Wednesday, August 16, 2006

Cary Grant – North By Northwest

I just bought the North by Northwest DVD and I have become obsessed with Cary Grant’s grey suit. – partly because it looks so good on him and partly because it is so easily adaptable to a modern wardrobe.

I used the remote noted the exact scenes and times that reveal the little details that make such a big difference.
Notice how all the following elements help create the long, lean silhouette.

Chapter 2 02:17
The Jacket
- With one dramatic but subtle sartorial gesture CG set himself apart from all the other men in the scene. What is that important single element? look at that shirt cuffs/jacket sleeve proportion!
Not one other guy in that scene is showing ANY shirt cuff and Cary is showing ,like, 3/4 of an inch. So much white that I didn’t even notice until half-way through the film that he was not even wearing a pocket square.

Chapter 7 21:28
The Socks/Shoe
- The most compelling argument I have seen yet that socks should match your pants. It creates such a long lean body line.
- Freeze the frame and look at the shoes – Not Black! but deep cognac brown and no chunky, thick sole clodhoppers here – long, lean and very English

Chapter 9 31:18
The Pants – These are key!
- Notice CG’s pants are worn on the natural waist not the hips like jeans are.
- No belt – when coordinated with the tonal socks this gives his lower half a very long visual line and no belt removes the “matching shoes” problems obsolete
- Inverted pleats – gives fullness to the pant leg but keeps the hips looking narrow
- No sloppy big American break in his pant hem

Chapter 22 1:03:00
The Shirt
- Look at the large amount of shirring at the yoke of the shirtback. This shirt is actually quite full through the torso but because he wears his pants at his natural waist this de-emphasizes the fullness while still giving him plenty of room for movement. If he wore the same shirt with his pants at his hips his torso would look much wider and chunky.

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49 comments

  1. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 6:59 pm

    Cary Grant is the epitomy of style.

    Also fun to note from North by Northwest, when Grant is unrolled from the bunk on the train his suit is still immaculately pressed.

  2. Kathleen

    August 16, 2006 at 7:19 pm

    I love that you’ve done this! You could write a dissertation on this stuff, it’s excellent!

    While we’re on the subject of “North By Northwest”: Eva Marie Saint doesn’t look too bad either. I love her suits in this – and loved the LV suits (and campaign) that were modelled on them a few seasons back. So many elements of that film (clothes, dialogue, etc.) are timeless.

  3. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 7:36 pm

    Dear Sarto: great points. But for those of us without the DVD and its chapter divisions, it might help to describe which scenes these are.

    Not to take anything away from the ROT Suit, if we may call it that (ROT are CG’s character’s initials) but note that at this mature stage in the careers of CG and Hitch the suit’s immaculate quality is slightly self conscious. Both Hitch, with the cross country chase picture, and Cary Grant under duress but still looking like Cary Grant, had done this many times before. The only joke the NbNW makers allow themselves is in the hotel after the crop-duster scene, when ROT instructs that his suit be sponged — or was it merely pressed? After that crop duster action any normnal suit would be in tatters.

  4. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 7:52 pm

    Good pick. It struck me the first time I saw this movie that gray on gray needn’t be dull or conservative. A revelation at the time.

  5. The Sartorialist

    August 16, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    I think the article was in Town & Country

  6. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 8:34 pm

    Hi!

    I’d like to recommend you a film: ‘The discreet charm of bourgeoisie’ by Luis Bunuel, if you haven’t watched it yet. The film is a comic surrealist masterpiece, and Fernando Rey and Jean-Pierre Cassel, in particular, are excellently dressed.

  7. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 8:44 pm

    Check out the Coen Brothers’ film “Intolerable Cruelty” for George Cloony in a Cary Grant immitation suit.

  8. Francois

    August 16, 2006 at 9:01 pm

    Well this must be in the air, I just added something about that movie in my blog! Your notes remind me also of that great series with Jeremy Iron Brideshead revisited, he also had and has style.

  9. mikhael

    August 16, 2006 at 9:12 pm

    sartorialist you are the best
    thank you so much
    greetings from reykjavik, iceland

  10. COOP

    August 16, 2006 at 9:16 pm

    Your description of Grant’s suit sound pretty much exactly like one of Thomas Mahon’s suits, which leads me to believe Cary was rocking a suit w/a classic Saville Row cut.

    He was a cool dude, no doubt.

