Remington Steele: Pierce Brosnan’s Bold Black Jacket


Black is a dramatic and serious colour, so it’s an uncommon colour for an odd jacket. This doesn’t doesn’t mean that black is unsuitable for a less formal jacket. Men wear plenty of casual black clothing, such as black knitwear, black jeans or black boots, so black odd jackets are not off the table, even if they’re not a traditional choice. Pierce Brosnan wears a sophisticated black jacket as Mr Steele in four early episodes of Remington Steele to supplement his staple brass-buttoned navy blazer. Brosnan wears this black jacket in only four episodes, mostly in the first series. The show’s eighth episode ‘You’re Steele the One For Me’, as pictured here, presents an excellent example of how to wear a black jacket.

A black odd jacket, like the navy blazer, is one of the better jackets to wear from day into night, and it a rare odd jacket that looks better at night than during the day. Black jackets, along with the navy blazer, are more formal than most odd jackets, but the cloth, cut and details will determine exactly how formal or informal it is.

The texture of the cloth is the most important aspect of this jacket, since it lacks colour or pattern to give it much character. It requires texture to set it apart from a suit jacket or black lounge/stroller, and it needs a pronounced texture so it shows up in black. Brosnan’s jacket is made of a textured cloth with a pronounced nap, like camel hair, cashmere or woolen flannel. Wool basketweave, cavalry twill, linen and corduroy are other good choices.

Brosnan’s jacket is cut like most of his suit jackets early in Remington Steele, with a trim cut, flared skirt, narrow pagoda shoulders and two buttons on the front in a medium button stance. This cut adds to the drama of a black jacket, but no cut is too formal. A black odd jacket does not need to have a soft or unstructured cut, though such a cut would make it more fashionable today. The jacket is detailed with a long single vent, straight hip pockets with flaps, and three cuff buttons. The jacket’s buttons are black leather for a sporty touch.

Complexion matters when wearing a large amount of black, and having dark hair is particularly important. Those with a light, low-contrast complexion don’t look their best in black but can wear it at night. Because Brosnan has fair skin, he’s wearing low contrast in the shirt and tie to offset the harshness of the black. The cool colour palate of the whole outfit is very flattering on Brosnan’s cool skin tone.

Trouser pairings are much more difficult with a black jacket than with a navy jacket. Grey trousers, as long as they are lighter than a dark charcoal, are the easiest to wear. Blue denim can look good with a black jacket. Cream trousers can look good because of the contrast they have with black, and British tan trousers can look too because their rich colour nicely balances the strength of black without overpowering the outfit. Many shades of tan, khaki and beige can look too dull against the black jacket. Brosnan wears mid grey wool trousers, which is the perfect shade with black since it complements it without any competition. There’s a good amount of contrast but not too much. These trousers are possibly in worsted flannel, and they have double reverse pleats, a wide straight leg and a narrow black leather belt with a gold buckle.

Brosnan wears black tassel loafers, which are the easiest of pairings with a black jacket and grey trousers. Limiting one’s colour palate results in an elegant look. However, there are options other than black, especially if your trousers are belt-less. Wearing a non-black belt against a black jacket can look jarring. Burgundy shoes go very well because they have enough colour to stand apart from the black jacket. Snuff and tobacco suede have enough contrast that they will also look nice. Dark brown shoes should be avoided because they will clash with the black jacket, while tan shoes can make the outfit look unbalanced and ungrounded. Black shoes are such a good choice because they balance the black jacket on top.

He introduces some colour with a blue hairline stripe or end-on-end shirt that has bands of black, white and yellow hairline stripes. The blue and yellow in the shirt are both very muted thanks to the white in the shirt. Colour can look harsh and garish next to black, so Brosnan carefully wears a muted shirt.

The shirt has a gold-pinned point collar with short points—a popular early 1980s fashion—and single cuffs that fasten with cufflinks. The cuffs are rounded and have two sets of buttonholes. They may either be short double cuffs worn unfolded or rounded two-button cuffs with a hole added on the button side for the cufflinks.

