Steve McQueen’s Brown 3-Piece Suit as Thomas Crown

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968).

Vitals

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown, millionaire busienssman and criminal mastermind

Boston, Late Summer 1968

Background

The Thomas Crown Affair is one film where I would feel comfortable ruling that the style outweighs the substance. In some ways, the plot reads like a harlequin novel – a dashing millionaire is investigated by an impossibly stunning insurance investigator (there’s no way anyone could look like 1968 Faye Dunaway and not be an an actress or a model) and the two play a cat-and-mouse game, culminating in some symbolism-driven sex and his eventual escape. It is a simple plot in a film best remembered for its lavish touches across the board from cinematography to costuming.

In fact, Crown himself is far more sophisticated than the plot. Watching for plot can be more than mildly frustrating as the film really electrifies when McQueen and Dunaway are onscreen and – not the fault of the other actors – stumbles when neither are there to save it. The film is still a fun and very ’60s caper, but it’s important to keep in mind that the focus is totally on style.

Of course, this is exceedingly appropriate for a man whose surface persona – rich, well-suited, and conducting business from a grand skyscraper office – helps conceal the fact that he’s a devil-may-care criminal at heart, robbing banks on a whim simply to increase his already vast fortune. Ayn Rand would be proud.

What’d He Wear?

Crown wears a brown semi-solid three-piece suit for a few brief scenes in the film. Brown is not a traditional color for an urbanite like Crown, but McQueen has a pretty solid track record for brown-heavy attire so he makes the look work in his favor. The suit is likely mohair based on its sheen and reputation for expensive luxury that would be very fitting for the debonair Thomas Crown.

Douglas Hayward, the legendary Savile Row tailor, crafted McQueen’s suits for the film, keeping each suit’s styling and fit relatively consistent while providing a variety of looks that each match with what we know about Crown and his personality.

For instance, he's the sort of person who keeps a giant globe in his office.

For instance, he’s the sort of person who keeps a giant globe in his office.

The single-breasted has reasonably slim notch lapels that roll down to a 2-button front. The welted breast pocket is never without a pocket square (blue silk in the first scene, mustard gold silk in the second), and there are straight flapped pockets on each hip.

Hayward’s sartorial touches from the other suits are present here also, such as the fishtail-styled single-button cuffs and the double side vents. Natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a suppressed waist, and voluminous back all work together to strengthen McQueen’s athletic silhouette and still allow him room to move within the jacket.

Crown in his office, conducting a few different types of business.

Crown in his office, conducting a few different types of business.

The straight-cut waistcoat from Crown’s other suits returns, recalling spies of the era like James Bond in Thunderball and Maxwell Smart. The vest is single-breasted with five widely-spaced horn buttons and very slim lapels.

Showing up again after its prominent appearance in the first scene is Crown’s gold Patek Philippe pocket watch, which he wears in the left of the waistcoat’s two welted pockets. The watch is worn on a thick gold chain and attached, “double Albert”-style, through the fourth button of the vest with a Phi Beta Kappa fraternity key fob drop. As I commented in an earlier post, Crown would be a chapter brother of Daniel Webster and Nelson Rockefeller as a Dartmouth-graduated Phi Beta Kappa.

Everyone knows that vest-wearers are just wasting their time if they're not occasionally swinging their jacket back with both hands to hook their thumbs in the pockets.

Everyone knows that vest-wearers are just wasting their time if they’re not occasionally swinging their jacket back with both hands to hook their thumbs in the pockets.

Crown’s trousers rise high on his waist with flat fronts and a straight fly that continues the vertical center line from the vest. The high rise and straight leg offer a full, clean look down to the plain-hemmed bottoms. The straight, high cut of the waistcoat enhances the trouser length and makes McQueen look even taller than 5’10”.

As his suits all have a simple elegance without many frills, I am led to deduce that he foregoes both suspenders and a belt and instead either has side adjusters or, more likely, his trousers are fitted to his waist.

Crown is always certain to incorporate earth tones into his shirt and/or tie when wearing this suit. His first shirt, when discussing asset liquidation in his office, is pale yellow with the slim collar pinned under a dark olive brown silk tie.

Next, when Crown is entertaining Vicki Anderson in his office, he wears a light cream cotton shirt. The collar is again fastened with a large silver pin. He now wears a slim mustard gold silk tie with faint, spotted diagonal dark brown stripes dotting down from the right shoulder toward the left hip. His solid mustard gold pocket square, puffed into a single soft point, nicely matches the tie.

