The Genteel
October 28, 2020


Leonardo DiCaprio as Jay Gatsby. Source:
Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann. Source:
Catherine Martin and Baz Luhrmann.

"They're such beautiful shirts," she sobbed, her voice muffled in the thick folds. "It makes me sad because I've never seen such - such beautiful shirts before."

Daisy Buchanan really adored Jay Gatsby's wardrobe. Understandably so; anyone visiting the preppy millionaire's West Egg estate would have been impressed by the closet filled with the finest menswear the opulent Jazz Age had to offer. Fast forward nearly a century and cue a new film adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald's classic novel, The Great Gatsby, directed by the extravagant Baz Luhrmann with costume design by Luhrmann's wife, Catherine Martin, who accessed the archives of famed American brand, Brooks Brothers.

Luhrmann's interpretation of The Great Gatsby, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Carey Mulligan and Tobey Maguire, is certainly one of the year's most anticipated movies. Literary critics are eager to judge the book-to-film consistency while film buffs are ready to stack it up against the 1974 adaptation starring Robert Redford, Mia Farrow and Sam Waterston. Teaser trailers featuring Jay-Z-produced tracks and fast paced snippets of the film have audiences primed for Luhrmann's avant-garde and definitively wild take on the Jazz Age.

With White Parties that would have made Diddy jealous, held at an estate fit for the Real Housewives of the Hamptons, Fitzgerald's depiction of the fictional Gatsby has since made the self-made millionaire an idol to preppy young men (and women) reading the classic in their high school lit classes.

The Great Gatsby collection pink stripe<br/> linen jacket. Source:
The Great Gatsby collection
pink stripe linen jacket.

Born James Gatz, the college dropout falls for the wealthy and beautiful Daisy Fay while in the army. But his social status, or lack thereof, sends Daisy into the arms of Tom Buchanan, whom she marries. Determined to win back the love of his life, Gatz becomes Gatsby, a driven entrepreneur set to climb the ladder of the East Coast society. The rural North Dakota native alters every aspect of his life, fashioning and transforming himself as he amasses his fortune. Across the water from Daisy's estate, Gatsby deliberately hosts scandalous and lavish parties raging late into the nights at his grand house. Anyone who's anyone attends. He drives a flashy yellow Rolls-Royce. Every detail of his nouveau-riche life assimilates the rags to riches man into the East Coast's affluent society.

But what would a man about town be without a wardrobe to match? Fitzgerald's own love of Brooks Brothers was no secret; he makes mention of the well-known house more than once in his writings, alluding to the shop in Tender is the Night and The Beautiful and Damned. He wore a Brooks Brothers-tailored uniform while in the army, the same outfit he was wearing when he met his wife, Zelda, for the first time.

The label celebrates its 195th birthday this year, while still making the menswear staples it began with. As the go-to haberdashery for boarding school boys and Manhattan businessmen alike, Gatsby would have undoubtedly been among Brooks Brothers' elite clientele. Its "defining of the collegiate style," as offered by Martin on the company's site, put Brooks Brothers clothing in high demand for Ivy students like Princeton graduate Fitzgerald.

Luhrmann and Martin tapped Brooks Brothers to help with the design of all the men's costumes for The Great Gatsby, a project that led the team to mine inspiration from the house's extensive archives from the 1920s. Reinterpreting the iconic pieces from the era, Brooks Brothers and Martin were able to collaborate on a staggering collection of more than 500 ensembles for the male cast.

In the movie, DiCaprio's Gatsby dons a stunning pale pink linen suit, fitting with the pastel summer trends of the 1920s. The designs, like all of Brooks Brothers' fashions, are classic staples, and their look remains relevant to today's menswear.

Fitzgerald's own love of Brooks Brothers was no secret; he makes mention of the well-known house more than once in his writings, alluding to the shop in Tender is the Night and The Beautiful and Damned.

More often than not, one's socioeconomic status and lifestyle are revealed through their sartorial choices. In the film, this idea is emphasised through Martin's designs, with the differences among the characters' upbringings and social standings are reflected in their wardrobes. Joel Edgerton, who plays Tom Buchanan in the film, has the most traditional, yet sophisticated, wardrobe of the male cast. Hailing from an established upper class family, his taste in clothing reflects that. Similarly, Gatsby's dandy wardrobe makes him look like a Jazz Age Beau Brummel, while Nick Carraway's collegiate look is refined over the course of the movie, as his social encounters expand outside the world of academia to those of upper class socialites.

Both daywear and formalwear are included in Brooks Brothers' Gatsby collection (now available to the public), with looks that would have fit in at Gatsby's weekend soirées or in his jaunts to Manhattan as they would in today's social settings. The collection ranges from accessories to tuxedos, building the ultimate wardrobe arsenal.

Men have their choice of refined traditional looks with neutral linen suits and simple oxford buttondowns, or more daring options that showcase their inner dandy - like the striped regatta blazer that belongs on the banks of a rowing race. Accessories include colourful printed ties and iconic straw boaters, which have been a Brooks Brothers' staple for decades, and even a walking stick - like the one carried by Gatsby himself.

As the Coachella style dissipates over the coming weeks, Gatsby-inspired outfit recommendations will be a welcome replacement. Luxury retailers like Tiffany & Co. in New York and Holt Renfrew in Toronto, are setting the exuberant theme with their display windows featuring jewellery from, and outfits inspired by, the movie. And gentlemen: yield to the Jazz Age lure by heading into a Brooks Brothers store in New York, London, Milan or Tokyo.



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