It started with a chance meeting and a man who looks like Steve McQueen. Thoughts turned to McQueen's movies, to how the fashions of then are not dissimilar to the fashions of now and how today's smart tailoring, for women as well as men, draws to mind the 1968 film The Thomas Crown Affair.

It was groovy, it was slick, it was made by Norman Jewison and it also starred Faye Dunaway. Her suits were nipped (how now), her evening wear was flighty, seductive and in the colour that today's designers call "nude" (how now), and she wore those neat little low heels that are absolutely Prada, absolutely Gucci, this season.

Meanwhile, McQueen wore the sharpest suits, not unlike those purveyed today by the tailor Ozwald Boateng (whose preferred description of himself is as a "bespoke" couturier). Add a splash of colour and a Richard James tie for the right amount of derring-do. For extra atmosphere, add a natty sports car.

The Thomas Crown Affair was a highly stylised film. Little boxes split the screen. Groovy music added to the hipness of a plot involving a heist, a polo match and the screen's sexiest- ever game of chess. Looking at this autumn's array of beige, mushroom and neutral tones in the shops, it is hard to believe such nothing colours could ever look seductive. Watching Faye Dunaway carry them off in 1968, shows a modern girl how it's done. She completed the look with long, pale spatulate fingernails and plenty of hair pieces. The modern girl might prefer her own wash-and- go hair, all of it attached to her scalp, plus a neater, shorter, French manicure

Far left Grey suit, pounds 895, white cotton shirt, pounds 75, both made to measure by Ozwald Boateng, enquiries 0181-964 1465; silk tie, pounds 48, from a selection by Richard James at 31 Savile Row, London W1, enquiries 0171-434 0605

Above Cream microfibre shift dress, pounds 200, by Miu Miu available at Pellicano, 63 South Molton Street, London W1, and Pollyanna, 14-16 Market Hill, Barnsley; cream jacket, pounds 455, by Dries Van Noten available at Browns, 23-25 South Molton Street, London W1; cream hat, pounds 85, by Frederick Fox, 87 New Bond Street, London W1 and House of Fraser stores; sunglasses, pounds 79, by Cutler & Gross, 16 Knightsbridge Green, London SW1, enquiries 0171-823 8445

Right Polo Shirt, pounds 29.95, breeches, pounds 59, riding boots, pounds 335, hat, pounds 115, gloves, pounds 47.50, all from Harrods, Knightsbridge, London SW1 Photographer Gavin Bond Stylist Jo Adams Hair Bryant for Toni and Guy Make-up Lee Pycroft Models Carolyn at Select and Chris Brown

She wears Cream silk dress, pounds 117, cream silk top, pounds 110, both by Alberta Ferretti available at Harvey Nichols, Knightsbridge, London SW1; shoes to order by Junia Gomez for Clements Ribeiro, enquiries 0171- 727 0157

He wears Grey suit, pounds 589, and white cotton shirt, pounds 95, by Paul Smith, 41-43 Floral Street, Covent Garden, London WC2, enquiries 0171-379 7133; lilac silk tie, from pounds 45, from a selection by Katharine Hamnett, 20 Sloane Street, London SW1, enquiries 0141-248 3827; gold fob watch, pounds 99, by Junghans, enquiries 01908-220311; shoes, pounds 89, by Jones the Bootmaker, 57 Kings Road, London SW3, enquiries 01323-649408

Top right She wears: Lilac jacket, pounds 559, by Georges Rech, 181- 182 Sloane Street, London SW1; cream silk shirt, pounds 35, by Austin Reed, available at selected branches nationwide. He wears: Brown suit, pounds 425, by the Library, 268 Brompton Road, London SW1; white cotton shirt, pounds 75, and silk tie, pounds 57, made to order by Ozwald Boateng, as before

Above Purple wool suit, pounds 1,240, by Yves Saint Laurent, 137 New Bond St, London W1; black polo top, pounds 60, by John Smedley, enquiries 0171-734 1519