THE THOMAS CROWN AFFAIR (1999)
‘It’s a black and white ball‘ – Thomas Crown, The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
The Thomas Crown Affair (1999) stars Pierce Brosnan in his most suited role outside of James Bond. The film opens with an aerial shot over New York traffic that then zooms through a taxi cab right onto a swatch of fabric. See below.
In the very next shot, Thomas Crown pulls back the sleeve of his suit to reveal a Jaeger-LeCoultre Reverso. A classic dress watch that was actually invented for polo players. It has a reversible square case. As guest on the show Kyle Barbeau of Easy Smiles and Expensive Watches describes the significance of the watch:
What you can do with it is reverse the case to the opposite side to protect the face and the crystal of the watch while you’re playing polo.
We saw Don Draper wear one, Bruce Wayne wears one a lot. It’s a beautiful elegant watch. If you notice in this film there is no branding on it because of Brosnan’s contract with Omega.
The film was produced by Pierce Brosnan’s production company, and the suits were tailored by Brosnan’s personal Milanese tailor, Gianni Campagna. According to this article by SF Gate the budget for the costumes was 400,000 dollars.
At the time a bespoke Campagna suit would be priced at $3,500. It would make sense that Brosnan would have kept the suits after filming as it was his production company that sought out Campagna, plus Brosnan had a reputation for keeping the suits from the films he starred in.
To my surprise I saw the 3-piece glen plaid suit up for auction (although not sold). More curious is that it’s listed as a 2-piece and not a 3-piece.
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The Ties of Thomas Crown
Let’s start with the grey stripe tie, firstly it is a beautiful tie, made of the highest quality silk, it oozes money, the silver element reflects steel, and it is no coincidence that TC is a property empire magnate.
The whole ensemble makes him the “grey” man, a term usually referred to someone who is there, but not paid attention to, certainly when he enters the lobby the young (soon to be made unemployed) employee doesn’t recognise who gets the use of the executive lift. There are call backs to North By Northwest, again the grey man, the unassuming person.
James Bond comparisons
I don’t know who manufactured the tie, but is a timeless design and one that would work well today. Indeed you can say that the Tom Ford suit that Daniel Craig wears in the Skyfall pre title sequence reflects this suit combo.
Now the blue on blue tie that he wears in the film. I find this odd, in that a multi billionaire CEO wears something which would be considered more work wear than occasional. Although I think there is an attempt here to copy the original film palette of the blue on blue shirt and tie.
When Thomas Crown takes Banning to the gallery, his tie choice is a slight colour difference to his shirt. Indeed his lawyer wears something similar. Saying that the tie is quite plain, and he looks like an office worker.
Now taking the context of the film, he is playing a chess game with Banning, and he is wearing his default suit of armour (a business suit). The tie is plain, it could be a poker thing to not show any emotion or give a tell away.
The last tie is the red tie, but this is a deliberate choice to embody the Son of Man painting and to cause confusion for the police, again it is using the “hiding in plain sight” element, which is a common theme for the movie. (Analysis by Tie Another Day on Instagram).
Brosnan’s Thomas Crown Affair first but that did spur me to watch McQueen’s. Brosnan’s will always be my favourite being a fan of both his and Rene Russo, I’m drawn to it naturally. Banning remarks that the art theft is “…an elegant crime done by an elegant person“. McQueen’s common bank robbery, not so much.
This suit is also my favourite. I used to have one very similar and got a tie that was also very close. My second favourite was the navy suit, blue shirt and silver tie that I was also able to replicate. 1999 was a big year for Pierce Brosnan with The World is not Enough also premiering the same year! I believe the trailer for it was part of TCA! Enjoyed the show talking about the original TCA! Kevin Rogers
Pierce Brosnan at 45, looked at his best in my opinion around this time. I think the suits in the film are fantastic but the casual wear has dated as it does. The white linen shirt he wears in the Caribbean is clearly over sized and the jeans he wears look very late 90’s with the straight leg and lighter wash. Ryan Hall
Dressing Gown Down
Did a re-watch last night. Pierce Brosnan is terrific and looks great in his tailored clothes. I absolutely love the Prince of Wales check suit he wears to start the film—and with that great overhead shot introductory shot of the watch, cuff, and sleeve. He looks relaxed while cooking at his home with his lawyer too.
With two exceptions his casual looks have aged well. (The island skirt piece is not cool even if it’s appropriate for the Caribbean and his oversized robe—while having breakfast at his Manhattan home—is more appropriate for a spa and not an intimate morning after meal IMHO.) Biggest takeaway: nobody looks as cool as Pierce pouring glasses of wine. James Bond Zeitgeist
A close match
Below is a close match to the three piece glen check suit that Crown wears in the opening scenes. The Mid Grey Glen Plaid with Blue Overcheck is from the Four Seasons range by Anthony Sinclair and a 3-piece suit will cost 1350 GBP.
Please find some extra links used whilst researching the show.
- A Tale of Two Affairs: Comparing the Fashion of The Thomas Crown Affair (1968) to The Thomas Crown Affair (1999)
- ‘Thomas Crown’: Tailored For His Times
- Dressing for an Affair
- The On- And Off-Screen Watches Of Brosnan, Pierce Brosnan
The Thomas Crown Affair is available to buy on Blu Ray. The heist takes place in The Museum of Art, known colloquially as The Met. I was thinking of recommending a book on Monet, as it’s Monet’s painting of San Giorgio Maggiore at Dusk that Crown ultimately steals. But I honestly couldn’t find a book on Monet to recommend that I would consider buying myself. However, this book Stealing Rembrandts: The Untold Stories of Notorious Art Heists by