As my cream-linen suit received it’s first outing today, Bristol’s local tailor was intrigued at the realisation he’d succumbed to subliminal advertising; I don’t own a television, and I don’t read the papers. It was all too apparent, as I strolled to my studio on Queen Square, that I was in fact channelling Leonardo di Caprio’s Gatsby ?!
Now, as ridiculous as this may sound, given that the remake has just been released, I’ve only recently borne witness to the original film adaptation of The Great Gatsby – it would appear the film eluded me as a young man as I recognised nothing of the romantic tail which unfolded before me, which is perhaps the reason why it escaped my attention; not really my cup of tea.
However, having been commissioned by a good friend (bizarrely enough whose name is also Jay) which was to incorporate a wider lapel, but not circa 1970s, I chanced upon The Great Gatsby when looking for inspiration.
Gatsby’s style was, indeed, of-the-day, but he owed it to the tailors of Europe, who would send him new clothes at the beginning of each season (lucky man!). Three-piece suits; high-wasted trousers; double-breasted waistcoats (with fob, naturally) worn with single-breasted jackets and cut slightly longer, but not quite frock-coat length: Gatsby’s sartorial elegance was second-to-none.
But, in spite of all this – and not to mention the desire to cut myself a suit in the style of the great Gatsby – my sartorial hero was none other than its narrator: Nick Carraway, now played by Toby Maguire and for whom I shall reserve my judgement until I’ve seen the remake.
From our first introduction to the unsung hero, Carraway’s style is beyond reproach. He carries himself well; he is a gentleman and scholar, a stark contrast to the arrogance and excesses of his peers. And though he may be a man of humble means, in comparison to his wealthy and extravagant neighbour, Carraway has a casual sartorial elegance that, in my mind, is the most convincing of all the characters.
Even after fishing his sodden Panama hat from the drink, at the film’s start, he is incredibly elegant in his white linen three-piece suit. And even though I thought his particular style of ‘summer cool’ would be hard to beat, he pulls yet another linen-gem from his wardrobe, this time in a solid camel-colour, and worn with a vivid mid-blue shirt – knock-out!
But Carraway not only does ‘casual cool’, he also dresses to impress, and proves this when dressing for his first Gatsby black-tie ball – very sharp!
By day, he leaves his bond salesman cohorts trash can with his striped shirt, patterned tie and gold fob. What a guy! His work-suit is most likely the only one he owns, but he clearly knows how to look after his garments.
Now, with Leonardo DiCaprio stepping into the shoes once worn by the great Robert Redford, I’m sure it will only be a matter of time before the sartorially-inspired are considering if they can pull-off a linen suit and how their tailor might assist them in achieving such elegance and ensuring they are shipshape and Bristol fashion for the coming season!