Category: Formalwear

Walk the Line: Johnny Cash in Rockabilly White and Black

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005)

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash in Walk the Line (2005)

Vitals

Joaquin Phoenix as Johnny Cash, rising country rock star

Texarkana, Texas, Summer 1955

Film: Walk the Line
Release Date: November 18, 2005
Director: James Mangold
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Tailor: Pam Lisenby

Background

Eighty-nine years ago on February 26, 1932, J.R. Cash was born in Arkansas. His childhood was dominated by music, as there was little else to encourage the family enduring the hard years of the Depression made worse by a dangerous flood and the violent death of Jack, one of the seven Cash children. It was when he joined the military that the 18-year-old Cash expanded his first name as the Air Force wouldn’t allow just initials, though it wasn’t until cutting his first recording at Sun Records that he established the name that would become legendary: Johnny Cash. Continue reading

The Awful Truth: Cary Grant’s White Tie and Tails

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937)

Cary Grant and Irene Dunne in The Awful Truth (1937)

Vitals

Cary Grant as Jerry Warriner, witty divorcee

New York, Fall 1937

Film: The Awful Truth
Release Date: October 21, 1937
Director: Leo McCarey
Costume Designer: Robert Kalloch

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Archibald Leach was born 117 years ago today on January 18, 1904. Though he’d established his now-iconic stage name just before his film debut in This is the Night (1932), I consider Leo McCarey’s 1937 screwball comedy The Awful Truth to be the symbolic start of Cary Grant’s screen persona as a stylish yet self-deprecating gentleman with a remarkable penchant for physical comedy as well as wit. Continue reading

Rod Taylor’s Velvet-Trimmed Dinner Jacket in The Glass Bottom Boat

Rod Taylor as Bruce Templeton in The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Rod Taylor as Bruce Templeton in The Glass Bottom Boat (1966)

Vitals

Rod Taylor as Bruce Templeton, charismatic aerospace lab chief

Long Beach, California, Spring 1966

Film: The Glass Bottom Boat
Release Date: June 9, 1966
Director: Frank Tashlin
Costume Designer: Ray Aghayan (credited with Doris Day’s costumes only)

Background

In honor of Aussie actor Rod Taylor’s birthday on January 11, 1930, today’s post explores the first movie of his that I’d seen. The Glass Bottom Boat reteamed Taylor with Doris Day after their collaboration the previous year in Do Not Disturb, this time in a Cold War-era romantic comedy where Doris’ PR flack is suspected of being a spy sent by Mother Russia to seduce scientific secrets out of Bruce Templeton, the debonair head of a NASA research facility.

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Mad Men: Don Draper’s Decade of Black Tie

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 1.05: "5G").

Jon Hamm as Don Draper on Mad Men (Episode 1.05: “5G”).

Vitals

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious and award-winning Madison Avenue ad man

Series: Mad Men
Creator: Matthew Weiner
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant

Background

Only three days left in 2020! The tradition of gents wearing black tie on New Year’s Eve, popularized in movies like the 1960 Rat Pack classic Ocean’s Eleven, seems to have fallen out of favor among the general population as standards of formality have decreased. However, given how excited many will be to see 2020 come to an end may herald a resurgence in dinner jackets and tuxedoes as many celebrate the new year in private.

On #MadMenMonday, we can take a few style tips from the enigmatic Don Draper on assembling a classic black tie ensemble from his half-dozen screen-worn dinner jackets. Continue reading

Leonardo DiCaprio’s Black Tie in The Great Gatsby

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013)

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby in The Great Gatsby (2013)

Vitals

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby, eagerly romantic millionaire and bootlegger

Long Island, New York, Summer 1922

Film: The Great Gatsby
Release Date: May 10, 2013
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Costume Designer: Catherine Martin

Background

On the eve of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s birthday, let’s look at the most recent major adaptation of his most famous work, The Great Gatsby. Fitz’s 1925 novel had been adapted for the big screen at least four times before Baz Luhrmann directed his colorful spectacle during the past decade.

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Timothy Dalton’s Shawl-Collar Dinner Jacket in The Living Daylights

Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987). Source: thunderballs.org.

Timothy Dalton as James Bond in The Living Daylights (1987). Source: thunderballs.org.

Vitals

Timothy Dalton as James Bond, British government agent

Bratislava, Fall 1986

Film: The Living Daylights
Release Date: June 27, 1987
Director: John Glen
Costume Designer: Emma Porteous
Costume Supervisor: Tiny Nicholls

Background

Happy birthday to Timothy Dalton, born 74 years ago today on March 21, 1946! To celebrate the Welsh actor’s birthday, I want to revisit Dalton’s debut as James Bond, bringing a serious, Ian Fleming-influenced approach two decades before Daniel Craig would approach the role in a similar manner.

