For my birthday today (July 21, same as Ernest Hemingway and Robin Williams), I hope you’ll excuse an indulgent post as I explore the suits that grabbed my attention from a young age and stirred my early interest in men’s style. Though, given the dapper white jacket that Sean Connery wore on the cover of GQ the month I was born, I should have known what direction my life would eventually take!
While not necessarily the greatest suits to every appear in the movies, these five each contributed to my interest in menswear that led to the eventual creation of BAMF Style a decade later. Interestingly, all of the featured outfits are from period films, highlighting fashion of an earlier era (the 1930s, in more cases than not) and accentuated by a musical soundtrack designed to emphasize the character and the moment.
David Niven as Colonel Johnny Race, lawyer and war veteran
Egypt, September 1937
Film: Death on the Nile
Release Date: September 29, 1978
Director: John Guillermin
Costume Designer: Anthony Powell
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Following the grand success of 1974’s Murder on the Orient Express, one of the few adaptations of her work actually endorsed by Agatha Christie herself, producers rushed to find the next of her books to be adapted into a lavish, star-studded affair.
Death on the Nile was published in 1937, three years but ten books after Murder on the Orient Express, and included all of the necessary ingredients for success: the return of eccentric detective Hercule Poirot, an exotic location, and a glamorous victim among an international cast of characters… all of whom had the motive and means to commit the crime.
Poirot’s “boy Friday” to help him solve the case came in the form of Colonel Race, a steadfast Brit who first appeared in Christie’s earlier novel The Man in the Brown Suit. David Niven affably portrays the capable colonel with dignified charm and deadpan wit, often serving as the straightforward foil to Peter Ustinov’s more bombastic Poirot. Continue reading
Jack Nicholson as J.J. Gittes, private investigator and ex-policeman
Los Angeles, September 1937
Release Date: June 20, 1974
Director: Roman Polanski
Costume Designer: Anthea Sylbert
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Now that summer is upon us in the Northern Hemisphere, it’s high time to make sure that you’ve got some duds in your closet that are as appropriate for a day at the office as they are for the sunniest season.
A self-employed gumshoe like J.J. Gittes calls his own shots. As Chinatown is set in 1937, suits were de rigeur for men, but Gittes is hardly the type to rely on the gray flannel suit trope, especially in the sunny southern California locales. Continue reading
Warren Beatty as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, “celebrity” gangster and casino builder
New York, Summer 1945, and
Beverly Hills, December 1946
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Release Date: December 13, 1991
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky
Bugsy is an entertaining and stylish drama penned by James Toback, transforming the violent mobster in a suave and romantic visionary much as the real life gangster himself tried to reinvent his persona after moving out to the West Coast, choosing to rub elbows with the likes of George Raft, Gary Cooper, and Cary Grant rather than his old associates like Dutch Schultz, Lucky Luciano, and Joe Adonis. Continue reading
Brad Pitt as Robert “Rusty” Ryan, casino heister and hotel manager
L.A. to Vegas, June 2007
Film: Ocean’s Thirteen
Release Date: June 8, 2007
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
With Memorial Day in our wake, it’s now sartorially safe to whip out the white suitings from the back of your closet when dressing to impress this summer.
One movie that most influenced my own summer style during my formative years was Ocean’s Thirteen, a celebration of sprezzatura from Al Pacino’s bold business wear to the vivid outfits sported by Bernie Mac. For me, it was Rusty Ryan’s flashy suits and sport jackets that lingered in my mind when eyeing new summer threads. Continue reading
Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, bootlegger and former Atlantic City political boss
Havana, April 1931
Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Golden Days for Boys and Girls” (Episode 5.01)
Air Date: September 7, 2014
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
To commemorate this unofficial start of summer with Memorial Day tomorrow, BAMF Style is checking in with fashion plate Nucky Thompson from Boardwalk Empire as he enjoys a warm spring evening in Havana at the start of the fifth season.
Having exiled himself to Cuba in the seven years since we last saw him, Nucky is still wheeling and dealing in the illegal liquor trade, currently working on an export deal with the good folks of Bacardi rum in the possible wake of Prohibition’s imminent end. Continue reading
Michael Douglas as Gordon Gekko, smug and successful Wall Street businessman
New York City, Spring 1985
Film: Wall Street
Release Date: December 11, 1987
Director: Oliver Stone
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
Tailor: Alan Flusser
Returning to the office on Monday is no excuse to slack off on your wardrobe, especially on Wall Street. Continue reading