  11. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 9:55 pm

    Scott..can I just say (as a former Kentucky resident and current Manhattanite) that I would rather see more pics of you than of Carey Grant….also, what are your thoughts on Project Runway…trashy but totally fun.

  12. Anonymous

    August 16, 2006 at 11:03 pm

    Great post. Look at his body, too – we so often forget that the buffed body is a pretty new phenom for the leadign man.

    Isn’t it interesting that in the movies, men often have to stand apart through the details. No one has to desconstruct Eva Marie Saint in this movie – or any other woman in a Hitchcok film.

  13. EMNH

    August 16, 2006 at 11:22 pm

    You, my friend are a Beatlemaniac…you’re obsessive tendencies have been honed and directed in the best possible way. Thank You for sharing this…all of this.

  14. Crash

    August 16, 2006 at 11:39 pm

    Also another movie of note “The Thomas Crown Affair” with Pierce Brosnan…

    Subtle details like:
    - even in the heat of NYC summer, he is wearing a super fine wool 3 piece silver grey suit
    - his peaked lapel navy suit for a cocktail event
    - when he was getting fitted for his finale suit + camel coat (just goes to show that everything is planned not an accident…)

    Also, how HOT is Rene Russo…

  15. Lindsay

    August 17, 2006 at 12:05 am

    From a Howard Hughes bio I was reading today:
    “The young actor’s wardrobe of beautifully cut suits and dinner jackets was notorious for its elegance, but then, it was tailored by Howes and Curtis in London. Grant was the only actor who dressed himself for most of the drawing-room dramas in which he starred.”

  16. poobah

    August 17, 2006 at 1:20 am

    For 14 stills from North by Northwest, visit the Internet Movie Data Base http://us.imdb.com/title/tt0053125/ and click on the photo gallery.

  17. Anonymous

    August 17, 2006 at 1:22 am

    Sart, your enthusiasm is infectious.

    Um, that’s a good thing!

    Since you are in NY, you might like to know that this movie used the old Glen Cove Courthouse for the Police Station scenes. And the Old Westbury Gardens was another North By Northwest location that’s not too far away and is open to the public.

  18. Anonymous

    August 17, 2006 at 2:50 am

    Sart,

    cary grant and fred astaire’s trousers are cut high waisted and that was style back then. i think alan flusser still follows this same style cut and it’s worn with suspenders. as far as lenght it just like the way luciano barbera describes it:

    There are many schools on trouser length. In America they are often worn so that the pant leg tumbles over the shoes. Many Europeans now wear them quite short. You even show a little sock. What can I say? Perhaps we Europeans are secretly afraid of flash floods. The picture at right shows, quite literally, where I stand. I call this the Mid-Atlantic Solution since it is halfway between Europe and America. The pants just breaking lightly on the shoe. I do not want to see your socks, but I do want to see your shoes.

  19. Anonymous

    August 17, 2006 at 5:18 am

    Great idea for a post. I’m so gla d that this blog isnt blocked at work because its the first thing I do each day. Your comments and great choice of subjects take this blog to another level and always make it really interesting for each return visit.

  20. vallereyes

    August 17, 2006 at 5:56 am

    He was English you know, so no wonder he looked like an English gentleman….

  21. Anonymous

    August 17, 2006 at 6:11 am

    I just looove the movie!! It´s a classic!

  22. Michael

    August 17, 2006 at 6:27 am

    I haven’t seen North by Northwest for a while, but I’m pretty sure Grant’s suit doesn’t have a vent at the back. This strikes me as a radical.

    Grant looks amazing in the whole film (well he looked spot-on all the time really) but I’ve got to say I’ve never liked that full-cut white shirt he wears in the final scenes. Frankly, it just looks too big.

    As an aside, Grant’s Saville Row tailor was Kilgour, French, Stanbury (now just known as Kilgour). I know this, because they’re my tailors too (well, they’ve made a couple of suits for me anyway).

    Brilliant blog by the way. Thanks.

  23. Butch

    August 17, 2006 at 7:44 am

    Is it just me, or do others also find the endless gray of Mr. G.’s (flawlessly cut) suits with tonally similar ties visually numbing?

    After a bit, one stops looking. Or seeing…

  24. jeff

    August 17, 2006 at 9:15 am

    I believe directors preferred the actors to wear no vent suits because they filmed better.

  25. Butch

    August 17, 2006 at 9:21 am

    Ooooops. Re my post above about the endless grey of CG’s suit(s) in the film, I now see that plot requirements dictated a “single” outfit for much of the time….

