Sidney Poitier as Matt Younger, widowed father and clinic physician
London, Summer 1972
Film: A Warm December
Release Date: May 23, 1973
Director: Sidney Poitier
Wardrobe Supervisor: John Wilson-Apperson
Happy birthday to screen legend Sidney Poitier, born 94 years ago today on February 20, 1927 in Miami. After two decades of screen success that landed him the Academy Award for Best Actor (and he remains both the oldest living and longest surviving recipient), Poitier began directing his own movies in the early 1970s, beginning with the groundbreaking 1972 Western Buck and the Preacher.
Poitier proved the diversity of his directorial talent by sliding to the other end of the genre spectrum the following year when he released the romantic drama A Warm December, in which he also starred as a recently widowed doctor who finds love across the Atlantic when he meets the magnetic Catherine (Esther Anderson) during an extended trip to London with his daughter.
One of Matt and Catherine’s first dates is dinner and a show, including the now-famous performance of Letta Mbulu and an African choir singing “Nonqonqo” by Miriam Makeba. The evening concludes with her sneaking him into her quarters at the Torunda embassy, where they consummate their attraction.
What’d He Wear?
Dr. Matt Younger’s extensive wardrobe brought to London evidently includes not one but two navy blazers, one a more traditional single-breasted piece rigged with gilt buttons while the other is a trendier double-breasted jacket with flat mother-of-pearl buttons.
Made from an attractive navy blue serge, Matt’s blazer boasts the peak lapels typical of double-breasted jackets, albeit fashionably wide for the early ’70s, with high, angled gorges that point the lapels sharply toward the roped sleeveheads on each shoulder. The blazer has four pearl-finished plastic sew-through buttons in a square configuration with two to close, matching the three buttons spaced on the end of each cuff. The blazer boasts sporty patch pockets on the left breast and hips, and the long double vents add another detail characteristic of the ’70s.
In real life, Poitier was a customer of famed London shirtmaker Frank Foster, and the flatteringly cut light pink cotton poplin shirt he wears under this blazer appears to be one of Foster’s shirts. Cut with a straight hem, Dr. Younger’s shirt has a spread collar and two-button barrel cuffs.
Foster’s craftwork is particularly evident in the distinctive stitching on the front placket that narrowly flanks the buttonholes. In his comprehensive exploration of James Bond’s clothing on Bond Suits, Matt Spaiser calls out this signature detail on the shirts Frank Foster made for Sean Connery, George Lazenby, and Roger Moore as 007, citing that Moore’s shirts in The Man with the Golden Gun (1974) have 3.5-centimeter wide plackets, stitched 1.5 centimeters from the edge. As this was the year before A Warm December was released, it’s reasonable to conclude that the dimensions are similar for Poitier’s screen-worn shirts.
Dr. Younger wears a bright coral red tie patterned in a rust, bronze, and green paisley and tied in a substantial Windsor knot that fills the tie space between the leaves of his shirt’s spread collar.
Dr. Younger’s flat front trousers are made from a warm stone-hued gabardine that leans beige. They have no back pockets, the front pockets a slanted “frogmouth” style that runs obliquely parallel to the waist line. The bottoms are plain-hemmed with a touch of flare. He wears these trousers with a dark brown leather belt.
The dark brown leather moc-toe loafers with their silver-toned horsebit detail are the same as Dr. Younger wears in other scenes, and they coordinate with the leather of his belt that goes unseen under the double-breasted blazer when it’s buttoned.
How to Get the Look
A navy blazer with slacks and a tie is a timeless and tasteful outfit for date night, and Sidney Poitier’s character signals his enthusiasm for the evening by sporting the trendier—and thus more youthful—of his two blazers, colorfully appointed with a pink shirt and bright paisley tie.
- Navy serge double-breasted blazer with wide peak lapels, 4×2 pearl sew-through button-front, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and double vents
- Light pink cotton poplin shirt with spread collar, front placket, 2-button barrel cuffs, and straight hem
- Coral red paisley tie
- Stone-hued beige gabardine flat front trousers with belt loops, frogmouth front pockets, and gently flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with squared gold-finished single-prong buckle
- Dark brown leather moc-toe horsebit loafers
- Dark socks