He returns to grey for the tie and pocket square to limit the amount of contrast in the outfit for a flattering look against his fair skin. It also means that all the colour in the outfit is contained in the shirt, which helps the outfit look elegant. The light grey silk tie has a low sheen and faint stripe effect that suggests its woven in a narrow herringbone pattern. It’s made in a four-in-hand knot and worn tucked into his trousers, now an old-fashioned way of wearing a tie. A puffed silver silk satin pocket square effectively coordinates with the tie but does not match it.


  1. Pair this with a pair of Levi’s ‘selvedge’ blue denim jeans and black Florsheims and it’ll be an instant winner right out of the gate.

    Caution prohibits me from suggesting black Danner boots ‘cos they might be a little bit too ‘chunky’ in tandem with a relatively sophisticated garment like a black blazer . . . though a larger / taller bloke could presumably pull off such a look with the Danners.

  2. A very interesting post Matt and helpful advice on how to elegantly wear and style a black sport coat which in itself is an unusual and rather tricky color of sport coat to pair well.

    I myself have recently have been finding ways to wear a black cotton plain-weave sport coat (with patch pockets to dress it down a bit) that I only started wearing frequently recently and the advice laid out in this post is pretty much spot-on. I myself have a winter complexion similar to Sean Connery so I suppose I can play around with contrast much easier than most, but somehow I find even a white shirt too be a bit much and formal for something like a black jacket and I find that shirts or turtlenecks in light blue, light grey, and possibly lilac (and some pinks) that have some white mixed in (such as end-on-end or in stripes or checks) pair much better than a solid white as it has a softer look which goes well with the less formal look with the black jacket (though some white shirts can work).

    As for trousers, I’ve mostly played it safe with trousers in medium grey to dark grey for a relatively low-contrast look that better flatters my short stature (though cream and British tan trousers sounds interesting) and limited myself to black slip-ons but I think burgundy slip-ons would work too and add a touch of color without looking jarring. Interesting point on blue denims looking good with black jackets since I myself don’t wear them often and while most navy trousers would lack contrast with the black jacket, I think my 2 pairs of navy linen trousers (which have some white mixed in the fabric for a softer blue look) that look very similar to blue denims would also pair nicely with the black jacket and is something I could consider.

    Overall, black sport coats are definitely a lot trickier to pair with than a navy blazer or the more classic grey, brown, and green sport coats (and they aren’t so flattering on those with lighter complexions), but when done and executed elegantly as Steele does or with the advice laid out in the blog, it can look sophisticated and be a nice modern (and “edgier”) alternative to the classic Navy blazer as Remington Steele shows.

    • My mistake and apologies on the comment below that repeats the message of this one since my internet has been acting up and thus failed to see my previous comment being published (the comment below is much more simplified and concise than the this though it can be discarded/deleted). I forgot to add the part on the ties in this one so I’d like to add it here.

      I think the grey tie looks good on Brosnan’s outfit, though apart from a black tie (which sometimes can be a bit much), I do wonder what other tie colors can go well with a black jacket combination.

  3. I usually go navy as black is more for events lime a funeral but I wouldn’t object to wearing it for other events.

  4. I’m not a fan of low contrast shirt and tie combos, and this is no exception. I think if the tie was just a little bit darker, slightly closer to the shade of the trousers, it would look much better. Or if the shirt was darker, closer to a medium blue, maybe that could work. I get what it’s doing, and while I respect the thought put into it to make it all work with a black sports coat, I can’t get past the fact that none of it would be necessary if you just didn’t wear a black sports coat. Just my preference.

  5. This was a very interesting and well written article on how to effectively wear a black sports coat/odd jacket which is commonly seen these days but rarely executed well. Brosnan’s example here and the points you laid out are pretty much spot-on (especially the importance of contrast within the outfit with regards to the person’s complexion).

