Brad Pitt as Max Vatan, Royal Canadian Air Force intelligence officer
Casablanca, Morocco, Fall 1942
Release Date: November 23, 2016
Director: Robert Zemeckis
Costume Designer: Joanna Johnston
On a pleasant Sunday in Casablanca, Parisian couple Maurice and Christine Berne walk arm-in-arm into the town square for an afternoon coffee. Of course, it’s smack in the middle of World War II so not everything is as it appears. “Maurice and Christine” are actually spies Max Vatan (Brad Pitt) and Marianne Beauséjour (Marion Cotillard) and, to further complicate things, Max has been recognized by a German officer who swiftly marches to the nearest phone booth. Max covertly follows the officer, armed only with a chunk of bread…
Some sartorial sticklers will tell you it’s inappropriate to wear white after Labor Day. Given that today is Labor Day and we’ve still got some hot weather ahead of us, you’d be well-served to keep a “not-quite-white” suit – like Max’s pale blue three-piece suit – in your closet for your natty warm-weather needs this time of year.
What’d He Wear?
“You look okay. Let’s go,” Marianne tells Max before they leave the house. Resplendent in a pale blue-gray pinhead suit possibly made from Irish linen, Max looks considerably nicer than “okay” for his afternoon outing with Marianne.
Most of the suits that Max wears for his French cover in Morocco are designed with a very unique lapel that looks like a cross between a standard peak lapel and the appropriately Parisian “cran necker” lapel. These lapels are differentiated from a normal peak lapel (as found on the beige suit that Max wears when first meeting Marianne) by the length of the collar, which extends the same length as the peaked point below the notch.
The single-breasted, two-button suit jacket has a welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, and an era-appropriate ventless back. The shoulders are padded with roped sleeveheads and each sleeve ends with three buttons at the cuff. The buttons on the jacket and vest are blue smoke.
Max’s suit has a matching vest (waistcoat) with six buttons that are all worn buttoned. The corners at the top and notched bottom of the vest are mitred, and the vest has two welted lower pockets.
The suit trousers have a full cut with added roominess through the hips due to the double forward pleats. The waist is covered by the jacket and vest through the scene, but Max likely wears his trousers with suspenders (braces) as he does his other suits in Casablanca. They have side pockets and narrow cuffs (turn-ups) at the bottom.
Max coordinates the tones of his suit to his light blue shadow-striped cotton shirt with periwinkle and white stripes on a pale blue ground. The shirt has a long point collar – appropriate to the era – as well as single-button squared cuffs and a front placket stitched close to the edges.
Like the shirt, Max’s tie is also triple-toned in white and two shades of blue, though the loud floral print and the contrast between the blues makes it a much less understated element of his outfit.
Max would later wear this same periwinkle, navy, and white cotton tie with his light gray double-breasted three-piece suit when he and Marianne meet with Herr Hobar before the party.
This is the only one of his “Morocco suits” with which Max wears footwear other than his off-white oxford brogues, sporting here a pair of cognac brown leather derby shoes with medium gray socks.
Like any gent in the ’40s, Max wouldn’t dream of strutting around outside without his hat, in this case a gray felt fedora with a short brim, tall pinched crown, and wide black grosgrain ribbon.
For extra protection against the bright Moroccan sun, Max wears a pair of gold-framed Nylor “Doublé Or Laminé” sunglasses with a fashion-forward French pedigree to match his Parisian cover story… even if the Space Age-style frames are a tad anachronistic. (ID by SunglassesID.com.)
On his left hand, Max wears a gold wedding band prop ring and a dressy yellow gold tank watch on a dark brown leather strap.
In addition to Casablanca (for obvious reasons), costume designer Joanna Johnston reportedly found sartorial inspiration in the simple yet elegant costuming of Now, Voyager, a 1942 drama starring Bette Davis, Paul Heinreid, and Claude Rains.
How to Get the Look
Max Vatan’s elegant and comfortable warm-weather suit fits his cover as a debonair French businessman unaffected by the war.
- Pale blue pinhead-patterned Irish linen suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with long-collared peak lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Single-breasted 6-button vest with lower welted pockets and notched bottom
- Double forward-pleated trousers with side pockets and narrow turn-ups/cuffs
- Pale blue shadow-striped cotton dress shirt with long point collar, front placket, and 1-button squared cuffs
- Navy, periwinkle, and white floral-patterned cotton tie
- Cognac brown leather derby shoes
- Medium gray socks
- Gray felt short-brimmed fedora with wide black grosgrain ribbon
- Nylor “Doublé Or Laminé” vintage sunglasses with curved gold-filled frames
- White gold wedding band
- Yellow gold tank watch with square gold dial on dark brown leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.