The Thomas Crown Affair (1999): The Navy Peaked Lapel Suit

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Pierce Brosnan wears a number of beautiful suits from Milanese tailor Gianni Campagna in The Thomas Crown Affair (1999). The suits in the film were reported to be made of Super 150s wool. Higher Super numbers indicate a finer fibre but not necessarily a higher quality cloth. Finer fibres make for a cloth that has a softer hand, but the resulting cloth is often less durable, is more prone to creasing and shining, and doesn’t usually tailor as well. Quality has more do to with the way the cloth is woven and finished. Whilst finer wools are often thought to be better, a Super 120s cloth from a reputable merchant is far superior to a cheap Super 150s cloth. The Super number is unrelated to the weight of the cloth.

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One of Pierce Brosnan’s many suits in The Thomas Crown Affair is a navy suit in a large herringbone weave, but since the cloth is a fine Super 150s the stripe effect from the herringbone weave is very subtle and can only be seen in certain lighting. The suit jacket buttons three, and though Brosnan only fastens the middle button, the lapels roll at the top button. It is cut with a clean chest and has straight shoulders with roped sleeve heads. Peaked lapels add an air of formality to this lounge suit, whilst also giving it a bit of a 1940’s Cary Grant look. Though peaked lapels are currently very trendy, the current examples are typically very narrow and on high button two jackets. This jacket has the most classic and elegant of proportions. It looks great on Pierce Brosnan, and it would look just as great now as it did in 1999. This jacket probably has double vents like the other jackets in the film do, though we don’t get a good look at the rear of this suit. Like the other suits in the film, the full-cut trousers most likely have reverse pleats. Brosnan wears the trousers with a belt.

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Brosnan’s iris blue shirt from Turnbull & Asser has a spread collar and double cuffs. The silver tie is probably also from Turnbull & Asser. Brosnan ties the tie in a four-in-hand knot with a dimple. Like the suit, the tie is in a herringbone weave. It’s not the same weave as the tie he wears in The World is Not Enough, which is a pointed twill weave that looks like a chevron pattern rather than a herringbone. To not clash with the texture of the suit, the tie’s herringbone is larger than the suit’s herringbone. Also, the herringbone in the suit is subtle enough that it nothing will really clash with it.

31 COMMENTS

  1. I was going to ask what the difference is between cornflower blue and French blue, as the last picture (beside the text mentioning the colour of the shirt) makes the shirt look like French blue. But when I scroll up I can see that the shirt has more of a…grey cast? Is a less vibrant hue? My ex is a designer so she would be able to explain it better than I.

    The suit is a nice look for Brosnan, and as the pendulum swings back I’m sure we’ll see lapels of this nature again in the next few years (at least in the mainstream, I saw some abortive attempts at much larger lapels last year that didn’t take hold). That’s the great thing about men’s suits, they continue to evolve and stay interesting – I’m looking forward to seeing how they tweak the larger lapel/fuller cut the next time around.

    • French blue is darker and more vibrant than cornflower blue. When you take into account the dark lighting of this scene the shirt really isn’t as dark as it seems to be.

      • Is this the same shirt he wore at cipriani’s ? Because for some strange reason the salesman over at turnbull asser make it a point not to help you find the exact specific items worn in the film and instead want you to buy something more expensive and it looks like you came in from the circus

      • No, that shirt is darker, more like indigo. Unless you went to Turnbull & Asser around the time the film was released, it might not have been possible to get the same cloth.

  2. Also in the blog mentioned something about fabric houses? Are there any fabric houses we should stay away from? I ask because I am heading overseas and would like a suit made but I am not familiar with any mills I should stay away from. Names would be extremely helpful….

    • The tailor making the suit will have a preference for what he likes to use. You’ll get a different response from an English tailor than from an Italian tailor. Some good names off the top of my head are Holland & Sherry, Scabal, Dormeuil, Minnis, Loro Piana and Zegna, but there are plenty more. The English cloths tend to be sturdier, and I prefer those. Most made in England are very good cloths.

  3. Great post Matt, but a few minor points.

    First off the thread count means literally nothing. ‘Super 100’ and the like are percale measurements and are not really relevant in the majority of tailoring now. You can buy a super 150 suit for $400 and you can buy one for $5000, this makes the concept all but useless. The original concept was to indicate how many yards you could get out of 1 kg of yarn for a specific fabric. ie: A super 150 means that 150 yards could be produced via 1 kg of the wool.

    As you mentioned the weave of the cloth is of more importance than the ‘super’ number and the higher and more fine fabrics tend not to wear as well. This is true, the finer the material the more delicate it becomes. That being said, I reject the notion that they do not “tailor as well” as other fabrics as their purpose is not the same. Buying a Vicuna or Cashmere suit should never be compared with a wool suit regardless of the quality of wool. Different fabrics for completely different purposes.

