This week Pierce Brosnan celebrates his 70th birthday. From the time his television series Remington Steele premiered in 1982 when Brosnan was 29 years old, he has been a style icon. Since I was a young man, his wardrobe in Remington Steele has had a strong influence on me, and his grey herringbone jacket has always been a favourite of mine and inspired me to purchase a similar jacket that I still wear.
Mr Steele’s grey herringbone jacket premiered in Remington Steele‘s seventh episode, ‘Etched in Steele’, and he wears it in numerous episodes throughout the first series and into the second series. The way he wears it in the 11th episode ‘Steeling the Show’, which aired just over 40 years ago on 7 January 1983, shows one of the more Bondian ways Brosnan wears his herringbone jacket. The outfit examined here is from this episode.
Later in 1983, Sean Connery would wear a similar outfit as James Bond in Never Say Never Again, but this has to be a coincidence. Both characters are dressed in a highly classic manner that had been established over half a century earlier. Every item in this outfit is a staple of classic menswear that naturally complements each other.
Brosnan’s wardrobe as Mr Steele early in the series is mainly inspired by classic American—specifically Anglo-American—menswear from the 1930s through the 1950s, which saw a revival in the early 1980s. Steele’s love of the Golden Age of Hollywood is reflected in this wardrobe, and there’s plenty of Cary Grant’s style. There’s probably also a bit of James Bond, particularly Roger Moore’s James Bond because he was the incumbent at the time. The clothes were purchased in Los Angeles, not London, so there are some differences in the styles, even if they come out of the same traditions.
The herringbone jacket’s material is intended to resemble tweed, but it’s most likely a loosely woven worsted jacketing like John G Hardy’s Worsted Alsport so it’s not too warm to wear in Los Angeles. Nonetheless, the weight is still more substantial than a typical lightweight suiting and is likely 12 to 15 ounces. The cloth is woven in light grey and dark grey yarns for a gentler look than the more typical black and white herringbone.
Though the jacket is very classic, its silhouette recalls the trends of the 1980s with its strong shoulders. The shoulders are narrow but built up with padding to be squared. The jacket also has a quintessentially 1980s low, steep gorge—the seam where the collar meets the lapel. The lapels are a medium width, but because Brosnan’s physique is so slight—likely smaller than a 38-inch chest—and the shoulders are narrow, the lapels look wider than they are.
The jacket has two buttons on the front, gently rounded patch hip pockets with flaps, a welt breast pocket and three buttons on the cuffs. The jacket is trying to look British in a number of ways. The sleeve heads are gently roped for a British touch. The rear has long and elegantly flared double vents. For the classic British country look, there are brown suede elbow patches and brown leather-covered buttons. Though Bond wore these leather details on rare occasions in the 1970s, they make this jacket look a bit stodgy for James Bond. This professorial style better suits Mr Steele.
The dark grey trousers, possibly in worsted flannel, have a gentle but sufficient contrast with the jacket. They are cut with double reverse pleats and a medium-width leg for a classic look.
Brosnan’s light blue 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. 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.
Some may find cuff links too formal with a sports coat like this, but it is a classic pairing if one is wearing the sports coat for style rather than for sports.
The outfit is accessorised with a navy tie with subtle grey polka dots made with a left-handed four-in-hand knot. He tucks his tie into his trousers, which is an old-fashioned way of wearing a tie that is too long. A solid navy silk pocket squared worn in a puffed manner complements the tie.
The jacket’s brown elbow patches and leather buttons almost necessitate that the shoes are also brown. For another classic American touch, Brosnan wears mid brown tassel loafers and a narrow dark brown belt with a gold buckle.
Great look, although I prefer Connery’s outfit in Marnie regarding how to pair a grey herringbone sports coat. As often in this series, I think the jacket downplayed Brosnan’s physique by making him looking even frailer -the very narrow shoulders, the hourglass waist suppression …
Matt, would you say pairing black trousers with a black and white herringbone (or glen plaid/birdseye/…) sports coat would work ? I think the stark contrast -less subtle than dark grey trousers though alright- could be interesting.
Very elegant ensemble Bronson places together here. This outfit certainly gives an American style look that think someone like Felix Leiter could pull off. Great article Matt!!
I love this show.
The chemistry between Brosnan and Zimbalist remember to me Cary Grant and Irene Dunn or Rosalind Russell.
Here we had a strong Hollywood late 1930s vibe.
Pierce Brosnan was a young Cary Grant at time…is a pity that elegant screwball comedy were out of fashion in 80s; Brosnam would have been the king of genre.
Otherwise the early 1980s style was the better since early 50s (except a brief moment in 1969).
Not bad, but I do find the gold-pinned point collar with short points and the cuff links too formal for the sports coat, especially with the elbow patches. Cocktail cuffs would have worked nicely.
Robert Redford wore a similar light grey and dark grey herringbone jacket in Legal Eagles in 1986. It doesn’t look like a heavier tweed to my eye something softer and lighter like Brosnan’s jacket. Redford shows the versatility of such a sports coat wearing it dressed up with slacks and a tie but also dressing it down with a open neck check shirt.
On Brosnan, the elbow patches and leather football buttons accentuate the rustic style of the jacket, which IMHO clashes with the style and accessories of his dress shirt.
It’s an old-fashioned way to dress. Remington Steele’s costume is is taking inspiration from the 1930s films the characters idolises, where this combination wouldn’t have been uncommon. On the other hand, Brosnan was wearing collar pins with every outfit at this time.
Would you ever do an article on what Brosnan wore in his Living Daylights screentest and also some of the other pictures floating around (meeting with John Glen, etc)?
A non related question.
Brosnan looks like he has his tie tucked in to his trousers, and I’ve seen Connery do the same.
A quick search online indicates not to do this. Was this something that fell out of favour in recent decades?
As I wrote in the blog, it’s a more old-fashioned way to wear a tie. It used to be an acceptable way to wear a tie but it has indeed fallen out of favour.
It does look very odd and tasteless. The more elegant way that I prefer (cf. Duke of Windsor) is to first adjust the length of the tie, then secure the narrow blade in the keeper and then secure the narrow blade within the waistband of the trousers while the wide blade hung freely on the outside over the waistband.
Brosnan probably still has a size 38 inch chest around this time. Even though he is still lean in Goldeneye he is definitely bigger then his Remington days.
His chest could have been even smaller than 38. I know a few people around Brosnan’s height who are slimmer than a 38.
I’m right on 6 feet tall with a 38 inch chest, I only outgrew my 36L jackets for the first time a year ago, and I’m 30 years old in a month. Finding clothes is a nightmare. In fact, one of the reasons I began wearing tailored clothes was so I actually had something that would fit me! I hope to look as good at 70 as Pierce Brosnan does!
Timothy, I would definitely help you get some MTM clothing if you lived near me!