During our celluloid style series we will be delving deep in to film history to point the fashion finger at cinematic gems. In some cases, the whole movie may drip with style. And in other cases, it may be a specific character. Cinema can be a very powerful thing; it can reflect a society’s mood, kick-start a craze, romanticise a time period, or leave a legacy long after it was created. As much as it can be large scale, it can also be very personal.
The movie I would like to begin the series with is The Talented Mr Ripley; a 1999 American thriller starring Matt Damon, Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow. The movie is set in the 1950s and focuses on the talented Tom Ripley (Damon); a man who forges, lies and manipulates his way into the employ of wealthy shipbuilder Herbert Greenleaf. He then hires Ripley to track down his wayward son Dickie (Law) and bring him home. For those of you who haven’t seen it, I would highly recommend it!
The idea to focus on this film has been on my mind for a few months, notably since it was mentioned to me during a FashionBeans conversation with my friend Steve.
We began talking about Jude Law’s character, Dickie Greenleaf, a spoilt millionaire playboy and jazz fanatic, living on his father’s money in the South of Italy. To me, the costume of the movie has certainly been thoroughly considered, in terms of both its accuracy and flair. There is a glorious clash of two fashion cultures in this movie. Firstly, the preppy, all-American, ivy league sensibility of Matt Damon’s Tom Ripley; dropped into post-war Mediterranean Italy like a fish out of water. And secondly, the freewheeling, sun-kissed soft tailoring of Jude Law’s Dickie Greenleaf.
Take a glance at the look book below and soak up the aesthetically pleasing costumed cast:
If you have seen the film, then you will know that many of the characters carry off a panache and elegance worthy of mention in the column inches of FashionBeans. However, I feel I should focus on the two key men in the movie, Tom Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf, because they represent two differing style ideals of the time and thus make for excellent examples. We begin by deconstructing the costume of Jude Law, and his character Dickie.
A definite disciple of the Italian way of life, Dickie has absorbed the culture and dress of Southern Italian men of the time. He’s seen in relaxed chino trousers with turn-ups and slim fitting short sleeve shirts, usually teamed with white pumps or loafers with a sight of mankle. Mix this with his golden tan, iconic moped and penchant for jazz culture and you have the archetypal Mediterranean Italian stereotype for that era.
To achieve this look today is not as difficult as you may imagine. The Italian way of dressing, as we’ve shown previously in our Milan Style Destination piece, is all about looking comfortable and elegant, putting to use simple colour combinations and soft fabrics. Key items that are needed to build your Dickie Greenleaf wardrobe include a good pair of light coloured chino’s, classic white pumps, brown leather loafers or slip-ons and a well-tailored summer blazer to just throw on over a simple short sleeve shirt or polo.
In the traditional sense, Matt Damon’s character, Tom Ripley, is not meant to be regarded as fashionable; particularly before he falls under Dickie’s influence. However, his college cut, American prep-school styling is on par with the Ivy League looks and inspired trends spotted throughout SS11.
In the early stages of the movie we see Tom Ripley at his 1950s Americana best. It is a stiffer, more authoritative look than that of Jude Law’s character. With black-rimmed glasses, button down collared shirts and classic chino trousers, he befits the American style of a classic era. In terms of styling, it is hard to look past Polo Ralph Lauren for a brand to purchase if you want to achieve this look. Key items for the Tom Ripley look are; a 1950s style short back and sides with side parting, black rimmed reading glasses, Ralph Lauren long sleeve shirt, plain cable knit jumper and classic fit chino trousers.
I would imagine, like my friends and I, there will be a split. You will prefer one look to another. Both are great looks in my mind, but it’s all a matter of sartorial inclination. Tom Ripley or Dickie Greenleaf? Which style whets your wardrobe appetite? Let us know! Also, put forward which movies you feel deserve a nod in the pages of FashionBeans.
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