“He’s a well-tailored one, isn’t he,” says Martin Landau’s character Leonard. Alfred Hitchcock’s North By Northwest set the tone for all spy films to come in the 1960s, and Cary Grant’s famous plaid suit has many similarities to the many plaid suits Sean Connery wore in the Bond films. Much has been written about this suit already, though I felt it iconic enough to include in my own blog.
Arthur Lyons at Kilgour, French & Stanbury of Savile Row made the original suit for the film. At one point in the film when Cary Grant takes off his suit it is possible to see a label from his Beverly Hills tailor Quintino, who made extra copies of the suit to be dirtied. Quintino is credited for the wardrobe Grant wore a year earlier in the film Indiscreet.
The two-piece suit is made from lightweight worsted wool in a blue-grey (like a dark air force blue) fine glen check pattern. It has been said that Holland & Sherry provided the cloth, and they offer similar cloths today but none are an exact match.
The suit has a full cut overall but is still neatly tailored. The suit jacket has a three-button front with slightly narrow lapels rolled to the middle button. Though some people have suggested that this suit has no darts like the American sack, there are indeed darts to shape the front, which both English and Beverly Hills tailors would have used at the time. The shoulders are wide, padded and straight with roped sleeve heads, helping to balance Grant’s large head. The jacket has jetted pockets, three-button cuffs and no vent in the back.
The trousers are very similar to what Sean Connery wore in the Bond films, with a high rise, double forward pleats, turn-ups and side adjusters. Whilst Connery’s side adjusters have buttons, Grant’s are two strips of cloth that tighten with a clasp. The trousers also have slanted side pockets and one rear jetted pocket on the right.
The white poplin shirt has an unusual point collar. Typically point collars are worn with collar stays to keep the points straight, but Grant’s collar is soft with a roll like a button-down collar. A soft collar like this would usually be worn pinned, though this collar may be slightly too wide for a pin. The shirt has double cuffs fastened with round blue enamel cuff links, though round silver cufflinks are also seen. The shirt also has a shirred back and no pocket.
Grant’s tie is a mid-grey repp weave, and it has hand-rolled edges without tipping. It is tied in a four-in-hand knot. Grant wears grey socks and cap-toe oxfords in burgundy, a colour that might suggest cordovan leather.