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Remembering Legendary Actor Sidney Poitier: A Regal Style Icon

Sidney Poitier has died at the age of 94. Clint Watson, press secretary for the Prime Minister of the Bahamas, confirmed that the actor died on Thursday evening.

The legend and ambassador is best known for his portrayal of resolute heroes in films “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” “To Sir With Love” and “In the Heat of the Night.” He earned trailblazer status after becoming the first Black male performer to win best actor at the Oscars for his role in the 1963 film, “Lilies of the Field.” He always brought a quiet dignity to his characters and helped to break race barriers in Hollywood. However, he initially rose to prominence when the civil rights movement started to make headway in the United States.

Poitier leaves behind an indelible legacy that extends far beyond his commanding screen presence. He has also solidified a fashionable foundation.

His signature style was regal, yet casual, and when he graced red carpets, he always arrived in the finest tuxedos and bow ties. Poitier is considered to be one of the 20th century’s best-dressed men. However the activist didn’t achieve this accolade for his dapper and debonaire wardrobe. Instead, it was his ability to effortlessly elevate basic styles in his own subtle way. Whether he wore a light jacket on a summer’s day or went five layers-deep for winter, his eye for pairing shirts, sweaters, cardigans and coats was second-to-none. The film director understood every fashion assignment by never doing too much and letting a stylish statement piece do all of the talking.

Here, we take a look at Poitier’s style through the years.

Sidney Poitier (left) and Joanna Shimkus attend Vanity Fair's 15th annual Oscars party at Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood..
Sidney Poitier (left) and his wife, Joanna Shimkus (right) attend Vanity Fair’s 15th annual Oscars party in 2009 at Sunset Tower Hotel in West Hollywood.
CREDIT: Fairchild Archive/Penske Media

In 2009, Poitier attended Vanity Fair’s 15th annual Oscars party with his wife, Joanna Shimkus. The activist suited up in a black tuxedo. His suit jacket included a peaked satin lapel and a chest pocket. He completed the sharp ensemble with a white shirt and a black bowtie. On his feet, was a pair of patent leather loafers. The shiny shoes included a round toe and a flat staked heel.

Sidney Poitier, Forest Whitaker and Angela Bassett at the 12th biennial Carousel of Hope gala, hosted by Barbara and Marvin Davis at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 27, 1996 in Beverly Hills, California ..Article title: 'Eye: Power Ball
Forest Whitaker, Angela Bassett and Sidney Poitier at the 12th biennial Carousel of Hope gala, hosted by Barbara and Marvin Davis at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on October 27, 1996 in Beverly Hills, California.
CREDIT: Fairchild Archive/Penske Media

Sidney Poitier and actress Joanna Shimkus
Sidney Poitier and his wife and actress, Joanna Shimkus attend the Presentation and dinner party for Giorgio Armani in 1988.
CREDIT: WWD
Freddie Fields, Sidney Poitier, and Joanna Shimkus attend an event on the MGM lot in Culver City, California, on May 23, 1983.
Freddie Fields, Sidney Poitier, and Joanna Shimkus attend the “WarGames” Los Angeles screening at the MGM lot in Culver City, California, on May 23, 1983.
CREDIT: WWD
Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus attend a party at Carl Foreman's Beverly Hills home on May 11, 1978.
Sidney Poitier and Joanna Shimkus attend a party at Carl Foreman’s Beverly Hills home on May 11, 1978.
CREDIT: WWD
Sidney Poitier attends a 'Raising a Racquet' celebrity tennis match, benefitting the Manhattan Women's Political Caucus, at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City on February 13, 1973.
Sidney Poitier attends a ‘Raising a Racquet’ celebrity tennis match, benefitting the Manhattan Women’s Political Caucus, at the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City on February 13, 1973.
CREDIT: WWD

As the years went on, “The Measure of a Man” author continued with several sophisticated suit styles, but with idiosyncratic touches. In 1973, he complimented his suit with a decorative floral shirt.

Sidney Poitier (L) and Brock Peters (C) attend the 'Harlem Homecoming' benefit performance at Loew's Victoria Theater in New York City on November 13, 1972.
Sidney Poitier and Brock Peters attend the ‘Harlem Homecoming’ benefit performance at Loew’s Victoria Theater in New York City on November 13, 1972.
CREDIT: WWD

Poitier is survived by his six daughters, four of whom — including Beverly Poitier-Henderson, Pamela Poitier, Sherri Poitier and Gina Poitier — he had with his first wife Juanita Hardy. Gina Poitier died in 2018 at 57. He is also survived by his second wife, actress Joanna Shimkus, and their two daughters, Anika Poitier and actress Sydney Tamiia Poitier.

Click through the gallery to see more of his style through the years.

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