Thursday, August 14, 2014

Jimmy Stewart Style: The Later Years

I've been a fan of Jimmy Stewart, both as an actor and a stylish dresser, for as long as I can remember. Born in 1908, he was of a generation that dressed well for regular, daily life as a matter of course. 

The waning days of summer always make me long for tweed, which often makes me think of a great photo of an elderly Jimmy Stewart wearing a gorgeous tweed jacket in Alan Flusser's book "Dressing the Man." 

Stewart's style, as shown in the book and in some of the photos below, appears (obviously these photos are of just random single days in his life; maybe they're not indicative) to have evolved in his later years, more away (but not exclusively, of course) from suits and more toward more casual (back when that was still a meaningful distinction) tweeds and blazers. These photos (and the one in Flusser's book) show him becoming especially fond of gorgeous, loud houndstooth tweed jackets and of pinning his shirt collars. 


Jimmy Stewart and his wife Gloria in NYC in 1983 

Jimmy Stewart and Henry Fonda in London in 1975

This photo exemplifies the timelessness of trad style. 

Fonda's clothes -- with the flared trousers; wide tie; the wide lapels, low button stance and overly-padded shoulders of his jacket; and possibly 70s shoes -- look dated (although he still looks fantastic by today's gym-clothes-for-all-occasions standards).  

But Stewart's moderately-tapered gray flannels with big (probably 2-inch) cuffs; black tassel loafers; shirt with pinned, moderate-length collar points; and moderate-width repp tie look looked fantastic then, and still look fantastic nearly 40 years later. 

The only problem is his (presumably) navy blazer, because the lapels are too narrow, and the shoulders maybe a little too padded. (I also dislike the lack of pocket square. And I'm not a fan of the overly-neat look of a tie clip, especially with a blazer or sport jacket, but that's a minor quibble.)

Jimmy Stewart in London in 1977

Jimmy Stewart in navy blazer and gray flannels

Jimmy Stewart in a more subdued herringbone tweed, with OCBD and knit tie 

Several of these photos were taken outdoors; Stewart -- previously one of the great hat-wearers -- unfortunately seems to have abandoned his fedoras in his later years. But he otherwise looks terrific in these photos.


Roger v.d. Velde said...

The 'subdued houdstooth'is actually a herringbone pattern!

In some of the photos Jimmy looks like he is in RTW and to be honest he wouldn't have been dressing all that different from a dozen hundred other men of his age and era. Suits declined a little and lots of men wore trousers and odd jackets. What else could he have worn as an alternative?

Johnny said...

Thanks for catching my mistake. That was what I meant to write: that herringbone is inherently more subdued than even the quietest houndstooth. I fixed it.

Yes, I'm sure you could find innumerable photos from the 1970s-80s of men of Stewart's generation dressed similarly. The point is that I wish men in this era still dressed that way.