Remembering Jack Lord

Dressing Like McGarrett

Screen capture from Hawaii Five-0, Leonard Freeman Productions/CBS Television, 1968-1980

From time to time, someone asks how to dress like Steve McGarrett. It's a good question, for our top cop was nothing if not a snappy dresser. Here area few tips:

Dress for the occasion.

Why do some characters on TV look ridiculous? Because they don't dress appropriately for the occasion. Niles on Frazier, for example, wore a tailored suit everywhere he went, even to visit his brother! McGarrett didn't wear a suit when he went to the handball court or for the Sunday sail. Similarly, he didn't wear tennis shorts when he went to meet the governor. He went into the locker room, changed clothes, and then went to meet the governor.


Make sure your suits fit you properly.

Have a tailor alter your suits for you. Suits that are either too loose or too tight just don't achieve the McGarrett look -- or do anything for your appearance.


Wear shirts and ties that are color coordinated.

Make sure your clothes are color coordinated with (a) the suit and (b) each other. Note, however, that coordination was much more conservative in McGarrett's day than it has been since then. Even at his most stylish with pastel shirts and ties, the colors blended. For example, if he wore a pastel yellow shirt, his tie had pastel shades of yellow, peach, and other colors. He wore these colors with subdued suits; e.g., gray ones.


Keep your suits and shirts clean and pressed.

Even the most expensive suit looks bad if it becomes dirty or rumpled. There's no shortcut here.


Make sure your shoes and socks go together.

Wear  navy or black socks and black shoes with navy pants. Wear black socks and shoes with gray or black pants. Wear brown socks and shoes with brown or tan pants. 


Make sure the colors you wear look good against your complexion.

McGarrett's tan suits worked in the early seasons, when he had a suntan, but they did absolutely nothing for his pale complexion in the later seasons. Then, he looked washed out in tan, while he looked super-sharp in navy blue. Before you buy a suit or shirt, hold it up to your face to see whether it pops or washes out. If you have a pale complexion, wearing a bit of color near your face helps to avoid appearing washed out.  


Keep your hair styled and your nails trimmed.

Choose a hair style that suits you both from the preference point of view and from the flattering point of view. Your barber can help you. Then, have your hair trimmed as often as you need to, to keep it looking crisp and sharp. So, too, your nails.

Another thought -- or two

Texture also can make a difference, both for better and for worse. On Hawaii Five-0, McGarrett often wore textured (densely woven) wool, which bulked him up for that larger-than-life appearance. If you are slender, like McGarrett, you can get away with this, but if you are carrying extra weight, avoid bulky fabrics.

Similarly, watch out for patterned fabrics, whether hounds tooth, which can be both bulky and overly busy, or large prints, whether geometrical or floral. They can seriously detract from one's appearance, especially, again, if you are carrying extra weight.


For more inspiration and pictures

*  Visit this delightful blog page:


In Nappy Model Inc.'s "Chaquita's View on Menswear" (4 March 2014), Chaquita wrote, "Oh Lord!  Jack Lord!  What's happening with the men these days?  Tightee jeans, shrunken jackets with sleeves that stop at the elbow...  It's time to take some tips from Jack Lord... I'm positive that he would be disappointed at current trends for men and 'Book 'em Danno' would be on repeat."  We agree. [Quoted from]


7 Lessons in Manliness from the Greatest Generation

McKay, Brett and Kate McKay. “7 Lessons in Manliness from the Greatest Generation.” The Art of Manliness. April 30, 2009.

As we try and understand why Jack was Jack, it might help us to read this article. It describes the men who were born in Jack’s time. The opening paragraph tells the tale: They knew how to do without and to put their desires aside in favor of contributing to a greater cause. As in Jack’s case, they went to work when they were still in school; many had to drop out of school in order to support their families. They didn’t have to drive a brand new sports car; Jack drove his car for 30 years, until his death. They didn’t have to live in a McMansion; Jack lived in a condo, albeit a very nice one. When economic times were good, they saved their money; in Jack’s case, when he died, he left $40 million to charity.

Read the seven lessons that teach the traits of the manliness of the Greatest Generation. You won’t be able to forget them.

On the Greatest Generation

Reprinted from my personal website:

My parents’ generation (born 1905-1925) has been called “The Greatest Generation.” People who are young adults today (born 1980-1990) are impressed by the men and women who now remain in very small numbers, men and women who were their grandparents and, even, their great-grandparents.

They are impressed by how The Greatest Generation rose to the challenges presented by World War II – and, indeed, they did! That war was so massive in scale that it forced civilians out of their comfort zones and into the war effort. Civilians took over production jobs in factories, rolled bandages for the injured servicemen, and took in orphaned children from overseas and kept them safe until their parents could be located. They lost their ready supply of food and medicine and clothes and gasoline in order that those items might be diverted to the war effort. Those are the qualities we most often read and hear about.

Don’t get me wrong. Not everyone made the sacrifice willingly. Not everyone favored the policies of Franklin Roosevelt. Not everyone favored US involvement in the war; others thought we should have entered the war much earlier than we did. We are a nation of independent thinkers – as well we should be; no democracy can survive, otherwise – but when a crisis arises, we are like the fragmented family that pulls back together in times of emergency.

Something drove The Greatest Generation to make those sacrifices. That something was their Judeo-Christian principles. They lived by the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” They would have liked to think that someone would take in their children if something happened to them, and so, they took in the orphaned children of Europe. They would have liked to think the servicemen had fuel for their tanks and food for their stomachs, and so,they walked more and gave up their Sunday roasts in favor of chickens they raised in their own backyards. Arising from this, The Greatest Generation enjoyed good, wholesome entertainment. They read wholesome books. They watched wholesome movies. They listened to music with wholesome lyrics. Anything less was found only in men’s locker rooms, which were highly suspect.

The war was not The Greatest Generation’s only quality. They had another quality that also made a big impression: They put their best foot forward. They dressed to their best advantage. A childhood story told of Little Dilly, whose father had died and whose mother could not afford to dress her as well as other children dressed. But Little Dilly’s mother was careful to send her out in clothes that were freshly washed and ironed (no permanent press in those days). In those days of chiffon ball gowns and dressing gowns, more than one person, who couldn’t afford a ball gown, wore a dressing gown cinched at the waist with a gold-colored belt. It has been said that no one was the wiser – and they probably weren’t!  Just as they dressed neatly, if not expensively, they styled their hair and put on their lipstick.

More importantly, they watched the words that came out of their mouths. A curse word brought gasps of horror in those days, but then, curse words were not needed, for the guiding rule was “You can catch a lot more flies with honey than you can with vinegar.” In other words, it’s not what you say, but how you say it that is important. In those days, people were very skillful in making themselves understood without demeaning themselves. Which is the better way of expressing displeasure…“OMG! You aren’t going out with him!”  or “I don’t know if you’re aware of this, but he has an atrocious reputation. Frankly, I think I would tell him I was going to be busy that night.”

In short, they set higher standards for themselves, and they used the teachings of the Bible to help them adhere to those standards. They kept company with other people who were also trying to maintain higher standards. And, do you know, very little of it had anything to do with money or social standing. It all came down to how they wanted to feel about themselves. And, so, it was something that was available to everyone. We can have it, too, if we will only make the effort.