Cary Grant as Philip Adams, sophisticated playboy economist
London, Christmas Eve 1957
Release Date: June 26, 1958
Director: Stanley Donen
Merry Christmas, BAMF Style readers! In the spirit of the holidays, let’s continue looking at stylish dressers in “Christmas-adjacent” fare by focusing on that most famously elegant icon, Cary Grant, in what was reportedly the actor’s favorite among his own movies.
Stanley Donen’s 1958 romantic comedy Indiscreet reteamed Grant with Ingrid Bergman a dozen years after the two iconic stars had shared the screen in Hitchcock’s spy thriller Notorious (1946), though the suspense of Indiscreet is less a matter of international espionage and more romantic intrigue with Bergman’s character believing herself to be engaged in a clandestine affair with a married man… though Grant’s Philip Adams only pretends to be married to limit his commitments to the women he can’t resist.
Before she learns his secret, we’re treated to a brief but lush vignette of the couple’s intimate Christmas Eve when she proves to be a thoughtful gift-giver, gifting her paramour a fiddle that recalls the story he told on their first date of the left-handed violinist.
Indiscreet wasn’t Grant’s first cinematic foray into romantic mischief during the holidays, as he had previously played the charming angel Dudley in The Bishop’s Wife (1947) opposite Loretta Young and David Niven a decade earlier, memorably decorating a tree in just a few spectacular seconds.
What’d He Wear?
As opposed to the more function-oriented bathrobes made from a harder-wearing material like cotton, nylon or wool, a traditional dressing gown was established as a more ceremonial garment to be worn by the gentleman at leisure rather than for warmth or to dry off after bathing. Inspired by similar Asian vestments, dressing gowns soon became the de facto “house coat” for gentlemen seeking an additional layer for the intermediate steps of dressing in the morning or undressing in the evening, though this context eventually extended into lounging around one’s own home.
Given the status of its wearers and the context they would wear them, dressing gowns were often made of fine silk with a shawl collar borrowed from the smoking jacket. A refined gent like Philip Adams—or, rather, any character played by Cary Grant—would be expected to have a tasteful dressing gown in his collection to be worn for intimate situations like a couple’s Christmas celebration, worn as one would wear a smoking jacket with shirt, tie, and trousers.
Grant wears a full-length dressing gown in burgundy foulard silk with a shawl collar and a wide, tasseled self belt that ties in the front like a sash. The hip pockets and cuffs are detailed with rolled silk piping in solid burgundy. His pajamas are a matching silk, finished on the bottoms with rolled silk piping about an inch or two up the leg similar to the ends of his dressing gown sleeves.
His pale pink cotton shirt tonally coordinates with the overall reddish hues of his outfit, finished with double (French) cuffs and Grant’s usual point collar that he wore to de-emphasize the size of his head and neck, the latter of which made the actor feel particular self-conscious. (And if Cary Grant felt self-conscious about his looks…)
Grant’s dark tie looks solid from a distance, though a closer look reveals what appears to be a repeating series of low-contrast horizontal block stripes. While it’s difficult to discern on my lower-resolution DVD copy of Indiscreet, the duo-tone stripe pattern appears to alternate between black and a dark hunter green… though it may be my seasonal sentimentality that is seeing green. Creative modern neckwear solutions include this knitted tie in navy and green horizontal stripes available via Amazon or this unique “retro-striped” tie in dark green and black via Zazzle.
A glimpse of gold that flashes from Grant’s left wrist suggests that the actor may be wearing his own Cartier Tank, the iconic luxury watch favored by both Hollywood royalty and actual royalty from Clark Gable to Princess Diana.
Grant’s feet aren’t clearly seen on screen, but one can be almost certain that Philip Adams is wearing black velvet Prince Albert slippers with hard leather soles, de rigueur footwear for gentlemen to wear with silk dressing gowns. The only question is whether or not said slippers were adorned with gold embroidering on the vamps.
How to Get the Look
“Christmas jammies” may be popular this time of year, but more elegant celebrations call for the more refined approach offered by a silk dressing gown. If you’re not sure of the difference between a dressing gown and a robe, ask yourself: would Cary Grant wear it with a shirt and tie?
- Burgundy foulard silk full-length dressing gown with shawl collar, tasseled self-belt, hip pockets, and cuffs detailed with rolled silk piping
- Pale pink cotton shirt with point collar and double/French cuffs
- Dark green and black horizontally block-striped tie
- Burgundy foulard silk pajama trousers
- Black velvet Prince Albert slippers
- Cartier Tank gold watch with white rectangular face on black leather strap
The mid-20th century seemed to be the last hurrah of the gentlemen’s silk dressing gown, and the old-fashioned practice of wearing one around the home is all but extinct. Still, several companies persist in manufacturing silk dressing gowns for men, such as this burgundy silk number from Intimo or—should you be interested in a pattern like Cary wears—these relatively untested garments by LONXU or Sidiou Group in a paisley-printed polyester treated to have a silky finish.
If you’re truly seeking to invest in a quality dressing gown, seek a bespoke manufacturer like Daniel Hanson of Nottingham or a trusted clothier with a prestigious heritage that would include the dawn of the dressing gown, such as Turnbull & Asser or Derek Rose.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie… and may all who celebrate have a very merry Christmas and a healthy, happy, and safe new year!