I just popped Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, the impressive film adaptation of John le Carré’s famous espionage novel, into YLF Books. It’s the early 1970s, the Cold War is in full swing, and MI6 has reason to believe there is a Soviet mole in the highest echelon of the British Secret Intelligence Service. His treachery has already blown some of their vital operations and their best networks. “Brought out of retirement to expose the potential mole, veteran spy George Smiley is the only one who can be trusted to expose one of their own. Or can he? As the emotional and physical stress take their toll on the high-ranking suspects, Smiley is forced into the ultimate international spy game where everyone’s motives are in question.”

This was one of my best movies of 2011. Top-notch acting by British heavyweights Gary Oldman, John Hurt and Colin Firth. A plot line that requires a good deal of thought. Suspense slowly building, and the oppressive atmosphere of everyone suspecting everyone cleverly emphasized by the gloomy, soulless decor at SIS headquarters. And then there’s the main characters’ wardrobes. Absolutely spot on! From the conservative dark-coloured suits Control and Smiley are sporting, over Bill Haydon’s more dandy-esque outfits, to the casual leather jacket Jim Prideaux prefers for undercover action…

To be sure, there has never been a shortage of well-clad gentlemen on TV and the silver screen. I could go on and on about all the actors who have rocked my sartorial boat over the years, but here’s my personal top 5:

  1. Big screen legend Cary Grant in his iconic grey three-button suit, as worn in the Alfred Hitchcock thriller North by Northwest. With a nod to other Hollywood legends such as Gregory Peck and Gene Kelly, who always looked impeccable and handsome in all their movies.
  2. Michael Caine sporting a splendid three-piece suit, sharp shirts, black trench and buckets of attitude in Get Carter. Come to think of it, I do seem to have a soft spot for rogues and gangsters in sleekly cut suits, à la Reservoir Dogs, for example.
  3. John Lurie’s 1980s hipster style in Stranger Than Paradise – understated cool with patterned shirts, black fedora, sunglasses, suspenders and grandpa cardigan. 
  4. James Bond in a tux! From Sean Connery to Daniel Craig, wouldn’t you agree that every single actor portraying debonair 007 has cut a dashing figure wearing a tuxedo?
  5. Benedict Cumberbatch in the latest reincarnation of Sherlock Holmes. Tailored shirts, bespoke suits, full-length wool coat, tweed accents and traditional dressing gown – this is exactly how I imagined the master of deduction would be solving crimes in the 21st century.

Your turn now. Who gets your vote for best dressed male character in the movies?

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