Remington Steele: The Double-Breasted Power Suit

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The 1980s “power suit” look was something James Bond mostly avoided, but it became a big part of Pierce Brosnan’s look in Remington Steele. The power suit is characterised by a jacket with large shoulders, a low buttoning point and a low gorge and full-cut trousers with double or triple reverse pleats. Brosnan’s grey striped double-breasted suit in the 1985 Remington Steele episode “Springtime for Steele” fits the 1980′s power suit mould perfectly, but even though the suit looks dated now it’s still very flattering on Brosnan. This suit first appeared in Remington Steele in the 1984 episode “Woman of Steele”, and it was a much more fashionable suit than what Roger Moore was wearing as James Bond at the time. Apart from a low button stance, Roger Moore’s suits as Bond in the 1980s avoided most 80′s trends in favour of a more timeless style.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-2Brosnan’s suit has 3/4″ stripes alternating slightly lighter and darker greys, and those stripes are framed by alternating white pinstripes and chalk stripes. Fancy stripes like the one this suit is were very popular in the 1980s and were integral to the power suit look. The double-breasted jacket has six buttons with one to button, a style popular from the mid 80s to the early 90s. Double-breasted suits like this were occasionally made in the 1930s, but at that time the still-classic button two cut made up the majority of double-breasted suits. However, it wasn’t uncommon for people to fasten their button-two double-breasted suits only at the bottom button for an effect similar to what Brosnan wears here. A double-breasted suit that buttons only at the bottom has a longer lapel line that is very flattering to shorter men, but in Brosnan’s case the longer lapel line gives him the strong-looking V-shaped torso that he lacks. On the other hand, buttoning the jacket so low means that the jacket’s fulcrum doesn’t match with the body’s waist and natural fulcrum. The jacket moves poorly with the body, and folds radiating from the bottom buttons occur with the slightest movements because of the unnaturally low fulcrum. The folds are not an issue with the fit but instead an unavoidable issue with such a low buttoning point. Even the Duke of Windsor and his contemporary the Duke of Kent had this problem from buttoning their double-breasted suits at the bottom. Overall, Brosnan’s suit jacket fits very well. Though the low button stance makes the front look sloppy, the back has a perfectly smooth fit and the sleeves drape elegantly.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-3Along with the low 1980s button stance came the low gorge, which is results in low lapel peaks. The low gorge actually goes well with the low button stance since it shortens the lapel line. Otherwise, a regular, higher gorge height with such a low button stance would result in ridiculously long lapels. The low gorge makes the low button stance look less awkward, and along with the low button stance contributes to a more relaxed look. The lapels follow tradition with a buttonhole on each side to match the buttonholes and buttons on both sides of the jacket.

A power suit wouldn’t be complete without copious amounts of shoulder padding. Brosnan’s suit jacket has plenty of shoulder padding, which makes the shoulders straight and close to parallel with the ground. Brosnan’s slight build certainly benefits from shoulder padding, though nobody needs as much padding as this jacket has. Though the shoulders are built up, they are not built out. That style came later in the 80s, which is evident on the suits in Timothy Dalton’s two Bond films.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-4The built-up cut of power suits in the 1980s mimicked styles from the 1930s and 1940s. Many details from that era also returned, like jetted pockets and no rear vent. Jackets without vents aren’t good for Brosnan since he has the habit of keeping his hands in his pockets. Without vents in the back, the jacket rides up. If he had double vents, he could keep his hands in his pockets and the jacket would still look neat. The jacket’s cuffs have three buttons. The suit trousers have double reverse pleats and a full, straight leg with plain hems. Though braces were a common part of the power suit look, Brosnan rarely wore them in Remington Steele and instead wears a belt with this suit. This suit could possibly be Italian in origin, since the Italians were best-known for making such power suits in the 1980s, but an American tailor could also have been responsible for this suit.

