Great Gatsby Men's Fashion & Clothing

Great Gatsby Men’s Fashion & Brooks Brothers Clothing

Strolling through the streets of NYC at the present means you simply cannot escape Baz Luhrmann’s F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby at any moment. Subway stations, bulletin boards, newspapers… all are full of ads for the latest adaptation starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan, Tobey Maguire, Isla Fisher, Joel Edgerton, Jason Clarke and Adelaide Clemens. While the world premiere took place just recently, the official release of the movie will be May 10 in the US.

Gatsby Film Cover

Gatsby Film Cover

Time for us to take an in depth look at some of the over 500 men’s costumes used in the movie. Since all of them were made by Brooks Brothers their Southwick, MA  facility, I had to visit the company’s flagship store on 346 Madison Ave to learn more about it. BB created a small selection of clothes inspired by the movie and the era that is currently for sale. According to Jason Nickel, the first pieces are already sold out and so I wanted to focus on the collection, its authenticity and some of the film costumes exhibited in the Brooks Brothers store.

Evening Dress & White Tie ensemble made by Brooks Brothers for the Gatsby movie

Evening Dress & White Tie ensemble made by Brooks Brothers for the Gatsby movie

346 Madison Ave

This is first time that I have had the opportunity to see the entire building and overall I was quite pleased. Once I stepped through the original 1915 pewter doors, the first thing I saw was red carpet, palm trees, a big chandelier, Gatsby posters and the costumes in the aisle. The largest Brooks Brothers store was nicely decorated and a large portion of the first floor was dedicated to their Gatsby collection. To my surprise, they displayed more than their film merchandise, so many costumes that were actually used in the movie were on view.

Gatsby Club blazer display at Brooks Brothers on Madison Ave

Gatsby Club blazer display at Brooks Brothers on Madison Ave

The blazers were bold and fun but it definitely takes a more extroverted personality to wear them.

Midnight blue tailcoat with patent leather suede button boots

Midnight blue tailcoat with patent leather suede button boots

Surprisingly, Brooks Brothers had quite a few tailcoats on display, but sadly they did not offer one as part of their collection although they still sell their regular white tie ensembles. I immediately spotted the vintage features of the cut, such as a very high rise of the pants and the shoulder seams. Of course, the fit was off because they were presented on mannequins but they still looked distinctly vintage. On the other hand, the buttonholes were of much poorer quality and more in line what you are used to from modern machine made garments. Unlike Southern Europeans, Americans were early adapters of machines in clothing production. Still, it did not seem true vintage at all, and so it was not surprising to hear that these were the tailcoats used in the movie, made in the modern Brooks Brothers factory in Southwick.

Stunning evening dress & gatsby tailcoat with 2 decorative buttons on each side

Stunning evening dress & Gatsby tailcoat with 2 decorative buttons on each side

Note the two decorative buttons rather than two on each side…

Vintage reproduction shawl collar tux with flaps from the Gatsby Collection

Vintage reproduction shawl collar tux with flaps from the Gatsby Collection

Although the British would never have put flaps on a proper dinner jacket, Americans experimented more and added flaps on their tuxedos. Note the short shawl collar that widens at the bottom – this is a distinct vintage look that you won’t find today unless you specifically tailor a piece for this look.

Black tie Gatsby selection at Brooks Brothers

Black tie Gatsby selection at Brooks Brothers

BB reproduction of old tailcoats from old patterns

BB reproduction of old tailcoats from old patterns

Midnight blue Herringbone tailcoat & tuxedo frame marvelous Gatsby evening gown

Midnight blue Herringbone tailcoat & tuxedo frame marvelous Gatsby evening gown

I am not sure how popular midnight blue tailcoats were in the 20′s but this herringbone version seems quite bold to me.

Original vintage tailcoat from Brooks Brothers - Look at the eight of the collar, bow tie and tailoring of the coat - superior to the reproductions in any facet

Original vintage tailcoat from Brooks Brothers – Look at the height of the collar, bow tie and tailoring of the coat – superior to the reproductions in all respects

Brooks Brothers also issued some pictures from their archive showing their vintage coats. Overall the cut as well as the details are superior to the reproductions. For example, look at the shape of the lapel, the bow tie as well as the detachable wing collar – all spot on.