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Millionaires wear mustard.

We never see the cuffs of either shirt, aside from half an inch poking out under the suit jacket’s sleeves, but they are likely double cuffs. Given Crown’s propensity for matching, the cuff links are probably some gold-toned affairs. (A production photo of McQueen – used above – reveals a little more of the cream shirt’s cuff, and small gold cuff links can be spotted.)

When he and Vicki take their pleasant walk through a cemetery (like you do), we see Crown’s dark brown leather plain-toe monk strap loafers. Monk strap loafers have a full cut that typically conceals the socks, but they are likely dark brown also as anything else would just draw an odd contrast.

Steve and Faye taking a stroll.

Steve and Faye taking a stroll.

Since it is raining, he also wears a short khaki raincoat that extends to his thighs. The raincoat, a classic McQueen garment, is single-breasted with three front buttons and hip pockets. The sleeves are cuffed with two buttons to fasten. It is a very simple garment without extra flaps, sashes, or additional outer pockets.

A behind-the-scenes production photo shows Crown wearing a red patterned silk tie with a spread collar shirt during the cemetery walk. The shirt appears to be cream and the tie has orange dots, so this doesn’t betray Crown’s personal (but by no means universal) earth tones-with-a-brown-suit rule.

How to Get the Look

McQueen is one of the few guys who can wear an all-brown suit, earth tones in his shirt and tie, and still not blend in when pacing around his wood-paneled office.

That damn globe again...

That damn globe again…

  • Brown semi-solid mohair suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with 2-button front, slim notch lapels, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, double rear vents, and 1-button “fishtail” cuffs
    • Single-breasted waistcoat with 5-button front, very slim lapels, welted lower pockets, and straight-cut bottom
    • Flat front high rise trousers with fitted waist, straight fly, frogmouth side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Light cream cotton shirt with pinned collar and double/French cuffs
  • Mustard gold silk necktie with faint dark brown spotted stripes
  • Gold cuff links
  • Silver collar pin
  • Dark brown leather monk strap loafers
  • Dark brown dress socks
  • Gold Patek Philippe pocket watch on thick gold chain with Phi Beta Kappa key fob
  • Khaki thigh-length single-breasted raincoat with 3-button front, flapped hip pockets, 2-button cuffed sleeves, and single rear vent

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

Check out my other Thomas Crown suit posts, if you’re curious:

Steve McQueen as Thomas Crown in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968):

Dirty Harry’s Brown Sportcoat in Magnum Force

Clint Eastwood as Inspector "Dirty Harry" Callahan in Magnum Force (1973).

Clint Eastwood as Inspector “Dirty Harry” Callahan in Magnum Force (1973).

Vitals

Clint Eastwood as Insp. Harry Callahan, badass San Francisco Police Department inspector

San Francisco, Late Summer 1972

Background

Magnum Force was originally developed by John Milius as Vigilance, a simple film about a group of young officers in the SFPD going rogue to exterminate the worst of the city’s crooks. Clint Eastwood quickly got his hands on the script and decided that the film would be a good vehicle to show that Harry Callahan may be harsh in his methods, but he isn’t a total vigilante who takes the law in his hands. (Although some would say the opposite about Eastwood during the film’s production.)

Due to Milius’ extensive knowledge and enthusiasm for firearms, the film included plenty of gun handling both on and off the job with extended scenes set during both practice and competition.

What’d He Wear?

Harry spends much of Magnum Force, including the climactic finale, wearing a brown herringbone sportcoat and slacks that are very appropriate for a late summer day in San Francisco (and a fall day anywhere else). This outfit, especially given some of the countrified elements incorporated into the sportcoat’s design, would also be fine for a jaunt to the countryside and reflects a ’70s version of the similar hacking jacket and cavalry twill trousers worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger.

The single-breasted sport jacket is brown herringbone wool with very wide notch lapels and a comfortably long fit. The lapels are a bit large, even for 1973 standards, and this would have been especially detrimental on a shorter man than Harry. Luckily for the era’s fashions, Clint Eastwood’s 6’4″ height keeps the large lapels from looking overwhelming.

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The jacket has natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads and a long single vent in the rear. Edge stitching is visible throughout.

