Remington Steele: The Brown Multi-Check Suit

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In honour of Pierce Brosnan’s 61st birthday we look at one of his many Remington Steele suits. By Remington Steele‘s third season, Pierce Brosnan had, for the most part, traded classic elegance for the fashions of the day. The majority of his suits by that time were low-buttoning double-breasted suits with large shoulders and full-cut trousers, but these suits actually flattered Brosnan’s skinny frame despite them looking very dated now. However, not all of Brosnan’s suits fit the fashionable mould. One of the few relatively classic suits that was still around on the show in 1985 is this dark, cool brown suit in a very subtle glen check, pictured here in the episode “Gourmet Steele”. There are multiple windowpanes over the glen plaid, which are difficult to make out the exact colours of due to the DVD quality. From what I can tell, there are windowpanes in red, tan and blue, but they are very faint. Multi-stripes and multi-windowpanes on top of a pattern like nailhead or herringbone were very popular in the 1980s, but they were usually understated like on Brosnan’s suit. The multiple windowpanes surely aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but on Brosnan’s suit they are done in a tasteful way. Take away two of the three windowpane colours and the suit immediately becomes more relevant to today’s fashions.

The suit is well-cut with high armholes to allow freedom of movement
The suit is cut with high armholes to allow freedom of movement

In brown with multiple windowpanes, this suit is more of a social suit than a traditional business suit. Since Steele is a private investigator he can wear more adventurous suits on the job than the average man can wear to work, but here he appropriately wears this suit to dinner at a fine restaurant. It’s not a particularly dressy suit, but Brosnan dresses it up for the evening with a white shirt, black shoes and understated accessories. The button two suit jacket is trim-cut with narrow, slightly-pagoda shoulders, roped sleeve heads, a clean chest and a closely nipped waist. It has flapped pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and deep double vents. The lapels have a steeper gorge (the lapel’s notch) than what is typical today, but it’s not too steep or too low. The button stance is in a classic, balanced position. The majority of the suits Brosnan was wearing at the time had a lower gorge and lower button stance, which looks very dated now. The trousers have double reverse pleats and a medium-wide straight leg, and they are worn with a belt.

Remington-Steele-Brown-Check-Suit-4Brosnan downplays the suit’s coloured windowpanes by wearing a white shirt and unassuming brown accessories. The white shirt has a moderate spread collar, placket and double cuffs. The tie has dark brown and medium brown stripes, which may or may not be the effect of a herringbone weave. The overflowing pocket handkerchief is also dark brown, and even the flamboyant way he wears the handkerchief doesn’t make it stand out. Brosnan could have chosen a blue shirt and red tie to make the windowpanes in the suit pop, but keeping everything toned down makes the outfit look more elegant. The predominantly monochromatic look is reminiscent of Connery’s brown suit and tie in Thunderball, though Connery’s outfit has a simple elegance that is absent from Brosnan’s.

Remington-Steele-Brown-Check-SuitThough brown shoes are typically the first choice with brown suits, Brosnan wears black cap-toe oxfords and a brass-buckled black belt with this suit. One could argue that brown leather would still go better with this suit, but because the suit is cool-toned the black leather doesn’t clash. The suit’s cool tone is flattering to Brosnan’s cool complexion, whilst most warmer and richer browns wouldn’t look so good on him. Connery’s brown suit in Thunderball similarly has a cool tone, and he too wears his brown suit with black shoes.

21 COMMENTS

    • Most people will say that brown or burgundy shoes are preferable with a brown suit. But as Brosnan and Connery show, black shoes can look good with the right brown.

      • And Daniel Craig in QoS too. The brown suit in Bolivia is worn with black shoes and is not that bad. To my taste at least.
        But personally I have a nice dark brown suit which I love to pair with highly polished burgundy Church’s Diplomats !

      • Likewise, black shoes work well because that suit is also a dark cool brown. To compare, most of Roger Moore’s brown suits are lighter, warmer brown and would not look so good with black shoes.

      • It might be an over simple way of thinking about it, but I always try to determine whether I should wear black or brown shoes based on contrast. Lighter brown, I’ll often wear a dark brown or burgundy shoe with it. When the brown is dark and brown shoes would be too much “brown” I go with black.

        Like Connery’s outfit, I find that if you match several black items, it helps prevent it from seeming like a “rookie” mistake.

      • Sir Hardy Aimes was, I believe, very fond of wearing a brown suit that he paired with black shoes.

        I think the black shoes go well with the brown suit here.

  1. What a great find, Matt. The suit, especially in the first picture, looks very good. I love the fit and high armholes. The multiple windowpanes sounds terrible but I don’t notice them at all from the pictures. The gorge is rather low but compared to the suits my dad wore in the 90’s, this still looks classic.
    On someone rather thin like Brosnan, I guess wearing clothes with layers (like a suit) is better. They make his shoulders wider, chest larger. Overall more “manly”.

    • What exactly do you mean by wearing clothes with layers ?
      He is not wearing a three-piece suit or a double breasted one, is he ?

      • Well I guess this is a bit of a regional thing. The climate where I live is very hot and humid all year long. So, very few people wear suits or jackets to the office, even the managers. Most people go to work in dress trousers and a shirt, including me. Some people wear a tie but that’s it. So I kind of consider wearing a suit or jacket as wearing layers. And I think a suit jacket like Brosnan’s would make a thinner guy look a lot better. Not to say that it wouldn’t look good on a bigger person.