  26. Alice Olive

    August 17, 2006 at 10:01 am

    This is great!

    Eva Marie Saint looks so good too in North by North West. I particularly like the dress she wears to the auction in Chicago where CG confronts James Mason. The black and red flowers, the pattern and the style remind me of Prada and Carolina Herrera a few seasons back. (Don’t like the fabric of the little clutch she has in that scene though.)

    About the shirt – is that the scene in the hotel where he’s watching Eva Marie Saint write the note and he’s in the bathroom? I have always noticed that shirt because it seemed unusually fullsome.

    I think he looks extremely dapper in the hospital scene where he makes the escape to save Eva Marie (!) and he’s just in the shirt, trousers and those shiny, shiny shoes. Love it!

  27. Anonymous

    August 17, 2006 at 10:28 am

    Well, back then the shirts were cut fuller because one was not expected to remove his jacket like today. The suits were cut with much more maneuverability, especially the armholes. So long as the armhole was cut narrow, the body could be loose fitting under the jacket. The shirt was never expected to be seen without the jacket- it was practically underwear.
    Sponging (with water) and pressing is something that has to asked for especially now. It keeps suits looking nice without the harsh dry cleaning chemicals.
    I love the color of Grant’s suit in this movie, too. Subtle and classy.

  28. Serge

    August 17, 2006 at 10:30 am

    CG was very well-dressed, but I think one thing that people do is to focus on the clothes, which I do not think is the main factor in his style. He wore nice clothes, but put the same suit on a dumpy, slouched over guy and he will look like a slob. CG started his career as an acrobat, and he was in great shape his entire life. Also, he had excellent posture. Not to mention his personality. These factors, more than the clothes, made him look great. I suppose if his suits were not well-tailored or his shirt sleeves too long, he would not look great, but he would still look pretty good.

    Incidentally, I always thought it was cool that he had the valet steam his suit and press it with a sponge. Probably a better alternative to dry cleaning.

  29. Anonymous

    August 17, 2006 at 10:47 am

    North by Northwest,Sunday night in CWC. The memories.

  30. alexandre

    August 17, 2006 at 12:34 pm

    I have always thought that CG had the longest arms I’ve seen on a male star..is it just me or are they that long?

    Just wondering..

  31. Anna

    August 17, 2006 at 2:07 pm

    But you know, Cary Grant looks good in ANYTHING he wears. ;)

  32. The Sartorialist

    August 17, 2006 at 6:25 pm

    Anna
    CG always looked good b/c he paid attention to fit – there are a lot of guys today with just as good of a body (if not better) and are just as handsome but don’t come close in comparing to CG in the sartorial arts

  33. Anonymous

    August 18, 2006 at 8:27 am

    If you like this suit, watch Charade again sometime. The blue suit Grant wears for most of the movie (the one he makes the “drip dry” joke about) is a marvel in deceptively conservative cutting.

  34. Anonymous

    August 18, 2006 at 12:16 pm

    I also read somewhere that Cary Grant had an 18″ neck…proportions and well-cut shirts and suits disguised this.

  35. Anonymous

    August 18, 2006 at 1:58 pm

    Edith Head, Hitchcock’s fashion go-to-gal, helped both Cary and Eva look great in this movie. Cary’s shirts were typically full; I read that he considered that they “flowed” better and allowed him the freedom of movement others here have noted. Having a non-restrictive suit enables him to achieve that savoir-faire he evinces in all his films. The uber-suave one himself said “Everyone wants to be Cary Grant–even me!”

    Marline

  36. Lola is Beauty

    August 18, 2006 at 3:33 pm

    CG: swoon! Sarto: If only I’d had you around when I had to style men – I really had no idea about the subtleties of cut, shirt sleeve length in men’s clothing – women are easy to dress!…you are giving us (me!) an education – now if only I can find a man like Cary I’ll be able to buy him wonderful suits.

  37. nora

    August 19, 2006 at 11:38 am

    Oh, my butch gal and I will watch almost anything with Cary Grant in it, just for the style. But James Mason is no slouch either – and that dreamy voice! Check him out as a different kind of bad guy in “5 Fingers,” with Danielle Darrieux…(searching on her led me to “8 women,” which is another great movie for vintage dresses, and gorgeous women of all ages…)

  38. Charles

    August 22, 2006 at 7:58 pm

    Mr. Sarto,

    Thanks to this entry, I’m going to try wearing my pants higher. My whole adult life I’ve had the “torso . . . look[ing] much wider and chunky” problem with my pants resting on my hips, even though I’m pretty thin (6’1″, 170 lbs). Sadly, this has never occurred to me before! Sheesh. I just tried the look, and my wife said that it looked cleaner. I guess I’ll have to get all my pant hems let out now. . . . Are you getting a kickback from my tailor?