Both the 3-button front and the 2-button cuffs consist of brown leather knots. The only outer pockets are the two hip pockets with large flaps.

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Other rustic elements of Harry’s sportcoat are the double-stitched front and rear yokes, cutting horizontally across the chest (and presumably preventing the addition of a breast pocket) and slightly dipping in the rear to resemble a Western-style point.

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Harry’s standard shirt with this jacket is a long-sleeve taupe dress shirt with large spread collars and rounded button cuffs. The front is plain with no placket, but there is a squared breast pocket.

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Harry’s silk necktie is fashionably wide for the era. It has a maroon ground with a repeating pattern of small gold capsules insulating blue designs. The tie’s inner lining is a bright red silk, and the manufacturer is indicated on the black tag with gold lettering. Unfortunately, the tag is only seen briefly in a relatively far shot, so recognition would be difficult for all but the most eagle-eyed viewers.

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The first time he wears this sportcoat in the film, though, it is with a sky blue shirt. This shirt is similarly styled to the other with large spread collars and rounded button cuffs. The silk necktie is also wide, but it is a busier pattern with large light blue floral wreaths encircling a yellow-cream floral center, all smattered onto a dark navy ground.

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Harry’s trousers do not contrast much with his jacket, colored in neutral mink. They are flat front and rise high on his waist. The side pockets are slanted, and the jetted rear pockets close with buttons.

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Harry keeps his pants up with a thick dark brown leather belt with a dulled brass clasp. Evidently, the belt is thick enough to fasten onto his massive shoulder holster. The trousers have plain-hemmed bottoms that break short over his feet.

His shoes are a pair of very well-worn dark brown leather plain-toe bluchers with black laces and black leather soles. Harry wears a pair of dark brown ribbed socks that nearly match the color of the shoes.

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A manufacturer’s logo is visible on the heels of Harry’s shoes, but I’m not shoe-literate enough to recognize it in a blur.

Read his shoes.

Read his shoes.

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Eastwood, behind takes in San Francisco, looking notably badass with his holstered Smith & Wesson.

Harry appears to have updated his holster for the second film, now wearing a brown soft leather holster slung low under his left armpit for a quick right-hand draw. It fastens to both sides of his belt and the leather straps are secured over his shoulders with white nylon cord.

Although most shoulder holsters suspend their weapon near the mid-chest, the size of Harry’s massive .44 Magnum necessitates it being worn closer to the hip. A traditional hip holster – worn cavalry-style a la Wild Bill Hickok – would have the same effect, but it would cause some very intense sagging on Harry’s belt as the 6″-barreled Smith & Wesson Model 29 weighs nearly three pounds.

Harry usually wears a watch during his adventures, but he appears to have forgone it for Magnum Force.

Harry has a clear preference for sport jackets and blazers, wearing them for his everyday work and only saving suits for special occasions. Off-duty, he tends to wear very cop-like windbreakers with polos and trousers.

Harry wears the same shirt and trousers with a dark brown blazer earlier in the film during the failed grocery store holdup.

Go Big or Go Home

Although he earned much of his reputation from his shooting, Harry also shows a proficiency behind the wheel. It may not be Car Week just yet, but I’d like to look at some of the classic Fords that Harry drives during the film.

Harry’s SFPD duty car is a brown, unmarked 1972 Ford Galaxie 500. The Galaxie 500 was the mid-range sedan for Ford, a slightly upscale version of the dark brown ’71 Ford Custom 500 that Burt Reynolds drove in White Lightning.

Harry’s Galaxie 500 has a V8 engine – likely the most common 351 cubic inch engine – paired with Ford’s SelectShift automatic transmission. It is fitted with California license plates 650 MTW.

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Harry’s personal car is an electric blue 1972 Ford LTD 2-door convertible with a white soft top roof. I wouldn’t suspect that a guy like Harry would drive a convertible, but he does have a sporty side. If the Custom was Ford’s base model and the Galaxie was mid-range, the LTD was the top luxury model of Ford’s line. Like the Galaxie sedan, Harry’s LTD likely has a 351 cubic inch V8 engine and the SelectShift automatic transmission. It’s worth noting that 1972 was the final year for the LTD convertible as many manufacturers began phasing out convertibles during the mid-’70s.

dhmf5-LS-car2

Harry also knows his way around a motorcycle, zipping around on a Triumph T 100 Tiger 500cc presumably taken from a downed motorcycle cop during the final scenes. The bulk of the film featured the patrolmen on 1972 Moto Guzzi Eldorado V7 850 Police Special bikes, but Eastwood found the Triumph to be more maneuverable.