Adjustable bow tie & boutonniere without a loop

Adjustable bow tie & boutonniere without a loop

Now compare it to the modern day version – the bow tie reveals the side adjuster – an absolute don’t – and the boutonniere dangles on the side because it lacks a boutonniere loop.

Midnight blue herringbone tailcoat from the movie - not available to the public

Midnight blue herringbone tailcoat from the movie – not available to the public

Typical 1920's short shawl collar lapel

Typical 1920′s short shawl collar lapel

The Gatsby Collection by Brooks Brothers

As you can imagine, BB only reproduced a small portion of the Gatsby costumes for the public, because it is a very specific style. Some of the pieces are already sold out – the pink linen striped suit is not one of them, which seems hardly surprising. It was probably meant to be an eye catcher, not a best seller.

Gatsby collection at the 5th floor Brooks Brother 346 Madison Ave

Gatsby collection at the 5th floor Brooks Brother 346 Madison Ave

Gatsby collection accessories & spectator shoes

Gatsby collection accessories & spectator shoes

I like the fact that BB brought back the boater, because it is difficult to find vintage ones in large sizes.

Selection of garments for the Gatsby collection

Selection of garments for the Gatsby collection

Gatsby Bow Tie selection

Gatsby Bow Tie selection

Interestingly, they also offered white bow ties in silk although they did not offer a tailcoat – maybe they were inspired by Obama’s outfit with a dinner jacket and white tie…

Evening pumps by Peal Co

Evening pumps by Peal Co

Green shawl collar cardigan - can be purchased.

Green shawl collar cardigan – can be purchased.

The green shawl collar cardigan was one of the pieces that made it from the actual movies to the store shelves. Overall I find it quite well designed and I hope the cotton is of decent quality but only time will tell.

Original Brooks Brothers Boater hats

Original Brooks Brothers Boater hats

Tattersall & Ginham inspired vest

Tattersall & Gingham inspired vest

Contrasting vests seem to be increasingly popular and they are indeed a fantastic way to change up your outfits.

Brooks Brothers Gatsby Decoration

Brooks Brothers Gatsby Decoration

White herringbone linen suit with blue shirt and collar bar

White herringbone linen suit with blue shirt and collar bar

Single breasted peaked lapel suits are a bit more glamorous than their notched lapel counterparts. As such, Tom Ford has always been an avid supporter of this style and since it was also popular in the 1920′s it is just normal to see this style in the Gatsby collection. Also, collar pins and bars were omnipresent – I hope to see more of them in the street style pictures shortly.

Pink linen suit close-up with repp tie & collar bar

Pink linen suit close-up with repp tie & collar bar

Glamourous Display with Moet & Chandon bottles

Glamourous Display with Moet & Chandon bottles

Pink striped linen suit

Pink striped linen suit

First floor Gatsby display

First floor Gatsby display

Pros & Cons

Although I liked the general approach to the Gatsby collection, and the fact that BB put some effort into making the style accessible to a larger audience with lighter fabrics and modern day construction, the pictures of the models wearing the clothes are not flattering – once you examine the details. Cuffs are way too wide, shirt collars are overly large, shoes don’t fit, etc. I really wonder who was responsible for these pictures.

I look forward to see the fit of the clothes in the movie and I will discuss authenticity once the movie is actually in theaters. Based on my past experiences, I am sure, the fit will not be anything worth mentioning and it won’t be authentic either, but Baz Luhrman is not exactly a stickler for 100% reproduction, so that’s fine. Nevertheless, it must be mentioned that the British generally do a much better job providing authentic clothing, and make the show hugely popular – Downton Abbey is a good example of that.

What do you think of the Gatsby Collection?

