracuta as the G9 in the 1930s, this jacket had been around for more than two decades before it achieved widespread popularity. The G9 started to turn heads after Elvis Presley wore one in King Creole (1958), but it was the G9’s association with Ryan O’Neal’s Peyton Place character Rodney Harrington that led to its “Harrington jacket” moniker. Soon, the Harrington jacket was the hot jacket of the ’60s, a staple of icons from Frank Sinatra to Steve McQueen.
McQueen was known to wear sand and stone-colored models in real life, but he wears a navy cotton Baracuta G9 Harrington jacket as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair. It’s a fitting choice for Crown, who shares his affinity for golf with the jacket’s earliest adopters. The Harrington jacket is styled like a windbreaker blouson with a zipper running down the front from the tall, Mandarin-style two-button collar to the elasticized hem. Each angled side pocket closes with a button-down flap. The jacket is designed to keep rain from inconveniencing the wearer, including an umbrella-inspired back yoke.
A distinctive element of a genuine Baracuta is the red Fraser Tartan plaid cotton lining. Baracuta continues to produce the G9, marketed on their site as “the quintessential Harrington jacket” and currently offered for $234.
The Harrington jacket has undergone a recent revival, led by Daniel Craig who seems to be taking up the mantle as McQueen’s spiritual successor in style, sporting a Tom Ford Harrington jacket in Quantum of Solace and several Baracuta G9 jackets in real life. More information about Harrington jackets can be found at Gentleman’s Gazette or James Bond Lifestyle. Iconic Alternatives also has an excellent selection of affordable Harrington jackets to channel the classic McQueen look.
Underneath the Harrington, McQueen wears a royal blue ribbed knit t-shirt with a tall crew-neck collar with a striped band, similar to the lightweight jumper he wore earlier for a round of golf. This collar band has two white stripes, each bordered by a dark navy stripe. A behind-the-scenes photograph taken by Otto Bettmann for Getty Images reveals the shirt’s short sleeves with similar bands around each end.
Crown wears a pair of khaki cotton straight-leg trousers with a flat front and buckle-tab side adjusters rather than belt loops. The trousers have slanted side pockets and jetted back pockets.
In The Thomas Crown Affair, McQueen wears a pair of saddle brown suede two-eyelet desert boots with charcoal crepe “bumper” soles, likely the same Hutton’s “Original Playboy” boots that he sported in Bullitt the same year, here worn with a pair of mustard ribbed socks.
There seems to be an undying debate about McQueen’s preferred brand of chukka boots; some insist on Sanders & Sanders, others fall firmly into the Hutton camp. The Steve McQueen Style blog includes a lively discussion of footwear enthusiasts better informed than I, and it is this discussion that seems to yield to the Hutton advocates, although popular opinion also dictates that Sanders currently makes the closest approximation to what McQueen actually wore at the time. If you just want to channel the look and don’t care about the brand, Iconic Alternatives has got you covered.
Eye protection is key for safe gliding, so Crown doubles down with a dark navy baseball cap shielding the sun in addition to the now-iconic tortoise-framed Persol 714 sunglasses. Persol has made the most of McQueen’s enthusiasm for their shades on and off screen, currently offering the “Steve McQueen™ Special Edition” model with blue lenses to resemble one of the pairs he wears in The Thomas Crown Affair. In this sequence, however, his Persols have brown lenses.
In addition to Persol’s site, you can also browse Amazon for your own 714 shades.
We don’t see it on screen in this scene, but McQueen wears his usual gold St. Christopher pendant on a thin gold chain in The Thomas Crown Affair, so it makes sense to assume he is also wearing it under his jumper here.
How to Get the Look
Steve McQueen is one of many style icons who defined the Harrington jacket’s status as the ultimate in mid-century “rebel cool” style. The Baracuta jacket, desert boots, and tortoise-framed Persol sunglasses may be worn in this scene by Thomas Crown the character… but they’re all classic McQueen.
- Navy cotton Baracuta G9 “Harrington” zip-up windbreaker jacket with tall 2-button collar, button-down flapped slanted side pockets, “umbrella” back vent, elasticized cuffs and hem
- Royal blue ribbed knit short-sleeve t-shirt with navy-and-white-striped crew-neck collar band
- Khaki cotton flat front trousers with buckle-tab side adjusters, slanted front pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Saddle brown suede 2-eyelet desert boots
- Mustard ribbed socks
- Navy cotton twill baseball cap
- Persol 714 tortoise-framed sunglasses with brown lenses
- Gold St. Christopher pendant on thin gold chain
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.