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7. February 2021

Style Icons – Remington Steele

by

Maximilian Mogg

The 1980s (for the most part justly) get a pretty bad rap. This was, after all, the era of kitsch and neo-liberalism. And, yet, I have to admit to a weakness for the style of the era. In particular, costumes from 80s film and TV are simply great. From Alan Flusser’s work on Oliver Stone’s Wall Street and Armani’s creations for De Palma’s The Untouchables all the way to the topic of this week’s article: Remington Steele. The character of Remington Steele is played by a young Pierce Brosnan in what feels, at times, like a prolonged warm-up for the role of James Bond. As an interesting aside, Timothy Dalton would never been played Bond at all had it not been for Remington Steele. Brosnan had been considered the favourite to replace Roger Moore but was unable to accept the role due to his prior commitment to play the con man turned private eye.

But I digress. We are not here to share anecdotes but rather to focus on Remington Steele’s style. Here, we are in luck, as almost every piece (with a few minor exceptions) of Brosnan’s classically British wardrobe could still be worn today. The costumes truly speak the language of a bygone era mixed with the panache typical of the 1980s. One hallmark of his style is a mastery of the art of the Stilbruch that we have described in past articles. In Remington Steele’s case, think pairing a Tweed sports coat with white trousers, wearing a belt with a three-piece suit, or donning a red pocket square that is, by modern standards at least, a bit gauche. With the pocket square in particular, one is reminded of that uncle who always suggests you add ‘a BIT of colour’ to your suit. Indeed, it is a phrase that would not be out of place at any of the parties serving warm champagne and cold coffee that would be taking place in gymnasiums around the world right now were it not for the current pandemic. ‘Every cloud…’ and all that.

More than anything else, what really sets Remington Steele apart is his eye for detail. Firstly, he exclusively wears black shoes (much like someone else you might know quite well). Secondly, the typically British cuts of his suits are incredibly elegant. Arm holes are cut very high, the shoulders are narrow and finished in the pagoda style, and the button stance is generally quite low. The low button stances stretches Brosnan’s quite lanky silhouette just that little bit more. Third, while, by today’s standards, it is fair to say that the fabric choices are perhaps a bit conservative, they do have a certain je ne sais quoi. Take, for example, the brown worsted Glen check that Remington dawns on various occasions. Certainly not anyone’s first choice when looking for a lounge city to be worn in the city. However, the fact that the fabric is incredibly fine (possibly even a cashmere blend) lends it a sheen that adds a little bit of urban elegance to a generally quite rural look. Last but not least, I’d like to give some love to Brosnan’s habit of wearing bracelets in the role. More than once, Remington is seen attending a evening events wearing a golden chain on his wrist. It is the perfect touch of gaudiness to offset his generally conservative suit and shirt combinations.

Before I leave you, let me impart a little bit of wisdom. If you take only thing away from this article, let it be this. There are so many excellent sources of inspiration to be found in older media, especially in terms of fabric choices and silhouettes. Countless, countless times, even films and series not considered sartorial classics have helped me along on my personal style journey. My disappointment is all the more great that I really cannot recommend any of Brosnan’s Bond films as sources of style inspiration. Thankfully, I was too young to fully feel it at the time, but I can imagine the disappointment of menswear enthusiasts around the world when they realised that the man who had been so elegant on TV as a private eye was such a sartorial disaster as the world’s most famous spy. What a shame! MM/DC/PS