June 27, 2014 by Ville Raivio
“Mr. Fairbanks’s eye for strong, but un-obvious combinations of colour was apparent in his clear-blue shirt striped and collared in white, canary-yellow wide tie, teal-blue and magenta sari-silk pocket handkerchief, and red carnation in the lapel of his slate-grey suit.
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[Says Fairbanks:] ‘The most important thing is that the suit be well cut. Then it needn’t be particularly new or even particularly well pressed. It will always hang properly. I make my suits last for years. The other day, I took one that’s, oh, eight years old, in to be altered — have the lapels narrowed and the trousers taken in. I go to Stovel&Mason in Old Burlington Street where I’ve trained the cutter to what I like, and he never commits the classic fault of London tailors — leaving too much fullness in the seat of the trousers.
For sports things, I go to Huntsman, in Savile Row, but in any case I’m rather conservative about suits. Being an actor, I plan my clothes rather more. No one in public life can afford to overstep. One has a responsibility, and before I get anything new, I brood about it, try it out on my wife and daughters, and perhaps on someone in the Club. Once the suit is settled, then the only thing is shoes and linen. I usually wear proper shoes except when I’m travelling, then I wear [polished tan loafers] because they’re so comfortable on planes. Otherwise, I go to Maxwell’s in Dover Street, and I always have shoes with elastic sides. I’ve been having them made since shortly after the war, and I don’t even own any lace-ups any longer.
I suppose I spend more on shirts than on anything else, and I’m not so conservative about them. Mainly they’re from Turnbull&Asser. Beyond Turnbull, I go, oh, all over. I might buy something at Sulka here, in Paris at Charvet. I would rather buy in London than any place, though, because London is to men what Paris is to women. It’s a town that’s set up for it. You find a variety. In Rome or Paris or New York there are two or three top tailors or shirtmakers; in London there are fifty-two all over the joint. I never buy ties because I have so many. The other day a man came up to me and said, “You’re really right up to the minute, wearing a wide tie.” I said, “No, I’ve had this one since 1932″.
When it comes to combinations of patters and colours, my wife tells me that I run to reds and blues, but I assure you that it’s not conscious. I do like blues, and yellows, but not beige or tan. Combining the patters and colours is simply a question of getting a contrast. With a striped suit, I wouldn’t wear a striped shirt. With a striped shirt I would wear a plain woven tie in a much deeper or brighter colour. The thing to keep in mind really is that the shirt, tie, and suit can’t look all the same in colour or scale of pattern, and, of course, not to be self-conscious about combinations. The one thing that I am especially conscious of is combining ties and pocket handkerchiefs. I avoid matching them at all costs. The pocket handkerchief should be coloured and patterned, but not matching the tie. Better to have it related, or even entirely unrelated, so long as they don’t look wrong together.'”
~ D.F. Jr. in Vogue, August 15, 1966