Date: November 17, 2009
Neal Caffrey understands the power of clothes and attitude.
In USA Network’s Friday drama White Collar, Caffrey (Matthew Bomer) knows if he shaves his scruffy beard and ditches the orange scrubs of prison for a correction officer’s uniform, he’s walking out of the joint. Caffrey then buys a yellow windbreaker to impersonate a parking valet and steal a Rolls-Royce.
He initially gets away with it because of clothes and attitude. An FBI agent nabs him twice and cuts a deal with him. Caffrey now works for the feds, and he needs new clothes.
Forced to buy clothes at a thrift store, where most people would walk away with merely sweaters reeking of mothballs, Caffrey instead charms a widow into giving him her late husband’s wardrobe.
“He’s influenced by the Rat Pack, with fitted suits and tie bars and fedoras and a little bit of Cary Grant in To Catch A Thief,” Bomer says. “Every now and then, we like to go for a more Jack Kerouac (look). It takes place today. They did a great job of finding some amazing vintage pieces that you would think Sy Devore put together for me. We will mix in designers with throwbacks to the ’60s – John Varvatos and Paul Smith.”
Costume designer Stephanie Maslansky describes his look as “midcentury,” but she modernized it by slimming the silhouette and updating the palette to blues, pinks and purples.
“I have always loved vintage ties from the ’50s,” Maslansky says, “so I have a collection of vintage ties that I have had for 20 to 30 years.”
She buys ties at Manhattan stores Star Struck and Cheap Jack’s.
Caffrey’s look calls for smaller collars, and Maslansky finds them at Pink, Paul Smith and John Varvatos. She also shops for Caffrey at Century 21 and Barneys.
He wears cuff links, mostly from Pink, and vintage tie bars.
“When you put together many elements, many of which have wonderment within them, then you wind up with a pretty good outfit,” she says.
And the look is topped off with fedoras, which she finds at J.J. Hat Center, Manhattan’s oldest hat shop.
He’s rarely in casual clothes but will wear a thin cotton and nylon turtleneck from Hugo Boss under a Varvatos bomber jacket or an Armani suede jacket.
While most men don’t have Bomer’s chiseled visage or electric blue eyes, Maslansky says any man can adopt Caffrey’s look.
“Any man with a strong sense of style, or a girlfriend or boyfriend with a strong sense of style, can approach this look,” she says. “I think it works best with someone with a particular physique – slim – which Matthew happens to be born with. I don’t want to say you have to be skinny; a healthy man who takes care of himself can rock this look.”