It’s a shame, really, but few stars these days utilise the
services of bespoke tailors. Old-school matinée idol and
self-described “relic from another era” George Hamilton continues
to keep the faith, however, remaining a loyal customer of the house
that has dressed him for many decades:
Anderson & Sheppard.
In addition to magnificently handsome features, George Hamilton
is renowned for two aesthetic characteristics — his mahogany-hued
tan and smooth sartorial style. Both of these he adopted in a
rather successful attempt at self-invention. Though he had in fact
grown up in shaky financial circumstances, Hamilton possessed the
air of the WASP establishment, and when he was first contracted to
MGM, the studio chose to manufacture a monied upper-class scion
back-story for the young actor. Hamilton eagerly leant into the
In 1959, his agent had told 20-year-old George, “You have to
have something recognisable that people will remember.” Hamilton
said he figured out that “I could pass myself off as this Palm
Beach millionaire playboy with the aid of a good tan and the
bespoke English clothes I picked up in thrift shops.” In addition
to these bargain buys, Hamilton carefully examined the tailoring
worn by stars of Hollywood’s golden age. “I went to the costume
department at MGM and looked at everyone’s wardrobe. They allowed
me to spend hours studying it,” he told an interviewer.
“I looked at how it was cut,” Hamilton explained. “Cary Grant,
for instance, had an enormous amount of padding in the shoulders
[of his coats] because his head was big and his shoulders sloped.
They built his suits around him. I looked at what Clark Gable and
Fred Astaire wore. I looked at everyone’s clothing to get an idea
of why it was what it was.”
George Hamilton and Gary Kooeger.
(Photo by CBS/courtesy Everett Collection/Alamy).
When he became truly successful and could start commissioning
his own bespoke attire rather than relying on second-hand finds,
Hamilton began visiting Astaire’s tailor, Anderson & Sheppard.
He quickly accumulated so many clothes that he had to have a dry
cleaner’s carousel installed at home, allowing him to select
accessorised looks from a numbered system — all at the press of a
Eventually, though, like many an advanced menswear maven,
Hamilton learned that less is more. In middle age, for years he
travelled the world with a 1930s Louis Vuitton trunk that
incorporated a writing desk, a martini shaker, and custom storage
for a small selection of Anderson & Sheppard suits. When taking
minimalism to the extreme, Hamilton would jetset with just one dark
suit featuring plain, gold and satin sets of interchangeable
buttons. He’d challenged A&S to “make me a suit that I could
wear in any climate and which I could use as a tuxedo, a dinner
jacket, a lounge suit and a blazer,” he said.
He told an interviewer recently, “I learned style because it was
a survival game. I’m from Blytheville, Arkansas. I had to find out
how to bring my own style to how I dress.” Hamilton said, “you have
to know the difference between chicken shit and chicken salad.
Having lived in England when there were shoemakers from Italy, and
shirt makers, and suit makers that worked at every detail, I got to
know the difference. Once you know the rules, you can break them. I
became confident in myself.”
While the man’s clearly in possession of lashings of
natural-born swagger, Hamilton would doubtless acknowledge that
some measure of his self-confidence came courtesy of impeccable
tailoring from Anderson & Sheppard.