How to Get the Look

With the exception of the tie, Harry’s outfit is predominantly brown – a serious color for a serious man. Brown was especially popular in the ’70s and reflects Harry’s direct sartorial backlash against the psychedelic color palette preferred by the hippie culture of the ’60s.

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  • Brown herringbone wool single-breasted sportcoat with large notch lapels, 3-leather knot button front, flapped hip pockets, 2-leather knot button cuffs, and long single vent
  • Mink flat front trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Taupe button-down shirt with large spread collar, placket-less front, squared breast pocket, rounded button cuffs
  • Maroon silk necktie with repeating gold-and-blue capsule design
  • Dark brown leather belt with dulled brass clasp
  • Dark brown leather bluchers with black laces and black leather soles
  • Dark brown ribbed socks
  • Light brown leather shoulder holster (RHD) for a Smith & Wesson Model 29 revolver

The Gun

Does anyone really not know what type of gun Harry carried? Right up there with James Bond’s Walther PPK, Harry Callahan’s Smith & Wesson Model 29 is one of the few guns that even non-enthusiasts know by heart. Harry’s Model 29 is blued with a 6.5″ barrel and rosewood grips. Although it gained much notoriety as a “.44 Magnum”, Harry actually implies that he uses .44 Special loads instead when he tells the motorcycle cops:

It’s a light Special. This size gun it gives you better control and less recoil than a .357 Magnum with waductters.

While it might be slightly more practical to carry a .44 Special than a .44 Magnum in a heavily urban environment like San Francisco, the film’s aficionado writer John Milius explained in the 2008 DVD release that the line was misinterpreted and actually meant that Harry used a specially prepared lighter Magnum load, perhaps even reloaded by Harry himself.

dhmf5-gun

Harry hands his .44 off to Deep Throat.

Magnum Force includes the first instance of Harry losing his Model 29. After he hands it over to the crooked Lieutenant Briggs, Harry is unable to retrieve the Model 29 from Briggs’ car, and it is likely destroyed when the car explodes.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie. Keep an eye out for Clint’s stunt double too.

Jon Lovitz?

Jon Lovitz?

The Quote

A man’s got to know his limitations.

Justified – Raylan’s Gray Suit Coat and Jeans

Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on Justified. (Episode 2.01: "The Moonshine War")

Timothy Olyphant as Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens on Justified. (Episode 2.01: “The Moonshine War”)

Vitals

Timothy Olyphant as Raylan Givens, proudly old-fashioned Deputy U.S. Marshal

Harlan County, KY, Spring 2010

Background

Winona: Brown suit, black suit. One, two, three… four shirts. Two pairs of jeans. Hm.
Raylan: What the hell’s that supposed to mean?
Winona: Oh, just by looking at your closet one would think you were a simple man.

While the sentiment makes sense, Winona clearly wasn’t looking too far into Raylan’s closet when delivering this subtle blow in “The Life Inside” (Episode 2.02). His clothes may be overshadowed by his cowboyish accessories, but Raylan does show plenty of variety in the first season alone.

What’d He Wear?

Evidently Winona skipped over one of Raylan’s most often-seen suits from the early episodes, a dark gray wool suit first seen in “Long in the Tooth” (Episode 1.04) when Raylan and Rachel head out to L.A.

In the next episode, “The Lord of War and Thunder” (Episode 1.05), the suit jacket appeared again but was worn much casually this time with a chambray shirt and jeans.

This look, repeated again in “Bulletville” (Episode 1.13) and “The Moonshine War” (Episode 2.01, both set on the same day), is very appropriate for Raylan. Although his exterior demeanor is very easygoing and witty, he is a very conflicted man on all fronts. Thus, his “urban rustic” attire of a sharp suit coat with everyday casual wear and cowboy accessories may clash initially, but it all blends together comfortably for a man who can only truly control one thing in his life: his clothing.

Raylan spends another rough day in the office.

Raylan spends another rough day in the office.

Raylan’s suit coat is single-breasted with slim peak lapels that roll down to a single-button front. The lapels have short gorge seams and sharp tips, and the edge stitching is evident on close-up shots.

