One of the questions I pose to new image clients is “who’s style do you admire?” A great percentage of my clients identify silver screen Hollywood actor, Cary Grant, as their style icon.
Cary Grant inspires modern-day fellas because he was tall, dark, handsome; he wore beautifully stylish clothes punctuated by the best accessories, from sunglasses to pocket hankies. Cary Grant never wore anything outlandish or poorly fit; he seemed fabulously low-key in his dashing dress that complimented his witty and gentlemanly demeanor.
Cary Grant was an old school gent who held the door for ladies, kept his shoes polished, and I’m sure charmed the pants off of everyone he met – men wanted to be him, Cary married five women and shacked up with a sixth for 4 years, and as a young man in Hollywood, got cozy with fellow actor, Randolph Scott. He had that charm, that charisma that drew people to him.
Through the wonder of social media, I have come across a great true story by writer / producer, Tyler St. Mark who describes the sartorial impact that followed a Cary Grant sighting in a Beverly Hills restaurant:
I used to attend a monthly breakfast at a trendy (and expensive) restaurant in Beverly Hills. Each month I would meet with a group of young P. R. execs at a Sunday brunch. This was during the era when “dressing down” became popular and I was disconcerted to see my colleagues dressing more and more casually.
One particular Sunday, I observed the entire restaurant suddenly go silent and all eyes were directed to the entrance. There, at the top of the stairs was a handsome older man with white hair, wearing an impeccably tailored gray suit with a white dress shirt and pale blue sweater under it. He was obviously over-dressed but the smart ensemble complimented his tan face. Clearly the guy was a “class act” and vaguely familiar.
The entire restaurant followed the man and as he passed our table, he smiled politely and acknowledged our group. We all seemed to recognize him at the same time and rose to our feet almost at the same time as we scrambled to meet him and shake his hand.
The man was, in fact, Cary Grant.
After he left, we all seem to bask in his “afterglow,” but one young upstart in our group remarked, “Can you believe he was wearing a SUIT?” We all looked at this jerk who was dressed in a simple sport shirt and shorts. “Yes,” our equally casual host replied, “and we WEREN’T!” I smiled as it was exactly what we were all thinking.
The next Sunday, almost every one of us was wearing slacks and a sport jacket and from then on, whenever I attended any special event, I would always think to myself, “What would Cary Grant wear?”
And so gents, through this tale I want you to remember a couple of things: it’s better to be overdressed than under dressed, and next time you’re standing there staring into your closet, ask Tyler’s question and take Cary’s cue.