Style Archive: a series in which we celebrate the stars of the past that made menswear what it is today. This week: the experimental tailoring of Tom Cruise.
Before Tom Cruise's sofa-hurdling declaration of love, before he became a recipient of the Scientology Freedom Medal of Valor, and before he made it a contractual obligation that films he appears in feature 155 minutes of green screen minimum, Tom Cruise was the king of cool.
But while much has been made of the early promise of his acting career - appearing in the likes of Top Gun, Risky Business and The Colour of Money in quick succession - less attention has been paid to his sartorial selections at the time.
Admittedly wearing a suit to a smart occasion is not reinventing the wheel, but a glance at Cruise's outfit archives show the actor experimenting with pattern and colour, eschewing drab monochrome suiting in a way that's stood the test of time.
At the 1985 wedding of Sean Penn and Madonna — held at a clifftop mansion in Malibu, naturally — Cruise teamed a boxy, charcoal suit with a yellow and gold medallion-print shirt, and the black aviators he'd made his signature look in Top Gun.
Sure, grainy photographs of thirty years ago always look cooler than filtered selfies, but Harry Dean Stanton rocked up to the same nuptials in a multicoloured tie, while Christopher Walken sported a three-inch quiff. This is about more than huffing the nostalgia pipe.
The following year, at the New York premiere of The Colour of Money, Cruise wore a blue patterned two-piece suit, a pop of decoration which stood out against Paul Newman and Martin Scorsese's muted grey tailoring.
Cruise was hitting his stride in Hollywood in '86, a devilishly handsome 24-year-old making smart choices about which films to be part of, and his fashion choices at the time have aged just as well.
Whether it's the aforementioned sunglasses, a belt with silver fastenings to break up a patterned suit, or a western bolo tie to add some personality to a pinstripe two-piece, the accents on the outfit help him dress with personality without descending into fancy dress.
It's all the more impressive given that personal stylists really weren't a thing back then, with stylists dressing celebrities for the red carpet only beginning to catch on at the end of 1980's. As Wanda McDaniel told Vanity Fair, "If there was anyone on the team who had a vote, it was the publicist, like if Tom Cruise would come in, Pat Kingsley would be here saying, ‘I like you in the double-breasted instead of the single.’"
As such, Cruise rocking up to have dinner with Madonna and his first wife Mimi Rogers in a white linen suit jacket is likely a better indicator of his own taste than what he was instructed to throw on. Something exceedingly rare now, when most celebrities carefully curate their every outfit to bolster their public image.
Looking at photos of Cruise during his ascendence to stardom is a nice time capsule, the fun years before the glow of the media got a little too bright. His penchant for spicy suits tailed off somewhere in the mid-Nineties, opting instead for more classic tailoring on the red carpet. Still, we'll always have that blue suit.
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