This month’s must-see film, The Nice Guys, sees Ryan Gosling return to our screens as possibly the worst P.I. cinema has ever seen, but what he lacks in actual sleuthing ability he more than makes up for in stylish 70s clobber. Threads so good in fact, that we decided to play some of TV and film’s most infamous investigators at their own game and launch our own sartorial surveillance operation into these rogue and unregulated style icons.
By Kasia Hastings, 3 June 2016
John Shaft’s roll neck (Shaft, 1971)
Nothing says super-smooth 70s sleuth like a roll neck and no one rocked one quite like Richard Roundtree in Shaft. Sexy mother John Shaft was ‘hotter than Bond, cooler than Bullitt’ and 100% on top of his tonal game. This man wasn’t afraid of committing to a colour palette, a full leather look or an afro, moustache and sideburns all at once. Shaft.
Thomas Magnum’s Hawaiian shirt (Magnum, P.I., 1980-88)
Say aloha to the 80s and to Tom Selleck’s Hawaiian shirt. We didn’t have to look very far to find part beach-bum, part private investigator Thomas Sullivan Magnum’s classic floral shirt and moustache combination. While we don’t condone the facial fuzz, his shirt and company car (a Ferrari 308 GTS) made us all want to jack our regular jobs in and move to Hawaii. It’s a P.I.’s life for us.
Sherlock’s Ulster coat (Sherlock, 2010-2017)
We can thank the BBC’s reboot of the Sherlock Holmes franchise for many things, mainly Benedict Cumberbatch but also his excellent Ulster coat. After years of farcical Sherlock film and TV adaptations, the world’s most famous sleuth reemerged wearing the mother of all overcoats. With no comedy deerstalker in sight, his Irish wool tweed coat became the detective’s new power piece and the only thing a man could possibly put on to enter his mind palace.
Brendan Frye’s shearling-collared jacket (Brick, 2005)
If hindsight has taught us anything about school, it’s that the cool kids weren’t actually cool and the 'losers' were actually indie heroes. This critically acclaimed neo-noir film celebrates the latter in impeccable style. High school loner turned private investigator Brendan Frye (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) investigates the disappearance of his ex-girlfriend in a green, shearling-collared jacket that is definitely worth a wedgie from the school bully.
Jonathan Ames’ mac (Bored to Death, 2009-2011)
In Bored To Death, the mac is back as traditional private eye chic gets a strong contemporary update. Jonathan Ames (Jason Schwartzman)’s mac is a more minimal Scandi take on the sleuth aesthetic and so good that we’d follow a stranger down the street to find out where we can cop one (obviously ASOS, though…). This eccentric series captured a cult following and reignited our love affair with the trench coat.
Holland March’s 70s shirt (The Nice Guys, 2016)
Who can resist a short-sleeved retro shirt and, more importantly, who doesn’t want to be Ryan Gosling? Sleazy 70s sleuth Gosling may just be our favourite Gos yet. Hapless private eye Holland March and his hired enforcer Jackson Healy (Russell Crowe) aren’t up to much in terms of traditional investigative skills but they’re hilarious nonetheless, and March’s orange, printed shirt has this summer’s Surf Rat trend written all over it.