It’s a whole new decade and it’s a really cold January outside (at least, where I am), so Admin and I thought it might be fun to consider some of the very best clothing ensembles worn by Mr. Malahide. Because “best” could mean a lot of things, for our purposes we’ve decided that it will refer to the character trying to look good and succeeding at it, as opposed to merely standing out in a crowd (looking at you, Uncle Ebenezer!) or making some more exotic, outlandish wardrobe choices.
RF: So without further ado, my Best Wardrobe choices are:
Chief Inspector Roderick Alleyn
(“The Inspector Alleyn Mysteries“, 1992 – 1994)
Alleyn’s the sort of guy who’s always impeccably attired, no matter where he is. His clothes are bespoke tailored, exquisitely selected to flatter him, are coordinated to a T, and he’s always ready for any emergency rain shows with his ever-present brolley. He’s such a gent that he’s never without a hat or pair of gloves, either. And yet, he also exudes understated elegance in his double-breasted pinstripes, waistcoats, and silk ties; he’s not a show-off or a dandy, he just seems to appreciate having the best wardrobe he can afford. He didn’t get the baronetcy – that’s his older brother, George – but just because he’s a working stiff as a Chief Inspector, that doesn’t mean he can’t dress well. And he does. When he takes his jacket off and rolls up his sleeves to get to work – revealing a pair of sleeve garters, because of course he would – he even does that neatly.
For an extra treat, we also got to see Alleyn in white tie and tails (“Death in a White Tie“, appropriately enough) and a tux a couple of times in the course of his investigations, which suited him perfectly. As part of an aristocratic family, Alleyn tends to rub elbows with the gentry quite often; as Inspector Br’er Fox (William Simons) notes, many of Alleyn’s friends are among “that lot”. So it only makes sense that Alleyn would have the appropriate clothes for the occasion. And we found out in “Death at the Bar” that he even brings a tux with him on investigations, just in case he needs it.
Even when Alleyn’s off the clock, he’s impeccably dressed. The cream overcoat he has for more casual wear looks like it’s never had a spot of dirt on it, and his fedora is just as flattering as his homburg, if not more. His more casual tweedy outfits, as seen in “Dead Water” and “Scales of Justice”, suit the outdoor locations perfectly; he even somehow manages to make a pair of hip waders look good in the former. So, when it comes to wearing clothes that are perfect for the occasion and looking great in them, Alleyn is definitely ahead of the pack.
(“The Standard“, 1978)
Unfortunately, Admin and I have only ever managed to see the first episode of the series, “The Standard”, due to its comparative rarity. But that episode (and a few publicity stills here and there) were enough to give us an idea of hard-hitting investigative journalist Colin Anderson’s wardrobe choices, and a very good idea of his character as well. Colin seems to be a guy who’s determined to grab and hold your attention and stand out vividly in any room; his amazing, matching, bright red shirt and tie were certainly eye-catching in his very first scene. You could hardly take your eyes off him! He was easily the most flamboyantly dressed in the room, which makes me think that there was more than a smidge of peacocking to it. He was also a lot more modishly dressed than his compatriots.
This trend continued in later scenes, in which he appeared in a matching green shirt/tie combo. He didn’t take his overcoat off but I really wish he had, just so we could’ve gotten a better look at him. In other stills, we find Colin wearing a black shirt/white tie with black stripes (or black with white stripes?) ensemble that looks almost New Wave-y. Certainly he’s a lot more modern in his approach to his job than his colleagues, and he’s something of a showboat when we first meet him, which seems to be reflected in his clothes. I only wish we could’ve seen the entire series to see what other ensembles he would’ve favoured us with.
(“The One Game“, 1988)
Magnus, a mysterious magician/gaming guru bent on revenge against his ex-business partner Nicholas Thorne (Stephen Dillane), starts off looking bedraggled in soaking wet institutional pyjamas as he crawls out of a river on a cold night. But it doesn’t last for long. Very soon he’s wearing a series of head-to-toe black outfits which perfectly suit both his personality and his purpose. He manages to look both impeccable, inscrutable, and dangerous all at the same time with an added touch of theatricality, rather like the best of the Bond villains.
Like Alleyn, Magnus seems to have a taste for the best things in life, which includes his wardrobe. He soon moves from motorcycle leathers and boots to an impeccable dark grey, pinstriped business suit complete with tie tack (one of the few times he isn’t wearing all black), sitting behind a desk in an abandoned warehouse. Magnus seems to realize the value of creating an image and using it to his advantage; in the abandoned warehouse scene, his intention was to throw Thorne’s accounts manager, Tom Darke (David Mallinson), completely off his game. And it worked. It throws us, the audience, off our game too, because we’re aware Magnus is playing a role – and putting some effort into it – but we’re not yet sure what his purpose is.
Magnus also demonstrates that he can dress up for an occasion, but again, he’s playing a role. This time he’s an unfairly jilted lover, trying to figure out what went wrong and how he can woo himself back into Jenny Thorne’s (Pippa Haywood) good graces. But because Magnus’ primary concern is driving Nicholas Thorne nuts, he’s kidnapped Jenny, Nicholas’ ex-wife, to make sure he has Nicholas’ undivided attention. He essentially insists that she attend a black tie dinner while trying to explain things to her. Being kidnapped tends to somewhat blunt one’s openness to romantic dinners, no matter how swanky they are and how nice the tux the guy is wearing – but it is a nice tux. It’s a bit old-fashioned looking with its longer length and wing collar, but still a bit mod with a shiny brocaded floral pattern. Tux aside, the dinner ends up being one of Magnus’ rare miscalculations, since Jenny refuses to play his games and if anything, is even angrier with Magnus than she was before. Still, for his devotion to a concept and his willingness to go all-out to assume a role, including the proper wardrobe, Magnus is definitely on my list.