Dalton had long been a contender for the role, turning it down twice due to his youth when the filmmakers sought a replacement for Sean Connery and then for George Lazenby. When it was unclear if Roger Moore would return for his trio of 007 films in the ’80s, Dalton’s name came up each time, but it wasn’t until Pierce Brosnan was contractually obligated to turn down the role to return to Remington Steele in 1986 that a pathway was finally opened for Dalton, then 40 years old and seasoned enough to play the agent, to slip into Bond’s finely tailored dinner jacket for The Living Daylights. Continue reading

Cary Grant’s Final Screen Tuxedo in That Touch of Mink

Cary Grant and Doris Day in That Touch of Mink (1962)

Cary Grant and Doris Day in That Touch of Mink (1962)

Vitals

Cary Grant as Philip Shayne, smooth, sophisticated, and suave investment executive and “perfect gentleman”

Bermuda, Spring 1962

Film: That Touch of Mink
Release Date: June 14, 1962
Director: Delbert Mann
Tailor: Cardinal Clothes (credited “for Cary Grant’s suits”)

Background

To commemorate the birthday of Cary Grant, born on this day in 1904, let’s celebrate the debonair actor who was seemingly born to wear a tuxedo. After three decades of a well-tailored career, the erstwhile Archie Leach sported his final on-screen dinner suit in the romantic comedy That Touch of Mink released in 1962, the same year as the first James Bond movie was released, thus heralding the transfer of the definitive screen dinner suit-wearer to 007. Continue reading

Pal Joey: Sinatra’s Red Fleck Mess Jacket

Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans in Pal Joey (1957)

Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans in Pal Joey (1957)

Vitals

Frank Sinatra as Joey Evans, womanizing nightclub singer

San Francisco, Spring 1957

Film: Pal Joey
Release Date: October 25, 1957
Director: George Sidney
Costume Designer: Jean Louis

Background

Joey Evans’s first night with the band finds him already complicating his romantic life, balancing his attraction to the demure singer Linda English (Kim Novak) with the vivacious ex-stripper Vera Prentice-Simpson (Rita Hayworth) when the band is hired to play a gig at Vera’s place as a fundraise for the local children’s hospital.

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Cary Grant’s Tuxedo in Indiscreet

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Indiscreet (1958)

Cary Grant and Ingrid Bergman in Indiscreet (1958)

Vitals

Cary Grant as Philip Adams, sophisticated playboy economist

London, Fall 1957 to Spring 1958

Film: Indiscreet
Release Date: June 26, 1958
Director: Stanley Donen
Tailor: Quintino

Background

Happy birthday to the great Cary Grant, born 115 years ago today on January 18, 1904, in Bristol, England. Born Archibald Leach before he assumed his catchier stage name, Grant’s signature screen presence blended his self-deprecating sense of humor with peerless suavity in both attitude and style. Grant’s popularity during the mid-20th century and the height of the dinner suit’s ubiquity meant the debonair actor would don a tuxedo almost as frequently as James Bond… and it’s not surprising to hear that Grant was an early contender for the role of 007, at least in the mind of the character’s creator Ian Fleming.

Between 1955 and 1962, Grant starred in seven contemporary-set films that didn’t require him to be in military uniform; of these, he sported a tuxedo in all but one (the lone exception, North by Northwest, featured the actor wearing arguably the most famous suit in movie history so there was little need for black tie.) In the middle of this impressive and stylish run of movies is Indiscreet, a Stanley Donen-directed romantic comedy that earned Grant his first of five Golden Globe nominations. Continue reading

The Lady Eve: Henry Fonda’s White Dinner Jacket

Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve (1941)

Henry Fonda and Barbara Stanwyck in The Lady Eve (1941)

Vitals

Henry Fonda as Charles “Hopsie” Pike, brewery heir and ophidiologist

SS Southern Queen, sailing north from South America,
August 1940

Film: The Lady Eve
Release Date: February 25, 1941
Director: Preston Sturges
Costume Designer: Edith Head
Men’s Wardrobe: Richard Bachler

Background

To celebrate the birthday today of my wonderful, patient, and charming girlfriend, I’d like to highlight the elegant evening wear worn by Henry Fonda in The Lady Eve, a classic screwball comedy that I first discovered with her family. Continue reading