Edit ModuleShow Tags

Dressing the Part

Books


Published:

While writing a book about Cary Grant’s style, San Diego writer Richard Torregrossa discovered the power of a jacket and tie

THERE’S NOTHING LIKE a crisp, white dress shirt, a well-fitting wool suit and an understated pair of cufflinks to make a man feel powerful. To make him feel like, well, Cary Grant. Journalist Richard Torregrossa had just this sort of transformative experience while writing his new book, Cary Grant: A Celebration of Style (Bulfinch Press, $35). The Rancho Bernardo– based author spent nearly three years researching and writing, and in the process went from starting his day in sweats to starting his day in a suit, shirt and tie. He even donned cufflinks for a while, until they made it difficult to use the computer’s mouse.

It all began when Torregrossa, who’s covered fashion for the past decade, attended the Giorgio Armani fall show in New York in 2003. Armani noted his line that year had been inspired by “the timeless elegance of Cary Grant” and cited movies such as Notorious and North by Northwest as evidence of the actor’s superb style. (Armani wound up writing the book’s introduction.) Torregrossa’s curiosity was piqued. When he returned to San Diego, he rented the Alfred Hitchcock movies and had a fashion epiphany.

“I realized Cary Grant’s style is as relevant today as it was when he made those films,” he says. Thus began Torregrossa’s journey through the actor’s life. The resulting book is part biography, part style manual.

Grant was born Archibald Alexander Leach into a workingclass, dysfunctional family in Bristol, England. He left home at 16 to play the greatest role of his life: Cary Grant, movie star.

“He transformed himself from a poor kid into an aristocratic presence, and he did it by dressing like the men he wanted to become,” says Torregrossa. “What I learned from him is that clothes are empowering. Style is a tool of empowerment.” In fact, Grant’s style——what he wore and how he wore it——likely launched his career as a leading man. Torregrossa writes that Mae West spotted Grant——dressed in an impeccable white Navy uniform costume——across a parking lot at Paramount and told her producer, “If he can talk, I want him in my picture.” (The resulting film was She Done Him Wrong.)

After traveling to Savile Row and Beverly Hills to interview Grant’s former tailors, Torregrossa began to view clothing as an art form. “Grant had such respect for clothes and the power of style,” he says. “This wasn’t like going to the dry cleaners and getting your pants altered. Grant used to say it takes 500 details to make one favorable impression. That’s something akin to Picasso.”

When he began dressing better and paying attention to his own clothes, Torregrossa felt like a new person. “I say this somewhat jokingly, but not only did my clothes become more stylish but my prose did, too. I was definitely more productive and more connected to the world,” he says.

I glance down at my own work attire——unflattering gray sweatpants and a Rutgers College sweatshirt——while cradling the phone on my shoulder. “Really?” I ask.

“Really,” he says. “In fact, I’m wearing a suit right now.”

Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

The Best Food & Drink Events This Month: February-March 2016

The Cheeses of Europe, Festa Della Donna, San Diego Masters Cocktail Challenge

Best Things I Ate This Month: February 2016

Beet Steak at La Valencia, Superfood Bowl at Little Lion, Sandwich at Biga

Things to Do: February 8-14

Harlem Globetrotters, Brewbies Fest, Chinese New Year Food and Cultural Fair, Valentine's Day, and more
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. The Ultimate San Diego Bucket List
    Whether you’re a native or a newcomer, we’ve got 50 things every San Diegan must do. Now, get started!
  2. 26 BIG Ideas
    San Diego's most innovative thinkers tell us how they would make America’s Finest City a whole lot finer.
  3. Be Seen This Fall in Rancho Mirage
    Enter To Win a 2 Night Stay Package at The Luxurious Westin Mission Hills Golf Resort & Spa
  4. FIRST LOOK: Kindred
    Death metal vegan has arrived in San Diego. From the creative minds behind Craft & Commerce, Noble Experiment, LOVELIKEBEER—plus one of the country's top vegan chefs—comes Kindred. It's in South Park. It's gonna blow some minds.
  5. FIRST LOOK: The Crack Shack
    After the huge success of Juniper & Ivy, chef Richard Blais and owner Michael Rosen launch all-day, ethical-chicken breakfast joint called The Crack Shack. Could this be the McDonald's for the food- and ethics-conscious foodie generation?
  6. San Diego's Best New Restaurants 2015
    From upscale modern Mexican to a hole-in-the-wall Thai spot, food critic Troy Johnson reveals his 10 favorite new eateries of 2015
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

“Will You Marry Me”?

Sharon Jenks, CEO of 6 Degrees, on building business relationships

More Than 1,300 Prizes are Ready to be Given Away

What are you waiting for? Buy your raffle ticket now

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags