Edit ModuleShow Tags

Dressing the Part



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

Things to Do: November 30-December 6

Ice skating, Cinema @ The Balboa, December Nights, SoNo Fest and Chili Cook-off, Hanukkah Happening, and more

Grossmont Hospital Foundation Receives $2 Million Pledge

San Diego Charity News for November 30

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 Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Dear Chargers, It's Over
    A pre-emptive breakup letter to the team we love
  2. Healthcare Goes High-Tech
    Dr. Eric Topol is putting health care in the palms of our hands
  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. Growing Up in San Diego
    26 memories of being a kid in America's Finest City
  5. Incoming: Liberty Public Market
    San Diego's big public market unveils three big new concepts
  6. FIRST LOOK: Duke's La Jolla
    For decades, Top of the Cove in La Jolla held one of the most iconic restaurant spots in San Diego. Now they've finally filled that space. Take an exclusive first look at Duke's La Jolla.
Edit ModuleShow Tags


October is Rideshare Month

Join the Rideshare 2015 Challenge and get there together

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


Win Dinner for Two at Black&Blue Steakhouse

Win dinner for two at Black&Blue Steakhouse and $25 in Free Slot Play at Valley View Casino

MADE IN AMERICA — Craft Icons of the 50 States

MADE IN AMERICA is the last exhibition in Mingei International Museum’s American Icons series, celebrating 100 years of folk art, craft and design from coast to coast.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags