Wall Street: Meeting Gordon Gekko in Shirt Sleeves and Suspenders

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

Vitals

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, smug and successful corporate raider

New York City, Spring 1985

Film: Wall Street
Release Date: December 11, 1987
Director: Oliver Stone
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Tailor: Alan Flusser

Background

Happy birthday to Michael Douglas, the actor, producer, and activist born September 25, 1944, who may be most famous for his iconic Academy Award-winning performance as ruthless financier Gordon Gekko in Wall Street.

Named by AFI as one of the top 50 movie villains of all time, Gekko was based in part on real-life contemporaries like Asher Edelman, Michael Milken, and Ivan Boesky, the latter significantly influencing the “Greed… is good” speech. We meet the famed financier on his in-universe birthday, May 6… and astrologists may note Gekko’s Taurean tendencies from his appreciation for finer things to a strong self-will (which some may call stubbornness!)

Unlike me, who enjoys a leisurely lunch and who takes my birthday—nay, birthweek—off from work, Gekko never stops hustling. It must be an exhausting life… and Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen) entering it is not going to make it any easier:

So what’s on your mind, kimosabe? Why am I listening to you?

What’d He Wear?

Hard at work when Bud Fox comes calling, Gordon Gekko’s suit jacket is nowhere to be seen as he works the phone in his shirt sleeves and tie, the deconstructed nature of his outfit making the abundant accessories all the more noticeable.

Gekko—via Ellen Mirjonick’s iconic costume design—established the contrast-collar shirt as the “uniform” of the ’80s power player. Michael Douglas’ shirts for Wall Street had been made by Alex Kabbaz, who had also made shirts for author Tom Wolf, including the horizontal-striped shirt that formed the basis of one of his shirts for Gordon Gekko. Such frivolities are yet unseen for our introduction to Gekko, as the horizontal striping may have been just too much for the viewer to take in during the first few minutes we spend with the fast-paced financier.

The body of Gekko’s shirt is a sky-blue cotton, sharply contrasted by the white collar with its wide, cutaway-style spread. His sleeves are roughly cuffed up his forearms throughout the scene, so the nature of his cuffs can’t be easily discerned; Gekko does have a propensity for double (French) cuffs, so it’s likely he’s just wearing them undone and rolled up here.

Gekko wears a rich burgundy-grounded tie with a balanced field of patterns alternating between blue floral medallions and cream dots. He holds the tie in place with a straight gold tie clip, smooth in the center where it may be monogrammed, and worn askew in an intentionally rakish manner suggesting he’s far too busy to fix it.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

Gekko wears dark gray worsted wool trousers with a sky-blue windowpane that coordinates with his blue shirt. We can assume the trousers match to a suit jacket, likely hung up in a closet somewhere to avoid getting in the way of rapid-fire phone calls. These trousers have silver-finished buckle-tab adjusters positioned on each side of the waistband, but—as the kind of guy who writes off lunch as “for wimps”—he likely doesn’t want to take the chance that his trousers will fall off in mid-meeting, so he doubles down with a set of suspenders (braces).

The absence of his jacket showcases Gekko’s suspenders, consisting of navy blue fabric with a single sky-blue bar stripe through the center. Gold adjusters shine over the chest, and they fasten to buttons along the inside of the trouser waistband through white leather “rabbit ear” ends. The Y-back configuration means both striped straps converge over a white patch in the center of the back, connected by a short solid navy strap to the single white leather rabbit-ear end on the back.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

Bud Fox: conventional in his dark suit, white shirt, and red power tie. Gordon Gekko: anything but conventional.

Styled with double forward-facing pleats, Gekko’s trousers have straight pockets along the side seams, jetted back pockets (with a button through the left), and plain-hemmed bottoms.

Gekko wears black leather oxfords, considered to be the most traditionally acceptable footwear for dressing in the business world. His dark gray socks continue the leg line of his trousers into the shoes.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

The guy who would proclaim “greed—for lack of a better word—is good” would settle for nothing less than an 18-karat yellow gold Cartier Santos de Cartier Galbée tank watch. Not only is his watch a Cartier, already a prestigious marque, but 1987 was also the first year of the relaunched Santos Galbée, a more elegantly ergonomic evolution of the prior Santos model. Gekko’s Cartier retains the Santos’ quartz crystal movement, the eight bezel screws, and the double screws on each link of the bracelet secured around his left wrist. The white square dial has black Roman-numeral hour markers.

Gekko adorns his opposing hand with a thin gold chain-link bracelet and a gold pinky ring with an elongated surface.

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

In lieu of lunch, light up a Winston.

How to Get the Look

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko in Wall Street (1987)

The ultimate power player on ’80s Wall Street, Gordon Gekko dresses to catch the eye and show off his abundance of riches, from his fashionable tailoring to the gold jewelry, including his luxurious Cartier watch.

Details like the contrast collar and trouser side-adjusters show off that he has enough in his clothing budget to dive headfirst into sartorial territory where other men may be anxious to explore, and the fact that he pulls off such a dizzying combination of colors and patterns show that he dresses with earned confidence.

  • Sky-blue cotton shirt with white spread contrast collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
  • Burgundy medallion-printed silk tie
  • Dark gray (with sky-blue windowpane) worsted wool double forward-pleated trousers with buckle-tab side adjusters, straight/on-seam side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Navy single-striped cloth suspenders with gold adjusters and white leather “rabbit-ear” connector ends
  • Black leather oxford shoes
  • Dark gray dress socks
  • Gold wide-faced pinky ring
  • Cartier Santos de Cartier Galbée gold wristwatch
  • Gold chain-link bracelet

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

Lunch? Ah, you gotta be kidding. Lunch is for wimps.

2 comments

  1. Brubeck

    Thank you for reviewing this! I’m surprised this outfit didn’t get written up sooner, as it is our introduction to mean, greedy GG.

    This was the best outfit in the whole film for me.Not having the jacket on allows to see more details in the outfit.

  2. Roger

    I think his cuffs here are blue. What does one typically do with cufflinks when they roll up french cuffs, pocket?

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