Tom Selleck as Nick Lassiter, debonair jewel thief
London, June 1939
Release Date: February 17, 1984
Director: Roger Young
Costume Designer: Barbara Lane
While we’re still in the midst of tweed-friendly weather, I’d like to respond to a few requests I’ve had to focus on Tom Selleck’s gentlemanly style in Lassiter as an American thief in England, a far cry from the Aloha shirts he was famously wearing on Magnum, P.I. at the same time.
Released today in 1984, Lassiter starred Selleck as the titular jewel thief—Nick Lassiter—crafted in the daring and debonair tradition of cinematic cat burglars like Cary Grant in To Catch a Thief and David Niven’s “Phantom” in The Pink Panther. Much like his previous film, High Road to China, this movie compensated for the fact that Selleck had to pass on the role of Indiana Jones by giving him the role of a charismatic, resourceful, and risk-averse rogue facing danger from under the brim of a fedora in the years leading up to World War II.
The morning after a successful jewel theft, Lassiter is cornered by London policemen as he leaves his girlfriend Sara’s home and ushered to police headquarters, where he is swiftly fingered in a lineup and learns that he is being framed for a crime that may get him a life sentence… though Inspector John Becker (Bob Hoskins) hasn’t yet decided what the crime should be. Nervy FBI agent Peter Breeze (Joe Regalbuto) briefs Lassiter on his potential assignment, stealing $10 million of the $50 million in unset diamonds that Nazi Germany took from Czechoslovakia to finance espionage operations throughout Europe and South America. Forced to accept or else yield his freedom, Lassiter agrees and finds himself surveilling the German embassy where he encounters Kari Von Fursten (Lauren Hutton), the “wild” consular agent-turned-Nazi-assassin who specializes in dispatching her victims with a sharp object mid-coitus, not unlike Sharon Stone’s Catherine Trammell in Basic Instinct nearly a decade later.
I hadn’t heard of Lassiter before I started writing BAMF Style, and I was delighted that a number of commenters turned me onto this movie, a combination of Indiana Jones, The Sting, and To Catch a Thief, with a twist of James Bond, all set in London on the eve of World War II.
What’d He Wear?
Lassiter leaves Sara’s flat in a period-detailed tweed sport jacket with a checked shirt and knitted tie, a fine country combination that no doubt would have made the American considerably look out of place on the city streets of prewar London with its rigidly enforced business dress codes.
Lassiter’s fawn-colored Donegal tweed sports coat has a 3/2-roll single-breasted front and sleeves finished with three-button cuffs. The jacket has three sporty patch pockets: one on the left breast and two large ones on the hips, each with a horizontal a few inches from the top. The back is split with a long single vent, extending up to Selleck’s natural waist where a full belt extends across the back of the jacket.
Lassiter coordinates the bucolic informality of his tweed sports coat with a checked shirt and a taupe brown knitted silk tie, knotted in a tight four-in-hand.
The mint green shirt with its brown windowpane check overlaid on a fainter white grid check appears to be the same shirt that he would wear with his tweed casual blouson jacket during the film’s finale. This shirt has a point collar, front placket, and single-button rounded cuffs.
Lassiter’s khaki gabardine trousers bring tonal harmony to the outfit, just a few shades away from the jacket but enough of a textural contrast that his outfit doesn’t look like a mismatched suit. The lower rise of these double forward-pleated trousers are more appropriate for the 1980s than the 1930s, though Lassiter’s laidback demeanor—as well as the rough start to his day—could also account for him letting his trousers slouch a bit.
The trousers have straight pockets along the side seams, button-through back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms and are worn with a dark brown leather belt that closes through a gold-toned squared single-prong buckle.
If you’re going to wear such a country-friendly outfit, you may as well go all out. After all, a brown tweed jacket and knitted tie may look out of place on the streets of London, but the same outfit worn with black calf oxfords? Don’t even think about it… he wisely saves those for his dinner jackets and his dark navy chalk-striped double-breasted suit.
From the context of the rest of this outfit, Lassiter gets the color and the cloth right when he steps out in a pair of dark cocoa brown suede lace-up shoes, likely the same suede oxfords he later wears with his gray tweed suit.
Our hero completes his look with a taupe felt fedora, sharply pinched on the crown, self-edged, and banded in a wide strip of brown ribbed grosgrain silk, neatly bowed on the left side.
Lassiter wears the jacket again a few days later during an argument with Sara (Jane Seymour) in her flat, intentionally loud enough to be overheard by the two Scotland Yard detectives staking out the apartment next door. He adds the layer of a light gray cotton knit long-sleeved V-neck sweater (or jumper, as his British acquaintances would call it.)
In this scene, Lassiter wears another knitted silk tie—this time in hunter green—with a slightly more urban-friendly shirt, white with a light gray mini-grid check. The shirt has button cuffs and a tab collar that fastens with a small button under the tie knot.
We get only a brief glimpse at Lassiter’s watch, a gold dress watch considerably more subtle than the dive watches that Magnum, P.I. audiences were used to seeing Selleck wear. The square-cased watch is strapped to his wrist on a gold expanding bracelet.
How to Get the Look
Tom Selleck’s gentleman thief hits the streets of prewar London in a country-friendly outfit—from his tweed jacket and checked shirt to knitted tie and suede shoes—that transcends Lassiter‘s 1939 setting and would look just as stylish more than 80 years later… though I’d suggest a less urban setting for such a ruggedly textured kit.
- Fawn-colored Donegal tweed single-breasted 3/2-roll sport jacket with notch lapels, patch pockets, 3-button cuffs, and full-belted back with long single vent
- Mint green brown/white-grid check shirt with point collar, front placket, and 1-button rounded cuffs
- Taupe brown knitted silk tie
- Khaki gabardine double forward-pleated trousers with belt loops, straight/on-seam side pockets, button-through back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Dark brown leather belt with gold-toned squared single-prong buckle
- Dark brown suede oxford shoes
- Taupe felt fedora with brown grosgrain silk band
- Gold square-cased dress watch on gold expanding bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
I’m standing in a frame, Breeze, you’re gonna wrap me in a flag too?