Films can often be as cyclical as fashion. F. Scott Fitzgerald’s tale of The Great Gatsby has once again been thrust into the limelight, with Baz Luhrmann the latest to stamp his mark on the literary classic.
The impact of Luhrmann’s highly anticipated adaptation has, and will, continue to be felt worldwide. The fashion industry has already begun to pay attention as designers and brands look to take influence from the 1920s backdrop and capitalise on the film’s recent release.
For example, legendary American brand Brooks Brothers has just launched a line aptly entitled ‘The Great Gatsby Collection’, whereby the label worked alongside the film’s acclaimed costume designer, Catherine Martin, to create an authentic and, fittingly, spectacular range of clothing.
Elsewhere, fashion houses such as Hackett, Canali and Alexander McQueen featured strong 1920s-inspired aesthetics and silhouettes within their recent SS13 collections, proving that even the most established of designers can be influenced by Hollywood and pop culture.
The Great Gatsby (1974)
Luhrmann’s 2013 take on the novel isn’t the first to grace the silver screen, and it’s unlikely to be the last. Today’s focus, Jack Clayton’s 1974 version, presents perhaps the most famous adaptation to date. With the inimitable Robert Redford, Sam Waterston and Mia Farrow taking on the immortal roles of Jay Gatsby, Nick Carraway and Daisy Buchanan respectively, the film has maintained popularity despite its age.
The 1974 version was just as important in terms of style and fashion as the modern release is shaping up to be. The costumes remain a significant cultural influence, with the elegance and sophistication of the 1920s jazz age captured perfectly. The film also played a part in establishing, and propelling, now legendary designer Ralph Lauren to the forefront as the man behind the on-screen attire.
The film embraces the decadence of Fitzgerald’s novel to the letter and the costumes play a major part in capturing that authenticity – “human molar cufflinks” anyone? The debonair, dandy-esque tailoring prevalent throughout – especially worn by the three characters featured in today’s article – is a shining example of the sophisticated style of the time.
Jay Gatsby – Robert Redford
As an individual, Robert Redford has a style worthy of acknowledgement. However, in terms of looks and an ability to carry off clothes with confidence, he nails the key aspects of the Gatsby character.
Anyone described as “the man in the cool, beautiful shirts” (tear-inducing beautiful at that) is clearly one worth taking inspiration from. Redford owes his wardrobe performance to several factors that defined the Gatsby look. Firstly, impeccable suiting – with all the accessories to match and without brashly overdoing it. Shortly followed by, ahead of its time, daring use of pastel and light hues.
Erring on the side of dandy blended with a healthy dose of prep, especially in a casual form, Jay Gatsby’s style is certainly not for the faint of heart (or wallet).
His pink and white suits are particular stand outs. Despite capturing the decadent vulgarity of his character perfectly, they fail to detract from his stylish appearance and only add to what remains an enviable wardrobe.
Double-breasted waistcoats are another feature that catches the eye. Some would say that it reflects the age of the film, although if brought up to date via a slimmer cut, who’s to say they don’t have a place in the modern man’s wardrobe? Case in point: David Gandy.
Gatsby’s faultless style is elevated through the use of accessories. Whether it’s an expertly dimpled tie knot, a complementary pocket square, a stylish silk scarf or exceptional head wear, Redford pulls it all off with equal aplomb.
Finally, it would be to the detriment of this breakdown not to give mention to the cable knit cricket sweater. Cementing Gatsby’s casual style as something to be admired, it looks exceptional when used to dress down a stiff contrast collar shirt.
Inspired By Pieces
- Asos Slim Fit Blazer
- Richard James White Cotton-twill Suit
- Topman Indigo Oxford Fleck Waistcoat
- Reiss Symons Stripe With Collar Bar Shirt Blue
- Polo Ralph Lauren Cashmere Cable-knit Sweater 141966
- Wide Brim Luxury Panama Hat
- Richard James Silk-satin Tie
- Reiss Icarus Plain Silk Hank White
- Mr.hare Mens King Tubby Shoe
Nick Carraway – Sam Waterston
Novel narrator and Gatsby’s friend, Nick Carraway, portrayed in this version by the classy Sam Waterston, has a much more restrained style. Whilst tailoring remains a permanent fixture of Carraway’s style, he (unlike his neighbour) sticks to a more traditional palette. Nodding to Gatsby’s lavish inclination, Carraway occasionally favours the boldness of a white suit.
