Remington Steele’s Camel Hair Sports Coat: An American Classic

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For Pierce Brosnan’s 69th birthday we look at a camel hair sports coat he wears in the first episode of Remington Steele that premiered 40 years ago this year, titled ‘License to Steele’. The men’s costumes in this episode are credited to costumer Sandy Slepak.

The camel hair jacket is an American classic, and it’s often considered a conservative American item. It can also be found throughout Europe, but Brosnan is wearing his styled in the American tradition. It was particularly popular in the 1980s when Pierce Brosnan’s originally nameless character wears it in the first episode of Remington Steele. It’s the key piece of one of a number of outfits in the episode that establishes Brosnan’s character as a traditionally dressed man who takes inspiration from old Hollywood. In this first episode he also wears a three-piece suit, a three-piece dinner suit, a blue blazer, a tweed jacket, pinned shirt collars, silk pocket squares and a safari jacket. It’s the wardrobe of a man who appreciates tradition.

Camel hair isn’t limited to the camel colour, but it is known for its unique natural golden tan colour, which is the colour of Brosnan’s jacket. The camel hair fibre provides comfort in the wide variety of temperatures that keep a camel comfortable in the desert. It keeps the camel cool under the hot dessert sun while insulating the camel for cold desert nights. Camel hair is softer and fluffier than wool, but it isn’t as soft and fine as cashmere. Apart from sports coats, camel hair is also known for making into the polo coat, a classic double-breasted overcoat with peaked lapels, patch pockets, turned-back cuffs and a rear belt.

Brosnan’s camel hair jacket is the typical medium-heavy weight it usually comes in. It makes it a good jacket for autumn and winter, but camel hair also comes in lighter weights that makes it more comfortable in moderate weather.

The jacket is made by the tailor who made many of Brosnan’s clothes in the first and second seasons of Remington Steele in an Anglo-French style, most likely based in Los Angeles. The jacket has a slim cut with narrow pagoda shoulders and roped sleeve heads. The shoulder seam is cut with a downward angle rather than across the top of shoulder. It has two tan leather buttons on the front in a medium stance. The medium-width notched lapels have a slightly steep but medium-height gorge, for a classic look. The edges are pick-stitched. The jacket is detailed with patch pockets on the hips—a traditional style for came hair jackets—and a welt breasted pocket. It has three buttons on the cuffs and long double vents at the rear. The vents hang straight down, a sign of a well-fitted bespoke jacket.

The trousers are olive green and have belt loops, a flat front and medium-width straight legs. Grey wool trousers are the most traditional pairing with the camel hair jacket, but trousers in olive, tan, fawn or brown harmonize better with the jacket and match the warmth of the jacket.

His white cotton poplin shirt has a point collar that is worn with a gold collar pin, which was a popular style in the 1980s. The shirt also have rounded 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 two-button cuffs with a hole added on the underside for the cufflinks.

The tie is light brown with narrow dark brown and beige stripes that are spaced widely apart. The puffed dark brown silk pocket square matches the dark brown stripes in the tie. Brosnan’s shoes are brown. His belt looks black in the brief shot where it’s visible, but it could be dark brown to match the shoes. He briefly wears a pair of black square-type sunglasses with the jacket. While black sunglasses suit Brosnan well, brown sunglasses would better go with the outfit.

Unlike many of the other outfits from this episode, this jacket does not reappear in subsequent episodes. It does not appear to be damaged in this episode, but it may have suffered such a fate. Maybe Brosnan or someone involved with the production did not like this jacket and didn’t want him to wear it again. However, it also features in some publicity stills, paired with a burgundy tie and pocket square and tan trousers in a shade that is lighter and duller than the colour of the jacket.

10 COMMENTS

  1. Happy birthday day Pierce Brosnan! I like this outfit as I think that it is a great looking sports coat. I myself do not own a jacket like this but I do think it looks quite nice. Matt why do you think thar James Bond never wore a camel hair jacket?

      • In the UK it tends to have a bit of a Flash Harry-Arthur Daley reputation too, definitely not Bondian.

  2. Happy Birthday Mr. Brosnan! I find that this attire looks perfect. I enjoyed the different earth tone color combination that was maintained within this ensemble. I agree that brown sunglasses would have added on the different earth tones. But the black sunglasses kind of match his hair I guess. I never watched RS but I do admire the clothing options.

  3. I love a good camelhair sport coat. I had to retire my old one, and I’ll need to have a replacement made soon. Can’t be without one!

    Can’t ever see 007 in one, though. It wouldn’t jive.

    • Could work, but the outfit will have to be very well coordinated. I’d think along the line of camel hair coat with dark brown or olive green cords, or cavalry twill. If I’m adventurous enough, perhaps even fresco trousers in the two aforementioned colors.

  4. Eh, I can’t say I’m a fan of this sport coat. It doesn’t really go well with Brosnan’s winter complexion. Looking at his other Remington Steele outfits, he looks much better in dark winter colors like gray and navy. I will admit it is well tailored but the color to me looks better on somone with a warm complexion.

    • I agree. It’s an outfit that would work better on Roger Moore. Also not a big fan of the jacket’s cut. It emphasizes his narrow shoulders instead of build him/them up. The button stance could be half an inch lower, too.

      • I think the construction is impeccable barring the narrow shoulders. Pierce has a very slight frame, that’s well known, why emphasize it? Especially when he’s got the ’80s helmet do which makes him look top heavy. It’s the opposite problem he has with his very-full-cut suits in Goldeneye, which he’s swimming in, but at least they give him some presence.

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