Rod Taylor as Bruce Templeton, charismatic aerospace lab chief
Long Beach, California, Spring 1966
Film: The Glass Bottom Boat
Release Date: June 9, 1966
Director: Frank Tashlin
Costume Designer: Ray Aghayan (credited with Doris Day’s costumes only)
In the years since I’ve started this blog, I’ve discovered that there are many unsung “style heroes” that are often lost in the discussion of Cary Grant, Clark Gable, and Steve McQueen, including actors like Rod Taylor who brought understated elegance to flatteringly tailored suits and timeless casual attire alike.
I was first familiar with Taylor in The Glass Bottom Boat, one of my grandma’s favorite movies and one that we used to watch until we wore the VHS tape thin. Last year, I was delighted to see that my friends Shawn Bongiorno and Ryan Hall had collaborated on a series of Instagram posts that highlighted a look from the movie, and that inspired us to put our heads together and take a deeper dive at a springtime essential that Taylor wears.
Rewatching The Glass Bottom Boat two decades after those weekends at Grandma’s house, the plot holds up as one of the better and funnier of Doris Day’s filmography from the era, a romantic comedy infused with space age style and wit from some of the most talented and recognizable comedic actors of the era like Dom DeLuise, Paul Lynde, Dick Martin, John McGiver, and Alice Peace. The plot centers around a flirtation between “space wizard” Bruce Templeton (Taylor) and his aerospace research lab’s latest PR fire, Jennifer Nelson (Day). He assigns her the secret—and ultimately fictional—Project Venus, ostensibly tasking her with writing his biography when it’s really just the researcher’s way of spending more time with the “kooky” young widow while conducting work like overseeing an evening test launch from his Long Beach lab.
What’d He Wear?
Taking a break from his natty tailored wear that includes business suits, blazers, and sport jackets, Bruce dons a beige Baracuta G9 blouson for his nighttime research. This was 1966, the same year that Frank Sinatra wore his own beige and navy Baracutas in Assault on a Queen and around the same time that Ryan O’Neal’s character Rodney Harrington popularized the jacket on Peyton Place, establishing the garment’s unofficial sobriquet as the “Harrington jacket.”
The British company Baracuta had introduced its cotton gabardine double-zip windbreaker in the 1930s, marketed for the golf course (hence the “G” in G9) though it soon found favor as a comfortable weather-proof style staple and inspired scores of copycats, particularly after the brand began exporting the G9 to the United States in 1954. Once the G9 went stateside and found fans among icons like Elvis Presley and Steve McQueen, there was no stopping its rise in popularity. (You can read more about the G9’s history at the official Baracuta website.)
In addition to the classic two-button standing collar, knit cuffs and hem, and slanted hand pockets with single-button flaps, Taylor’s raglan-sleeve Harrington jacket is clearly lined with Baracuta’s distinctive Fraser tartan plaid in red, green, navy, and white which had been approved by Lord Fraser shortly after the jacket’s 1937 introduction.
More than 80 years after their introduction, Baracuta continues to offer the G9 in a continually increasing range of colors and fabrics, from a Rebel Without a Cause-inspired red to a warmer corduroy. The standard shell has evolved from its original cotton gabardine construction to a weatherproof blend of 50% cotton and 50% polyester as well as a breathable Coolmax® lining in a 65% cotton, 35% polyester blend.
“The Harrington jacket has to be my favorite casual jacket of all time,” my friend Ryan told me. “My earliest memories of the Harrington has to be the beige Merc brand Harrington worn by my grandfather when I was a child, my grandfather was born in 1932, around the same time as Rod Taylor and Steve McQueen, so it is only natural that he would be drawn to the iconic jacket that was featured in so many films and television shows during the 1960s.”
Interested shoppers can find the classic Baracuta still available in addition to several other variations on the Harrington from reputable outfitters including Merc, the company that made the jacket worn by Ryan’s grandfather:
- Baracuta G9 in “natural” cotton/polyester (via Amazon or Baracuta)
- Ben Nevis Combat Harrington in beige polyester/cotton (via Ben Nevis)
- Ben Sherman Core Harrington in sand cotton (via Amazon or Ben Sherman)
- Farah Hardy Jacket in light sand cotton (via Farah Clothing)
- Fred Perry Check Lined Harrington in dark stone cotton (via Fred Perry)
- Grenfell Harrington in peached beige cotton (via Grenfell)
- Jump the Gun Harrington Raglan in beige cotton (via Jump the Gun)
- Lacoste Men’s Cotton Twill Jacket in beige cotton (via Amazon or Lacoste)
- Lyle & Scott Harrington in beige cotton (via Amazon)
- Merc Harrington in beige cotton/polyester (via Merc Clothing)
- Orvis Weatherbreaker in British tan nylon/cotton (via Amazon or Orvis)
- Peter Christian Harrington in sand cotton/polyester (via Peter Christian Outfitters)
- Private White V.C. “The Ventile” Harrington in sand cotton (via Private White V.C.)
- Tootal Modern Classic Harrington in beige cotton (via Tootal)
Taylor wears a light blue polo shirt with a long three-button top that extends down to mid-chest, and he wears all three of the widely spaced buttons undone. Bruce Templeton evidently keeps a few light blue pocket polos in his collection as he also wears a similarly colored short-sleeve polo later in the film for a laidback night lounging at home with Jennifer, though that polo shirt is a richer sky blue and only has a two-button opening as opposed to the three-button polo he wears with the Baracuta jacket.
