Matt Bomer as Monroe Stahr, charming studio wunderkind
Hollywood, Christmas Eve 1936
Series: The Last Tycoon
Episode: “A Brady-American Christmas” (Episode 6)
Streaming Date: July 28, 2017
Director: Stacie Passon
Developed By: Billy Ray
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
The sixth episode of Amazon Video’s first and only season of The Last Tycoon, adapted from F. Scott Fitzgerald’s unfinished novel The Love of the Last Tycoon, kicks off the holiday season at Brady-American Studios where studio chief Pat Brady (Kelsey Grammer) and his one-time protégé, ambitious visionary producer Monroe Stahr (Matt Bomer), hoping for a Christmas miracle on their upcoming film, Angels on the Avenue.
Pat Brady: Well, if it isn’t the Jew who invented Christmas.
Monroe Stahr: I think another Jew gets credit for that one.
What’d He Wear?
Double-breasted three-piece suits have sadly fallen by the wayside after their glorious heyday in the 1930s, and costume designer Janie Bryant made the most of their elegant drape with a number of double-breasted business suits that serve as the de facto uniforms for series leads Matt Bomer and Kelsey Grammer.
“I am totally obsessed with this period of menswear,” said Bryant in an interview quoted in Fashionista. “It is such a stunning period for men… it’s completely opposite from Mad Men minimalist and everything skinny. It’s all about the broad shoulders, the nipped waist, the wide lapel, the wide trouser leg. It’s all about being wide and creating those masculine shoulders.”
While Grammer’s older-but-not-quite-wiser Pat Brady often swathes himself in more colorful suitings, Bomer’s Monroe Stahr prefers more conservative cloths in shades of navy and gray. All of Monroe’s suiting was custom made for the production, and Bomer told Vanity Fair in June 2016 that “everything [Janie Bryant] put on, I loved and felt was right for the character and was chosen specifically for different scenes. I liked getting to do the double-breasted… The very specific tailoring done at that time was different for me, and unique, and definitely informs the way you move as a character in a way that I found really helpful.”
In “A Brady-American Christmas”, Monroe dresses for his office Christmas party in a navy striped wool three-piece suit that had made its first appearance in the series’ third episode “More Stars Than There Are In Heaven” with the same striped tie.
The double-breasted suit jacket has broad peak lapels with straight gorges and sharp points. It’s a festive occasion, so Monroe wears a red carnation in his left lapel to celebrate, also calling out the maroon stripes of the tie.
Monroe champions the wearing of simple white pocket squares with all of his tailored suits, and this is no exception with a two-point folded white linen kerchief stretching out of his welted breast pocket.
The six-on-two button suit jacket also has flapped pockets on the hips, in line with the lowest row of buttons; the two lower rows of buttons are placed closer together than the center row is with the vestigal upper buttons.
One argument against double-breasted three-piece suits is that it renders the waistcoat totally unseen beneath the jacket’s full wrap. In the 1930s, this was less of an issue as it provided warmth in a less air conditioned world, and it allowed a gentleman to still look “dressed” when he needs to remove his jacket.
Monroe settles in for what he believes will be a productive Christmas Eve of poring over movie scripts, removing his jacket and revealing the single-breasted matching waistcoat (or vest). Per era trends, the waistcoat has a high-fastening front, though it still remains all but hidden under the closed jacket, with six buttons down the front; Monroe correctly and comfortably leaves the lowest button undone over the notched bottom. The lining and back are finished in navy satin, and there are four welted pockets on the front.
Peering out from the armholes of the waistcoat are Monroe’s suspenders (braces) that he wears to hold up his trousers. Although barely seen, these red-and-navy striped suspenders also coordinate with the color palette of his suit and tie.
Many of Monroe’s trousers are made with belt loops as well as inner-waistband buttons to accommodate suspenders, although he correctly opts for the latter here; suspenders are preferable to belts when wearing a three-piece suit to avoid the unsightly bulge of a belt buckle beneath the waistcoat.