Green Shawl collar cardigan with leather buttons Brooks Brothers Gatsby Collection

Green Shawl collar cardigan with leather buttons Brooks Brothers Gatsby Collection

Striped blazer with gold buttons - Gatsby collection

Striped blazer with gold buttons – Gatsby collection

Just look at these cuffs and the way the trousers fall.

Navy Blazer with piping - Brooks Brothers Gatsby Collection

Navy Blazer with piping – Brooks Brothers Gatsby Collection

Brooks Brothers Gatsby combination with vest & belt

Brooks Brothers Gatsby combination with vest & belt

Belts with vests – a classic faux pas.

Gatsby Collection tuxedo with peaked lapels, flap pockets and patterned SB vest

Gatsby Collection tuxedo with peaked lapels, flap pockets and patterned SB vest

Gatsby Collection White herringbone single breasted suit with peaked lapel

Gatsby Collection white herringbone single breasted suit with peaked lapel

What do you think of the collection?

41 replies
  1. Jay Thorington
    Jay Thorington says:

    Thank you so much for this piece. I am anxiously awaiting your authenticity article. Meanwhile, I will be attending a viewing, boater topping off me best 1920s impression.

  2. Ahmed Sajeel
    Ahmed Sajeel says:

    One is tempted to believe that Ralph Lauren did a better job in the 1974 version

  3. Elliot Nesterman
    Elliot Nesterman says:

    I recall reading, in Alan Flusser I think, that is was the Duke of Windsor who first had evening wear made in midnight blue. I don’t remember if it was after his abdication or while he was Prince of Wales, but it seems to have been in the 30s that he started that innovation.
    Also, loafers in the 20s? With a suit? Tsk tsk tsk.

    • Hal
      Hal says:

      It was whilst he was the Prince of Wales – his influence on general menswear rather diminished after the abdication.

      According to the Black Tie Guide, he started the trend for midnight blue in the 1920s which gradually became more popular and this crept into American clothing in the 1930s, initially recommended only for less formal versions of evening clothes but by 1934 accepted for all types.

      All-in-all, I think that the midnight blue colour for the tailcoat is in keeping with the period, therefore. The herringbone shadow stripe, however, is not. That said, some liberties with movie costumes have to be allowed and Baz Luhrman is unlikely to worry about complete verisimilitude, is he?

  4. Richard Meyer
    Richard Meyer says:

    A marketing ploy with little real appreciation for the authentic styles. Belts with vests, low rise pants,etc. dislike.

    • Hal
      Hal says:

      Of course it is a marketing ploy. What else could it be?

      It seems like a good way of energising their brand to me. It nods to 20s styling whilst also looking to appeal to the contemporary Ralph Lauren wearing American. It might not all be to everyone’s taste, it certainly isn’t all to mine, but I think it’s a good idea and likely to encourage interest in classic looks.

  5. Kevin
    Kevin says:

    Thanks for your insights about the authenticity and quality of the “Gatsby” collection. Unfortunately, they came close to my thoughts about the new movie, based on the raucous clips I’ve seen, the knowledge that the soundtrack music is unrelated to the 1920s and the previous work of the actors in the new production. I expect the upcoming 3-D movie to be a completely trashy travesty.

    Of the new clothes, the green shawl-collar sweater might be worth investigating and investing in, but it is difficult to imagine wearing any of the other items. The pink-stripe suit is better than anticipated, but it — and the white suit — would have limited, if any, use in the wardrobes of most people today (except, possibly, those who live in tropical resort areas).

    One strong point of the 1974 version of “The Great Gatsby” was its attention to detail and style. Both the men’s and women’s wardrobes were thought-through and varied. (It seems that the women in the new movie wear far too much black, if the examples on display are indicative of their clothing overall; there were far more pastels and differing cuts and lines in real life back then and in the 1974 movie.) Another selling point of the 1974 movie was its music, which used period sounds (including the voice of Nick Lucas, who sounded as fresh and correct in 1974 as he did in his vintage 1920s recordings). Too, Robert Redford, Bruce Dern, Sam Watterston, Lois Chiles and Mia Farrow were, in my judgment, especially adept at capturing their characters. And there was fidelity to the book, an important consideration!