Bruce wears dark gray trousers with a fit over his hips that suggests a darted front, the less-celebrated but certainly effective alternative to pleats or a traditional “flat front”. He wears the trousers with no belt, instead fastened around his waist with an extended square-ended tab that closes through a single button.
Assuming that these are the same trousers he later wears with his navy blazer, they would also have belt loops, front pockets but no back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
Bruce’s wristwatch throughout The Glass Bottom Boat is a slim gold dress watch with a gold dial and flat gold bracelet, concealed by the ribbed cuff on his jacket’s left sleeve for this particular sequence.
The scene’s brief opening shot suggests that Bruce wears the same black leather side-gusset loafers that he wears with his suits at work. Despite his vast wealth and wardrobe—Bruce tends to wear these same shoes with everything, though it would appeal to his sense of practicality to have one pair of shoes that he can effectively wear with Harrington jackets, dinner jackets, and everything in between. Though American businessmen led the way in de-formalizing office wear in mid-century, slip-on shoes grew increasingly fashionable for men around the world to wear with lounge suits against the gradually less formal backdrop of the 1960s professional world.
Bruce isn’t the only Baracuta wearer in The Glass Bottom Boat. We very briefly see his helicopter pilot, Jim, sporting a navy Baracuta G9 with the distinctive Fraser Tartan lining as he waits for Bruce to join him in the passenger seat.
I found fellow Harrington jacket enthusiasts in the aforementioned Shawn Bongiorno and Ryan Hall, fellow style bloggers with fantastic Instagram pages. Like me, Ryan’s Instagram account @IconicFilmStyle highlights menswear featured in movies and TV shows while Shawn’s page @shawn.michael.bongiorno showcases Shawn himself wearing many outfits inspired by cinematic icons like Steve McQueen or the James Bond actors that Ryan and I write about.
Ryan explained their collaboration to me, saying that “Shawn has an offical stone-colored Harrington from Baracuta very similar to Rod Taylor’s and Steve McQueen’s. Shawn’s style is casual and relaxed. He takes a classic staple and blends it with modern items, which is great.”
Shawn expanded both on his own Baracuta and how he was inspired to model it after how Rod Taylor wore his in The Glass Bottom Boat:
I got the Baracuta in Steve McQueen stone because it is iconic, like the Persol 714S, which were also popularized by McQueen. I learned about McQueen from his influence on how Daniel Craig as James Bond was dressed in Quantum of Solace. It was a revolutionary style to me and I fell in love with the simple elegance of it. I experiment a lot with understanding what my casual style is and is not. To me, the jacket is more on the rugged side of casual than the formal side, though it does have a sophisticated quality, but not so much that it can’t be paired with jeans.
Since I wear it exclusively with jeans, I would not likely pair it with a polo, because polos, for me, are best worn with shorts, unless the polo is knit or in some other way “unique”. The collar of a polo just emotes too much formality for me to pair one with jeans. Additionally, I don’t go for the preppy look, And a polo with a Harrington looks very preppy to me. I find the best shirt to pair a Harrington with is a T-shirt, because it brings out the rugged qualities of the Harrington and tones down its more sophisticated features.
I bought a Baracuta because it is the original. That’s something that I look for in every clothing purchase I make: history. I love the history of clothes, so I always tend toward the original manufacture of a garment, if available. That’s why I love pairing my Harrington with Persol 714S, Clarks original desert boots, and Sunspel T-Shirts (one of the original creators of the T-shirt, mind you). There is a heritage to these brands that match the heritage of the Baracuta, thus the look becomes inherently timeless and iconic.
For our recreation of the look from the movie, I relied completely on Ryan’s guidance, as I had never seen the movie or heard of Rod Taylor. I had the Baracuta on hand and I had a shirt in the right color from Orlebar Brown, my favorite clothing company and one of the pioneers of “resort wear.”
The look is probably not something I would go for with my own personal style, but I am willing to try anything once because you really don’t know how you feel about a look until you wear it out-and-about and you see how it makes you feel. I do, however, thank Ryan for bringing it to my attention, as it made me think about how I like to wear my Harrington; that is one of the things I love so much about our iconic film style collaborations.
And what encouraged Ryan to choose this look in the first place?
Being a huge classic film fan since I was a child, I was aware of how many iconic films the Harrington was worn in. I myself have a few Harringtons of various brands and colors, black and navy being the stand outs for me as I think I look better in darker, cooler colors rather then the lighter beige, tan, and stone. I’d been influenced to wear a Harrington by Steve McQueen with his navy Baracuta in The Thomas Crown Affair, a film I first saw when I was 12, and Daniel Craig’s dark navy Tom Ford Harrington in his second Bond film, Quantum of Solace.
I think it is important to take classic menswear items—especially ones made famous by iconic film stars—and make them your own… as not many of us are as naturally cool as Steve McQueen. Being comfortable and developing your own style is more important then trying to directly emulate these film stars directly.
How to Get the Look
In The Glass Bottom Boat, Rod Taylor illustrates the stylish staying power of simple essentials like a neutral-colored Harrington jacket, light blue shirt, and gray slacks, an ensemble that worked as well more than half a century ago as it does when worn by sharp dressers like Shawn today.
- Beige waterproof cotton Baracuta G9 zip-up blouson-style “Harrington jacket” with two-button standing collar, slanted hand pockets with single-button flaps, ribbed knit cuffs and hem, and red Fraser tartan plaid lining
- Light blue short-sleeve polo shirt with three-button top and breast pocket
- Dark gray darted-front trousers with belt loops, front pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black calf leather side-gusset loafers
- Thin gold wristwatch with gold dial on flat gold bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Who could sleep when you’re plotting a rendezvous with Venus?