Wednesday, 17 November 2010


I'll post properly soon, I promise. "Steve Wears The Trousers." I was going to do T-shirts after that, but I'll probably do a winter special or at least jump ahead to cardigans.

It's this before anything, though.

Grand Prix Legends describes itself as the "leading vendor" of motor sport merchandise. They sell related books, DVDs, caps, T-shirts, leathers, helmets, even die-cast models of racing cars and bikes.

Grand Prix Legends has a range of merchandise that relates to Steve McQueen, but it goes beyond stuff that overlaps with racing. What's more, they've launched a sister site that just sells the Steve McQueen stuff. The King Of Cool has the strapline, "The unofficial McQueen lifestyle site". That's an horrific word, lifestyle. Some of the stuff they sell gives me the proper heebie-jeebies, too. How about a "Frank Bullitt holster rollneck"? Yes please, with an actual print of a fucking gun and holster on it. I know I get angry, but I fucking swear that I often take a breath, say "not my thing" and look the other way.

Bullitt (1968)

One thing sane people do, as we all know, is spend a good portion of their spare time on eBay searching for a brown tweed jacket a bit like the one in Bullitt. I'm a usual sort of size and still I have no luck.

J.Crew harvest herringbone Ludlow sports coat

I see, beyond eBay, a "harvest herringbone Ludlow sportcoat". It's on the J.Crew website. J.Crew is a lovely US shop, but they don't deliver to the UK (it sells for $275/£175).

Frank Bullitt jacket

Grand Prix Legends and The King Of Cool sell a "Frank Bullitt jacket" for £200. They've limited production to two runs of 250. It's a brown jacket, herringbone tweed from a Scottish mill. It has notched lapels, double vents, a three button front. It also has a two-button cuff, three pocket flaps and a top pocket. Yeah, it has elbow patches. It's close, in short, to the Bullitt shooting jacket. [Update: I was overexcited and failed to explain how it's close except in the important area of structure!]

The boss of Grand Prix Legends hooked up with a tailor. Together they watched Bullitt on Blu-Ray and studied close-up photographs of the jacket from the Petersen Automotive Museum in LA. The blurb on The King Of Cool website says the result is as close as you'll find to the one in Bullitt, and it's true. [Update: it's true except for the important area of structure! See Ivy Blah, Corrections And Clarifications, Steve McQueen Style Ladies: Neile, Newton Street Vintage.]

Both websites size the jacket S/M/L/XL/XXL/3XL. S is a 38, M a 40, L a 42 ... The label on my M Frank Bullitt jacket actually reads, 40R. That's my usual size, but I'm on the slim and small end of it. The jacket fits perfectly.

The other two labels sewn into this jacket give me the heebie-jeebies. The inside left has a Lieutenant Frank Bullitt name tag. It's small and subtle, but you know how I feel about these things. You get quite a big patch on the inside right with a picture and The King Of Cool on it. God. Help. Me.

Instant update! My girlfriend has introduced me to an intuitive little tool called a "stitch unpicker". Rather than try to tear off the shitty patch, I used this simple thing to get rid of it safely. It only took a few minutes. It left one long dangly bit of thread, which my girlfriend said was probably knotted in the lining (she's the thinker), so I cut that bit. The stitch imprint left behind from the procedure is neat and minimal.

"Steve Wears The Trousers" next time, definitely. If you have suggestions of jacket alternatives meanwhile, if you think the shoulders on this one should be more natural, if you have anything to say for yourself in fact, post a comment.


  1. Sorry but your appraisal is flawed. None of these jackets is remotely like the one McQueen wears in Bullitt. McQueen wears an IVY LEAGUE jacket, made in USA, half-lined, natural shoulders, brown herringbone. It is a standard issue American sports jacket, not hard to find really. It must be 3 button and roll to 2 button with only the middle button done up. If you want vintage then US eBay has many. Or buy a contemporary version from the likes of J.Press (do ship to UK), and NOT J.Crew!! The key points to get the look right are 3 BUTTON, NATURAL SHOULDER, NO DARTS IN JACKET. There is a new book out full of great pics and tips on this type of clothing, and McQueen features heavily. It's called THE IVY LOOK by Graham Marsh and J.P.Gaul.

