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 Insiders' Guide to Tales of the Cocktail

San Diego bartenders share their experiences at the iconic annual event

Summer's Hot Accessories: Bag-And-Shoe Combos to Die For

Elevate your summer look with these statement pieces

Mess Hall Is Ambitiously In-The-Now

The concept of Liberty Public Market's signature restaurant pays off well, when it pays off
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2016
    From barbecue to vegan options, there’s a bit of manna for everyone in this year’s list of the city’s best
  2. What's It Like to Be the CEO of the Smartest Company in the World?
    We went to Illumina’s headquarters to find out
  3. The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now
    See what they’re up to and working on in San Diego
  4. 54 Summer Travel Ideas
    Get out of town!
  5. Making a MasterChef
    MasterChef winner Claudia Sandoval on the life-changing ups and downs
  6. Win 1,000 Cash Back on Your Solar Install and 500 Cash
    Brought to you by Sullivan Solar Power
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

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.

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
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Win 1,000 Cash Back on Your Solar Install and 500 Cash

Brought to you by Sullivan Solar Power

Win 2 tickets to Kenny Chesney at Sleep Train Ampitheatre!

Brought to you by Corona Light and Kenny Chesney

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