After introducing the famous character Hercule Poirot, I would like to focus on his spectacular wardrobe.
The neatness of Poirot’s attire is incredible and spot on, yet always eccentric and sometimes a little outdated. His particularity – and thus his charm – is so extreme that it seems likely that a little dust would cause the quaint, dandified Belgian gentleman more pain than a bullet wound.
Poirot wears his suits, overcoats, dressing gowns, TV jackets, boutonnieres and tuxedos not just once but a number of times, though usually in different combinations. No outfit looks exactly as another, though they all fit the same mold. However, Mr. Suchet has gained a little bit of weight over the last 22 years and so Poirot has received new suits as well. Hercule is nearly always a little overdressed, even though the series is set in the 1930′s! His suits generally fit very well, and in a rare slip, his collar stands away from his neck occasionally.
Considering his style of clothing, the fabrics as well as the cut, I am pretty certain Poirot’s wardrobe is predominantly bespoke.
With so many Poirot films in existence, it would be impossible for me to analyze every single outfit, and hence I will limit myself to a few selected but highly representative outfits.
The “Young” Poirot
This picture shows Poirot in the 1990’s wearing a single breasted overcoat with peaked lapels, a grey striped three piece lounge suit, a waistcoat sans lapel, and a stiff fronted shirt with wing collar, bow tie and Homburg hat.
Poirot wears three piece lounge suits exclusively during the day and always a bow tie – never a regular tie. When he is at home and someone rings the door bell, you can see him quickly whisking his coat from a nearby silent butler. Poirot at home without his coat on is the nearest one will ever see Poirot to a state of undress! Also, you will
never see Mr. Poirot without cufflinks. Mostly equipped with precious stones, he prefers double cuffed shirts with a detachable collar during the day, and hard, starched evening shirts for dinner. Of course, these are also worn with detachable wing collars and starched single cuffs for cuff links.
Sadly, I have never seen him wearing a morning coat or suit. Maybe, the production team did not want to invest in such a piece, although I think it would have suited him perfectly.
Patent Leather Boots, Cane, Prince Albert Chain & Pince-Nez
Poirot nearly always wears patent leather boots, no matter whether he is in town or at a shooting event in the country. Paired with grey leather spats, he definitely looks the part – but for Hercule, that’s not enough. He usually has a cane as well as a Pince-Nez – a French term referring to a form of armless spectacles that grip the nose, which peaked in popularity around 1900. He always wears them in his left inner breast pocket and has them attached to a black string, which he uniquely twists around a button on his vest and then tucks in his pocket. In typical Poirot fashion, this small detail is in keeping with his desire for neatness. The string almost reminds me of a slip.
The fact that Poirot still wears a Pince-Nez in 1930 clearly emphasizes that he dresses in a (slightly) outdated manner. On top of that, he almost always wears a silver Prince Albert chain for his FOB watch, which is fastened through a buttonhole in his waistcoat.
Long Overcoats, Gloves & Homburg Hat
Unlike today, the overcoats used to be rather long and so it does not come as a surprise to see Poirot with longer overcoats. Of course, as a gentleman, he always wears gloves and a hat when he is out and about. The hat of his choice is clearly the more formal Homburg, whereas his more youthful associate Captain Hastings often wears a tweed cap or a snap brim. For Poirot, that would be unthinkable and so he mostly wears a mid grey Homburg which is sometimes substituted for other shades. When In Egypt or other warm climates, he prefers a straw hat – but always in the shape of a Homburg of course!
Evening Wear, Dressing Gowns & Smoking Jackets
When at home or residing as a guest, Hercule Poirot wears the most beautiful robes, dressing gowns and smoking jackets. For example, in this picture, he examines a murder victim in his paisley, purple-red silk dressing gown with a quilted shawl collar and his Pince-Nez.
At other times, he wears a navy blue velvet smoking jacket with shawl collar and cuffs in slightly contrasting blue silk, starched shirt with detachable, rounded wing collar, and single starched cuffs for cuff links, two shirt studs and silk waistcoat. As a dandy par excellence, he also has a variety of rings adorning his pinky finger.
In the evening, Poirot is a stickler for black tie, though on very rare occasions, he also wears a full (and of course correct) white tie ensemble. In keeping with his fastidiousness, Poirot often chooses to wear a lapel vase with a boutonniere.
Overall, Mr. Poirot is always dressed extremely neatly, but he is completely devoid of flexibility when it comes to his fashion choices. His strict adherence to his repertoire demonstrates a total lack of nonchalance and openness that prevents him from being a a true style icon. Certainly, the style of Poirot is not that of a real person, but much rather what Agatha Christie wanted him to be. Nevertheless, he provides a wealth of classic style inspiration if he is not taken too seriously.
In a future article, we will also take a closer look at Poirot’s associate Captain Hastings, who has great style as well.
Apart from that, our reader Brian Sheridan made us aware of the fact that the early Poirot seasons from the 1990′s will be available in Blu Ray in 2012. In my opinion, that’s fantastic because now you will be able to see Poirot’s early clothes in much great detail than ever before.