      • I live in Toronto and in the summer it can be very humid and hot (with the humidex, it can approach 40 degrees). I wear a jacket and tie to the office every day – it’s a non-negotiable part of the job. There are always options that can keep you cool (ish) and still look stylish at the same time. If someone, like some of my younger co-workers, wears a suit with a polyester lining then no matter what they will be hot and sweaty. But even high street stores have lightweight suits and jackets with breathable materials and linings now (if you look for them and are picky). Going that extra mile will certainly get you noticed.

      • I get what you’re saying and to tell you the truth, I would love to wear a jacket and tie to the office everyday. I drive so the heat is not that big of an issue for me. However, I work in an engineering contractor so dressing like that will probably get me noticed too much. Most people wear short sleeve shirts with jeans to work.
        Even now, just by wearing well fitting long sleeved shirts and well pressed trousers and well shined shoes has already given me a reputation for dressing formally. A suit would probably distract people from my actual competence.
        I do like to wear my suit whenever there is a chance though. But it’s mostly not for office related occasions.

  2. Well,at the end, 80s was not only “power suits” and Armani new bold look.
    This suit is 80s at his best.
    And is perfect and elegant also today.

  3. Nice but I certainly would have preferred an ecru shirt, or a cream one like the one he wears in Goldeneye with the navy birdseye suit. I think the white of the shirt clashes too much with the other colors.
    Otherwise, Matt, can you tell me the date of the episode, please ?
    I can’t help making the comparison with the measurements of the Goldeneye suits : the chest and the shoulder width have certainly increased !
    I know shoulders were slightly on the wide and heavy side in Goldeneye, but they seem a third larger to me. Impressing…. but I am a bit of a maniac about jacket shoulders right now !

    Of course if there are 10 years of difference between the two movies that would explain.

    • This episode is from 1985, and the shoulders were narrow for the time. This is more of an early 80s suit jacket with mid 80s trousers. Also in the same episode, Brosnan wears a more fashionable suit: the wide-shouldered, low-buttoning double-breasted suit I described in this article. It has more waist suppression, however, than the GoldenEye suits.

  4. I remember not bad suits in 80s.
    Single breasted two buttons was the king in that period.
    Gorge was relatively low,but not so low as in Armani ( or Armanesques) suits in second part of decade or as in 90s.
    In Italy very few wears the Armani stuff; for the most the average silhouette was not different from this suit of Remington Steel.
    Were also several Kent style double breasted; was a nice model,very flattering and smart; but excess of late 80s (very low gorge,huge shoulders,roomy fit) have damned that model for decades.
    In general,if i think to 80s style,came to my mind the suits of Ronald Reagan,or John Forsythe/Blake Carrington of “Dynasty”, or Prince Charles,or Gianni Agnelli and Luca di Montezemolo.
    P.S.
    In my opinion were a bit of Cary Grant in the Remington Steel character.

  5. I’m playing catch-up with the last few months of posts, in anticipation for an upcoming June wedding. I’m delighted to see a special emphasis on dressing down for summer (but still dressing well, or better than the next guy). But the mention in this brown multi-check example of complementing cool or warm skin hues is something I’d really like to get see done more in-depth. It’s quite the subject of consternation for me, actually.

    Ever thrifty and having the luck of a virtually identical size and shape to my brother, we trade shirts, and less often suits to mix it up for various occasions. But our Welsh genes have played the odd joke on us during warm months. I’m scarily coolly lit (in photography I put ghosts to shame), whereas somehow in the summer he achieves near-Mediterranean browning.

    Are there fabrics or colors that are virtually universally complimentary? Besides black and navy, of course! It’s a June wedding, after all. Is there such a thing as a man too pasty for a cream suit? I can see it enhancing his farmer’s tan while rendering me … “yellower”.

    • There really aren’t any colours that are universally complimentary. Black is actually quite unflattering on a majority of people. I can wear it in the context of a dinner suit, but it washes me out during the day. Cream looks good on a lot of people. If your brother has a golden tan, it will look good on him. However, if he has an olive tan like Sean Connery has, cream won’t look so good. It sounds like it will look good on you.

      • It is indeed akin to Connery’s olive; while they aren’t uncannily alike in appearance, they’re very much cut from the same cloth insofar as general features (my grandfather on the other hand was very nearly a Connery-ringer). I can use this ultra-informative site to basically cull from Connery’s best to suit him.

        But at any rate, I’m ginger, which I’ll use to raise an interesting point – there are no ginger Bonds. In fact, very few characters that aren’t femme fatales tend to be ginger in Bond films. In theory, are gingers able to stick with what works for brown hair, or does ghostly-pale and orange/copper red kind of dictate its own pallet?

      • Most gingers have an autumn complexion, and they look best in warm browns, reds and greens. Cream and beige shirts suit you best, but also periwinkle blue (warmer blues towards purple). Traditional business wear colours typically look worst on gingers. Of all the traditional business suit colours, light navy works best. The colours of autumn leaves, from red to yellow, work best with your complexion, but also forest green works. Roger Moore sets the best example for the autumn complexion, though he’s a spring.

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