The Barefoot Contessa: Bogie’s Olive Suit and Bow Tie
Humphrey Bogart as Harry Dawes, Hollywood director and screenwriter
Madrid, Spring 1951
Film: The Barefoot Contessa
Release Date: September 29, 1954
Director: Joseph L. Mankiewicz
Costume Designer: Rosi Gori (uncredited)
August 28 is National Bow Tie Day, believe it or not, so today’s post commemorates one of the most badass bow tie wearers of classic Hollywood, Humphrey Bogart.
Like many other stylish and influential entertainers of his day, Bogie’s on-screen style reflected the actor’s personal style which—as he matured into middle age in the 1950s—evolved to increasingly incorporate bow ties with his lounge suits and sport jackets. Bogart’s fans grew increasingly used to seeing the actor sporting bow ties in movies like In a Lonely Place and Sabrina before Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s dazzling Technicolor drama showcased Bogie’s bow-tied style in full color opposite the ravishing Ava Gardner.
After a brief opening scene, we transition to “three years ago” as the Mankiewicz-like Harry Dawes (Bogart) is traveling with slick but spoiled Hollywood producer Kirk Edwards (Warren Stevens), sweaty PR flack Oscar Muldoon (Edmond O’Brien, in an Academy Award-winning performance), and blonde actress Myrna (Mari Aldon) “from Hollywood, U.S.A.” The quartet finds themselves at “a not very fashionable nightclub” in Madrid, where Harry lectures them all on the lessons learned from Faust’s deal with the devil.
“The fact that you don’t drink at all, Kirk, is the greatest argument for drunkenness I know,” states Harry, who’s celebrating being sober “five months next Tuesday.”
The true purpose of the night out, however, is to convince the glamorous dancer Maria Vargas (Gardner) to agree to meet with Edwards to star in his latest pet project. The washed-up Harry is tapped as the most viable candidate on the virtue of his reputation for having previously directed both Jean Harlow and Carole Lombard.
What’d He Wear?
The opening scene depicts a trench-coated Humphrey Bogart in the rain, a familiar sight for many audiences, before we flash back to Madrid where he sports an olive lightweight flannel suit for his introduction to Maria Vargas. It’s very likely that the suit, flattering and fashionable with its full but not baggy fit, was from Bogie’s own wardrobe.
The suit jacket has substantial notch lapels that roll to a two-button, single-breasted front that he keeps open throughout the sequence. The ventless jacket has wide shoulders, roped sleeveheads, and four-button cuffs at the end of each sleeve.
The double forward-pleated trousers rise appropriately high to Bogie’s natural waist, where they are held up with a black leather belt that closes through a squared steel single-prong buckle. The trousers have side pockets and are finished on the bottoms with turn-ups (cuffs).
Harry’s white poplin shirt has a spread collar, plain front, and squared double (French) cuffs that he fastens with a set of gold links.
The narrow and square-ended “batwing”-style bow tie appears to be one of Bogart’s own, worn in this famous 1953 portrait. Seen in color in The Barefoot Contessa, the bow tie is cream silk with a repeating pattern of dark rust-colored ornamental circles.
We get our best look at Harry’s shoes as he leans over to pick up the discarded shoes that give Maria Vargas her titular moniker. He wears a simple pair of black leather cap-toe oxfords with dark socks that may be a shade of green to match his suit and continue the leg line from his trousers.
Bogart wears his signature gold ring, ornamented with two rubies flanking a center diamond, on the third finger of his right hand. The actor reportedly inherited the ring from his father after Belmont Bogart died in 1934 and proceeded to wear it off- and on-screen the following two decades in almost all of his movies, absent only from his last four movies as the ring made its final screen appearance in The Barefoot Contessa.
The small watch on Harry’s left wrist is yellow gold with a gold dial and a russet brown leather strap. Based on the size of the small round case, it does not appear to be the tonneau-shaped Longines Evidenza that has been identified as one of Bogie’s real-life timepieces that frequently made its way into his movies.
Harry layers for the evening chill with a dark copper brown wool knee-length overcoat. The single-breasted coat has notch lapels that roll to a three-button front, which he wears open throughout the scene. The coat has wide, padded shoulders, large flapped patch pockets, and a long single vent.
How to Get the Look
Humphrey Bogart brings personal flair to Harry Dawes’ wardrobe by accompanying this understated olive suit with a natty bow tie, a sartorial practice that had been established by the actor in real life as he approached his final years.
- Olive green lightweight flannel suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, ventless back
- Double forward-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White poplin shirt with spread collar, plain front, and squared double/French cuffs
- Gold cuff links
- Cream “batwing”-style bow tie with small rust-colored circles
- Black leather cap-toe oxfords
- Dark green socks
- Copper brown wool single-breasted 3-button overcoat with notch lapels, wide shoulders, large flapped patch pockets, and long single vent
- Brown fedora with narrow brown band and feather
- Gold ring with two ruby stones flanking a center diamond stone
- Gold wedding band
- Gold wristwatch with gold dial on russet brown leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
What makes a man want to write about people or direct people is because, usually, he has a sort of sixth sense about them…or thinks he has. Like a watch. Now, my five ordinary senses, what with alcohol and other forms of abuse, are nothing special. But I have a sixth sense that any witch in the world would give her left broomstick to have.
Maybe it’s because it’s in color, but Bogart looks younger in these photos at 54 than he did 12 years earlier in Casablanca