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Photography by Mr Scott Trindle | Styling by Mr Dan May
Words by Mr Mansel Fletcher

Discovering that the revered British actor Mr Nighy is a man of stylistic principles comes as no great surprise. When asked what exactly enticed him to do a shoot for MR PORTER, he simply states: "It was the idea - a meditation on the navy blue suit. I found that concept intriguing." No wonder, because it turns out he only wears blue suits. I don't mean that when he wears suits he only wears blue ones, but that he only, ever, wears blue suits - even on the ski slopes. Here, the ever-immaculate star explains how this style predilection came about.

Why do you always wear a suit?
Jarvis Cocker was once asked that. He said, "You never know who you might bump into." Which I thought was brilliant. I've never quite accepted the way I look, so I think that a suit, if properly made, is always going to be a better shape than I am. That's what people buy clothes for.
And why blue?
I respond to dark blue more than any other colour. I resist black, I don't know why I don't like black, but it doesn't make me comfortable. I feel uneasy even standing next to a man who's wearing a black suit.
Surely you wear black tuxedos, given your line of work?
Black dinner jackets are regrettable; I have a new midnight-blue barathea dinner jacket from the tailor at Dunhill which is very satisfying and takes away from the tyranny of the black evening suit.

THE LOOK


Suit by Richard James | Shirt by Yves Saint Laurent | Tie by Drake's | Pocket Square by Drake's
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Can anyone tell that it's blue?
Your brain would receive it in a more successful way. You'd relax, you may not be aware of it, but you'd relax in a way that you perhaps wouldn't if I was wearing a black suit. I think you'd feel better.
And the perfect suit is what?
Very simple, lightweight, two-piece, two-button and it'd be single vent, two buttons on the sleeve, not a particularly wide lapel, not particularly styled, not a waisted jacket. It would have a single pleat, relatively narrow trousers, which you'd wear reasonably short, so they hit the shoe correctly. My new quest is for a softer shoulder, structured but soft.
What image are you trying to convey?
John Pearse [a London tailor] made me laugh one time because we were talking about a raised seam on a pair of trousers, which I used to favour. I went to see him about a suit, and he said, "And will we persevere with the raised seam?" And I said, "Yes, I think we will. Do you not agree?" And he said, "Yes, I do agree, I think it goes some way to that artisan feel that we're always reaching for." It just made me laugh. It was the "reaching for". I said, "Is that what we're reaching for?" I don't want to look as if I come from Provence, I want to look urban, but people should be able to relax around me.
Is trouser length important?
Puddles [excess fabric] on the top of your shoes, that's a horror. I have a friend, a girl, who judges men by the way their trousers arrive on their shoes. It's such a delicate matter. My stomach turns when they pin them in a shop and say, "How's that?" They've just pinned it! It's so approximate, such a gamble.
Are you equally inflexible when it comes to shirts?
Generally. I don't know what it is? I've become phobic about white shirts. Blue is always going to be softer. I go to Margaret Howell for shirts.
What about shoes?
Church's makes very beautiful Oxfords. I don't think it gets better. I don't want anything longer, pointier or sharper. I can't relax around that - there is a point at which the conversation is over.
How do you dress when you're out of town?
Am I going to suddenly start wearing green, or brown? It's never going to happen! I once went to Chamonix. I made no concessions at all. I wore a two-piece navy suit, a Crombie coat, a trilby and a pair of black shoes. I turned up looking like the Blues Brothers.

THE WORK


Don't these strictures make for a boring wardrobe?
It's a limited palette for good reason. I've selected the things that please me, so it could be seen as a limited palette, or it could be seen as a distillation of all that's good.
Have you always dressed in such a conservative way?
There aren't many things that make me exult about myself, but one of them is that I never wore cowboy boots and - obviously - I never undid anything but the top button of my shirt.
What would be wrong with that?
There is no reason for undoing the next one. I can't rationalise or justify the unbuttoning of the second button. It would suggest that I want you to see more of my "top", and the only reason for wanting to see more of my top is that I consider it to be worth a look. And I don't.
So are guys wrong to think that girls will find it attractive if they undo a few shirt buttons?
Girls seem to like it. I made a film in India recently, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I play a rather buttoned-up Englishman and in the final scene I ride a motorbike and I was supposed to look as though I was free. I was persuaded to undo the second button and all the women were like, "There you are! That's better!" Like they'd been waiting. I said, "You're weirdos, all of you." Judi [Dench] was saying, "That's more like it." I really don't understand.
Is it fair to say you're not comfortable with your body?
I don't even want to be around myself when I've got nothing on. Even when there's no one else there, I still can't wait to get dressed in the morning. It's always going to be more pleasing if I'm wearing something.
So what do you wear on holiday? A linen suit?
I don't go on holiday, probably because I don't have anything to wear. I have a phobia of linen. You can never trust a man in a linen suit. I come from a long line of men who've been avoiding beige through history. John Pearse made a beautiful blue seersucker suit for when I was filming in India.
Is it fair to imagine you don't like shorts?
I wouldn't wear shorts. I don't think there's any excuse for that unless you're involved in some sort of sport.
How has all this madness impinged on your career?
I have turned down parts because you'd have to wear terrible things - it's a serious consideration. People used to say, "There's a certain lack of classical work on your CV." And I'd say, "It's because I can't operate in those kind of trousers." I used to say it as a joke, but it's true. I can only really operate in a decent lounge suit.

Mr Nighy plays Grandsanta in Arthur Christmas, a film from Aardman, the British animation studio behind Wallace and Gromit. Out now in the UK, 23 November in the USA and 24 November in Australia and Hong Kong.

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