With the aforementioned penchant for classic, neutral hues, individuality and flair is injected largely through the finer details. Collar bars that frame his patterned ties (mostly stripes and paisley) are favoured, allowing Carraway to put his own subtle stamp on his ensembles.
Our man’s style is readily (and accurately) described as truly timeless. This is largely due to the palette used and the sheer simplicity of it all, especially in contrast to Gatsby’s brash, dandy flair.
The slim silhouette of Carraway’s suits – tapering in at the arms and legs – provides the base for a very wearable outfit as a modern, formal option. The tailoring accessories that Carraway makes his own would complement this look beautifully, bringing the whole aesthetic bang up to date for 2013.
Inspired By Pieces
- Regular Fit Shirt
- Polo Ralph Lauren Shirt In Yellow Oxford
- Topman Navy Up Spec Skinny Fit Three Piece Suit
- Reiss Pompeii Occasion Suit Airforce Blue
- Dolce & Gabbana Vintage Cube-print Tie 143060
- Drakes Striped Silk-grenadine Tie
- Topman Metal Collar Bar
- Alden Plain Toe Cordovan Derby
- Antoine & Stanley Hansel Brogues
Tom Buchanan – Bruce Dern
Gatsby’s love rival and Daisy Buchanan’s husband, the role of Tom Buchanan is taken on by Bruce Dern. Backed by an aggressive air, Buchanan’s appeal is uncompromisingly masculine; something supported by his facial hair and grooming choices.
As a whole Buchanan’s style is one that is once again propped up by superb suiting, sitting somewhere between Gatsby and Carraway in relation to colour. Often seen in brighter hues, his extravagance isn’t on par with Gatsby’s, although he runs him close. No pink double-breasted waistcoats here, I’m afraid.
Buchanan’s suits are often found in a dustier tone than his wealthier counterpart. A purple-indigo version, cut from a lightweight cloth, is a particular highlight. His attire, however, does manage to exude a higher level of affluence than the neutrality of Carraway’s tailoring.
His style is perhaps the least modern of the three – one that hasn’t exactly aged well in comparison. In terms of a modern day translation, it requires a little bit more interpretation – especially where grooming is concerned. The Hefner-esque robe is probably best left be, also.
It is in Buchanan’s casual wear where his real style credentials and personality shine through. Often opting for brighter colours alongside a neutral anchor, this is one part of Buchanans’s look that warrants attention. The pairing of a black polo shirt and white trousers is a particular combination that, with a slimmed down silhouette, would work very well today.
Inspired By Pieces
- Regular Fit Shirt
- Topman Blue Flecked Skinny Suit
- Paul Smith London Abbey Slim-fit Wool And Silk-blend Blazer
- Polo Ralph Lauren Slim Shirt In Gingham Check
- Allsaints Bramford Polo
- Loyal Pleat-front Chino Trousers 147696
- Vivienne Westwood Basket-weave Knitted Cardigan
- Gunmetal Tone Spike Collar Pin
- Reiss Harrington Wingtip Brogue Dove Grey
Bringing The Look Up To Date
Of course, with this adaptation being released nearly forty years ago, there is going to be an essence of style decay present. In order to take inspiration and influence from the characters, we need to bring certain elements up to date.
The white suit, or at least blazer, has also made waves of late. This should be employed along with Gatsby’s prevalent use of pastel shades – a great way to mark yourself out from the crowd and fully embrace the spring/summer season, especially given SS13’s prominent pink colour trend.
Finally, we come to accessories. The charm of classic formal accessories is enduring. A great tie knot and subsequent dimple always brings that little bit extra to an outfit – as does a well considered pocket square, collar/lapel pin or tie bar (not all at once though please).
Gatsby also encourages us to consider head wear, which would help effortlessly separate your look from the crowd and mark yourself out as a confident male. If you are lucky enough to posses the face shape to pull off a fine piece of millinery, then the Panama is the way to go, especially after it made such an impression at Pitti Uomo.
Inspired By Lookbook
It’s safe to say that if Gatsby does half as well as is expected at the box office, the 1920s will become a major fashion influence in coming seasons. By using the 1974 film as a solid guideline for a modern interpretation, hopefully you can get ahead of the curve and bring some jazz age panache to your wardrobe.
Let us know in the comments section below…