Stories / April 2019

This Week We're Channelling: Frank Wheeler in Revolutionary Road

This week, we’re taking style notes from Leonardo DiCaprio’s character in Revolutionary Road, who manages to exude elegance even with his personal life in disarray.

Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet play a couple whose marriage is crumbling, in Sam Mendes' Revolutionary Road (2008).

Revolutionary Road is not an easy watch. Adapted from Richard Yates’ 1961 novel of the same name, Sam Mendes’ 2008 film paints an utterly depressing portrait of the American Dream turned on its head, of high hopes crushed by sinking mundanity. Set in 1950s suburban Connecticut, it follows a perfectly polished couple - Frank and April Wheeler (played by screen legends Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet) - who, following a relatively happy start at married life, gradually become disenchanted and frustrated with the whole thing. Resentment builds and they find themselves arguing incessantly, but even though their relationship is breaking down, they manage to maintain a flawless facade, fooling those around them and occasionally even themselves.

A large part of their projected image of perfection is facilitated by the pair’s impeccable clothing, reminiscent of the classic 1950s styles donned in the early seasons of the highly-lauded Mad Men series. Frank’s aesthetic is neat and sophisticated: a smooth talking salesman, he sports a grey flannel suit typical of businessmen at the time. His single-breasted jacket is sharp and boxy with padded shoulders, while his trousers feature double reverse pleats, lending a loose, slightly baggy silhouette. A brown felt fedora, silk tie, slim black leather belt and obligatory cigarette comprise his essential work day accessories and enable him to blend in with his peers. As the film’s costume designer Albert Wosky told Elle Magazine: “Every single person back then did not wear a hat, but most people did. And I pushed it. I had everybody in hats and suits and ties. It created an atmosphere for Leo DiCaprio’s character to disappear in this crowd. Many times you can’t even find him because he looks like everybody else. And I thought that was very successful.”

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Aobh O'Brien-Moody