    The awful1949 Alan Ladd movie was, possibly, the next best — although Shelley Winters over-emoted “Myrtle” was unintentionally hilarious and melodramatic, especially in her death scene. A 1920s’ cinematic version of “The Great Gatsby” was made on the cheap and looked it, and like the 1949 version, it seemed to veer far away from the source material. And the relatively recent made-for-television version with Paul Rudd was also dreadful.

    See the Brooks Brothers’ collection in the store for the novelty of it if you can, but save your money. Rent the 1974 movie if you’re at all interested in seeing a sensitive interpretation of Fitzgerald’s masterpiece.

  6. PATRICK LESUEUR
    PATRICK LESUEUR says:

    Dear Swen,
    The movie on Gatsby is not on the french screens yet, but the first images I have seen about the clothes makes me suspicious about the respect of the twenties period. Most of people thinks the job made by Ralph Lauren on the 1974 version was great, but I don ‘t share this idea. I had the impression than Lauren (for wich I have a real admiration) was not the right fellow for the mission. Have a look of images of this film now and look at the large trousers, jacket size and shape, wrong type of shirts, enormous ties knots, modern caps etc., all this was seventies not twenties !
    Make clothes for a vintage period movie is not the same job than running a clothes company, at my opinion Milena Canonero who have worked often with Coppola, is one of the best for the 20′s 40s’ men (and women) fashion at cinema.
    Keep on the good work
    Patrick LESUEUR

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      I have not seen the 1974 version in a while but if I recell correctly, it was not accurate in many respects and frankly I cannot think of any American production that did that. Maybe people do not care about, cannot find authentic clothes or simply want to be different, I don’t know…
      I have to look at Milena Canonero stuff in the future but the English do a much better job for sure.

  7. Jacques de M. MacMaster
    Jacques de M. MacMaster says:

    Thank you for this report, Mr Schneider. Wonderful that you care enough about the current trends to expose them intelligently….

    Tasteful interpretations of ’20s standards are again bastardised by low-waist trousers, belts showing below waistcoat hems, and evening dress cutaway coats made anachronistic by white vests cut too long (reflections of the pinned-on boutonnières in “Boardwalk Empire”).

    It is nice that this film will likely encourage young persons to dress better, at least for awhile, but the proportions of this silhouette are wrong; too much of the sad Zeitgeist and too little respect for Fitzgerald’s classically twisted world–Brooks Brothers lost the plot.

  8. Mark Rawlinson
    Mark Rawlinson says:

    Raphael,

    I have been thinking about this matter from a different angle. Sure the Gatsby/BB pieces are not authentic and not necessarily made in the finest manner, but what if the movie has the ability to motivate people to dress better? I’m not thinking of the people who follow this site, but those that may have never stepped inside a Brooks Brothers store. There is potentially a great upside if the movie gives inspiration to those who could benefit from a better wardrobe.

    I have been remiss sending you some photos of the Vitale Barberis Canonico fabric. They are out for their cleaning before storage. Once back, I will try and get something to you as promised.

    Best Wishes!

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Mark,
      you certainly have a point. If more people become interested in dressing well because of Gatsby, then all the more power to them.
      No worries about the fabric, I managed to see real samples.

  9. Jeff Armstrong
    Jeff Armstrong says:

    I loved the Ralph Lauren designed clothes for the Robert Redford/Mia Farrow version of Gatsby. I am looking forward to seeing the wardrobe for the new version. The shawl collar sweater is a distinctive classic that looks as appropriate today as it did then. I hope they kept the Turnbull & Asser shirt flinging closet scene!

  10. Matt
    Matt says:

    Interesting piece. However, I think you could use a copywriter/proofreader as many of the articles have grammatical errors. Thanks for sharing!

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Matt, thank you for your comment. We do have a proofreader indeed but nobody is 100% perfect. However, I look forward to your email pointing out the specific grammatical errors in “many of the articles”.

