How the King of Cool was Crowned

The Thomas Crown affair is often lauded as the most stylish film ever made. Screenwriter Alan Trustman had originally penned the story under the assumption that Sean Connery was to be the leading man, but having just completed the filming of Bond movie "You Only Live Twice" (1967) he turned the job down.

 

Publicity shot for "The Thomas Crown Affair" (1968).

The role was offered to Steve McQueen, but Trustman was concerned that the actor, who'd only ever played blue-collar roles, lacked the polish required to play the sophisticated character - which was Ian Fleming's initial reaction to Connery's casting as 007. Trustman rewrote the script to suit McQueen's persona and (as was the case with Connery) the finishing touch was provided with a trip to a master tailor. Anthony Sinclair had been selected to complete the refinement of Connery in 1962, and 5 years later, McQueen found himself in the fitting room of the legendary Doug Hayward. 55 years after the UK launch of the film, Pope & Bradley have recreated some of the looks to pay homage to a great movie, a great actor, and a great tailor.

 

Navy Chalk Stripe Three Piece Suit

The suit worn in a number of the publicity shots for the film is an absolutely classic piece of British tailoring. Chalk Stripes always look their best when woven into a flannel cloth, with the napped finish creating the impression that the stripes have been chalked onto the surface. The powder-blue shirt, solid navy tie and polka dot pocket-square complete the look. Just add a Cartier Tank wristwatch, a Brigg umbrella, light your cigar, and get ready for your next affair.

 

Thomas Crown showing how to accessorise a suit.

For over five decades, the Thomas Crown Affair wardrobe has been a benchmark for bespoke finery. The masterclass in fine tailoring presents a collection of "full suits" (three-piece) rather than "jacket & trousers" (two-piece). Whilst there is a variety of colours and patterns of cloth, the styling of the jackets and trousers remains fairly consistent, but the vests were created in a wide range of wonderful designs. 

 

Grey Prince of Wales Three Piece Suit

For many fans of the film, the grey Prince of Wales check suit is the standout piece, and the iconic shot of McQueen wearing the suit, alongside his Rolls Royce, really defines the character. The vest is distinctive due to its simplicity - it has a straight-front hem, rather than points, and is devoid of lapels or any other notable detail. The less-is-more approach follows through to the cuffs of the jacket sleeves, each carrying only a single button. It is the choice of accessories which helps elevate the look to dizzying sartorial heights. The pocket chain and pocket square are accompanied by a sea of blue shirt, necktie, gloves and sun lenses that highlight the blue overcheck of the suit and, for good measure, reflect the impeccable coachwork of the motorcar.  

 

Thomas Crown wearing brown in town.

The Prince of Wales check design was introduced in another scene from the film, but in brown rather than grey. Perhaps there's a hint of McQueen rebellion against the "no brown in town" rule, but the colour works well on him and sits comfortably on the set - particularly alongside the magnificent globe... which may also be recreated by our friends at Bellerby & Co.

 

Brown Prince of Wales Three Piece Suit

The brown Prince of Wales suit is almost identical to the previously detailed grey version, but the vest has been treated to a notch lapel which is somewhat reminiscent of the style worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger. However, it retains the straight-front hem, which works particularly well with the plain-front trousers worn throughout the film.

 

A solid navy suit can take you anywhere - with anyone.

A solid navy suit is probably the most versatile and useful piece of tailoring that a man can have in his wardrobe. McQueen's blue suits from the Thomas Crown Affair were made with two vest styles and worn with different shirts and ties to create totally separate looks.

 

A six-button double-breasted style was created - again with a straight-front. It was worn with a cream shirt, solid crimson necktie and patterned pocket-square. A single-breasted vest was also made and worn with a striped blue shirt, navy necktie and blue patterned pocket-square (view here). In the final scene of the film, the dependable navy suit is worn again, on this occasion with a pink shirt and striped tie. If you only own one suit, it should be this one... preferably ordered with two vests. 

 

Thomas Crown: the master strategist.

One of the most memorable moments from The Thomas Crown Affair is the chess game, which was the prelude to the famous kiss. McQueen was prepared in the simplest of his tailored outfits from the film, for a scene that probably didn't call for too many distractions.

 

Dark Grey Twill Three Piece Suit

The soft tones of the grey suit, lavender necktie and paisley pocket square are well considered for the romantic setting of the scene, making the leading man, as always, appropriately dressed for the occasion. 

 

Thomas Crown and Vicki Anderson, Beacon Hill, Boston.

Of course, no gentleman's wardrobe is complete without a black tie ensemble, and the design created for Steve McQueen's Thomas Crown character does not disappoint. Well proportioned, beautifully tailored, elegant and refined, it is in perfect balance with the look of his uber-glamorous co-star.  

 

The Three Piece Dinner Suit

Completing our tour around the tailoring of Thomas Crown, the dinner suit worn in the film incorporates a final variation on vest design. When dressed in black tie, it is favourable to show as much shirt-front as possible whilst covering the waist - particularly after a heavy meal. A cummerbund has traditionally satisfied this requirement, but the "horseshoe" shaped vest achieves this objective with subtlety and style.... two words that probably best summarise this collection of tailoring designs that look as good today as it did over half a century ago. 

Click here to view the collection.

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