Great Gatsby is great again: F Scott Fitzgerald's hero is inspiring this season's menswear

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

 

Ready or not, gentlemen, the season's sartorial signs point to pre-Depression high society. You can thank the May release of Baz Luhrmann's highly-stylised remake of The Great Gatsby. The rags-to-riches-to-revenge story, F Scott Fitzgerald's best, is set in decadent jazz-age New York, and hasn't seen a big-screen update in 40 years, not since a young and dapper Robert Redford, in the title role, razzle-dazzled Mia Farrow (a coy Daisy Buchanan) out of her gilded wits.

As Jay Gatsby in the new movie, a high-rolling man of questionable means but unquestionable polish, Leonardo DiCaprio is decked out in impeccable black tuxedos and spiffy bow ties. How else would the mysterious millionaire welcome the endless stream of Charleston-stepping guests to his sprawling Long Island estate, where they partied like it was going out of style? And eventually, with the stock market crash of 1929, it did. But that's not the concern of these blissfully-unaware flappers and their moneyed suitors, who look like they've sprung to life from a Monopoly board.

If by night DiCaprio's Gatsby is the very image of a glinting dark glamour – prompting those around him to ponder aloud: who is this Gatsby? – by day he dons an array of raffish three-piece suits in light, summery colours in shades of cream, pale peach, and dusty rose. "You always look so cool," says Daisy, played by Carey Mulligan, taking a long drag of a cigarette. "The man in the cool, beautiful suits."

At times Gatsby's double-breasted demeanour takes on a gangster vibe – surely no mistake as it's presumed his vast wealth derives from that most unsavoury of Prohibition-era sources, bootlegging – when in the company of the film's other leading men. Tobey Maguire exudes a wide-eyed elegance as Gatsby's gullible neighbor, Nick Carraway, while Joel Edgerton smoulders as Tom Buchanan, Daisy's philandering husband and, ultimately, her accomplice.

Where menswear in movies usually serves as a backdrop to a woman's glittering wardrobe, in Luhrmann's latest it takes up a surprising amount of screen time. The emphasis could very well spark a frenzy for 1920s tailoring when the film opens worldwide, much like The Artist and HBO's Boardwalk Empire. Labels including Gucci, Alexander McQueen, Marc Jacobs, Canali, Paul Smith, Alfred Dunhill, and Hackett are cashing in, channelling the Gatsby guy for spring. The message seems to be: if we're not yet past the Great Recession, perhaps putting on the ritz will nudge us into another roar. One can hope.

Given the current escapist mood, it's worth looking at how the contemporary man can work the Gatsby style revival into his wardrobe. The 1920s saw radical changes in men's suiting, in keeping with the eclecticism of today. Sports jackets, often double-breasted, with wide shoulders and tapered waists were worn with waistcoats and baggy, high-waisted trousers.

 Suit colours were also softer, in bold recreational pastels. Dress shirts were essential, and while short sleeves were not yet acceptable, long sleeves could be rolled up on hot days. Shirts often had detachable collars and cuffs for easier cleaning. Particular attention was paid to hats; the wider the brim the better. In the evening they wore fedoras and in the daytime they wore jauntier straw boaters and panamas. Glasses, especially those with horn or wire frames, were just as popular with the men of the 1920s as they are today.

That a return to waistcoats, pocket squares, hats, and tie pins could be in the offing this season, at least for the more adventurous of men, is certainly not lost on Catherine Martin, the film's costume designer, a production designer, and wife of the director. While Ralph Lauren is credited with outfitting Gatsby and his milieu in the 1974 version (along with Theoni Aldredge, who won both the Oscar and the Bafta for her costume work on the film), Martin went to the source, Brooks Brothers. Martin – also an Academy Award winner (Moulin Rouge), as well as Bafta winner (Strictly Ballroom, Romeo + Juliet) – worked closely with the New York men's clothier to produce more than 500 day and evening looks for the cast and extras, estimated to be 1,700 pieces in total.

In interviews, Martin points out that Brooks Brothers is often mentioned in Fitzgerald's writings. He considered it the ultimate mark of the gentleman's refinement. Complementing the Brooks Brothers man, Miuccia Prada designed the costumes for the ladies and Tiffany & Co loaned the jewellery, said to be real diamonds and gems. Nothing is too good for Luhrmann's reinterpretation of a literary icon. As Gatsby incredulously proclaims in the film, "[You] can't repeat the past? Why of course you can!"

Lee Carter is editor-in-chief of Hintmag.com

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Fashion

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Environmental Adviser - Maternity Cover

    £37040 - £43600 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The UK's export credit agency a...

    Recruitment Genius: CBM & Lubrication Technician

    £25000 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides a compreh...

    Recruitment Genius: Care Worker - Residential Emergency Service

    £16800 - £19500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to join an organ...

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Landscaper

    £25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: In the last five years this com...

    Day In a Page

    The long walk west: they fled war in Syria, only to get held up in Hungary – now hundreds of refugees have set off on foot for Austria

    They fled war in Syria...

    ...only to get stuck and sidetracked in Hungary
    From The Prisoner to Mad Men, elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series

    Title sequences: From The Prisoner to Mad Men

    Elaborate title sequences are one of the keys to a great TV series. But why does the art form have such a chequered history?
    Giorgio Armani Beauty's fabric-inspired foundations: Get back to basics this autumn

    Giorgio Armani Beauty's foundations

    Sumptuous fabrics meet luscious cosmetics for this elegant look
    From stowaways to Operation Stack: Life in a transcontinental lorry cab

    Life from the inside of a trucker's cab

    From stowaways to Operation Stack, it's a challenging time to be a trucker heading to and from the Continent
    Kelis interview: The songwriter and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell and crying over potatoes

    Kelis interview

    The singer and sauce-maker on cooking for Pharrell
    Refugee crisis: David Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia - will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi?

    Cameron lowered the flag for the dead king of Saudi Arabia...

    But will he do the same honour for little Aylan Kurdi, asks Robert Fisk
    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Our leaders lack courage in this refugee crisis. We are shamed by our European neighbours

    Humanity must be at the heart of politics, says Jeremy Corbyn
    Joe Biden's 'tease tour': Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?

    Joe Biden's 'tease tour'

    Could the US Vice-President be testing the water for a presidential run?
    Britain's 24-hour culture: With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever

    Britain's 24-hour culture

    With the 'leisured society' a distant dream we're working longer and less regular hours than ever
    Diplomacy board game: Treachery is the way to win - which makes it just like the real thing

    The addictive nature of Diplomacy

    Bullying, betrayal, aggression – it may be just a board game, but the family that plays Diplomacy may never look at each other in the same way again
    Lady Chatterley's Lover: Racy underwear for fans of DH Lawrence's equally racy tome

    Fashion: Ooh, Lady Chatterley!

    Take inspiration from DH Lawrence's racy tome with equally racy underwear
    8 best children's clocks

    Tick-tock: 8 best children's clocks

    Whether you’re teaching them to tell the time or putting the finishing touches to a nursery, there’s a ticker for that
    Charlie Austin: Queens Park Rangers striker says ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    Charlie Austin: ‘If the move is not right, I’m not going’

    After hitting 18 goals in the Premier League last season, the QPR striker was the great non-deal of transfer deadline day. But he says he'd preferred another shot at promotion
    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    Labour leadership: Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea

    'If we lose touch we’ll end up with two decades of the Tories'

    In an exclusive interview, Andy Burnham urges Jeremy Corbyn voters to think again in last-minute plea