The double reverse-pleated trousers have side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) that break over what appear to be black leather cap-toe oxfords. Monroe tends to wear socks that coordinate with his trousers, so he likely wears dark navy socks with this outfit.
Monroe wears one of his usual white cotton shirts with its well-starched and perfectly shaped long point collar, designed to perfectly follow the lines of his waistcoat’s chest opening.
The shirt buttons up a wide front placket and has double (French) cuffs with buttoned gauntlets. The French cuffs are fastened with a set of small gold-toned cuff links.
A follow-up feature in Fashionista in July 2017 stated that the production team “kept Monroe in consistent, masculine colors like deep maroons and blue ties that complement Bomer’s piercing eyes.”
This striped silk tie is no exception, not only complementing Bomer’s blue eyes but echoing the colors of the holiday season with maroon striping. All stripes are in the European “uphill” direction, crossing from the right hip up to the left shoulder. The striping pattern consists of wide stripes in burgundy, a navy-to-light blue gradient, and solid navy, all separated by thin white shadow stripes.
Monroe wears a gold signet ring on his left pinky, a common affectation of the era. The ring is etched with the initial “S.” to stand for both his professional surname of Stahr as well as his birth surname, Sternberg.
After receiving two new wristwatches for his birthday earlier in the season, Monroe takes to wearing the steel round-cased watch he received from Pat Brady in Pat’s attempt to one-up the gold dress watch Monroe was given by Louis B. Mayer. Not clearly seen in these episodes, Monroe’s watch from Pat has a minimalist white dial and a black leather strap.
It’s hard to imagine a holiday party without Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald, Perry Como, or Bing Crosby on the soundtrack. In December 1936, the first three were just getting their starts locally that would propel them to stardom within the next decade, and Bing – though a bona fide star since leaving Paul Whiteman’s popular orchestra in 1930 – had yet to record a Christmas record, let alone anything as iconic as “White Christmas”.
Thus, The Last Tycoon turns to even older recordings of our holiday favorites, including the original recording of “Winter Wonderland” that would play during several of the episode’s later seasons and over the end credits. Written by Felix Bernard and Richard B. Smith in 1934, “Winter Wonderland” was first recorded that October in New York City by Richard Himber and his Hotel Ritz-Carlton Orchestra, featuring vocals by Joey Nash, for Bluebird Records (a division of RCA Victor).
The record, named “Winter Wonderland – Fox Trot” to follow conventions of the era, was quickly noticed and re-recorded by other outfits, with the more popular Guy Lombardo and his Royal Canadians cutting their own version only six days later for Decca Records that would crack the top 10.
Though it lacks any references to the holiday itself, “Winter Wonderland” has come to be regarded as a popular Christmas song and a mainstay of holiday albums from major artists including Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Dolly Parton, and Eurythmics… in addition to Frank, Ella, Perry, and Bing, of course.
How to Get the Look
The dapper Monroe Stahr dresses to impress for his office holiday party, nodding to the festivities with a tasteful red carnation in his lapel rather than the now-ubiquitous ugly Christmas sweater.
- Navy striped wool three-piece suit:
- Double-breasted 6×2-button jacket with wide peak lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Single-breasted 6-button waistcoat with four welted pockets and notched bottom
- Double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White cotton dress shirt with long point collar, wide front placket, and double/French cuffs
- Gold cuff links
- Maroon and navy gradient striped silk tie
- Red and navy-trimmed suspenders
- Black cap-toe oxford shoes
- Dark navy dress socks
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt/A-shirt
- Gold monogrammed signet ring, right pinky
- Steel wristwatch with round case and white dial on black leather strap
Of course, this is only Monroe’s office suit for the daytime corporate party. After accepting Clint’s invitation to an evening soiree, he changes into a debonair black three-piece dinner suit.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check it out on Amazon Video.
As mentioned above, Monroe seems to be wearing the same suit in the third episode, “More Stars Than There Are In Heaven” for a meeting in Pat Brady’s office and an evening rendezvous with Kathleen at his beach house.