The jacket fits nicely with narrow shoulders, roped sleeveheads, double rear vents, and a darted front. It also has 4-button cuffs, a welted breast pocket, and flapped hip pockets (including the right side ticket pocket). The ticket pocket is wider than most, extending almost the same length of the lower pocket.

It's nice to get out of the office once in a while.

It’s nice to get out of the office once in a while.

Details like the peak lapels, 1-button front, and ticket pocket make the suit coat stand out as surprisingly fashionable elements, further proving Winona’s point that Raylan becomes far less simple the more you look at him.

Although the suit does have trousers which Raylan wears occasionally, he is most comfortable in jeans and often pairs them with his suit coats. With this jacket, he wears a pair of bootcut denim jeans in a rich dark blue wash. The low rise makes Olyphant’s torso look even longer, enhancing the “Western loner” silhouette on his already tall 6′ frame. Raylan typically wears a pair of classic Levi’s 501s.

Raylan wears a blue chambray long-sleeve shirt, an excellent choice for an anti-dress shirt man who still needs to wear the occasional suit and tie. Although many often mistake it for denim due to the durable mottled blue fabric, chambray is actually a double-ply woven fabric – typically cotton. It has badass origins dating back to the U.S. Navy in the early 20th century and has since become the shirt of choice for smart, tough, and laconic cinematic heroes. Robert Redford sported a snap-down chambray shirt in Three Days of the Condor, and Harrison Ford wore a more traditional one in The Fugitive; both men paired theirs with sport jackets, ties, and jeans.

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Raylan’s shirt has seven white plastic buttons down the front placket. The slim spread collar is held into place by large concealed buttons that remain unseen throughout the first season, only revealed in “The Moonshine War” (Episode 2.01) after Raylan undergoes a particularly trying day.

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Raylan’s shirt also has two patch pockets on the chest with mitred corners and button fastening. The pockets enhance the military-styled look while decreasing the formality. The squared cuffs close with a single button and a gauntlet button further up the sleeve.

Raylan shoots back some Wild Turkey.

Raylan shoots back some Wild Turkey.

I’ve read that many of Raylan’s shirts are Calvin Klein, but chambray is typically pretty damn comfortable and durable no matter who manufactured it. A few years ago, I picked up a very inexpensive chambray shirt from Old Navy that has proved itself season after season. The natural pairing with denim and naval origins mean that chambray shirts are typically blue, but other colors have emerged as style continues to evolve.

Raylan never leaves home without his belt and holster, both brown leather. The belt is brown tooled leather with a dulled square clasp. His holster is a tan-finished Bianchi Model 59 Special Agent® thumb break paddle holster in full grain leather. This particular holster would be #19128, indicating that it fits a 4.49″-barreled (“full size”) Glock pistol for a right-handed shooter.

The Bianchi hip holster is a respectable choice for a pro like Raylan.

The Bianchi hip holster is a respectable choice for a pro like Raylan.

Though he shows no outward tendencies of a dedicated sartorialist, Raylan’s preference for brown leather ensures that his belt and boots always match. Raylan’s Western-style cowboy boots, which he describes as “fairly new” in the pilot episode, are dark brown cowhide with decorative stitching. After doing some digging around, I discovered that Raylan’s boots are custom-made Lucchese ostrich leg boots with calf leather shafts.

Raylan hits the deck.

Raylan hits the deck.

This digging around also told me that Lucchese, while a fine bootmaker, is expensive as hell. A pair of “cigar”-colored ostrich leg boots like Raylan’s could run you around $1,000 a pair. While this is reasonable when establishing the character of an action hero lawman with cowboyish tendencies over multiple seasons of a high budget TV show, a commoner like myself may look for something a little less pricy.

“The Lord of War and Thunder” (Episode 1.05) also offers a rare look of Raylan with his boots off. While getting into bed with Ava, he kicks off his boots to reveal a pair of light brown socks. Nothing thrilling about this, but it shows that Raylan doesn’t adhere to the “white socks is all I hear” policy of fellow badass cowboy boot-wearer Llewelyn Moss.

If you’re really into the details – and many folks are – Raylan wears ribbed white cotton tank top undershirts and, at least in “The Moonshine War” (Episode 2.01), a pair of dark blue plaid boxers.

Raylan gets his shit together after another romp with the ex.

Raylan gets his shit together after another romp with the ex.

