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
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.)
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”.)
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.
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).
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.