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  • Writer's pictureChris Mads

Sartorial on screen: The Talented Mr Ripley

Summer is here and that can provide some styling issues for gents, particularly in the UK. I won't lie, I consider summer styling a challenge - but I am not a fashionista by any means. Looking sharp in winter is easier, layers work well and you are not likely to get the issue with heat ruining the look. But summer? Summer is another beast altogether. Shorts and sandals can be a minefield and balancing smartness with temperature is a whole other matter. With that said films, unsurprisingly, give us a wonderful window into sumptuous clothing which we can enjoy or - if you're feeling very daring - try to borrow from. The pinnacle of sundrenched sartorial excellence is The Talented Mr Ripley, the 1999 film from Anthony Minghella starring Jude Law, Matt Damon and Gweneth Paltrow and set on the Riviera. The film's two focal male characters initially provide a perfect example of the trials of summer styling - are you a Dickie or a Tom?

Tom Ripley, the film's anti-hero, is all blocky tweed and wide, pleated chinos. It is a look many of us will have hit at some time or another. You go for smart but allowing for the heat, but end up with awkward and over-dressed. The opposite is true of Riviera playboy Dickie Greeenleafe. He is all sharp tailoring and bold colours. Any time the duo are on screen together early in the film the contrast is obvious. But we can steal a few simple tips from Dickie. The secret to summer style is not to overdress but to put the outfit together.

Jude Law's Princeton prince splits immaculate suits into two outfits and keeps colours simple and bold - the black shirt and white trousers being a classic example. On top of that, Dickie's secret is accessories. Hats, watches, glasses are all used to maximum effect. The third look in the film, for the discerning man anyway, is Philip Seymour Hoffman's Freddie Miles. In a classic scene-stealing turn Mr Hoffman's Freddie Miles is an obnoxious, public school bore and wears that look with preppy outfits accentuated with brash colours.

This film was rightly nominated for five Oscars, including Best Art Direction and Best Costume Design. It lost the former to Sleepy Hollow and the latter to Topsy-Turvy. And if you want to steal tips from The Talented Mr Ripley? Keep summer fashion simple, accessorise and don't kill people you aspire to be. Sorry, spoilers.

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