Marnie: English-American Style in a Herringbone Tweed Jacket

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Marnie-Herringbone-Jacket

In 1964’s Marnie, directed by Alfred Hitchcock, Sean Connery wears an elegant mix of American Ivy League—as worn by Felix Leiter in Goldfinger—and English Savile Row style. I’m not talking about the “Updated American” suit, which takes the American sack suit and adds darts to the jacket—and sometimes pleats to the trousers. I’m talking about the way one wears his clothes. Another Hitchcock leading man, Cary Grant famously dressed in an English-American manner, often combining English tailoring with American accessories. Polo Ralph Lauren is currently the most well-known purveyor of this style, whilst New York and Chicago’s Paul Stuart and Charleston’s Ben Silver also excel at selling this style of clothing, both in their tailoring and in their accessories.

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Though Connery’s sports coats and trousers in Marnie are likely English in origin, he wears them in a decidedly American manner. This jacket is a woolen herringbone tweed in black and grey. It buttons three, with the lapel rolling over the top button. That type of lapel roll is typically associated with American tailoring, though English tailors have been known to cut their suits this way as well. Though all of the suits in Marnie have a somewhat full cut, this jacket may be cut a bit fuller, since Americans often wear their sports coats larger to be able to accommodate a jumper underneath. The full cut works well on Connery, since a more athletic cut wouldn’t drape as well considering his large drop. Still, the jacket has plenty of shape. Like the suits in Marnie, this jacket has flap pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and no vent.

The trousers are English in cut. They have double forward pleats, a tapered leg with turn-ups, side tabs and an extended waistband closure. The choice of charcoal for the trousers isn’t the best since there is little contrast with the jacket. However, there is contrast in texture, and that counts for something.

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In comparison to the trousers, the shirt is an American classic that Connery never wore as Bond: a button-down oxford. The key to a successful button down collar is in the roll. The buttons are placed a bit higher up than where the collar points fall to assist the roll. The button-down is a rather casual collar, and thus Connery only wears it with sports coats in Marnie.

Most people in England would never wear a tie with a button-down collar, since the buttons are there to help the collar stand up when it is unbuttoned more than they are there frame the tie. Connery also wears his ties in Marnie much different from how he wears them as Bond. The ties are narrower in Marnie, and narrower than his already somewhat narrow lapels. The tie is plain black, and he clips it to his shirt with a tie bar. He wears the bar with a slight downward angle. And in some shots the tie tucked into his trousers, meaning his ties are an extra-long length considering Connery’s height. Because the tie is so narrow, it’s difficult to tell if he is using a Windsor or Half Windsor knot.

Connery’s lace-up shoes are black, keeping all the colours of the outfit in black, white and grey.

17 COMMENTS

  1. Gosh, this kinda hits on something that’s bothered me for a long time. I like the tailoring of the ’60s, but a lot of the ties looked downright anemic for the lapel widths, which were about 2.75″ on average. The moderately sized grenadines Connery wore as James Bond matched his lapels much better. One could argue his knit ties were about 2″, but since those are the same width all the way down and produce a larger knot, they still looked fairly proportionate.

  2. It’s interesting to see this mix as I’m always torn between my love of Saville Row and Ivy League style. As an American, my father raised me on tweed jackets and cotton twill trousers in a country palette of tans, browns, olive and taupe. Navy and gray were reserved for business, but were the same material. And of course, the button-down Oxford was the required shirt.
    Is Connery’s shirt white or ecru? Looks like it’s probably poplin or a pinpoint Oxford?

    • It could be “soft white”, which is rarely seen these days but has a slight grey tone to it.

      The sheerness of the shirt suggests broadcloth to me.

  3. Not a big fan of the “American style”, but Connery’s clothes and look here and in Marnie are nice. Also, scrolling down to the last entry, it is hard to believe how much he aged in 7 years. Very interesting, very informative post.

    • I think the aging effect is the combination of a few things. Namely, his weight gain, losing more of his natural hair, using a much worse toupee, and I don’t think those sideburns are doing him any favors.

  4. Very interesting post, Matt. I usually hate button down shirts and black skinny ties, but this outfit works extremely well. Sober and simple. Almost as beautiful as the Goldfinger “hunting” outfit, but in city colours. The slim lapels and tie suit Connery very well. I would just have don an ecru shirt and a white pocket square, if I was him. Too bad the tie wasn’t made-to-measure, like the T&A’s ones he wore in the Bond movies. Tucking a tie in the trousers isn’t very elegant…
    By the way Matt, you said that Cary Grant famously dressed in an English-American manner, often combining English tailoring with American accessories. I am very interested by this analysis, since Grant is one of my favourite actors. I guess that for you, English tailoring means Savile Row. But what do you mean by American accesssories ? Things like tie bars and, most certainly for Grant, pin collars ? I hope, since Grant could have played Bond, that sometimes you will write an article about one of his outfits ! The ones in To catch a thief (the dinner suit and a grey suit) seemed quite Bondian, in my opinion, even if the movie itself wasn’t a good Hitchcock to me. Too bad (for us readers of your blog, not for the movie of course) that his most interesting outfits -I am thinking of Suspicion, where almost every category of clothing is covered !- often came from black & white movies…

  5. Matt, you talk about Connery’s “drop”. Would this be the difference between the width of his shoulders and his waist? Did I get that right? Some posters think the tie is too narrow. My father was a professional man in the 60’s and he had ties which look like bootlaces! Its strange that the buttondown collar is so iconic in the US. I was told it was devised by English officers playing polo in India, who were distracted by their collars flapping in their faces.

    • Drop is the difference between the chest and waist measurement. Most suits come with a 6-inch drop: so a 46 jacket with 40 trousers. Connery wore a 13-inch drop at that time, so a 46 jacket with 33 trousers.

      • Connery was a 46 jacket and a 33 waist (at 6’2″) in 1964-ish? That is quite impressive.

      • Sean Connery, before acting full time, was a bodybuilder. This was back in the days where it was about looking like a Greek statue, not a Marvel Comics villain with veins popping and skin stretched like Saran wrap (due to intentional dehydration — no wonder it looks disgusting).

        By the time he’d been cast as Bond, he’d lost much of the definition, but his V-shaped silhouette was still impressive. I suspect that may be one of the reasons his T&A shirts were darted, just to take a bit of fullness out of the midsection. He seemed to be gaining some weight around the middle by You Only Live Twice, however.

      • Matt,

        Do you know the jacket sizes of the other Bond actors? I know from a prior post by you that Craig is apparently a 38 in Skyfall.

  6. At the risk of reviving a dead conversation…

    Matt, What would you say are the main features of a English-American Style? I know that the “Updated American” suit doesn’t really count, but aside from that, what specific accessories are included? Skinny Ties? Oxford button down collars? What else?

    • There are different ways to do English-American style. The style discussed in this article is about taking a jacket and trousers that are very English in cut and style and combining them with an an American shirt (button-down oxford), and then wearing that sporty shirt with a tie, which is something Americans are known for (though the English sometimes did it in the middle of the 20th Century). Connery looks dressed like an American who purchased some of his clothes in England. The “Updated American” style of tailoring certainly can count too as a type of English-American style, so long as the suit combines both English and American tailoring elements, which Paul Stuart and Ralph Lauren are known for. But Connery is not wearing Updated American tailoring here.

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