How to dress like Steve McQueen in The Thomas Crown Affair
Steve McQueen was a mens style pioneer
Steve McQueen was the epitome of mens style in the 1960's. I've already wrote about his iconic fashion in Bullitt, but he was truly in his most stylish attire in The Thomas Crown Affair. He wore three piece bespoke suits that were just perfect for the role of a high-class jewelery thief. After all, if you're going to con millionaires, you've got to look the part.
Now let's take a look at what Steve McQueen was wearing in this movie:
The 3-piece suit
This is the staple of the Thomas Crown Affair look. McQueen's three piece was a muted glen-plaid in a charcoal to medium gray color. The waistcoat (some people refer to these as vests, but there is actually a difference) was short, which was the style at the time. It covers the waistband but not much else. This cropped waistcoat style went out when disco became big and so did everything else on a mens suit. In fact, waistcoats basically went out of style for the next few decades, but they are now very popular thanks to Roger Sterling in Mad Men and many characters is Boardwalk Empire. If you can find a cropped waistcoat for this outfit go for it, but chances are you'll only find the ones with flairs at the bottom. That's ok, as I doubt there are enough McQueen traditionalists out there that anyone will notice.
The dress shirt
Go with a light blue dress shirt with a point collar. I recommend something from Brooks Brothers, because their shirts are very high quality and a light blue dress shirt is something you should be able to wear with a variety of outfits.
Van Heusen is a good, cheap alternative if you can't afford Brooks Brothers. I've found that Van Heusen is decent quality and they tend to not wrinkle. Also, they have very good fit off the rack for someone with a thin or athletic build -- something that cannot be said about Brooks Brothers, which apparently uses a lifesize wax sculpture of Chris Farley as their model.
One thing I forgot to mention about the suit is that McQueen's pants had a flat front, which is considered the "British look" and has never stopped being stylish. They say that only larger men should wear the pleated pants that were once so popular in the United States. When I look around at the size of the average American male (we've got some mighty big boys over here), I can see why they were so popular.
The color of your dress shoes doesn't matter too much, as long as they are leather and they are either black or brown (come on now, you don't think Steve McQueen would wear red dress shoes, did you?). The shoes should match your belt, if you're wearing one. I highly recommend Allen Edmonds if you can afford them. Sometimes you can find a decent used pair on eBay for a good price. They'll last you decades, and because they are high quality you can take them to a cobbler to have minor repairs done. Try doing that with your $70 Dockers and they'll just laugh at you.
Let me introduce you to a little-known but uber-stylish and timeless brand of sunglasses: Persol. Persols make designer sunglasses popular today look like they came from a $5 stand in Chinatown. Blue framed Persols are what you're looking for if you want the authentic look.
The pocket watch
McQueen wore a pocket watch with a chain in this film. If you want to be 100% accurate, you've got to have one of these. You don't have to buy one of those old collectible ones; they do sell modern cheap pocket watches.
There are a few minor details that you might want to include to get that 100% Steve McQueen look. First, you've got to have a pocket square, and it should be silk. Look at the picture below to see how you should place the pocket square in your jacket pocket.
Second, you should have leather gloves. If you're really trying to be accurate go with blue leather, but that will be difficult to find. There's something about a man in a suit wearing leather gloves that is certifiably badass.