Why the Talented Mr Ripley look is the pinnacle of stylish summer dressing

Roth (and Law) relish in the sheer Italianate lusciousness of it all; Ripley, by contrast, is the preppy American – for that’s all he knows – who can only aim to emulate Greenleaf’s effortless continental swagger. The first scene sees him slip on a Princeton crest; it’s not his, however. His suiting, too, was designed by Roth to fit badly, never quite looking ‘just so’ to Dickie Greenleaf’s absolute correctness and monied confidence in all situations. 

“In the 1940s, we had the restriction of the war and limited fabric. After the war, Dior came with the New Look and that was very interesting, with the use of more fabric, the bigness of men’s clothes,” said Roth in an interview in 2000. “When we went into the ’50s, then the jet-set thing started to happen – Italians, the Riviera, Brigitte Bardot and the Mambo Kings, there was a certain air about town.” 

How evocatively she conjures that world, and how tempting it all seems now in the era of Ryanair and the proliferation of Zara shirts and too-tight shorts and trousers on men in warmer climes today. Call it the Love Island effect; “athletic fit” shirting that’s designed to enhance a fellow’s David Lloyd-hewn deltoids, a wacky “holiday shirt” in a garish print and spray-on effect shorts and trousers. Nothing wrong with a bold pattern here or there, of course, and it’s rather joyous when the sun’s out, but when Law, Damon and the spellbinding cinematography of Minghella offer an alternative, it’s worth exploring those seductive codes. 

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