Last year, we began a series about Hercule Poirot and his clothes. Today, we would like to continue the series with a portrait of Captain Arthur Hastings – Poirot’s loyal associate.
Hastings’ clothes are often a tad more casual, yet by today’s standards he is always wonderfully dressed and in my opinion, we can draw a great deal of inspiration from his great sense of style!
The Character Captain Arthur Hastings
Captain Arthur Hastings (Hugh Fraser) may not be as famous as Sherlock Holmes’ sidekick Dr. Watson, but in the long running BBC series Poirot, he makes for a far more interesting and relatable character. Much loved by the audience, his charming, bumbling, and supremely loyal character is marvelously played by actor Hugh Fraser. Originally written by Agatha Christie, the books that form the basis of the series featured Cpt. Hastings in only eight of the 33 Poirot stories. Luckily for us, his role in the film production has been much more substantial.
Cpt. Hastings plays many roles in the film series, most of which hark back to the original novels. Interestingly, it appears that Mrs. Christie modeled the character of Hastings after Dr. Watson; they were both portrayed as rather slow, they are the only true friend of their sleuth compatriots and they both assume the physical duties of crime fighting. Indeed, Hastings inability to quickly understand clues discovered by the impossibly smart Poirot is meant to simulate the experience of the audience. Like Hastings, the readers or viewers are only meant to understand the case fully when Poirot stages the final reveal.
Poirot is a deliberate man, and choice of his sidekick is no exception. Though it is never explicitly stated, knowing Poirot, he would be unlikely to choose a sidekick who was lax about his dress and manner of personal presentation. In addition, Poirot’s reputation often precedes him when solving a case and his sidekick would need to invite the confidences of others. Hastings’ personality is perfectly suited to achieve this, since he comes across as humorous, imaginative, a bit naïve and thoroughly affable. Really, he is the opposite of the arrogant, highly intelligent and deeply logical Poirot. A former officer in WWI, Hastings is in his mid-forties during most of the episodes, though his style, bachelorhood, and love of cars, golf and racing suggests a more youthful, masculine energy.
The Clothes of Arthur Hastings
Though the clothing of the crime-solving pair was not often discussed in the novels, the film production has a different responsibility. As a visual medium, the clothing of both Poirot and Hastings is a representation of their time. In his own way, Hastings dresses as sharply as Poirot, though their approach is (as expected) quite different. Poirot is set in his ways; he knows what he likes, he rigidly adheres to the sartorial expectations of his youth, and he does not vary from his repertoire. He focuses more on perfecting his existing style, while Hastings enjoys variety and the youthful styles of the day. In truth, Hastings is just as sartorially savvy as his fastidious partner, if not more. For instance, Hastings is much more British in the sense that he adheres to the era-specific rules of town and country dress. In town, he is usually wearing a suit in town fabrics and colors, while reserving his tweeds, Ulster coat and sporting clothing for the country. Poirot, on the other hand, wears his regular combination of a bow tie, Homburg hat and patent leather shoes even when he is in the country.
Fortunately, Hastings is not shy of colors and so he can be seen in fair isle sweaters, breeches, leather jackets and many other long-lost garments. He rarely wears the formal Homburg hat, and if so, it is unusually reserved for evenings with his tuxedo. Otherwise, he is generally a proponent of the snap brim hat, which Poirot would undoubtedly find too informal. Often times, his snap brims have a wide brim and a large crown, however, his appreciation of variety means that I could always draw inspiration from his hat bands and ribbons. Where most men would wear a black ribbon with a grey hat, Hastings opts for a silver one; instead of a mid-brown hat, he chooses a light beige or orange.
When in town, Hastings wears 1930’s high rise, full cut trousers with his single – or double-breasted coat. His modestly spread, classic collar is usually complimented by an interesting tie in harmonious colors. My only complaint is that, on occasion, his collars are too large.
He can also be seen in classic outfits such as a navy blazer with gold buttons, patch pockets and grey flannel trousers. Interestingly, he likes to button just the lower button on a double breasted 4×2 or 6×2 jacket, despite the Jacket lacking a Kent Fasson.
Moreover, Cpt. Hastings wears gloves very regularly, even when wearing a suit without an overcoat. Unlined gloves are certainly a traditional luxury that has all but vanished; once a symbol of wealth, unlined gloves kept the hands clean out of doors in addition to their style function.
As an avid lover of all kinds of sports and cars, you can also see Hastings in occasion-specific garments. In this picture, you can see him in golf attire. His dark brown velour leather blouson jacket is combined with a light brown hat, fair isle sweater vest, red tie, beige breeches, light khaki over the calf socks, and mid brown – off white spectator shoes. When was the last time you have seen somebody dressed like that on the golf course? The blouson even features action pleats so he can swing freely.
Overall, he dresses less flamboyantly than his best friend Poirot, but he is always well put together. In combination with his likeable, relaxed personality, his style is classic, effortless, and eminently enjoyable. If you have not already watched the series, we can only recommend it!
What do you think about his outfits? Do they inspire you?