Sidney Poitier as Homer Smith, helpful handyman
Arizona, Summer 1963
Film: Lilies of the Field
Release Date: October 1, 1963
Director: Ralph Nelson
Wardrobe Credit: Wesley Sherrard
Happy first day of summer! As the Northern Hemisphere officially enters its warmest season, menswear retailers have been dutifully swapping out their pea coats and sweaters in favor of tropical-printed short-sleeved shirts.
While some prints are wild and some just get weird, the most timeless styles of floral or natural patterns have remained the same in the more than eight decades since Ellery Chun first advertised his Aloha shirt in The Honolulu Advertiser in the summer of 1935.
Even the famously fashionable Sidney Poitier wore a classic Aloha shirt for his Academy Award-winning role in Lilies of the Field as Homer Smith, the traveling handyman whose brief stop outside of Tucson for water for his station wagon turns into an extended job as he eventually takes on the task of building a new chapel for a group of nuns. Continue reading
Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, narcissistic profligate playboy
Italy, Summer 1959
Film: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Release Date: December 25, 1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Costume Design: Ann Roth & Gary Jones
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
My last post focused on one of the unlucky Mr. Greenleaf’s unique summer shirts that fell into the hands of an envious Tom Ripley in Purple Noon (Plein Soleil), the 1960 French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Highsmith’s novel was adapted under its original title by writer and director Anthony Minghella in 1999, starring Jude Law as the expatriate playboy Dickie Greenleaf and Matt Damon as the obsessive Ripley.
Alain Delon as Tom Ripley, charming American con artist and sophisticated sociopath
Italy, August 1959
Film: Purple Noon
(French title: Plein soleil)
Release Date: March 10, 1960
Director: René Clément
Costume Designer: Bella Clément
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Purple Noon, released in France as Plein soleil, was the first cinematic adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s 1955 psychological thriller The Talented Mr. Ripley. Released five years after Highsmith’s novel was published, the film shot 24-year-old Alain Delon to stardom as the charming sociopath who envies the luxurious lifestyle of expatriate playboy Philippe Greenleaf (Maurice Ronet).
Denzel Washington as Mathias Lee “Matt” Whitlock, Banyan Key police chief
Banyan Key, Florida, summer 2002
Film: Out of Time
Release Date: October 3, 2003
Director: Carl Franklin
Costume Designer: Sharen Davis
If you’re lucky enough to count a well-made Aloha shirt or two in your closet, summer is the time to bring them to the front of your rotation. After all, boldly printed shirts dominated at Milan Fashion Week this month, and I have a feeling we’ll be seeing a few more Hawaiian shirts on gents of all generations this summer.
While Hawaiian shirts in movies and TV are often played for comedic purposes, the tropical neo-noir Out of Time unironically – and successfully – dresses its protagonist in a setting-appropriate printed Aloha shirt for the lion’s share of the film’s action.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Frank Abagnale, Jr., teenage con artist
Atlanta, Summer 1965
Film: Catch Me If You Can
Release Date: December 25, 2002
Director: Steven Spielberg
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
Having made a fortune from passing his forged checks posing as a Pan Am pilot, 17-year-old Frank Abagnale Jr. is living the high life, hosting a fondue party in his swanky Atlanta condo full of era-specific goodies like The Kinks’ “You Really Got Me” on the Hi-Fi and Nesbitt’s soda in the hand of every giggling go-go dancer present.
What’d He Wear?
Christ, Terry! This is Italian knit!
Jon Hamm as Don Draper, mysterious ad exec and suburban dad
Ossining, New York, July 1963
Series: Mad Men
Episode: “Seven Twenty Three” (Episode 3.07)
Air Date: September 27, 2009
Director: Daisy von Scherler Mayer
Costume Designer: Janie Bryant
“Why can’t you stare into the eclipse? I mean, what’s it gonna do, really? I stare at the sun every day,” wonders Carlton Hanson (Kristoffer Polaha), the philandering husband in Don and Betty Draper’s suburban social set.
After a few dismissive seconds staring through his sunglasses, Don merely responds by asking “You stare at the sun every day?”
Jean Dujardin as Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath, suave French agent OSS 117
Cairo, Spring 1955
Film: OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies
(French title: OSS 117: Le Caire, nid d’espions)
Release Date: April 19, 2006
Director: Michel Hazanavicius
Costume Designer: Charlotte David
Tailor: Joseph Kergoat
Our debonair protagonist spends most of OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies in one tailored suit or the other, but he briefly dressed down for an adventure in the desert, sporting a black long-sleeve polo shirt reminiscent of Sean Connery’s preferred covert casual wear in James Bond films like Goldfinger and Thunderball. Continue reading