Suspender Inspiration: The Great Gatsby


As influential as it is, The Great Gatsby didn’t do so great when Scribner’s first published it in 1925. Rather, it received mixed reviews, sold poorly and when F. Scott Fitzgerald died in 1940, he believed himself a failure whose best work was forgotten. Fortunately, history has told a different story about this fascinating look at timeless themes of social change, decadence, idealism and excess - as seen through the prism of New York’s Jazz Age. Through the narrator, Nick Carraway, we see Jay Gatsby, a mysterious millionaire with an obsessive passion for Daisy Buchanan, a former debutante and still beautiful - at least on the outside. Like Gatsby himself.

Gatsby’s wealthy-lifestyle look in the 2013 film of the same name directed by Baz Luhrmann manages to seem perfectly period-appropriate and also timeless. Probably because he instructed his costume designer, the Oscar-winning Catherine Martin (who is also his wife) that he didn’t want it to look "like a gangsters and their gun moll's 21st birthday party.” Rather, her designs had to be “totally the '20s” but  encouraging of “an unexpected fresh way of seeing it.” No wonder the movie’s fashions feel so relevant to right now. Particularly Leonardo DiCaprio’s Gatsby, all groomed precision, elegant hues, and snazzy touches, including, of course, baby-blue suspenders!

To understand what makes this particular Gatsby look work, take a quick look at this color wheel. Colors that are directly opposite each other work together visually, such as Yellow with Purple or Blue with Orange. For three colors, the groupings that are tried-and-true are hues that are equally spaced on the wheel. So in this case, Gatsby is wearing a shirt in Yellow, a pant in Red (pink is just a variation of red), and a suspender in Blue: Yellow-Red-Blue.

To make Yellow-Red-Blue work for your own closet but without the risk of looking like you wandered off the set of Gatsby, choose a yellow from the khaki part of that color-clan. It qualifies as a yellow, but not in a way that seems like 1925 called and wants their pants back. An on-trend ombre shirt that stylishly morphs from blue to pink takes care of the red portion, and, like for Gatsby, it’s all about a suspender in blue. So while the rich might differ from you and me, the opposite isn’t necessarily true.

Button-on suspenders: JJ Suspenders

Dégradé linen & cotton shirt: Etro

Twill Khakis: Acne Studios

Suede & leather sneakers: AMI

(clothing & shoes - all via



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