    Speaking for myself, I have found myself wearing a black sport coat much more frequently recently. The black jacket itself is an unstructured cotton in a plain weave and patch pockets, which separates it from a formal black jacket. Being a winter complexion myself (similar to Sean Connery’s dark hair and medium-dark skin), I suppose I can play around with contrast much easier than those with fairer skin, but for some reason I find that some white shirts look too formal even with a casual black jacket (due to the stark contrast that reminds me of black lounge), and I find that shirts in pale or muted light blue, light grey, lilac and pink (especially those that are end-on-end that have white in the fabric) gives a softer look that better plays with the relaxed black jacket.

    As for trousers, I mostly play it safe with medium to dark grey trousers for less contrast with the black jacket to better flatter my short height and stature (though I think on a taller man cream and British tan sound nice). You make an interesting about blue denim pairing well with black jackets, and while I don’t wear denims often (only for cool weather), I happen to have 2 pairs of navy linen trousers that have some white mixed it in for a softer blue look (and makes them resemble denim) that I think could pair well with the black jacket. I’ve mostly stuck with black slip-ons for a safe and elegant look but I could consider some burgundy slip-ons for a little splash of color.

    As for the ties, I think the grey tie looks good on Brosnan’s outfit, though apart from the black tie (which even sometimes can be a bit much), I do wonder what other tie colors can go well with a black jacket combination.

    Overall while the black jacket itself isn’t a very easy look to do compared to the more classic navy blazer, the way Brosnan wears it and the advice laid out could help make it an modern, elegant (and “edgier”) alternative to the navy blazer that works from day to night.

  6. I once had a black corduroy jacket which seemed like a good idea at the time but was really difficult to wear with anything. The colour was too formal to work with any of my casual clothes and the fabric too casual to wear with any formal clothes. Clearly I just needed this article, but sadly the jacket went to the charity ship years ago! Thanks for the post. Piers looking great as ever.

  7. Black sports coats always make me think of David Duchovny’s moleskin coats in Californication. Not impossible to pull off, but very situational.

  8. As someone who has yet to watch series, would you happen to remember Matt of the other episodes Brosnan wears this black jacket, and if his shirt, tie, and shoe combinations in those episodes are as elegant and well-put as the one featured in this blog?

    • The other episodes are “Steele in the News”, “Sting of Steele” and “Steele Away with Me”. He wears them with red ties in all the other episodes. I prefer the more subtle look of the grey tie, which is why I chose this episode. The black jacket and red ties have more of a power 1980s look, particularly in one episode where he also wears a contrast-collar shirt.

      • Thanks Matt. I decided to check these episodes out and you’re right in your blog’s assessment that the black jacket does indeed serve as Brosnan/Steele’s alternative to his navy blazer as his blue shirt, grey trousers and red tie resembles the ones used in his navy blazer in the episodes you featured in the article long before (I also agree that the grey tie looks more elegant with the black jacket than the red ones, but I think winter complexion can make it work).

        Correct me if I’m wrong Matt, but did Brosnan also wear a black jacket in the episode “Elementary Steele” as it looked very dark and stark from even the darkest of navies? If I recall the outfit looks almost similar to the one featured in this article save for the shirt being solid, the trousers being more medium-light grey and what looks like a dark tie (possibly black) with light grey/white stripes. I thought the combination actually looked quite good and looked more-pared down and more elegant than the red ties (though I think it would better suit people with high contrast).

      • I had that jacket down as dark navy, but it could possibly be black. I haven’t examined it in a while. It first appears in Altared Steele. It’s one of the trendier 1980s jackets, and I’m not so interested in those, but the way he combines all of his outfits is still of interested to me.

  9. Very interesting seeing a black sport coat combination. Also thought black would be to formal but thanks to this blog I’ve learned something new. Could this combo work with a black blazer?

  10. In a similar way to how Bond effectively pairs a solid navy tie with his navy, can a solid black tie paired with a black jacket likewise result in an elegant combination particularly particularly for those with a medium-dark/neutral high contrast complexion (paired of course with a muted shirt in blue, light grey, or similar colors for a softer look and more relaxed)?


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