James Stewart as Shepherd “Shep” Henderson, bewitched publisher
New York City, Spring 1958
Film: Bell, Book and Candle
Release Date: November 11, 1958
Director: Richard Quine
Wardrobe Credit: Ed Ware
Not every Halloween-season movie has to be scary! In time for October 29 being National Cat Day, dig your claws into Bell, Book and Candle, Richard Quine’s lighthearted supernatural romance that reunited Jimmy Stewart and Kim Novak just months after their iconic screen pairing in Alfred Hitchcock’s thriller Vertigo.
I’ll admit that Bell, Book and Candle may not be my favorite from Stewart, Novak, Quine, or screenwriter Daniel Taradash, but this bewitching comedy still offers plenty of atmospheric fun and camp between the two stars… and Novak’s magical Siamese cat Pyewacket.
What’d He Wear?
Among James Stewart’s suits that the characteristically well-tailored actor wears as Shep Henderson in Bell, Book and Candle is the two-piece suit of stone-colored gabardine that he wears when Pyewacket is dispatched to his office by Aunt Queenie (Elsa Lanchester) in the hopes of reuniting her niece Gil (Kim Novak) with Shep. Costume designer Ed Ware is credited with the overall wardrobe—with special credit to Jean Louis for Novak’s gowns—though it’s likely that the suit was one of Stewart’s own, consistent with the era’s practices.
A successful New York publisher, Shep rotates through a half-dozen handsome suits of varying cloths, colors, and cut, saving this stone suit for the end. The lighter-weight fabric’s shape and subtle sheen suggests the tightly woven worsted wool gabardine.
The ventless single-breasted suit jacket has narrow notch lapels that roll to a two-button stance that looks low on the 6’3″ Stewart’s frame but is perfectly proportioned to meet the rise of his trousers. The shoulders are slightly padded to build the lanky actor’s silhouette, and the sleeves are roped at the shoulders and finished with three-button cuffs. The patch-style hip pockets add a sporty touch, and Shep dresses the welted breast pocket with a neatly straight-folded white pocket square.
Shep holds up his double reverse-pleated suit trousers with a brown leather belt that coordinates with the brown leather uppers of his cap-toe oxford shoes, worn with dark navy-blue socks. The trousers are finished with turn-ups (cuffs) that break at the top of these shoes.
When dressed in suits, Shep only wears pinned-collar shirts in conventional shades of white and blue with double (French) cuffs and solid-colored ties. His shirt with this suit is made of a light-blue cotton poplin, styled with his usual front placket, narrow pinned point collar, and French cuffs. The latter two elements are typically associated with fastidious—some may say fussy—dressers, as they only present well when all elements are worn perfectly in place; a collar pin doesn’t easily allow the wearer to loosen their tie or unbutton the neck, and unfurling French cuffs adds another layer that flaps around more busily than simple barrel cuffs.
Shep’s dark navy-blue knitted silk tie is knotted in a small four-in-hand, held in place with a silver tie bar over Stewart’s stomach—just inches above the jacket’s buttoning point. The silver clip matches the rest of his shirt’s hardware: the curved collar bar and his oval-shaped cuff links.
Consistent with sartorial norms of the late 1950s, Shep always wears a hat when he goes outside. With this suit, he dons his usual dark taupe-brown felt trilby that features a wide band made from matching grosgrain.
Glanced under his left shirt cuff when caging Pyewacket in his office, Shep wears a yellow-gold dress watch on a black leather strap that—like the rest of his clothes—was likely Stewart’s own timepiece.
How to Get the Look
- Stone gabardine suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with narrow notch lapels, welted breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, ventless back
- Double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Light-blue poplin shirt with narrow pinned collar, front placket, double/French cuffs
- Silver collar bar
- Silver oval-shaped cuff links
- Navy-blue knitted silk tie
- Silver tie bar
- Brown leather belt with single-prong buckle
- Brown leather cap-toe oxford shoes
- Dark-navy socks
- White straight-folded pocket square
- Dark taupe-brown felt trilby with matching grosgrain band
- Gold dress watch on black leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.