  11. Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken
    Gernot_Freiherr_von_Donnerbalken says:

    First of all I’d like to thank our dear author for another very insightful article.
    The order from top to bottom the pieces of the collection are presented in is very accurate forasmuch as the green cardigan and the striped blazer are the most fashionable items.
    Certainly, there are a lot of flaws in that collection with regards to historical authenticity. Anyway, it is not the intention of Brooks Brothers to offer reenactment gear but to inspire people to shop at theirs who might be inspired by that new picturization.

  12. Mark Seitelman
    Mark Seitelman says:

    Terrible.

    That is how I would categorize both the film (as seen in trailers) and the Brooks Brothers collection (as seen on the web and at its Liberty Street store).

    As for the film, good luck to Baz Luhrman. The trailers indicate a loud, vulgar film suitable for teenagers who make-up the majority of the film audience. It is for those with short attention spans. I have no intention of seeing it.

    As for the Brooks Brothers collection, I cannot blame them for trying to cash-in on the movie. Perhaps it will get a few rubes to buy it. I can hear them exclaim in joy, “look at me, I bought the same shirt that Leonardo DiCapprio wore.”

    As with most recreated looks of modern times past, the look is off in clothing, hair, make-up, and posture. It doesn’t look like the 1920′s. Neither did the Robert Redford version which was a 1970′s rendering of the 1920′s.

    If Brooks were to sell authentic Gatsby clothes, there were be no takers. Except for some Roaring 20′s reenactors. The weight of the cloths alone would scare-off the customers.

    Of course, if you want to authentic 1920′s clothes, watch some silent films.

  13. Alexander Cave
    Alexander Cave says:

    An excellent illustration of Brooks Brothers’ displays, with good, thought-provoking comments to match.

    It is good to see Brooks Brothers being so encouraging, but where and when in America can most of these styles and outfits be worn confidently, without the wearer giving the impression of being in fancy dress and so drawing unwanted attention and comment from others less well-attired – always an indication that the commenter is conscious of being out-done?

    As with the recreated styles of the previous films, Brooks Brothers seem to have applied current modes of wearing to the collection – so that the modern buyer will feel comfortable in the look, even if not wholly authentic. If that gets more men into something other than jeans and t-shirt, it has to be good and encouraged.

    It is interesting that so many period film-makers fall short of fully correct authenticity in the costumes, when there is a wealth of imagery and other sources from which to draw accurate inspiration. You suggest the British are better at at costume dramas of this sort than Americans, and mention Downton Abbey as an example, but there are many who think the men’s costumes in Downton Abbey are far from accurate, especially in the mode of wear. Many would say that the 1981 Brideshead Revisited television series was far superior in this respect.

    But we have to remember that film adaptations of novels are primarily entertainment, and will always be subject to costume interpretations and a result of current fashions, in order to increase audience appeal. However, it would be nice to think that the latest Great Gatsby will provide sufficient inspiration to great numbers, and herald a general return to an age of elegance and style. We live in hope.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      Dear Alexander, I agree with you that Downton Abbey is not 100% perfect in regard to authenticity in men’s clothing (if you follow the link in the article, you will see that I said that myself), neither is Poirot. Brideshead Revisited is good indeed, but all of them are far better than any American production I know.

  14. Marc Chevalier
    Marc Chevalier says:

    The last American film with extremely authentic 1920s (and early ’30s) costuming was Francis Ford Coppola’s “The Cotton Club”, which Milena Canonero costumed in 1984.

  15. Alexander Cave
    Alexander Cave says:

    I guess the best we can say of any costume drama, from whatever period, is that they are inspired by the styles and fashions of the period, and are meant to be representational as their portrayal incorprates varying degrees of atistic licence in order to be appealing to modern audiences.

    Brooks Brothers have put a commendable effort into their Gatsby collection, and they must have confidence there will be many inspired to acquired ‘the look’ and BB will cash-in nicely. Those of us who have sufficient knowledge of what is authentic will not be fooled – and can be smug in that knowledge!

    Perhaps the Briish are better at making costume dramas as they have a huge wealth of archive material readily available in the form of the Victoria and Albert museum whose textile and costume records are second to none, and the British cultural legacy leaves little room for error. However, Americans are not normally happy to be outdone – especially by the British – so other factors must be in play if our views are accurate.