    One learns so much on this site.

  39. Anonymous

    September 27, 2006 at 10:06 pm

    A few other things:

    The thin ties are awesome.

    James Mason’s is equally dapper. The vest with his suit in Chapter 4 makes for a beautiful look. And then he throws on a wicket pair of glasses in chapter 5. Nice meaty 1960s frames.

    Grant nicely buckles only the 2nd button on his jacket. The lapels near the top button roll perfectly. A sign of a well tailored suit.

    It’s hilarious how one of the roughs smokes. The way he holds the cigarette. Priceless (chapter 5)

  40. John

    December 15, 2006 at 5:04 pm

    This is “the suit” in any film. Forget Bond, Niven, etc. this is it. To paraphrase Baron Bomburst, I’IIII VAAAANT ZAT LUCK. It really is fantastic. In fact Grant looks pretty knockout in all his movies, Notorious, Suspicion, To catch a thief. Come to think about it like to kiss Grace too.

  41. John O.

    January 30, 2007 at 5:06 am

    From a 1/9/07 Times article by Richard Owen:
    “… The Pitti show, however, will highlight Savile Row’s own famous customers: Henry Poole has remade the midnight blue smoking jacket it created for Edward VII; Anderson & Sheppard has recut the jacket and flannel trousers it made for Fred Astaire; and Kilgour has re-created the suit Cary Grant wore in North by Northwest.

  42. JASON

    March 6, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    CARY GRANT’S ROLE AS ROT WAS FANTASTIC. HIS REPARTEE WITH EVE MARIE SAINT IS DEAD ON. HIS SUIT AS ALWAYS IMMACULATE. BUT WHAT COLOR WERE HIS SOCKS.THEY DID NOT APPEAR TO BE GRAY ON THE TELEVISION SCREEN, WHERE CAN THEY BE BOUGHT?

  43. Remah Doleh

    November 25, 2008 at 10:21 pm

    Cary Grant IS the reason I am a wardrobe stylist. Hey Scott, watch Indiscreet (…which stars Cary Grant) there is a scene towards the end of the film where he is wearing a perfect suit (not surprising) and he is carrying a Louis Vuitton briefcase. When he enters the room, in the scene, it took my breathe away. I just kept rewinding that scene. Urgh, just amazing!

  44. Adam Hoyt

    January 10, 2009 at 10:13 pm

    Does anyone know what type of sunglasses he’s wearing?

  45. Duchess

    March 21, 2009 at 5:33 pm

    I own Duchess, Clothier, a custom tailoring business, and we have made this suit a couple of times for our discerning clients.

    Another thing to note about this remarkable grey suit- it is actually a 3 rolled to 2 button lapel, which gives the lapel a nice roll and an extra little detail.

    Seyta Selter

  46. One Kool Kat

    June 28, 2009 at 2:23 pm

    @Adam Hoyt…Cary Grant's Sungrasses are "Ray Ban Wayfarers"

  47. Chris

    March 24, 2010 at 1:47 pm

    @Adam Hoyt and One Kool Kat

    His sunglasses are Persol 714's also worn by Steve McQueen.

  48. Anonymous

    August 10, 2010 at 9:15 pm

    Someone asked about CG's sunglasses in NxNW. They are neither Wayfarers nor Persols as mentioned by previous posters. They are Ray-Ban, but the model is "Dallas." No longer made, these sunglasses are sold at a collector's premium. So far, I've gathered two pair, both tortoise. I'm looking now for a pair in black. Another cool model, slightly different, is the long-since-discontinued "Meteor," also by Ray-Ban. Enjoy. – George robinsongw@juno.com

  49. CARYGRANT45

    March 29, 2012 at 9:21 am

    Has no one ever noticed that CGs shoes change at a certain point in the film. He starts off wearing black ones and then he is miraculously in the “cognac” colored shoes. so this line “Freeze the frame and look at the shoes – Not Black! but deep cognac brown and no chunky, thick sole clodhoppers here – long, lean and very English.” Is not entirely true. Is there a good story behind this shoes switch do you think or did he just bring the wrong shoes in one day?

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