There is no escaping it, Gatsby mania is officially upon us and, although not entirely academic in their accuracy for the time, the broad range of colourful, fully accessorised get-ups certainly see the film’s gentlemen enjoying a fair crack at the style whip on screen.
New York in the 1920s was all about decadence, pleasure and excess. In pre-depression high society, class distinctions were beginning to change and an influx of new money was pushing the boundaries of what was considered appropriate: less of the tailcoats, more of the tuxedos.
The era saw radical changes in men’s suiting with eclecticism being the name of the game and a mix of previously separately worn attire was blended for a modern look – baggy high waisted trousers together with waistcoats and wide shouldered sports jackets, often double breasted, with tapered waists. Suit colours were also softer, in bold pastels. Casual shirts were mainly in white or off white and cream whilst classic dress shirts were still considered essential. Throw in a liberal sprinkling of accessories – a fedora or straw boater, braces, pocket square, bow tie and horn rimmed glasses – and you’ve got the look.
Leonardo DiCaprio’s Jay Gatsby is a high-rolling man of questionable means but unquestionable polish, bedecked in impeccable black tuxedos and swanky bow ties to welcome the endless stream of hedonistic flappers that flock to party at his vast Long Island estate. If by night he is the personification of dark and mysterious glamour, by day he dons a dashing array of three-piece suits composed of pale, summer colours in shades of cream, light peach, and dusty rose. “The man in the cool beautiful suits.” says Carey Mulligan’s Daisy, taking long pondering drag of her cigarette.
It’s no accident that the film sees Gatsby in some suits that possess a distinctly gangster-ish vibe, considering the source of his vast wealth is presumed to derive from that most unsavoury of Prohibition-era sources, bootlegging. The garish colours and clashing contrasts highlight issues of class and showiness. The pinstriped pink suit, worn with a burgundy tie and gold collar bar, reveals signs of Gatsby’s true beginnings. This is never more evident than when in the company of the film’s other leading men who retain classic understatement in their dress, derived from their respective blueblood upbringings.
Luckily, at Cad & The Dandy with our all-inclusive, accessible approach to Savile Row tailoring, we see no such restrictions from class and wealth in the wardrobe of the modern gentleman. We’d be more than happy to oblige if you’re inspired to add a jazz-age, hedonistic, Gatsby edge to your wardrobe this season. And, if that isn’t reason enough to don your finest and get up and dance on the furniture, we don’t know what is!