  2. Thanks for the comment. I have the Marsh and Gaul book. They're obviously style experts with expert taste. (I wish I could've proofed it.) It seems a bit tough to say none (neither) of these jackets is remotely like the one McQueen wears in Bullitt, though. I heard it was English. Where did you hear it was made in the US? How do you know it was half-lined? Both jackets this post mentions are brown herringbone, and one has no darts and is three-button rolled to two. If you could forward a few example eBay links, I'd honestly appreciate it. I'd love to post an update. I look, with wide searchterms, and fail to find. J.Press has some lovely Ivy jackets but hardly like the one in Bullitt. McQueen's veers from standard (!) Ivy style in that it eschews the centre back vent.

  3. for a cheap alternative I've found some sharp tweed jackets at a local salvation army, I'd check around any thrift stores you have over there in the UK, I've found some great deals here. I know it's tricky business but I'm not complaining after i found a gem for only $4.

  4. The jacket wasn't a US tailored jacket. Peter Yates, the director of Bullitt, confirmed on the DVD commentary to Bullitt that Bullitt's wardrobe was tailored by the English tailor Douglas Hayward. Hayward was a "tailor to the stars" in the sixties and seventies and based in London. Michael Caine and Roger Moore were amongst Hayward's clients. Yates says that they were looking for a wardrobe that would not appear to be of particular time period. If you listen to the commentary, Yates says that the grey flannel trousers, rollneck jumper and sports jacket are typically English

  5. Thanks for this. The jacket seems a mixture of US Ivy style and English: soft shoulders yet side vents, for example. I've written a bit more about this and at some point, thanks to your comment, I'll have more to say.

  6. I find it sad that so many people seek to replicate Steve's look to the nth degree, when all they will achieve is the status of vague copycat. Steve's inimitable essence won't rub off..
    His thing was about being yourself, and fuck what anyone else thinks. Early punks would probably have more in common with the man himself than most of the folk who buy lookalike jackets, in my humble opinion.
    But, as many have said, what the fuck do I know?

  7. There's truth in much of what you say there.

  8. Hallo, I would have a (very) small update on the Frank Bullitt jacket's construction as I saw the movie two weeks ago again and carefully looked out for all the details... We all know that it is pretty much an Anglo-Ivy mix... and yes - it is definitely half lined (one of the very last scenes would show it, Bullitt covers dead Johnny Ross with it)... Great blog, btw... :)

  9. Interesting blog you have here.
    Being in the business of clothing myself, I have to say that some of what everyone is saying is correct. Some...
    The jacket style is thoroughly American in origin (except, of course, the side vents and ticket pocket- that I think we can attribute to an English tailor) being an invention of Brooks Brothers from the 1900s (the No.1 Sack Suit, it was called) featuring a moderately natural shoulder (nothing Neapolitan), a 3-button lapel that rolls to the second, a dart-less front, and being half-lined. You'll see a great many of these worn by members of Ivy League groups (such as the Whiffenpoofs, of which Cole Porter was a member) but often they had patch pockets and a center hook vent.
    What I'm interested in is the fabric itself. Has anyone been able to discern what mill the fabric came from? I've tracked down two facts: it was a Scottish tweed, and it was herringbone. Anyone who knows their textiles will also know that this means almost nothing at all. Any other facts would be greatly appreciated!!

  10. Not at all surprising to hear Steve's jacket was from Douggie, they were about level in 'cool'. The saddest thing is that only this week, Doug's shop on Mount Street (very cool as was, but which has lost its cool as you see) has been closed down. It was kept for a while by his daughter after his sad demise. The superb interior with bespoke marble tiled floor and custom designed brushed steel and brass hanging system, wonderful handmade Italian walking stick brollies in many colours, Ralph Lauren teddy bear collection in the window etc., etc, and a great place to drop in for a chinwag on the deep sofa with Doug, who had all the tales in the world to offer...
    Stev'e raincoat too could well have been one of Doug's rtw numbers...

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