Any man described as having “the veneer of the charming, hyper-intelligent, eloquent, sly mastermind, but underneath, a kind of die hard romantic,” deserves a honorary mention in an icon series.
Sidestepping the celluloid, this week Alex turns his attention to the fictitious style of American crime-drama, White Collar. Although arguably created at the swift hand of a stylist, Alex will be showing that there is no harm (and little dent to the ego) for taking this inspiration and putting it to work for you.
It’s important not to just plagiarise the style of another, take bits of inspiration and create your own take on looks by incorporating it into YOUR personal style.
Convicted con-artist and now criminal consultant for the FBI, Neal Caffrey (played by Matt Bomer) is the breakout and central character of USA Network’s crime-drama White Collar. His personal traits are reflected very well in his style, something the show’s costume designer, Stephanie Maslansky, has always openly discussed.
The inspiration behind the Caffrey wardrobe is very much taken from the Rat Pack era of 40s and 50s. So naturally, names to the tune of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Cary Grant are never far from being named as key influences.
It’s not only inspiration that has been taken from by-gone decades; the Neal Caffrey wardrobe is a mix of both vintage and contemporary pieces, “Mid-century gone modern” is how Maslanksy best described the look.
Vintage ties in particular are a main stay in Neal’s wardrobe. Sourced from famed New York thrift stores, Star Struck and Cheap Jacks, they add a certain authenticity and believability which could only ever be achieved through the elegance of genuine fifties neckwear.
These vintage ties are one of the many smaller details that help to complete the Caffrey look. The ever-present pocket square and tie bar, the slight tilt of the fedora and the carefully selected colour palette (which complements Bomer’s blue eyes) all ensure Neal’s style is more than stand out.
Fine attention to detail is, however, only half the battle. The clothes used in the styling of Caffrey are all tailored to fit absolutely perfectly; another example of just how important fit and cut are when wanting to look your best. Maslansky opted for suits with a slim silhouette for Bomer’s character to bring the wardrobe (and fifties influences) into the modern day.
There are four main looks which Neal is seen in throughout the show, all of which I’ve recreated for you here.
The first look is Neal’s everyday office outfit which, nine times out of ten, is a suit (occasionally a three-piece) with all the trimmings. I’ve opted to recreate this look using a charcoal grey three-piece with a crisp white shirt and wingcap shoes. As for accessories, I’ve chosen a vintage-look patterned tie and corresponding handkerchief with, of course, the obligatory Caffrey trilby and shades in attendance to polish it all off.
The second look Neal is seen in the most often is his evening ensemble. When out for a drink or meal, Mr. Caffrey ditches the tie and top two buttons for a more relaxed, yet formal look. The purple stripe shirt is a favourite of Neal’s and is complimented by the black waistcoat and trousers.
Working with the FBI, undercover assignments are part and parcel of the job. So when mixing with the rough and tough types of the criminal underworld Caffrey has to look the part. The tried and tested jeans and leather jacket combo (backed up with some aviators), remains Neal’s go-to undercover look and is something that can easily be recreated from the high street.
The final account of Neal’s look is his off duty apparel which continues the long running theme of sartorial elegance. A polo neck jumper replaces the shirt and tie, but the fedora and trousers remain intact. To complete the look add leather gloves, a small leather satchel and an overcoat – all this creates a well layered and warm look capable of combating the New York winter.
Maslansky and Bomer have both contributed in creating and turning Neal Caffrey into a style icon. He is a great example of how style transcends simply wearing designer clothes or following trends.
Without ducking behind the usual cliché of how important confidence is, and how you don’t need to spend a fortune to look good – which by the way are both very true – Neal’s ‘real style’ comes from his persona and attitude, courtesy of Matt Bomer and of course the sublime fit of his clothes.
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