Remington-Steele-Grey-Power-Suit-5Brosnan’s white shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a placket down the front. The placket is stitched 3/8″ from the edge, which means the shirt is likely English in origin. A power suit wouldn’t be complete without a “power tie”. A power tie is any brightly-coloured tie, but red is the quintessential power tie. Brosnan’s tie is red with navy stripes in the English direction. The navy stripes are bordered by brown pinstripes, and there’s also a brown pinstripe through the centre of each navy stripe. The tie has the look of a regimental stripe, but it most likely isn’t one since the Steele character has no prior affiliations. He knots the tie in an asymmetrical, though rather chunky, four-in-hand knot. It could possibly be a double-four-in-hand knot. A stuffed red silk pocket handkerchief with a navy edge complements the tie. Because Brosnan is wearing this suit in the evening, he wears it with black shoes and a black belt. During the daytime in other episodes, Brosnan wears this suit just as successfully with brown leather.

Remington Steele: The Brown Multi-Check Suit

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In honour of Pierce Brosnan’s 61st birthday we look at one of his many Remington Steele suits. By Remington Steele‘s third season, Pierce Brosnan had, for the most part, traded classic elegance for the fashions of the day. The majority of his suits by that time were low-buttoning double-breasted suits with large shoulders and full-cut trousers, but these suits actually flattered Brosnan’s skinny frame despite them looking very dated now. However, not all of Brosnan’s suits fit the fashionable mould. One of the few relatively classic suits that was still around on the show in 1985 is this dark, cool brown suit in a very subtle glen check, pictured here in the episode “Gourmet Steele”. There are multiple windowpanes over the glen plaid, which are difficult to make out the exact colours of due to the DVD quality. From what I can tell, there are windowpanes in red, tan and blue, but they are very faint. Multi-stripes and multi-windowpanes on top of a pattern like nailhead or herringbone were very popular in the 1980s, but they were usually understated like on Brosnan’s suit. The multiple windowpanes surely aren’t to everyone’s tastes, but on Brosnan’s suit they are done in a tasteful way. Take away two of the three windowpane colours and the suit immediately becomes more relevant to today’s fashions.

The suit is well-cut with high armholes to allow freedom of movement

The suit is cut with high armholes to allow freedom of movement

In brown with multiple windowpanes, this suit is more of a social suit than a traditional business suit. Since Steele is a private investigator he can wear more adventurous suits on the job than the average man can wear to work, but here he appropriately wears this suit to dinner at a fine restaurant. It’s not a particularly dressy suit, but Brosnan dresses it up for the evening with a white shirt, black shoes and understated accessories. The button two suit jacket is trim-cut with narrow, slightly-pagoda shoulders, roped sleeveheads, a clean chest and a closely nipped waist. It has flapped pockets, three buttons on the cuffs and deep double vents. The lapels have a steeper gorge (the lapel’s notch) than what is typical today, but it’s not too steep or too low. The button stance is in a classic, balanced position. The majority of the suits Brosnan was wearing at the time had a lower gorge and lower button stance, which looks very dated now. The trousers have double reverse pleats and a medium-wide straight leg, and they are worn with a belt.

Remington-Steele-Brown-Check-Suit-4Brosnan downplays the suit’s coloured windowpanes by wearing a white shirt and unassuming brown accessories. The white shirt has a moderate spread collar, placket and double cuffs. The tie has dark brown and medium brown stripes, which may or may not be the effect of a herringbone weave. The overflowing pocket handkerchief is also dark brown, and even the flamboyant way he wears the handkerchief doesn’t make it stand out. Brosnan could have chosen a blue shirt and red tie to make the windowpanes in the suit pop, but keeping everything toned down makes the outfit look more elegant. The predominantly monochromatic look is reminiscent of Connery’s brown suit and tie in Thunderball, though Connery’s outfit has a simple elegance that is absent from Brosnan’s.

Remington-Steele-Brown-Check-SuitThough brown shoes are typically the first choice with brown suits, Brosnan wears black cap-toe oxfords and a brass-buckled black belt with this suit. One could argue that brown leather would still go better with this suit, but because the suit is cool-toned the black leather doesn’t clash. The suit’s cool tone is flattering to Brosnan’s cool complexion, whilst most warmer and richer browns wouldn’t look so good on him. Connery’s brown suit in Thunderball similarly has a cool tone, and he too wears his brown suit with black shoes.