    Nowadays it’s more of question of the micron size and gram weight of the fabric when you are looking at the quality mills. Tactile sensations such as the feel of the hand, the elasticity of the weave and quality of construction are far more important in selecting a cloth. You have mentioned several good mills, however I never found Scabal to produce fabrics that were as good as the swatch books presented. One mill that does produce some fantastic cloth is Hield of England.

    • I didn’t mention anything about thread count or weave, or anything other than wool. Super numbers are not thread count, they relate to the micron size you bring up. I’ve heard tailors say a Super 180s cloth will not tailor as well as something lower, and this is regarding suits.

    • Hield textile mill here, Matt you’re more than welcome to come and sample our fine fabrics – either at the factory in Yorkshire or in our shop in London. Shaun – thanks for being loyal to the brand.

  4. A great looking suit, but I think the choice of the shirt color is a bit odd.
    A peaked lapel, three-button suit is the most formal kind of single breasted suit. I understand he wears it for a reception in the evening too ?
    Well then a white shirt or at least a very pale blue shirt should have been more appropriate.
    A very 1940s look indeed, it reminds me of a suit he wore in The Philadelphia Story. Same cut but grey sharkskin / grey with a subtle check.

    • He wears it in the evening, but it’s not for a particularly formal occasion. I don’t think a white shirt is necessary.

      The suit in The Philadelphia Story is a two-and-two check with a windowpane, and it’s certainly not a formal suit despite the peaked lapels.

      • Do you think you could cover some suits of classic movies of that era, or is it too far away from the James Bond subject ?
        It looks like the black and white is no problem for you, Matt ! (I never saw it was a two & two pattern)

      • The movies of that era are too far from the James Bond subject unless they are spy movies. I might write about Notorious. The dinner suit in it is one of the best in any movie.

      • That would be great !
        It’s a 3-piece single breasted, with peaked lapels, am I right ?
        I also like Grant’s checked jacket with grey trousers a lot in this movie, even if -curiously since it’s Cary Grant- the jacket has some fit issues.

  5. And for years we thought that the only suits Brosnan was contractually allowed to wear were those made by Brioni. And that the tie from T&A was an exact duplicate in pattern of the TWINE tie but in silver.

  6. That is a fine example of tailoring that doesn’t go out of fashion. Show this to anyone now and they’ll still say he’s well dressed. I would have gone with a darker tie or lighter coloured shirt, myself. But still, it is a beautiful suit and one I’d own if I could (provided I could get the trousers with forward pleats, which is my only bugbear with Italian tailors).

    “Whilst finer wools are often thought to be better, a Super 120s cloth from a reputable merchant is far superior to a cheap Super 150s cloth.”

    This. More people need to realize that they aren’t necessarily getting a “deal” because it’s a high super from online tailors. Generally, the higher quality stuff will be of Super 100s-120s and at a somewhat higher asking price. But one must beware of online tailors and look up as many reviews and real pictures of their work as possible before making the plunge.

  7. Thomas Crown Affair was just on the cable station last night wile I was channel surfing, and I watched it from beginning to end. What an enjoyable and stylish film, from story to the clothes. I thought all of Pierce’s suits and outfits looked great and would still look great in today’s world. To me, very timeless and classy, and surprisingly not dated at all.

  8. Matt, to what extent are these Gianni Campagna suits different (in term of cut of course) from the Brioni suits Brosnan wore as Bond ?
    Or are the differences unnoticeable ?

    • The mot noticeable difference is that the Campagna trousers are fuller than the Brioni, whilst the jackets aren’t quite as full. I think the Campagna suits have a nice lapel shape. Most of the differences are subtle, and both make classic, more structured Italian suits.

      • Matt, would you say that the Belvest suits have a cut similar to the Brioni ones ? Except for the quantity of handwork/handsewing present in the suit, of course ?

      • Thank you Matt. They seem to be nice suits ; not as well made as a Brioni but with an excellent quality/price ratio, as far as I can judge.

  9. This is very nice, I’m a big fan of both versions of The Thomas Crown Affair.
    Single-breasted, peak lapel lounge suits have seen a big resurgence in popularity lately, and though it isn’t something that I wear often I think this suit looks great on Brosnan and is absolutely appropriate for the scene in which he wears it. It’s a very classic looking suit and wouldn’t look a bit out of place if worn today.
    I must admit however that I know very little about Gianni Campagna beyond this movie, is he still in business? The suits he made for Brosnan look great.

  10. Would love to see a post on Brosnan’s outfit when he takes Rene Russo to cipriani’s. Even his Caribbean summer outfit would be interesting to show a more casual look.

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