‘It’s my funeral, you’re just along for the ride.‘ – Thomas Crown. The Thomas Crown Affair (1968)
The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) is arguably one of the most quintessential sixties film ever. More sixties that Casino Royale ’67, so sixties it has sixties in the title. McQueen is effortlessly cool as bored millionaire Thomas Crown, thriving on the ultimate risk, walking the high-wire act impeccably dressed in his three-piece Doug Hayward suits.
Style over substance?
Throughout the film McQueen oozes an unparalleled coolness. In most scenes Director Norman Jewison frames Steve McQueen as if he’s shooting for Esquire. The deliberate pauses in the lift, the motionless leaning against the wall in the faded orange beach shirt, amongst many.
Perhaps this is a film that lacks any real jeopardy. Crown never gets embroiled in the robberies themselves like the 99′ remake. The film owed me a better ending than simply McQueen ordering a drink on a plane and Dunaway littering a cemetery and looking longingly into the sky.
Yet as I was critiquing this film stylistically I was incredibly satiated.
The opening gray plaid three piece suit knocks anything Bond wore out of the water according to Matt Spaiser from Bond Suits:
It shows me how someone can wear a 3-piece and look young and hip. He doesn’t have that stodgy banker look. He’s wearing an English suit but he looks the coolest guy in a 3-piece. James Bond never looked this cool in a 3-piece. It shows how to wear them without looking old fashioned. It’s those straight bottoms [waistcoats], helps them look modern.
Matt on Hayward
The suits are cut fairly trim, there is no exaggeration. Hayward gave it a very pared down look. Very comfortable, neat, sharp, no overly defining features. It has an English look, [but] they don’t look Savile Row; more modern, more streamlined.
[They look..] nothing like Moore [..’s suits] in the 80s from Hayward. A little different to Michael Caine in the Italian Job. […The] lapels don’t have the same shape, this is Hayward starting out on his own in ’68; this was on Mount Street, (London) he left Dimi Major and went on his own.
And the accessories..
Nick Guzan from Bamf Style has written extensively on the style of Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair and on the podcast this week Nick dives deep into what is so special about the gray plaid suit.
It’s just a fantastic suit. It’s not as subtle as the elegant plaid suit that Cary Grant wears in North by North West. The way that it’s eye catching is the way that its worn, the blue on the cornflower blue shirt and tie, the pocket watch, the cufflinks this is a young guy in the late sixties. He’s choosing to wear this watch, that might be an affectation I think thats a lot of the Thomas Crown character. He can so he will.
The Casual look
McQueen looks as savage in his casual attire as he does in his buttoned up style. The G9 Harrington, the Mid-Blue mock turtle golfing jumper, the checkered cardigan, the Aran knit sweater and the faded orange beach shirt all artfully curated by the costume department headed by Alan Levine and Ron Postal.
You can also purchase this newly released reincarnation of the peach beach shirt by Mason & Sons. Elliot Mason also speaks about this film on the podcast and demonstrates the shirt in the Vlog below.
Listen to the podcast
You can download the podcast on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify. Or listen in the player below. Many thanks to Matt Spaiser from Bond Suits, (find his article on the Ron Postal wardrobe for Get Smart here) Nick Guzan from Bamf Style (links in further reading below) and Elliot Mason from Mason & Sons.
FURTHER READING –
The articles below were used in my research for the podcast. If you have any further information on the wardrobe for this film I’m always looking to amend and adjust the show notes. Please get in touch.
- The Persol 714 folding sunglasses
- THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR SUIT, REVISITED
- Steve McQueen’s Navy Suits as Thomas Crown
- Style in Film: Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair
- A Tale of Two Affairs: Comparing the Fashion of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) to The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
- Fashion in Film – The Thomas Crown Affair, 1968
Many thanks for all your correspondence and help sourcing information that was sourced for this weeks show. All of the handles below can be found on Instagram.
The Culture of Bond
I did enjoy it. To see McQueen in his prime is great. I do like the Brosnan version it is so smooth.
Definitely has a 60s vibe from the filmmaking standpoint, including the colour palate. Let me say this too: I think the ‘99 film has a superior soundtrack. Brosnan’s remake is really well done. Pierce, like McQueen was in his prime and dare I say that Russo is a better match for Tommy than Dunaway’s character. Russo is just more formidable. I love 60s music but Windmills of Your Mind is better and used to better effect in the Brosnan movie—and Sinnerman is just dynamite on screen.
Did a re-watch last night … McQueen looks great in his suits (the art auction is the best look IMO) but I think he’s at his coolest while reading the WSJ shirtless, the plane/glider scene (ball cap, G9, and chukkas), and driving the dune buggy, alone, with ball and fisherman’s sweater. He just looks so at ease in those casual scenes and the coolness really comes through.
One more thing (lol): (Christ this guys like Columbo) I think art thievery, performed by Mr Crown, is more clever and daring than the bank heists in the ‘68 film. I love McQueen and his movie but I think Pierce’s is the better move top to bottom. Huge shout out to Denis Leary who was terrific in this dramatic-yet-comic roll. Far more memorable than Paul Burke.
The Frugal Bond
I loved the music from the original! I was a small child in the late 60’s, though still remember my dad and mom listening to a radio station which played similar music and every time I hear “Windmill of Your Mind”, nothing but good feeling rush over me of those times with my parents, who are now both gone.
Iconic Film Style
I think it’s a style over substance film. McQueen was great as an old money Boston blue blood, he was playing his own fantasy as he was the total opposite of Thomas Crown. I think the Brosnan film is good and new twist on the story. The lenses of the Persol’s were custom for Steve McQueen. I brought a pair of Persol’s ten years ago and they still look great today. Model 2803s the frames are really well made.
A Very English Institution
There were rumours for awhile of Michael B. Jordan being the lead on a second remake, but I think it languished in development hell.
here is absolute zero comparison between the original and the remake. C’mon seriously.
Spencer Karter 85
I saw the original TCA with the late Steve McQueen, but never saw the Pierce Brosnan remake.
TIE ANOTHER DAY
Well I hope you enjoy the attached pics (see below), I picked up this pair from eBay several years ago. It was after David Zaritsky featured them on his Z lifestyle video comparing the style of Steve McQeeen and James Bond. Persol continues to sell the 714 Steve Mcqueen, however I think they are using a slightly different frame design.
You can find up to 67 screen grabs from the Thomas Crown Affair in my dropbox should you wish to create your own fan art.
The 99’s version of The Thomas Crown Affair, special guest Kyle Barbeau from Easy Smiles and Expensive watches on Instagram. Be sure to check out the Newsletter to keep up to date with content, vlogs, pods and posts.