Puffed Pocket Squares

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The puffed silk pocket square is the standard for those who wish to add a splash of colour in their breast pocket instead of the staid folded white linen handkerchief. To create a puff, lay the handkerchief flat and pick it up by pinching it from the centre. Slide it though your hand to gather it together, turn up the bottom and place the pocket square in your breast pocket. Once in the pocket you can adjust the pocket square to puff it up.

GoldenEye-Plaid-SuitIn GoldenEye, Pierce Brosnan wears solid pocket squares that pick up one of the colours in his tie. In the M’s office scene, Brosnan matches a medium blue pocket square to the medium blue squares in the tie (right). A light brown or gold pocket square would also have been a good choice to echo the tie’s light brown squares. In the Q’s lab scene he wears another medium blue pocket square that is lighter than but still echoes the base colour of his tie (top). It’s the easiest choice to match the tie’s base colour, but it would be more interesting if Brosnan matched his pocket square to the red or yellow in the tie. He again wears a medium blue pocket square with his navy birdseye suit in Russia, which subtly echoes the lighter blue in the birdseye weave.

In The World is Not Enough, Pierce Brosnan wears a rather unexciting grey puffed silk pocket square with his pinstripe suit, but it echoes both the grey in the tie and the suit’s pinstripes. It’s a smart match whilst at the same time is subtle enough that it doesn’t look too studied.

Remington-Steele-Pocket-SquareBrosnan was no stranger to wearing puffed silk pocket squares in GoldenEye. He consistently wore them in Remington Steele, but then he most often went for the uninspired method of matching the pocket square to the base colour of his tie, and he occasionally matched his pocket square to his shirt as well. There were some exceptions to that, like in the second season premiere “Steele Away with Me”. Brosnan uses a red pocket square to echo the pink spots on his tie (left). It complements the outfit without looking too studied. But this method of matching the pocket square doesn’t only apply to matching with ties. Pocket squares can also be effectively used to echo the colour of a stripe or check in a shirt or a suit. Brosnan also could have worn a yellow pocket square to echo the stripes in his shirt.

Moonraker-Pocket-SquareRoger Moore shows in Moonraker how not to wear a pocket square, with his cream suit in Rio de Janeiro. He wears a light brown pocket square that’s such a close match to the shirt it’s probably made from the same cotton (right). Daniel Craig’s matching light blue pocket square and shirt aren’t so bad because they’re in a very neutral colour, but Moore’s shirt and pocket square are far more noticeable. A pocket square should not be an exact match to any other part of the outfit—unless it’s white or otherwise very neutral—or else it looks amateurish and unstylish. It’s a shame that Moore’s only pocket square in his seven Bond films is a failure since Moore is otherwise one of the most creatively-dressed Bonds.

Matching a patterned pocket square with a patterned shirt or tie can be difficult because there can often end up being too much going on. Wearing a patterned pocket square that has the same colours as the tie is almost as bad as wearing a matching tie and pocket square. If you find yourself often without a tie, a patterned pocket square can often be the best thing since it can add the interest that is lost without a tie. And no, there is no rule about not wearing a pocket square without a tie.

Remington Steele: 80s Style

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Here’s a dark grey semi-solid suit that Pierce Brosnan wears in the 1986 episode of Remington Steele, “Suburban Steele.” It’s not a style for anyone to aspire to, except perhaps Timothy Dalton in Licence to Kill. It’s done in the same 1980s style, with large shoulders, a full cut, a low button stance, low-gorge and reverse-pleat trousers, but it’s better executed. Pierce Brosnan was wearing mostly double-breasted suits in the later seasons of Remington Steele, but a few single-breasted suits stuck around.

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Though it’s not oversized in comparison to the suits in Licence to Kill, it still has a fashionably full cut. The jacket has a button two jacket with flap pockets, three-button cuffs and no vents. The lapels are a little narrower than Dalton’s, but they aren’t much better. The trousers have double reverse-pleats and plain hems.

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Brosnan wears a white English shirt with a moderate spread collar, double cuffs, no breast pocket and front placket. The tie is dark plum with red polka dots, tied in a four-in-hand knot. He wears a puffed pale yellow silk handkerchief with red polka dots in his breast pocket. The muted colour palate of the tie and pocket square are very much of their time, but the outfit is still well-coordinated. His belt and slip-on shoes are black.

