Cary Grant’s Gray Pinstripe Suit in An Affair to Remember

Cary Grant as Nickie Ferrante in An Affair to Remember (1957)

Cary Grant as Nickie Ferrante in An Affair to Remember (1957)

Vitals

Cary Grant as Nicolò “Nickie” Ferrante, socialite playboy

French Riviera, December 1956

Film: An Affair to Remember
Release Date: July 2, 1957
Director: Leo McCarey
Executive Wardrobe Designer: Charles Le Maire

Background

As many folks across the United States are wrapping up Thanksgiving travel arrangements home to be with family, I wanted to take a look at some classic films where characters are making the own familial visitations.

An Affair to Remember finds Cary Grant on a transatlantic journey with Deborah Kerr. When the SS Constitution anchors in the French Riviera, Grant takes the opportunity to introduce his new traveling companion to his aging Italian grandmother at her villa in the picturesque seaside commune of Villefranche-sur-Mer.

(Fans of the Rolling Stones may recognize Villefranche-sur-Mer as the location of Nellcôte, the 16-room mansion rented by Keith Richards where the band recorded their legendary 1972 album Exile on Main St.)

Nickie and Terry can't get no satisfaction.

Nickie and Terry can’t get no satisfaction.

During the brief visit, Nickie’s grandmother Janou (Cathleen Nesbitt) offers Terry some insight into his character:

Everything comes too easily to him. He’s always attracted by the art he isn’t practicing, the place he hasn’t been, the girl he hasn’t met.

What’d He Wear?

The mild winters of the Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur region make Nickie’s beautifully tailored summer-weight worsted suit an appropriate choice for his brief landside sojourn with Terry. The suiting is a gray pinstripe that takes a blue cast under some light (one could call it “gray by gray-blue”.)

Cathleen Nesbitt, the actress who plays Cary Grant's grandmother, was born November 24, 1888... making her just about 15 years older than Grant himself. That's some family.

Cathleen Nesbitt, the actress who plays Cary Grant’s grandmother, was born November 24, 1888… making her just about 15 years older than Grant himself. That’s some family.

Grant’s single-breasted suit jacket has notch lapels of moderate width that roll over the top of his three-button front to the center button, which he keeps fastened throughout the sequence. All of the buttons are gray-blue sew-through plastic with the three front buttons positioned further in from the edge of the suit coat than usual.

The ventless suit jacket has straight shoulders and three-button cuffs. The jacket’s three patch pockets dress it down to the sportier level of a summer suit appropriately worn on holiday.

Shipboard romance.

Shipboard romance.

Grant’s trousers have two sets of forward pleats on each side of the straight fly. He keeps his jacket on through the scene, but the beltless waistband indicates that his trousers are likely fitted with buckle-tab side adjusters similar to his iconic suit in North by Northwest.

The full cut trousers have an elegantly long rise to Grant’s natural waist, rising to around the buttoning point of his jacket. The bottoms are finished with narrow turn-ups (cuffs).

Production photo of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

Production photo of Cary Grant and Deborah Kerr.

Cary Grant often wore shirts with button-down collars, and this pale gray cotton shirt is no exception, though the context of wearing it with a summer suit on holiday is very fitting for this less formal and more Americanized alternative. The large collar also serves to de-emphasize Grant’s wide head and thick neck that made him insecure (despite the fact that he looked like Cary Grant.) The shirt has a front placket and single-button rounded barrel cuffs.

His light gray silk twill tie, which shines silver in the “Mediterranean” sun, provides little contrast against the pale gray shirt. He ties it in a four-in-hand knot with a fine dimple. It may be the same tie that he wears with his gray plaid summer suit when returning to the villa months later after his grandmother has passed.

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

Grant wears a pair of dark brown lace-up shoes that appear to be suede oxfords, adding a further casual touch to his ensemble. Brown suede oxfords are a great match for dressing down a suit outside the office, particularly with a summer suit like Nickie wears in the French Riviera. As of November 2017, Florsheim offers a casual wingtip oxford in brown suede for less than $70.

