Colin Firth’s repertoire isn’t quite the DiCaprio fruit salad. We’ve seen the debonair Fitzwilliam Darcy in Pride and Prejudice. Then there was the dreamy painter Johannes Vermeer in Girl With A Pearl Earring. And, not content with one Mr Darcy, the Bridget Series modernised the Brönte hero not once, but three times. Lucky us.
Consistency isn’t always a bad thing though. While Firth is au fait with the bumbly, British stereotype, he’s also familiar with the pin-sharp suiting these shores have grown famous for. Just don’t ruin it getting out of a lake.
Kingsman: The Secret Service
There’s no shade of grey with spy films. On one end, we’ve got James Bond – tuxed up as he evades supervillains and STIs. Then there’s Mission Impossible and Jason Bourne – all jeans, jackets and a side of snore. So kudos to Firth for holding the British end up in Kingsman: The Secret Service.
Firth played Galahad, a well-mannered (and even better-heeled) spy who masqueraded as a Savile Row tailor. We’re talking double-breasted blazers, expertly folded pocket squares, Bremont watches and even a civil servant’s umbrella (that doubled up as a bulletproof shield, of course).
As if his on-screen wardrobe wasn’t enough, Mr Porter released its own Kingsman line of tailoring to coincide with the film’s release. Well played, old chap.
The Lesson: Formal dressing isn’t just tuxedos – a strong tailoring arsenal contains tweeds, herringbones and three-pieces too.
Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy
Firth’s espionage back catalogue isn’t all pyrotechnic romps aimed at teenage boys. Case in point, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy: the tale of Soviet double agents earned rave reviews, and Firth’s on-screen look was just as noteworthy.
Once again the tailoring is on-point, but also more real world. His hair is unkempt, his paisley ties are, let’s say, vivid, and his wire-framed spectacles aren’t exactly licensed to thrill. All of which gives the impression that these are real men, doing real work, in a time when how you dressed mattered only a little less than preventing Armageddon.
The Lesson: Real style is rarely meticulous. You can embrace comfortable fits and even 1970s palettes. Just have the confidence to pull them off.
The Railway Man
War? Huh. What is it good for? Judging by Firth’s revenge-cum-forgiveness flick, making you dress better.
In the first half of the film, a post-war Firth is head-to-toe 1970s tailoring: wider fits (doing the rounds once more) and horn-rimmed spectacles that might have been swiped from his geography teacher’s desk. Which is no bad thing; if Gucci’s latest nerdwear flex is anything to go by, staff room threads are making big moves.
Then there’s the younger Firth, played by rising star Jeremy Irvine. A splash of sand-colour military garms look like they’re fresh from Burberry’s last collection, all finished with impeccable war hero haircuts. Who knew British POWs were allowed to keep hold of their Dax?
The Lesson: Minus bell-bottoms, fits from days gone by will never go out of style. Loose military vibes for your holiday abroad, trend-aligned 1970s cuts on home shores.
The King’s Speech
William and Harry aside, the royals have always been arbiters of style. Their dad has done more than most for the double-breasted suit, part of a legacy of well-dressed blue bloods that includes King Edward VII (he of leaving your bottom suit button open) and King George VI. Or, at least, Colin Firth’s version of the stammering monarch.
It may have been the era (or the fact that classic tailoring never ages), but his majesty’s ensembles are a masterclass in fit, from double-breasted suits to embroidered naval regalia. The big draw though isn’t the perfect cuts or the choice fabrics – it’s that Firth plays the king, and wears his clothes like one too. Stammer or not, this guy can peacock with the best of them.
The Lesson: Once you’ve got the fit nailed, half the battle with a suit is the confidence to wear it. Shoulders back, head high, hands out of pockets. Crown optional.
A Single Man
Tom Ford’s directorial debut was never going to be a scruffy affair. But even his collections couldn’t prepare us for the 1960s marvel that was A Single Man. Two Academy Award nominations, a standing ovation at the Venice Film Festival and a star-studded ensemble cast. And that’s before you’ve even considered the costume department.
The colours and pieces aren’t so much the allure – as ever with Ford, it’s the fits. The designer-slash-director has built an empire upon ruthless attention to detail and it’s evident in every scene, from Firth’s varsity-appropriate brown two-pieces, to Cuban collared shirts in the happier days before his boyfriend popped it.
The Lesson: Less certainly is more. And nothing beats a glove-like fit.
The Bridget Jones Series
Just because we don’t want to look like rod-up-his-arse Mr Darcy doesn’t mean we can’t learn from him. Yes, Bridget Jones’ on-off fella was well-versed in dadwear – but isn’t that the point?
First, how old even is Mark Darcy? The high-flying lawyer could be anything from early thirties to (dare we say it) late forties, which shows how bland, shapeless pieces can age you beyond The Edge of Reason.
Secondly, never let your mother dress you. Especially in a Christmas jumper. Especially at a soiree where you’re likely to meet your future spouse.
The Lesson: Middle-of-the-road suits and a bland colour palette are not timeless – just boring.