Admin: And here are my stylish picks:
Jack Turner is a flamboyantly attired London gangster and/or businessman (of the not so legitimate variety) whose domineering and colourful style pretty much steal the whole show. He is highly adventurous in his ability to mix and match colours and prints, and his combos come across as strikingly bold rather than tacky. Jack might decide to pair up polka-dots with stripes on any given day, and he totally makes it work. Everything he wears is beautifully tailored and, quite simply, looks expensive. That is a big part of the reason he never looks tacky. You can see the quality in what he wears. His fabrics are natural and hold colours in a bold powerful way rather than a cheaply dyed synthetic way. Jack is most certainly a show off and a peacock, but he lives in a world where he demands notice and respect. He is a peacock in both style and philosophy. The brighter the plumage, the stronger the standing. He is absolutely the cock of the walk, and he knows it.
Now, sometimes Jack has to get his hands a little dirty. Obviously, he doesn’t want horrid blood splatters all over his soft, pure cotton dress shirts and silk neckties, so in those cases he opts for basic black. But even then he looks completely stylish and more than a little bit dangerous. OK, he looks absolutely deadly, but only in that beautiful black mamba way. Jack Turner dressed all in a black complete with leather jacket is truly a sight to behold. He could mesmerize anyone before clobbering them with whatever is handily laying about at the time. The black attire paired with his fair skin, pale blue eyes and incidental blood splatters looks too cool for anyone’s good.
Oh, and he is cool. As mentioned earlier, his stylish ways stole “Hunted.” Almost everyone else in the show seemed to be wandering around in oatmeal and slurry coloured knitwear. There is nothing wrong with that look, it is quite trendy even, but it isn’t exactly eye catching in the way Jack’s colours and patterns are. The “Hunted” palette was an overly subdued one that was desaturated to the point of being visually unpleasant. Jack Turner provided the right amount of colour, spark and elegance to give it a very welcome and occasionally visceral brightness. Thank you, Jack!
(“The Secret Agent“, 1994)
The capable yet somewhat mysterious Assistant Commissioner, otherwise known as Henry, is an elegantly dressed gentleman. His attire is conservative but not stuffy in any way. Again, you can see the expense and quality of his wardrobe. As a man of rank, he spends a lot of time in evening-wear. He has to schmooze and charm and win over people of influence so that he may secure all the necessary funding and freedom to do his job fighting terrorism efficiently. Fortunately, he looks so handsome and debonair in white tie formal wear, he has great success in securing patronage and entry into the influential upper classes.
But, his life isn’t all about swank parties and impressing the high and mighty. He also has a job to do. For that, he opts for well-tailored suits, starched and gleaming wing collars, and elegant cravats. But, he is not a dandy. He looks like a man of rank and importance who takes his job seriously. He runs the slight risk of looking just a little too put together for his more surly and rugged associate Chief Inspector Heat (Warren Clarke), but Henry’s natural intelligence, sincerity, respectfulness, and determination are more than enough to override any misapprehensions over appearance.
Like Jack, he sometimes has to tone it down a tad and get out there on the street. When visiting Verloc (David Suchet) a shambling and pathetic “terrorist” (though he was more a patsy than anything else), Henry puts on what has to be one of the best outfits ever put to film. He wears a black coat with the collar popped up, giving his wing collar an almost clerical look. He pairs that with a gorgeous black fedora. He looks like a vampire hunter. But, instead of chasing ghouls, he’s trying to put a stake in whatever is funding the terrorism. And what would that be? Well, it would be an equally elegant Russian diplomat Vladamir (Peter Capaldi). Their final show down scene in which they both sport white tie evening-wear is a winner in both style and storytelling.
(“The Paradise“, 2012)
Lord Glendenning is a very powerful man indeed. Not only does he have a title, but he is a successful banker and powerful local businessman. If you want to make any sort of headway in his patch then it helps to secure his friendship. Style-wise he isn’t flamboyant. He has the look and feel of the countryside about him. He often wears browns and tans that convey a sporting man who loves nothing more than getting outdoors and riding his horse through his land. He has a nice selection of gorgeous cravats often in rich burgundies. He usually has a little pin featuring a horseshoe and a riding crop attached to his cravat to denote his love of riding.
In keeping with the equestrian theme, the final episode has another one of our all-time favourite outfits. He is wearing a soft and silky soft white cravat on a gleaming white shirt, and jodhpurs paired with a simply scrumptious pair of knee-high leather riding boots. It just looks so upper-class English countryside and is truly a great look. In that scene he plays his soon-to-be (but not quite) son-in-law (Emun Elliot) for a fool. Alas, it was his one great and shining moment. The following series of “The Paradise” had Lord G. tragically bumped off and, in our opinion, suffered mightily for it by coming up with a nearly unwatchable second series that was quickly cancelled and forgotten about. Oh, BBC, do NOT take those robust country gentlemen for granted. Nothing gets ratings like a good pair of jodhpurs.