Remington-Steele-1986-Suit-4With a black knitted tie and white linen pocket square, Timothy Dalton could have worn a suit like this in Licence to Kill and brought Bond’s fashion into the 80s in a more elegant and more Bondian manner.

 

Remington Steele: Navy Blazer

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from “Etched in Steele”

To make up for the poorly received white dinner jacket, here’s a classic navy blazer that Pierce Brosnan wears in the first season of Remington Steele. It’s still not a perfect outfit, but Brosnan wears this staple very well. It’s a button two jacket with narrow pagoda shoulders, a clean chest and a close fit through the body. The chest fits a little too tight, since it bows open easily. It has swelled edges, flapped pockets with a ticket pocket, four-button cuffs and deep double vents. The buttons are shinier and less yellow than the typical brass, so they are likely gold-plated. Here we will look at two of the six episodes in the first season that feature this blazer: “Steele Belted” and “Etched in Steele.”

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from “Etched in Steele”

In “Steele Belted” the trousers are light grey wool with a flat front, and the shirt is sky blue with yellow and dark stripes. In “Etched in Steele” the trousers are dark grey with double reverse pleats, and the shirt is pale blue. Both shirts are the same style. They have a short point collar worn with a collar bar, and rounded double cuffs worn unfolded with the cufflinks only in outer holes. This would signify that his shirts were bought ready to wear and they could not obtain shirts with a long enough sleeve for his collar size. Later in the first season Brosnan starts wearing different shirts where he could wear the double cuff properly.

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from “Steele Belted”

In “Steele Belted” Brosnan wears a solid burgundy repp tie and a burgundy satin silk pocket square. The square is not exactly the same as the tie, but it’s a bit too close. However, it’s not an offensive combination either. In “Etched in Steele” the tie is a red repp tie with thin yellow and blue stripes, and the pocket square is solid red. Brosnan knots his ties in a Windsor knot. The ties are narrow enough and light enough that a Windsor knot doesn’t overwhelm the small collar. Pierce Brosnan is almost never seen without a pocket square in Remington Steele, and it’s something he carried over to GoldenEye. But in Remington Steele he often—but not always—plays it too safe by matching the pocket square to the base colour of his tie. Finishing the outfits are black shoes and a black belt.

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from “Steele Belted”

Remington Steele: White Dinner Jacket

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I’m almost a week late, but last Thursday Pierce Brosnan celebrated his 60th birthday. In honour of that let’s look at one of his off-white dinner jackets from Remington Steele. This one is featured in the third season episode “Maltese Steele,” which takes place in the Mediterranean country of Malta. With the exception of pocket flaps, Brosnan wears a classic white dinner jacket. The jacket is cut with straight, narrow shoulders that flatter Brosnan’s build. It buttons one, and the button stance is at a higher classic height as opposed to the fashionably lower 1980′s button stance. The back has no vents, which is classic for a dinner jacket but looks sloppy with Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his trouser pockets. There are two buttons on the cuffs, and the buttons are all mother of pearl.

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Brosnan’s habit of putting his hands in his pockets only looks okay with double vents.

The black trousers are cut with a trim leg and are worn with a belt, an unfortunate feature on all of Pierce Brosnan’s black tie trousers in Remington Steele. Though Brosnan wears a black cummerbund, it’s missing in one shot and the belt buckle is revealed. The white dress shirt has a point collar, double cuffs and a white-on-white stripe bib with a placket. It is worn with three studs down the front and matching cufflinks, which are black onyx set in gold. Brosnan wears a colourful madder handkerchief with a red ground stuffed in his breast pocket with the corners spilling out in a very dandyish way. He wears his usual black leather slip-on shoes, not patent leather.

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White Collar and Cuffs

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Roger Moore wearing a navy bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only.

In the United States, the contrasting white collar and cuffs style has been all but tarnished by the 1987 film Wall Street. But it’s a classic style that has been around a very long time. It goes back to the days when collars were stiff and detachable, and men would pair white collars with a body of any colour. Now the collars come soft and attached. Some retailers call a shirt with a white collar a “Winchester” shirt—presumably named after the city in England, not the rifle—but I have not found an historical use of this term and believe it’s just a modern marketing term.

