Remington Steele: A Classic Charcoal Three-Piece Suit

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Happy 68th birthday to Pierce Brosnan! 13 years before he had his turn as Bond, he played the sartorially stylish Mr Steele in the American television series Remington Steele. He was most consistently well-dressed early in the series, when he wore classically styled three-piece suits, blazers and sports coats. In the series’ sixth episode ‘Steele Belted’ from 1982, he wears a Bondian outfit consisting of a three-piece charcoal worsted suit with a light blue shirt and red dot tie.

The suit has a button-three jacket, and though it would become Brosnan’s signature style as James Bond, this might be the only example that Brosnan wears in Remington Steele. As Mr Steele, he wore mostly button-two suits and multiple button-one suits. In the 1980s, single-breasted suits with two buttons and low-fastening double-breasted suits were the mainstream styles in America, though suits with three buttons were not completely absent from fashion. Brosnan first wears this charcoal suit in the previous episode ‘Thou Shalt Not Steele’ and goes on to wear it in ‘Hearts of Steele’ and ‘Steele Away with Me’.

The suit is likely bespoke, made either by a Los Angeles-based tailor or a costume tailor. Its cut matches that of a number of other suits that Brosnan wears early in the series. It has the unique mark of a slanted shoulder seam, mostly found amongst drape-cut suits and Tom Ford suits. The glen check suit this blog previously covered has the same shoulder seam. The shoulders have a pagoda shape with roped sleeve heads for a dramatic look reminiscent of what Tom Ford would make years later.

Notice Mr Steele’s slanted shoulder seam, not his helmet of hair or Barry Van Dyke

The jacket is detailed with straight flapped hip pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and double vents. The double vents have an elegant outward flare like English bespoke suits often do. The gorge—where the jacket’s lapel and collar meet—is fairly high and helps this suit still look current today.

The waistcoat has five buttons down the front, and Brosnan wears the bottom button undone per tradition. It has two welt pockets, and the back is made in a matching charcoal lining with an adjustable strap. The trousers have a flat front, belt loops and a straight leg with plain hems.

Brosnan’s light blue shirt has a pinned short-point collar—a popular early 1980s fashion—and single cuffs that fasten with cufflinks. The cuffs are rounded and have two buttonholes. They may either be short double cuffs worn unfolded or two-button cuffs with a hole added on the underside for the cufflinks. The placket is an English-style narrow placket that is stitched 3/8-inch from the edge. The shirt is closely fitted, but it’s not likely bespoke due to the cuffs being worn in an unusual manner.

The tie is red with small white polka dots. It’s a classic 1980s power tie, though it’s a timeless conservative choice. Because the knot points to his left side, the tie is most likely made with a left-handed four-in-hand knot like Brosnan usually tied as James Bond. Brosnan coordinates a puffed red pocket square with the tie. The pairing is a little too on-the-nose, but since they don’t match exactly it’s not a menswear sin.

His shoes are black loafers with a high vamp, a narrow strap across the front, an apron toe and a very thin sole. The shoes resemble Bally’s. These would have been a very trendy choice at the time. He wears thin black socks with the shoes, and he matches a black belt with a brass buckle to the shoes. Though belts should be avoided under waistcoats, Brosnan’s belt is thin enough to not disrupt the line of the waistcoat.

All of Brosnan’s metals, from his watch to his slide-on collar pin and cufflinks and his belt buckle, are gold or gold-toned. Remington Steele frequently wears a lot of gold-toned metals, giving him a flashier look than James Bond, who usually prefers silver-toned metals.

The look overall is a cross between Bond and boardroom, but Brosnan’s clothes follow the same style of three-piece suits and red ties that Roger Moore was wearing as Bond at the same time.

11 COMMENTS

  1. Looks almost identical to a charcoal three-piece I bought just a few months ago, so in a moment of vanity I’m going to take the compliments given in the article and claim them vicariously as directed to me!

    There really is no defending that helmet he’s wearing though, it’s a pity because Brosnan had such fantastic hair to have been wasted on so ’80s a style.

  2. I loved very much Remington Steele series.
    It was a classy product.
    Brosnan at the time made me think not to Sean Connery or Roger Moore’s James Bond,but to Cary Grant (particularly the 30s and 40s young Cary Grant).

    The early 80s suits were very classic and of good taste,before that in mid 80s the Americans for some strange reason fell in love for the Armani look (in Italy Armani was never mainstream,but above only a export business house).
    The Kent cut double breasted suits and the three pieces single breasted suits of Steele were very elegants and smarts; some pieces as this above were timeless.
    The only weakness were those hairstyles with semi long hairs inherited by 70s.
    Those hairs infested above all the American TV series until late 80s at least (see for exemple the men hairstyles in “Dynasty”).

  3. This is a very well put together look which suits both Brosnan and the character. As you say it isn’t far off at all from what Roger Moore was wearing to M’s office around the same time, the Octopussy 3-piece suit comes immediately to mind.

    Watching Remington Steele re-runs on PAX TV in the late 90’s/early 00’s was what first made me interested in things like collar bars, which I don’t often wear, and cufflinks, which I do.

  4. I have never had the chance to watch Remington Steele but I will say just going off of what you have covered here he is dressed quite well! When you were talking about how James Bond was wearing a red tie with a 3 piece suit at this time the first thing that came to my mind was Roger Moore in Octopussy as well. Now I am going to have to check Remington Steele out. Great article as usual!

  5. It’s a great look, and yes, those sleeve heads are perfect. Remington Steele, while not a great show, is a charming one, highly entertaining and creative, blending genres and featuring great on-screen chemistry between the two leads. Season 2 and 3 are particularly worthwhile, and I think by Season 3 and 4, Pierce was in fact quite primed to take over the role of Bond.

    I am not sure it’s particularly fair to negatively judge Pierce for having a 1980s hairstyle when this was shot in 1982 or 1983. And I’ll take that “helmet hair” any day over Craig’s crewcut.

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