The most obvious Raylan Givens accessory is his cowboy hat, the Stetson “Marshall” (of course) from Stetson’s San Angelo collection. Raylan’s Stetson is 4X wool in “Ranch tan” with a 4.25″ cattleman crown, a 4″ brim, and a slim brown tooled leather band with a three-piece buckle set. If you want your own, you can pony up $130 to HatCountry.com and pick one out. For $10 less, you can get one in black.

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Raylan is also never without the silver horseshoe ring on the third finger of his right hand. eBay has some available for around $25 if you’re the sort of cowboy who’s into jewelry.

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Raylan’s wristwatch presents a mystery to many Justified fans. He briefly sports a stainless Rolex Submariner in the pilot, but for the rest of the series – and most of that episode – he wears a watch with a stainless case and round white face on a brown alligator strap.

Any thoughts on Raylan's watch?

Any thoughts on Raylan’s watch?

Close-ups reveal what appears to be a red shield-shaped logo… possibly that of TAG Heuer, which many fans have theorized is the manufacturer?

Interestingly, and I don’t know if this is another example of me reading too much into costuming choices, Raylan wears this particular outfit in two first season episodes – “The Lord of War and Thunder” and “Bulletville”. (Yes, he also wears it in the beginning of “The Moonshine War” but that takes place minutes after the events of “Bulletville” so take it easy.) We first meet his father Arlo in “The Lord of War and Thunder”, and it is in “Bulletville” that Arlo’s choices affect Raylan’s life gravely. This could be like the Pulp Fiction bathroom principle; if you’re going to wear this outfit, maybe it’s best to stay away from your father (if he’s a convicted felon) for a few days.

Speaking of fathers... Boyd's father makes some interesting sartorial choices himself.

Speaking of fathers… Boyd’s father makes some interesting sartorial choices himself.

Raylan gets a little more varied with his shirts and ties when he wears the full dark gray suit, but he almost always wears the blue chambray shirt when wearing the jacket casually. I’ve noticed one major exception, though; in “The Life Inside” (Episode 2.02), Raylan is getting dressed after spending the night with Winona. She lounges across the room in one of his plaid shirts.

He puts on his jeans, and – perhaps hoping to antagonize her – asks her to remove the shirt as he needs to wear it that day. This shirt, which he had previously worn in the show’s second episode, is a indigo, red, and light gray plaid long-sleeve shirt with Western-style yokes, a slim spread collar, front placket, mitred button cuffs, and button-flapped patch pockets. The white buttons are accented with maroon stitching.

Raylan spruces up a little when he's on official duty.

Raylan spruces up a little when he’s on official duty.

Since he is spending the day in the office, he also wears a slim dark red silk tie. The tie has a small white triangle on the left side but is otherwise plain.

Go Big or Go Home

Although many residents of the real Harlan County, Kentucky are quick to point out the show’s exaggeration of its redneck populace, they’ll say in the same sentence just how proud they are that a show like Justified has brought it to major prominence.

Keeping true to its Kentucky setting, Bourbon whiskey is the elixir of choice for most characters. The producers admit that they weren’t very familiar with the setting before the show began, and the accuracies – both in setting and in terms of bourn branding – truly began to emerge with the beginning of the second season. Rougher types like Arlo Givens drink Wild Turkey, and the more refined drinkers like Art Mullen and Judge Mike Reardon drink Blanton’s. Raylan, of course, will happily and easily drink both.

Raylan gets plenty of BAMF moments per episode, both physically and wittily, but one of my all time favorite moments was in “Bulletville”. Raylan and Boyd drive up to Bo’s cabin, voluntarily giving themselves up to save Ava. Bo, clad in a garish American flag shirt and a pair of dad jeans that manage to totally devour his sizable gut, instructs his henchman Rufus: “Make sure and get that backup.”

Although it’s only Bo and two country bumpkins, the Deliverance-like scenario of armed ruthless rednecks is far more chilling than any Bond villain’s volcano lair. The idea of Raylan going in totally unarmed is horrifying, but Raylan approaches with his trademark wit and confidence that he can get out of any situation. (Of course, having Boyd armed and hidden helps, too.)

Raylan and Bo trade quip for quip -

Bo: I hope you know how sorry I am about this, Marshal.
Raylan: Yeah, you seem torn up.
Bo: Well, I ain’t saying I’m gonna throw myself on top of your coffin or anything, but this “bring him in to me alive” shit ain’t quite my style.

