Michael Douglas’s Light Brown Suit in Basic Instinct
Michael Douglas as Nick Curran, suspended homicide detective
San Francisco, April 1991
Film: Basic Instinct
Release Date: March 20, 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
The scene itself needs no introduction. Nick Curran (Michael Douglas) sits in a shadowy interrogation room full of detectives (including Newman!) with Hitchcockian ice-cold blonde Catherine Trammell (Sharon Stone) facing them. In one of the most-paused moments of the VHS era, Catherine deftly uncrosses her legs just enough to guarantee that the room—and the audience—know that she neglected to wear underwear that day.
Nick already knew that, of course, but she has the rest of the room eating out of her hand, craning their necks so hard to get a glimpse that you think poor Newman’s head is on the verge of popping off of his neck. The manipulative ploy
In the spirit of Michael Douglas’ 74th birthday today, BAMF Style is taking a look at the fall-friendly office look he sports during this unforgettable scene.
What’d He Wear?
The scene has become so famous for what Sharon Stone isn’t wearing that viewers’ minds may need to be refreshed as to what other characters actually are wearing. Michael Douglas’ fashionable cop wears a light brown worsted twill-weave wool suit, which has often been cited as a Cerruti 1881 though costume designer Ellen Mirojnick mentioned in a 2022 appearance on the From Tailors With Love podcast that none of the Cerruti suits actually made it to the screen, despite enduring legend.
Nick Curran’s three contemporary suits, designed by Ellen Mirojnick, are all neutral tones, ranging from this warmer light brown suit to a cool light gray suit with a taupe suit falling somewhere in the middle. Ms. Mirojnick has frequently collaborated with Michael Douglas across his career, delivering some of his most iconic and influential looks in Fatal Attraction (1987), Wall Street (1988), and its sequel, Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps (2010), as well as Basic Instinct. Most recently, the designer has earned accolades for her work in The Greatest Showman (2017) and Cinemax period series The Knick.
Nick’s light brown suit is fashionably styled for the early 1990s with its widely notched lapels, low two-button stance, jetted hip pockets, and ventless back, not to mention the overall cut. The jacket also has a welted breast pocket and three-button cuffs.
After their resurgence in the 1980s, pleats remained popular for fashionable gents well into the following decade, and Douglas’ suit trousers in Basic Instinct are styled with double reverse pleats. The trousers have straight side pockets, jetted button-through back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
Nick wears a dark brown leather belt with a steel single-prong buckle with his English tan stiff leather holster for his Glock service pistol snapped onto the right side of his belt. He keeps a matching leather pouch with a spare Glock magazine on the back left side of his belt.
Anto of Beverly Hills custom made Michael Douglas’ shirts in Basic Instinct, using a high-quality end-on-end cotton. This sky blue silky-effect shirt is styled like his others with a point collar, plain front, button cuffs, and no pocket.
The ’90s also saw a resurgence of bold ties with loud patterns and blades up to 4″ wide. Ellen Mirojnick wisely avoided these perilous trends and outfitted Nick Curran in neckwear just wide enough to be stylish in the ’90s and patterned with a relatively subdued print of gold and beige swirls on olive green silk.
Nick Curran’s preference for Chelsea boots with his suits set him apart as a hipper, younger detective more tuned in to style than his conservatively dressed comrades. These slip-on boots with elastic side gussets are a similar English tan leather as his holster and magazine pouch, and he wears them with a pair of light brown socks that nicely coordinate with his suit.
When Nick heads home with his off-and-on paramour Dr. Beth Garner (Jeanne Tripplehorn), the resulting scene reveals that he seems to prefer black boxer briefs.
What to Imbibe
Nick Curran has had some issues with substance abuse in the past, but this episode is enough to send him back to the bar. “Double black Jack on the rocks,” is his order, implying a double pour of Jack Daniel’s Tennessee whiskey over ice… just what you’d expect from a cop on the edge.
How to Get the Look
Nick Curran’s sleek on-duty suits benefit from a strong sense of balance, balancing ’90s trends with timeless fashion and balancing the neutral tones of his suit and tie with a bright blue shirt.
- Light brown high-twist worsted wool tailored suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, ventless back
- Double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted button-through back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Sky blue cotton shirt with point collar, plain front, and button cuffs
- Green, gold, and beige swirl-patterned silk tie
- Dark brown leather belt with squared steel single-prong buckle
- Brown (English tan) leather belt holster and magazine pouch
- Brown (English tan) leather Chelsea boots
- Light brown dress socks
- Black boxer briefs
- Steel wristwatch with round white dial on steel bracelet
A photo of the full costume—including shirt, tie, and boots—can be found here.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
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Ugh, your mention of those four-inch blades in the 90s gave me flashbacks. It was next to impossible to tie a knot that didn’t look like you were carting around a football under your chin. It was a relief when Mad Men made skinny ties popular again– here’s hoping they stick around this time.