Bond wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in For Your Eyes Only and A View to a Kill, made by Frank Foster. Though the style is best worn with double cuffs, Bond wears his with button cuffs. Likewise, a spread collar is the best collar to be in white, though point collars can work well too. White collars and cuffs are most stylishly paired with a body that includes white. Bond’s shirts have white in the form of bengal stripes, though it’s also common to see a white collar on an end-on-end shirt. Collars and cuffs typically wear out before the body of a shirt wears out, and the collar and cuffs of almost any dressier shirt can be replaced with white since it’s typically impossible to find the original cloth for replacements. And even if the original cloth is obtainable it’s not going to match a shirt that has been washed many times. Checks don’t mate so well with white collars because of the difference in formality and purpose. White collars are a rather dressy style and are excellent for morning dress. For everyday wear they work best with a suit or a dressier blazer but are best avoided wearing with other sports coats and without a coat or tie. And because of their daywear tradition they are best worn during the day.

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Roger Moore wearing a pink bengal stripe shirt with a white collar and cuffs in A View to a Kill.

Though Bond only wears shirts with a white collar and cuffs in two films, Roger Moore wears them in his personal life, as well as in some earlier films and television, like in Street People and The Persuaders. In The Man Who Haunted Himself he wears a plain white detachable collar with a white self-stripe shirt. Pierce Brosnan occasionally wears shirts with a white collar—but not white cuffs—in Remington Steele, mostly with suits but occasionally with blazers.

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Pierce Brosnan wearing a blue (probably end-on-end) shirt with a pinned white collar in the 1982 episode of Remington Steele titled “You’re Steele the One for Me”.

Remington Steele: Button One Glen Urquhart Suit

When Remington Steele began in 1982, Pierce Brosnan had a wardrobe of classic, English-inspired suits. As the series progress Brosnan switched over to modern Italian fashions, such as low-buttoning double-breasted suits. Very few of the series’ original suits made it past the second season, but one that did was a 3-piece, 1-button black and cream Glen Urquhart check suit with an intersecting red windowpane. This suit was first seen in the second episode of the series and saw many appearances throughout the first season and in promotional photos. Brosnan wore it once in the second season, sans waistcoat, and once again in the fifth episode of the third season, titled “Blue Blooded Steele.” The images here are taken from that episode, where Steele impersonates a duke. And what an fitting suit for a duke.

with Efrem Zilbalist, Jr.

Most of Brosnan’s suits from the beginning of the series were 3-piece suits, but this is only one of two that had a single-button jacket. The 1-button suit jacket may be cut just like a 2-button suit jacket—as Brosnan’s is here—or it may be cut away more at the front skirt. The button (black on this suit) should be at the same place as the top button on a 2-button suit. 1-button suits saw their highest popularity in the 1960′s where they could be seen on television stars such as Patrick Macnee, Don Adams, Dick Van Dyke and Eddie Albert, and jazz musicians like Miles Davis. Some people continued to wear 1-button suits, such as former game show host Bob Barker, and H. Huntsman on Savile Row is famously known for the style.

A close-up of the fabric and the slanted shoulder seam. With Stephanie Zimbalist.

This jacket is cut with pagoda shoulders and a shoulder seam that runs diagonally back down the shoulder rather than straight across like most do. It has deep double vents, flapped pockets and 3-button cuffs. The waistcoat has a 5-button front with the bottom worn open. The trousers have a flat front, a straight leg and plain hems. The only thing wrong with this suit is that the trousers are worn with a belt, which disrupts the line of waistcoat. In Remington Steele, Pierce Brosnan routinely wears his 3-piece suits —and even his dinner suits—with a belt.

Brosnan’s pale blue shirt has a moderate spread collar, placket front and double cuffs. The narrow tie is black with a pattern of silver ovals, tied in a small four-in-hand knot. A casually stuffed red silk handkerchief brings out the red windowpane in the suit. Brosnan wears black shoes and a black belt.