Category: Black Tie

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

Bond’s White Dinner Jacket in Diamonds are Forever

Sean Connery and Lana Wood in the seventh James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever (1971), filmed and set in Las Vegas.

Sean Connery and Lana Wood in the seventh James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever (1971), filmed and set in Las Vegas.

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent

Las Vegas, Spring 1971

Film: Diamonds are Forever
Release Date: December 17, 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Master: Ray Beck
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair

Background

It’s Friday the 13th! Considered an unlucky day by some, this summer occurrence feels like just the right time to follow James Bond as he tests his own luck in a Las Vegas casino in Diamonds are Forever, the 1971 film that convinced Sean Connery to portray the British secret agent one more time.

Luck appears to be initially on 007’s side as he wins $50,000 at craps and makes the acquaintance of the voluptuous Plenty O’Toole (Lana Wood).

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Reilly, Ace of Spies: A Notch-Lapel Dinner Jacket

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 6: "Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses")

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 6: “Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses”)

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd British agent and anti-Bolshevik

St. Petersburg, Russia, October 1910, and
London, November 1918

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episodes:
– “Dreadnoughts and Doublecrosses” (Episode 6), dir. Jim Goddard, aired 10/5/1983
– “After Moscow”(Episode 9), dir. Martin Campbell, aired 10/26/1983
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

Reilly: Ace of Spies fictionalizes the exploits of Russian-born spy Sidney Reilly, often cited as a real-life basis for Ian Fleming’s James Bond. While the showrunners must have been cognizant of the need to place their suave British secret agent in a tuxedo, the series’ narrative also coincided with the rise of the dinner jacket over the first quarter of the 20th century.

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Clifton Webb’s Tuxedo in Titanic (1953)

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges in Titanic (1953)

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges in Titanic (1953)

Vitals

Clifton Webb as Richard Ward Sturges, millionaire and estranged family man

RMS Titanic, April 1912

Film: Titanic
Release Date: April 16, 1953
Director: Jean Negulesco
Costume Designer: Dorothy Jeakins

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Before there was Kate and Leo, there was Barbara and Clifton.

To know me is to know my obsession with the Titanic and other maritime disasters of the early 20th century. SS ValenciaEmpress of IrelandLusitaniaPrincess SophiaTitanic‘s hospital sister ship Britannic… chances are that if it sank in the first few decades of last century, I know a thing or two about it.

It was today in 1912 that the RMS Titanic actually struck the iceberg that sank her. The collision happened around 11:40 p.m., North Atlantic time, on the night of Sunday, April 14. Compared to most of the other disasters in the previous paragraph, it took considerable time to sink, finally settling under the waves at 2:20 a.m. on the morning of Monday, April 15, 1912, ending more than 1,500 lives of the roughly 2,200 that had been aboard.

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Bond Style – Connery’s Navy Velvet Dinner Jacket

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971)

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent in repose

At sea, Spring 1971

Film: Diamonds are Forever
Release Date: December 17, 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Master: Ray Beck
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair

Background

Sean Connery’s final scene as the official James Bond finds him in a quintessentially 007 scenario enjoying a romantic dinner with a beautiful woman. Having foiled the nefarious plans of Ernst Stavro Blofeld once more, Bond and Tiffany Case (Jill St. John) take to the sea for a leisurely cruise across the pond, reminiscent of the novel’s own passages set aboard the Queen Elizabeth. Continue reading