It had been a long time since I’d watched a Cary Grant film, as his oeuvre doesn’t contain much set in the Middle Ages, Ancient Greece, or prehistoric times. But this weekend I watched “The Bishop’s Wife” from 1947, and in it Grant wears a noteworthy outfit. Then again, I suppose the point is that everything he wore was noteworthy, because it was understated and tasteful and he carried anything off with such charisma.
Throughout “The Bishop’s Wife” Grant wears a gray suit in the hybrid cut he often wore, and which was very typical for the period. It features full-cut trousers and a long jacket with moderately squared shoulders, no vent, and a low button stance. But it’s a three-button rolled to the center, and Grant doesn’t fasten the bottom button as he sometimes did in the ’40s. The suit is paired with a couple of traditional classics: a white buttondown and rep tie. When you’re as good-looking as Grant, you don’t need much more. And yet at one point he is given a natty scarf to wear, and this one dash of flash bestows his singular cinematic glamour. It’s a reminder that you only need one stylish item per outfit to look distinguished.
By a bizarre coincidence, as I was preparing this post I received an email from Ivy Style contributor and frequent commenter “BC,” who mentioned watching the film this weekend as well (I watched a DVD and BC saw it streaming, so the coincidence had nothing to do with the film airing on television). He too noted the movie’s Christmas setting, and how this isn’t exactly the right time of year for it, but also said, “I can’t think of anyone who looked more comfortable in a suit than Cary Grant. An icon from a age long gone.” Indeed, and just like the young preppies in “Making The Grade,” consider studying Grant for lessons in how to “Cary” yourself with aplomb.
By the way, there was another Cary Grant coincidence over the weekend, as Richard Press’ latest column for J. Press mentions him. — CC
Just watched the trailer.
What a joy it was to listen to clearly spoken English.
CC, glad to see this post, not only because I am a HUGE fan of Cary Grant, but also because I was having problems getting to your website. Was I the only one?
Jim, we had some issues for a while about two months ago. I’ve only heard one other person say he’s had trouble logging on recently. You may have to refresh your browser or manually make sure that it is going to htttp ivy style and not https.
Mr. Grant is featured on the front AND rear covers of “Dressing the Man” by Alan Flusser. There is no greater endorsement of Brummellian elegance and sophistication.
Probably the best dressed man in history.
Richard Torregrossa’s book, Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style is satisfyingly comprehensive:
Thanks for the tech (on top of the style and culture) tip, CC.
The Bishop’s Wife is my all time favorite Christmas movie. Own it and watch every December.
As a younger man, Cary Grant wore some patterns, but eventually the original Mr. Tall, Dark, and Handsome realized that he didn’t need them, and he mostly wore solids.
His most notable “stand out” trick was to wear light socks with his dark suits (grays, mostly).
We could all learn something from his elegance and restraint.