Tuesday 7 February 2012

Cary Grant - Style Icon

Second in the style icon stakes after Fred Astaire must surely be Mr Archie Leach - a.k.a Cary Grant.

All images courtesy of Doctor Macro.

While Fred Astaire was the epitome of elegance, Cary Grant runs him close but was also able to display a characteristic that was out of Astaire's reach - ruggedness.  Grant was not only at home in a well-tailored suit, evening wear or the casual look, but also more rough-and-ready clothes - which he still managed to make look good.  Of course this also allowed him to play a wide range of parts, from society playboy through city executive to tough pilot, yet still he remained stylish throughout.

In evening wear he may not have been able to quite match the effortless sophistication of Fred Astaire but he was very natural, which allowed him to pull off the stylish look by appearing at ease with his dress and surroundings.

It could be argued that few people looked better in a standard lounge- or three-piece suit, which is further testament to his leading man image and wonderfully self-assured attitude.  This look transcended to his life off-camera as well, as we shall see in a moment.

Thanks to his handsomeness and general physique Cary Grant could also carry off (no pun intended!) more dashing clothing.  Although often just a costume even then garments were not just thrown together but designed to give the ideal look.  Having said that, of course, he couldn't get away with everything(!):

Off-screen Grant kept up with the fashions of the day in much the same way as Astaire and other contemporary actors did.  Looking just as suave and stylish as he did in front of the camera, Cary Grant wore suits in a beautifully debonair manner.

The naturalness that was so evident on screen is just as visible in public, and it is splendid to see such easiness, such dignity.  I said earlier that he was not quite able to match Astaire's effortlessness but by Jove!, he wasn't far off.

Like so many stylish men and women over the years, much of Cary Grant's sophistication is due to body language.  Here was a man who not only appreciated a good suit but also knew just how to make it look good on him.  As with Astaire's grace, it is something that all the fine clothing in the world can't give you.  One could practice, and dress like Cary Grant, but never quite get the nuances that he had in abundance.  Just take a look at this(!):

Even dressed casually to relax Cary Grant remains stylish, but he was able to take the look in a slightly different direction to Astaire.  Even more so than with Fred's sports jackets, cravats and cardigans Grant's look is perhaps still even more attainable today.

Perhaps it is the woeful standard of "casual wear" today that makes a simple pullover and slacks look stylish, but in actual fact such a look is ridiculously easy to obtain.  The addition of a cravat or the variation of jumper simply adds to outfit.

The fact that I have found so many more pictures of Cary Grant sporting different looks is proof of his versatility as an actor and his ability to mix disparate styles of clothing so successfully.  It's only fitting that I finish with this fantastic selection of clips of the man in action in some of his best films.


  1. Well, I left my first love, Jimmy Stewart, for him when I was 8 or so, and that should say something...But joke aside, I wholeheartedly agree about Grant. His charisma went beyond looks and had a great deal to do with the easiness in his own skin, the naturalness in his attire, the way he carried himself. One of the most stylish men that ever graced the screen, without any doubt.

  2. I read a biography of Mr Grant last year written by his long suffering secretary, he is a suave 'on screen' favourite of mine, and you just can't beat his suit and salt'n'pepper look!! X

  3. Hello ol' chap, great post. I'd love to share it on Twitter if I may, with your permission?

  4. He is one of my all time favourites, what a handsome man and that smile... sigh.

  5. Super stylish and handsome (well, except for that odd 'wig' photo I will now never be able to un-see)! I must say I prefer his look to many of the very styled stars of the era, as you say, it just seems more natural.

  6. A true star in every sense of the word. One of my all time favourites too. Handsome, stylish and a great sense of comic timing. Sickening isn't it?!! :-) Thank you for sharing.

  7. Our boys get very excited every time we find a new Cary Grant movie at the library! They LOVE him and I hope some of his charm will rub off on them.

    Thank you so much for following my blog! :)

  8. *Loved* this post. He makes me swoon. I loved watching the old black and white films on my teeny tiny black and white portable tv in my room. When school life was troublesome the likes of Cary Grant and Dirk Bogarde made my days so much better.


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