    My own belief is that film makers cut corners on accuracy on the assumption that the vast majority of audiences will know no better, and that the film is only viewed for simple entertainment. Absolute accuracy is abandoned to the realms of historical documentary – and the Gentleman’s Gazette!

  16. Dave
    Dave says:

    I agree with you, Raphael. I liked the way some of the Gatsby collection looked online, so I went up to Brooks Brothers to try a few of the items on. I wasn’t expecting authentic 20′s designs, just modern clothing inspired by the 20′s. Even at that I was unimpressed, and I didn’t end up buying anything. The two items I was mainly interested in looking at were the off-white “ecru” dress shirt with golf collar and wood buttons, and the green shawl collar cardigan. The golf collar dress shirt is nice looking and the fabric is thick and satisfying, but I laughed when I tried it on. It is advertised online as a “slim fit”. It would only qualify as a slim fit on John Goodman. The thing fit like a tent. Similarly, the green shawl cardigan looks quite nice, but the fabric is too weighty for the weave. I could almost feel it stretching out of shape as I tried it on. In comparison to the vintage 1933 varsity cardigan I was wearing when I walked in the store (and cost me a total of $75 on ebay including shipping), which is a nice tailored fit in a tight weave with lots of rebound, the Brooks Brothers version is pretty cheaply made and clumsy.
    The linen suits looked ok, but it’s $1000 off the rack for the entire thing. I could never justify it knowing that for $400-$500 more I could have one made for me in the material of my choosing that would fit like a glove. Overall, the looks of the things are ok, but the quality is bad and everything is too expensive for off the rack.

    • Sven Raphael Schneider
      Sven Raphael Schneider says:

      I have heard the complaints about the slim fit shirts being baggy as well. It is difficult to compare vintage quality and prices of vintage ebay goods and new goods, because new is always more expensive, even if it is worse. At $148 retails you cannot expect a high quality cardigan today, and hence vintage is a great option, but not everybody wants to buy used goods. With so many MTM suit makers out there that are quite willing to create 20′s patterns, OTR is difficult but the advantage is you can see it, touch it and buy it right away whereas you’ll have to wait several weeks for customized clothing. If you can wait, definitely go MTM but if you need it now, there is not much choice.

  17. Florent
    Florent says:

    I’m quite eager to see the movie… I felt unconfomfortable with the inexact quotation of the early 1900′s style, but as long as it gets people to dress more elegantly, it is a win, is it not ?

    Florent
    Your cousin from France

  18. William Wright
    William Wright says:

    Hello,
    Your article is great! It points out what’s right and what’s wrong with the newly constructed costumes as well as the articles available for sale from the Gatsby Collection. And we men should follow suit as to what might be working for us as individuals.
    The other day, at Barnes and Noble Bookstore, I noticed an entire magazine devoted to Gatsby with Leonardo DiCaprio on the cover in a very nice looking Black Tie Ensemble. Upon closer inspection, I noticed the coat had two buttons on it, and it should have had only one to be a correct tuxedo of the era. The two-button tuxedo jacket is a relatively modern incarnation brought out because some gentlemen like their business suit look to continue at night. I will admit to owning a two-button myself (it’s an After Six made prior to the Dessy group takeover) and I wear it with black bow tie and cummerbund and a proper tuxedo shirt. But if you want to talk and think vintage clothing of the Gatsby Era, then a one-button tux jacket would have been more accurate; as for tails, no functional buttons there since the white picque vest would be required and is not an option.
    Hopefully, the producers got all of this production right otherwise; the version done in the early 70′s was full of fashion mistakes and other mistakes besides. We’ll soon know the outcome either way since the DVD/Blu-Ray releases will be one way to determine how well they did.

  19. Brian Nemitz
    Brian Nemitz says:

    Where can I find the brown/tan sweater that Leonardo DiCaprio wore in the movie? Please help, I love that sweater nd would like to know where to purchase one?

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    James Massey says:

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