Steve McQueen’s Navy Suits as Thomas Crown

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Vitals

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire criminal mastermind

Boston, June 1968

Film: The Thomas Crown Affair
Release Date: June 19, 1968
Director: Norman Jewison
Costume Designer: Alan Levine
Tailor: Douglas Hayward

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today marks the 50th anniversary of the release of The Thomas Crown Affair, Norman Jewison’s stylish 1968 thriller starring Steve McQueen as the titular mastermind who finds himself in a passionate cat-and-mouse game opposite a glamorous insurance investigator played by Faye Dunaway.

Steve McQueen sports Thomas Crown’s navy suits all over Boston, proudly wearing them for his adventures by land, sea, and air…

What’d He Wear?

Along with a dark gray suit, the solid navy blue suit is considered a menswear essential that belongs in every gentleman’s closet. Naturally, the colorful and expansive wardrobe of Thomas Crown contains at least two solid navy suits, tailored by master cutter Douglas Hayward and subtly detailed with the hallmarks of Mr. Crown’s unconventional style.

Suit #1 – Dark Navy on Beacon Hill

By Land…

A charity art auction in the St. James Ballroom of the Eben Jordan Mansion in Beacon Hill sets the scene for Crown’s reunion with Vicki Anderson, the stunning insurance investigator who reveals in no uncertain terms that he is the target of her current investigation.

Crown strolls into the auction wearing a dark navy worsted three-piece suit. The single-breasted jacket is cut similarly to his others with slim notch lapels that roll to a two-button front, roped sleeveheads, and long double vents. The jacket has a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets on line with the second button of the jacket, and three-button cuffs.

Thomas Crown's appreciation for Vicki's sharp red Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder is no joke, as Steve McQueen indeed fell in love with the car during production and later bought one.

Thomas Crown’s appreciation for Vicki’s sharp red Ferrari 275 GTB/4 NART Spyder is no joke, as Steve McQueen indeed fell in love with the car during production and later bought one.

The waistcoats of his suits are Thomas Crown’s sartorial playground, and he wears a range of styles with his single-breasted waistcoats such as the straight-cut bottom of his gray plaid suit‘s vest and his dark gray wool suit‘s vest or the slim lapels on his brown suit‘s vest. However, this navy suit breaks the mold with its double-breasted waistcoat with its low, narrow V-shaped opening sans lapels, four-on-two button closure, and slim-welted pockets.

Returning from the waistcoat of his aforementioned gray plaid suit is Crown’s elegant gold Patek Philippe pocket watch, worn “double Albert” style on a thick gold chain with a gold Phi Beta Kappa fraternity key fob.

Crown spies Vicki across the room, suddenly finding a much more compelling subject for his interest.

Crown spies Vicki across the room, suddenly finding a much more compelling subject for his interest.

Crown sticks to his blue-themed color palette with his shirt and tie, wearing a pale blue-and-white striped cotton shirt and navy satin silk tie. The shirt’s narrow spread collar is pinned under the tie’s four-in-hand knot with a silver collar bar.

Note the navy printed silk pocket square that echoes - rather than matches - his solid navy tie.

Note the navy printed silk pocket square that echoes – rather than matches – his solid navy tie.

The distinctive black high-vamp semi-brogue single-eyelet derby shoes with the perforated cap toes make a reappearance with this suit, worn with dark socks that are either navy or black.

Production photo of Steve McQueen on location on Beacon Street, 1968.

Production photo of Steve McQueen on location on Beacon Street, 1968.

After Crown outbids Vicki on a set of lithographs and pours her a glass of Moët & Chandon champagne, she reveals her professional interest in him… and evidently agrees to a date, inadvertently revealing her personal interest as well.

Suit #2 – Navy for a Nighttime Harbor Date

By Sea…

The next scene follows Crown and Vicki as they sit down for a portside date at Anthony’s Pier 4 on Boston Harbor. As this scene immediately follows the previous one and McQueen again wears a navy three-piece suit with a low-slung double-breasted waistcoat sans lapels, it makes sense to assume that this is the same suit, albeit worn with a different shirt and tie as well as different shoes, having swapped out the businesslike black shoes for a pair of brown derby shoes.

Thomas and Vicki's Seaport District date.

Thomas and Vicki’s Seaport District date.

However, when Crown raises his glass to take a drink, he reveals a single ornamental button on his jacket cuff as opposed to the three-button cuffs of his earlier suit jacket. Is it an entirely different suit? A different jacket? The same jacket but refinished with single-button cuffs replacing the three-button cuffs? We may never know… but one thing is certain: we never really need to know.

Does Crown think a red, white, and blue ensemble will subconsciously convince Vicki that he's an upstanding, law-abiding, all-American?

Does Crown think a red, white, and blue ensemble will subconsciously convince Vicki that he’s an upstanding, law-abiding, all-American?

Crown wears a soft cream shirt that reflects a silky finish under the restaurant’s outdoor lighting. The shirt has a spread collar, sans pin, and double cuffs that he fastens with his favorite mother-of-pearl cuff links with the blue dot in the center. Crown wears a solid crimson red tie, fastened with a four-in-hand knot. As with the navy tie of his earlier navy suit, his red printed silk pocket square coordinates with his tie without going the tacky route of perfectly matching it.

Crown also swapped out his gold pocket watch for his gold Cartier Tank Americaine wristwatch with a long white rectangular dial and black Roman numeral markers, worn on a black textured leather strap.

Suit #3 – A Final Getaway

By Air…

The film’s concluding scene shows Crown in the air, leaving Vicki behind after yet another heist. We don’t see below his shoulders, but he appears to be wearing one of these navy suits (if I had to guess, I would say the one with single-button cuffs) with a colorful rose pink shirt and navy-and-purple striped tie.

Crown has also dusted off his preferred accessories of tortoise-framed sunglasses (though not his signature Persols), silver collar pin, and the gold Cartier Tank Americaine, his go-to when wearing a wristwatch with his suits.

A "clean" getaway?

A “clean” getaway?

Want to add an element of confusion…or the possibility of a third suit? A production photo shows Crown wearing this pink shirt and striped tie in his office with a navy suit… though the navy suit has a single-breasted waistcoat.

Another navy suit?

Another navy suit?

How to Get the Look

Steve McQueen on the set of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Steve McQueen on the set of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)

Thomas Crown takes an essential menswear staple – the solid navy suit – and makes it his own with a uniquely detailed matching waistcoat and his signature accessories and style.

  • Navy worsted three-piece tailored suit:
    • Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, double vents, and 1- or 3-button cuffs
    • Double-breasted 4-on-2-button waistcoat with slim-welted hip pockets and straight-cut bottom
    • Darted-front trousers with side adjusters, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Pale blue-and-white striped cotton shirt with pinned spread collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
    • Silver collar bar
    • Mother-of-pearl cuff links
  • Navy satin silk tie
  • Black leather perforated-cap toe semi-brogue single-eyelet derby shoes
  • Dark navy dress socks
  • Patek Philippe gold vintage hunter-case pocket watch on thick gold chain with Phi Beta Kappa key fob
  • Dark navy printed silk pocket square

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

What a funny, dirty little mind.

3 comments

  1. Simon

    Saw this film for the first time a few years ago and loved McQueen’s clothes. In many ways a lightweight film but still very stylish and enjoyable.

    Like

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