After Hours: Paul’s Day-to-Night Beige Suit
Griffin Dunne as Paul Hackett, mild-mannered data processor
New York City, Spring 1985
Film: After Hours
Release Date: September 13, 1985
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Rita Ryack
Friday the 13th is traditionally a day for bad luck, so it’s appropriate that Martin Scorsese’s After Hours, centered around one New Yorker’s evening of arguably bad luck, was released on Friday the 13th in September 1985.
A surreal black comedy with elements of neo-noir, After Hours begins just before 5:00 for Paul Hackett, a data processor ostensibly living the yuppie dream with his secure job and Manhattan apartment… but the job sucks, his apartment’s cramped despite no one to share it with, and he has no social life outside of training new employees. In search of any human connectivity into his life, Paul takes his dog-eared copy of Henry Miller’s Tropic of Cancer to an all-night diner. (Miller’s controversial tome would again appear in Scorsese’s 1991 remake of Cape Fear, yet another less characteristic entry in the director’s canon.)
“Different rules apply when it gets this late, you know what I mean? It’s like… after hours,” advises the cashier (Dick Miller) at another all-night diner.
Paul catches the eye of the mysterious Marcy (Patricia Arquette), who leaves him with her phone number before dashing into the night. Under the pretense of buying a paperweight from Marcy’s sculptor roommate Kiki (Linda Fiorentino), an increasingly lonely Paul calls the number and arranges to visit their studio apartment in SoHo just before midnight. Paul’s only cash, a $20 bill, glides out the window of his taxi as he rides to SoHo… portending a series of escalating events, surreal scenarios, and mysterious women as Paul attempts to make his way back to bed—either a woman’s bed or his own—and survive the chaotic night!
What’d He Wear?
Paul Hackett wears the same suit throughout After Hours, a beige business suit made from a cotton gabardine, a tightly woven fabric prone to wrinkling—even more-so after being repeatedly waterlogged—that only adds to Paul’s distressed look as the night grows more tumultuous.
Gabardine suits in shades of light brown were popular alternatives to traditional American business dress by the early 1980s. Even across the pond, vaunted style icon James Bond was tailored in tan gabardine—both wool and cotton—for his travels in four of the five 007 movies produced throughout the decade, stretching across the end of Roger Moore’s tenure into Timothy Dalton’s first of two films.
The beige gabardine suit’s versatility is put to the test by the events of After Hours, as it was the same that Paul had worn to work earlier in the day. He had already been home twice by the time he dressed it back up to make his fateful venture to Marcy and Kiki’s SoHo apartment, but he still sought to wear this light suit well into the night, likely hoping to make a good impression on the woman he had met earlier… naturally unaware that he would spend the next several hours subjecting it to hard rain and layers of plaster.
The single-breasted suit jacket is cut and detailed in the prevailing style of American business suits from the mid-20th century onward, with notch lapels ending clear above a two-button front. The shoulders are padded, though not to the extremes of some “power suits” tailored for men and women during the ’80s, and the sleeves are roped at the shoulders and finished at the cuffs with four “kissing” buttons. The back is split with a long single vent, and the jacket also boasts a welted breast pocket and straight flapped hip pockets.
Paul’s flat front suit trousers have belt loops as well as an extended tab on the waistband, which likely buttons in place under his belt. The plain-hemmed bottoms have a subtle flare, though not nearly as dramatic as was trendy during the previous decade.
Straight pockets are positioned vertically along each side seam, and there are two back pockets: an open jetted right pocket and a left pocket that closes with a single button through a gently pointed flap.
Rather than a traditional leather or even surcingle belt, Paul wears a khaki woven cotton military-style web belt with a gunmetal box-frame buckle and matching metal tip.
When we meet Paul training Lloyd (Bronson Pinchot) at the office, he’s dressed for work in a cotton twill shirt checked in a navy, magenta, and yellow tattersall against a white ground, detailed with a button-down collar, front placket, breast pocket, and button cuffs. His crimson red repp tie has narrow beige “downhill”-directional stripes, each bordered along the top with an even thinner black shadow stripe.
After meeting Marcy and making plans to meet her, he changes into a fresh shirt, constructed of plain white cotton but detailed like his earlier shirt with its button-down collar, front placket, breast pocket, and button cuffs. He also pulls on a new tie, a plain red knitted tie with a squared bottom.
Arriving at the apartment, he finds only her roommate Kiki, clad only in her bra and a black leather skirt as she works on a papier-mâché sculpture that Paul would grow all-too-familiar with later in the night.
An artistic error splashes papier-mâché paste onto Paul’s white shirt before Marcy even arrives, so Kiki outfits him in a black striped shirt that, in turn, looks considerably more appropriate for his nocturnal adventures to follow. Patterned with evenly spaced white pinstripes, the black shirt essentially follows the structure of his earlier two shirts with its button-down collar, barrel cuffs, placket, and button-through pocket, all fastened with black plastic buttons.
Interestingly, re-donning his tie—and thus reclaiming his connection to his boring, but safe, life—essentially ensures Paul’s return to freedom, as he ties it on to make a good impression on June (Verna Bloom), the eccentric sculptor dwelling in the basement of Club Berlin who ultimately proves to be his unknowing guardian back to safety.
Paul wears brown leather derby shoes, a tonally appropriate choice of footwear with his beige suit, against which black shoes would likely too harshly contrast. His dark socks appear to be black and, as we see during the brief vignette with a lonely Paul parked in front of the tube at home, are finished with the characteristic yellow toe threading that remains a signature of the Gold Toe brand.
Paul desperately tracks the passing hours of his unending night on his wristwatch, a G.I.-approved Hamilton Khaki automatic field watch that remains one of the few objects of value he miraculously doesn’t lose by the end of the night. The Khaki was the Hamilton Watch Company’s successful foray into extending the reliable field watches it manufactured for the U.S. military during World War II into the civilian market.
Paul wears a brushed steel Hamilton Khaki with a black dial detailed with luminous hands and hour markers, the latter further detailed with white Arabic numerals at each hour and an inner 24-hour index to ease the user’s ability to denote military time. (You can see the watch, as well as the gabardine suiting of Paul’s left jacket sleeve, in this screenshot.) The watch is secured to Paul’s wrist on a black ribbed nylon strap.
How to Get the Look
Paul Hackett may have low expectations when he leaves his home to meet a mysterious woman one night, dressed as he would have been at work twelve hours earlier in his beige gabardine suit with a white shirt and red tie. As he’s thrust into a never-ending nocturnal adventure, he’s re-dressed in the “uniform” of a black open-neck shirt that instantly transforms his suit from banal business attire into a more exciting evening-ready ensemble.
- Beige cotton gabardine business suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 4-button “kissing” cuffs, and long single vent
- Flat front trousers with belt loops, extended waist tab, on-seam side pockets, jetted back-right pocket, button-flapped back-left pocket, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black white-pinstriped shirt with button-down collar, front placket, button-through breast pocket, and button cuffs
- Khaki cotton web belt with gunmetal box-frame buckle and tip
- Brown leather derby shoes
- Black dress socks
- Hamilton Khaki brushed steel automatic field watch with black dial (with double-hour index) on black ribbed nylon strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie. To follow Paul’s footsteps, read this extensively researched project at NYC in Film.
I just wanted to leave my apartment, maybe meet a nice girl… and now I’ve gotta die for it?!