Inspiration is Where You Find It: Knife in the Water


Decades before Chinatown, the Pianist, Oscar awards, and unfortunate scandals, Roman Polanski burst onto the global film scene in 1962 with Knife in the Water. The film, which only features three actors, and takes place almost entirely on a boat, became a smash hit, not only in Polanski’s native Poland, but across the world, garnering the first Academy Award nomination for a Polish film. Fifty-plus years later, and it remains not only one of the sexiest movies ever made, but also one of the best dressed. From the opening frame, the film simply oozes style. Like the cast and the settings, the costuming is sparse, but that makes each piece all the more impactful. From the wide-lapeled sloped shoulder suit we see one of the characters wearing at the start of the film, to the excessively short bathing suits at the end, to the cuffed jeans paired with an even darker button-down, to the sun-faded crew neck that could easily have been pulled from JFK’s closet, to – my personal favorite piece from the film – a cable-knit belted robe that looks ripped right from Michael Bastian’s sketchbook, Knife in the Water is a detailed visual encyclopedia of early sixties style. The entire movie, with it’s long takes and minimal wardrobe and set changes, is a testament to simple over superfluous. It might only have a handful of looks, but all of them are flawless, and there’s few other films that can make that claim.

Two key Knife in the Water looks:


RRL Slim-Fit Rigid Denim
Gitman Vintage Overdyed Oxford Shirt
Tanner Goods Standard Belt



Michael Bastian Cable-knit Wool and Cashmere-blend Cardigan
Orlebar Brown Pup II Short


Jake Gallagher is a writer and student currently living in Manhattan. He focuses on back stories and the historical side of menswear at his site Wax-Wane.com. You can also follow him on Twitter.

  • Steve

    In case anyone was wondering, this is a great movie. Free on Hulu until tomorrow. Just watched it last night.