There appears to be some inconsistency in the socks that Nickie wears in this scene. The trouser break mostly covers his hosiery, but when he ascends the steps of his grandmother’s villa, Nickie appears to be wearing burgundy dress socks. Later, back aboard the SS Constitution, he is almost certainly wearing more traditional – but perhaps less interesting – light gray cotton lisle dress socks.

Left: A hint of burgundy hosiery peeks between the break of Nickie's trousers and the tops of his shoes. Right: Nickie is undeniably now wearing light gray socks while romancing Terry aboard ship that evening.

Left: A hint of burgundy hosiery peeks between the break of Nickie’s trousers and the tops of his shoes.
Right: Nickie is undeniably now wearing light gray socks while romancing Terry aboard ship that evening.

Only briefly seen under Nickie’s left shirt cuff is the squared gold case of what is likely Grant’s real-life Cartier Tank wristwatch on a dark leather strap.

AN AFFAIR TO REMEMBER

A Brief Reprise

This suit makes a brief appearance during the pivotal scene when Nickie goes to meet Terry at the top of the Empire State Building. As this scene takes place six months later, it would be at the start of a New York City summer, making Nickie’s lightweight worsted suit a fine choice for the weather.

A jilted Nickie waits at the top of the Empire State Building. Grab your tissues, Rita Wilson.

A jilted Nickie waits at the top of the Empire State Building. Grab your tissues, Rita Wilson.

He appears to be wearing generally the same outfit, although his shirt appears to be a warmer color – closer to beige – with a semi-spread rather than button-down collar. He also carries an olive felt trilby.

How to Get the Look

Cary Grant shows how to effectively and elegantly dress down a gray suit for summer sojourn in An Affair to Remember.

  • Gray/gray-blue pinstripe summer-weight worsted wool tailored suit:
    • Single-breasted 3-roll-2-button jacket with notch lapels, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
    • Double forward-pleated high-rise trousers with buckle-tab side adjusters, side pockets, and narrow turn-ups/cuffs
  • Pale gray cotton shirt with button-down collar, front placket, and button cuffs
  • Silver silk twill tie
  • Brown suede oxford shoes
  • Light gray dress socks
  • Cartier Tank yellow gold wristwatch with square white dial and black leather strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

6 comments

  1. Sir Edward Percival Fox-Ingleby, Bt

    Grant did not look good in hats. He knew this, of course, which is why in most films, he may carry one, but rarely does he wear it. The Cary Grant Gray tie is seen many times in his films. He wears it with dark gray slacks and tan sport coat in Touch of Mink (none to subtle hint) which got him Doris Day, so, it works.

    Like

    • teeritz

      I agree that Grant didn’t wear hats often in his films, but he looked great in one in “Mr Lucky” (vastly underrated film, clever cinematography), and “His Girl Friday”. Disregard the sombrero-style monstrosity that he wears when he first appears in “Only Angels Have Wings”.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. MarkGibson

    Archie Leach, the Bristol slum lad who ran away from a broken home to join the circus – he really made it, didn’t he? Another brilliant suit. Wonder if it is the work of Aquascutum (a British firm he favoured late in his career) or a US tailor. Wherever it came from, it follows his preference that his suit trousers be very full cut, even by ’50’s standards, in order to have a consistent vertical line. The ventless back on a day suit is a little surprising though. Grant liked the freedom to put his hands in his pockets without hoisting up the hem of his jacket. The Cartier Tank is just right for Nickie, as well.

    Like

    • luckystrike721

      Excellent observations, Mark! I always appreciate reflecting on how far Archie had risen from his roots to become a timeless symbol of elegance and class.

      It seemed there was no telling Mr. Grant that vents may aid his habit of placing his hands in his pockets, surprising too given how long these full cut jackets were in the ’50s. I’m not sure who made his suits for An Affair to Remember, but it would be worth finding out!

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s