Gregory Peck as Harry Street, expatriate writer and former newspaper reporter
French Riviera (Côte d’Azur), Summer 1936
Film: The Snows of Kilimanjaro
Release Date: September 17, 1952
Director: Henry King
Wardrobe Supervisor: Charles Le Maire
Despite its wintry title, The Snows of Kilimanjaro was expanded significantly from Ernest Hemingway’s original short story for Henry King’s lush 1952 cinematic adaptation, featuring plenty of summertime fun in Côte d’Azur during its prewar heyday.
The rest of the world may have been suffering from the Great Depression, but Papa surrogate Harry Street has risen to literary stardom and is now living la belle vie, adrift in the Mediterranean while his latest paramour “Frigid Liz, the semi-iceburg of the semi-tropics” frolics in the warm sea around him. Though lovely, Countess Elizabeth (Hildegard Knef) is hardly the treasured Cynthia (Ava Gardner), and Harry admits he’s only attracted to Liz for her elusive qualities, describing in Papa-esque prose that “she was something to hunt down and trap and capture.”
In addition to today being the birthday of Ernest Hemingway, who entered the world July 21, 1899, today is also my 31st birthday!
What’d He Wear?
There’s no mistaking that Harry Street is at leisure as our hero languishes on a raft off the Riviera in his summer whites. The short-sleeved linen camp shirt looks sun-bleached to a warm ivory color, styled with wide-pointed loop collar, shirring at the back yoke, breast pocket, and plain, placket-less button-up front. Through the light linen fabric of the shirt, we can discern the outline of what appears to be a white cotton short-sleeved V-neck undershirt.
Harry lazes in a pair of cream gabardine trousers with double reverse pleats, straight side pockets, button-through back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms. Much like famous rakes Fred Astaire and Errol Flynn, Harry dresses his waist with a silk sash, a strip of burgundy silk with white polka dots that breaks up the monochromatic outfit. As the trousers are appointed with buckle-tab side adjusters rather than belt loops, Harry wears the sash around the waistband, knotted on the left.
“The smartest sandals are those that make the foot look the most naked,” wrote the prolific sartorialist Sir Hardy Amies in his ABCs of Men’s Fashion, adding that said footwear may be hell for walking, but “they are, however, ideal for loafing in the garden, on a terrance, or on a boat.” Peck is outfitted accordingly for just such an activity, sporting a pair of light tan leather sandals with straps over the insteps and around the back of each ankle.
Despite what GQ tried and failed to convince us of a few years ago, wearing socks with sandals is never “cool”, though Peck’s Harry Street makes this surprising sartorial decision with such louche lack of concern that I’m almost willing to forgive. To illuminate any who haven’t closely examined the screenshot or have simply chosen to ignore it, Peck wears taupe ribbed socks with his sandals.
Whether intentional or not, the actor’s own grandson Zachary Peck sported a very similar look of white summer shirt, cream trousers, and sandals when modeling for Jerusalem Sandals in 2018. The brand’s “Amos” ankle-strap sandals in honey-colored leather ($78.95 as of July 15, 2020) thus seem like a particularly fitting footwear choice for those looking to build their summer leisurewear à la Harry Street. If you’re not a fan of open-toed shoes but appreciate their breezy properties, I would recommend checking out these handmade huaraches from Dandy Del Mar ($99), a comfortable tribute to these early Mexican sandals.
Let’s Go Shopping
Plenty of modern retailers are taking inspiration from vintage looks so you can pay homage to Harry’s summer garb at any price point! All prices below as of July 16, 2020.
- Abercrombie & Fitch Linen-Blend Camp Collar Button-Up Shirt in white linen/cotton ($20): I’ve mentioned elsewhere that A&F has been pleasantly surprising me lately, and this shirt—which I own in navy blue—is no exception. Harry wears short sleeves, but I like the look, fit, and feel of this affordable shirt too much to not include it.
- Banana Republic Slim-Fit Linen-Cotton Resort Shirt in white linen/cotton ($39): Another inexpensive winner, styled like Harry’s with the neat added retro detail of flapped chest pockets.
- Orlebar Brown Golden Gun Shirt in ivory Italian woven cotton (£195): Though part of their latest 007 Heritage Collection release, the timeless styling of this “capri collar” shirt is consistent with Harry’s look on the Riviera.
- Scott Fraser Collection White Slub Cuban Collar Shirt in white cotton blend (£165): SFC is one of the best retro-minded outfitters out there, and this “Cuban collar” shirt provides another fine long-sleeved alternative.
- short fin Camp Linen Shirt in white linen/cotton ($32.50): This basic linen camp shirt hits all the style points of Harry’s screen-worn shirt, though reviewers suggest to size up before purchasing!
- 28 Palms Relaxed Fit 100% Linen Pant in white linen (up to $40): These simple, drawstring-waist trousers may not be as inspired by classic style as the others, but Harry’s attitude suggests that he may have worn these if he could have… plus, you’ll be tying a silk sash around your waist anyway, won’t you?
- Orlebar Brown Griffon Two Tone Shell Wash Tailored-Fit Trousers (£185): Classic details (i.e. side adjusters) with modern sensibilities.
- Scott Fraser Collection Classic Wide-Leg Trousers in white Irish linen (£245)
- Scott Fraser Collection Gaucho Trousers in off-white linen/cotton (£270): These distinctive wide-legged trousers are less consistent with Peck’s screen-worn attire but took inspiration from the “beach pajamas” commonly seen in the luxurious world of the roaring ’20s Riviera.
How to Get the Look
Harry Street enjoys his hedonistic ennui in style, floating out in his light, louche, and simple “summer whites” with a rakish pop of color via a polka-dotted burgundy scarf around his waist and—say it ain’t so!—the daring and much-aligned footwear combination of socks and sandals.
- Ivory linen short-sleeved camp shirt with wide-pointed loop collar, plain front, and breast pocket
- Cream gabardine double reverse-pleated trousers with buckle-tab side adjusters, straight side pockets, button-through back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Burgundy polka dot silk waist sash
- Tan leather sandals with instep and ankle straps
- Taupe ribbed socks
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie and Hemingway’s original short story. The film’s years in the public domain led to an abundance of low-quality prints available on home media and streaming, but the way I enjoyed the stunning Oscar-nominated art direction and Technicolor cinematography was watching the restored version as available on The Ernest Hemingway Classics Collection DVD box set offered by 20th Century Fox, the very set sourced for the screenshots in this post.
You’ve got a few other things at home I’d like to call my own.