- with M.C. Gainey turning in an excellent coda to his performance as the calculating backwoods drug kingpin. Suddenly, the bullets start flying. Raylan seizes the moment, and – in one badass flash of glory – reclaims his own pistol, shoots Rufus with his own gun, kicks the revolver from Bo’s hand, and takes control of the situation.

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Watch around 1:56 in this video to see the badassery in action.

How to Get the Look

Raylan nails down the urban rustic look. Whether you’re a Deputy U.S. Marshal or just some office jockey who wants to make an impression on casual Friday, carve out your own urban rustic look with a fashionable gray suit coat, dark jeans, and a chambray shirt.

Maybe you're the sort of guy who doesn't care for cowboy hats. No worries - Raylan's look is still applicable.

Maybe you’re the sort of guy who doesn’t care for cowboy hats. No worries – Raylan’s look is still applicable.

  • Dark gray wool single-breasted suit coat with slim peak lapels, 1-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets and ticket pocket, 4-button cuffs, and double rear vents
  • Dark blue denim bootcut jeans
  • Blue chambray shirt with slim spread concealed-button collars, white plastic buttons down front placket, mitred button-through chest pockets, and 1-button squared cuffs
  • Stetson Marshall 4x wool cowboy hat in “Ranch tan” with a thin tooled leather band
  • Dark brown cowhide leather Western-style boots with decorative stitching
  • Dark brown tooled leather belt with a dulled silver rectangular clasp
  • Tan full grain leather Bianchi Model 59 Special Agent® paddle holster for a full-size Glock pistol
  • Light brown socks
  • White ribbed sleeveless undershirt
  • Dark blue plaid boxers
  • Stainless wristwatch with a round white face and brown alligator strap
  • Silver horseshoe ring

The Gun(s)

It’s no surprise that Raylan Givens is an expert with firearms. He uses an array of weapons throughout the show, but the most consistent in the Glock 17 he carries after the first episode.

Some have tried to cry error about Raylan carrying different weapons than he did in the pilot, but this is lampshaded in the second season premiere after Raylan is involved in yet another shooting. I don’t know for certain – perhaps an LEO can fill in the blanks for me – but it makes sense that a firearm would need to be relinquished after a shooting incident.

Tim: Relinquishing a firearm can be a very emotional moment, and there always must be another deputy in attendance. Add in some premium alcohol [Blanton's], what could possibly go wrong?
Raylan: Thank you.
Art: Uh huh.
Tim: What are you gonna get next?
Raylan: Probably the same thing.
Art: You should think about an Uzi.

Thus, it can be assumed that Raylan had to turn in the SIG Sauer he used to shoot Tommy Bucks and the 1911 he used when he shot Boyd. Both of these incidents were in the pilot episode, so it would make sense that Raylan would adopt a different pistol for the following episode.

JustRGur-gun-glk-1

Although Raylan isn’t one to avoid getting into a scrape. Especially when guns are involved.

As he tells Tim and Art, Raylan indeed re-adopts the Glock 17. Earlier that season in “The Hammer”, Raylan says that he carries a “.45 Glock”; this would indicate a Glock 21. The Glock 21 is cosmetically the same as the Glock 17, but the 17 is chambered in 9×19 mm Parabellum while the 21 is chambered in .45 ACP. Close-ups of the pistol and the bore prove that it is the 9mm Glock 17.

Raylan reloads at Bulletville.

Raylan reloads at Bulletville. Tim Olyphant shows great trigger discipline throughout the show.

Raylan also keeps a Glock 26, also chambered in 9×19 mm, as his backup weapon. He wears it in the rear of his waistband and tends to keep it in his car glove compartment.

Raylan never really uses his backup pistol; it mostly serves as something to get taken away.

Raylan never really uses his backup pistol; it mostly serves as something to get taken away.

As I mentioned earlier during my breakdown of badassery, Raylan also gets his hands on a Heckler & Koch USP Compact carried by Bo’s henchman Rufus. The USP was developed in 1993, and the scaled-down USP Compact was introduced the following year. Like the full-size USP, it is offered in 9×19 mm, .40 S&W, and .45 ACP, although it can also be chambered for .357 SIG ammunition.

A Heckler & Koch USP Compact pistol like the one Raylan takes from Bo's henchman.

A Heckler & Koch USP Compact pistol like the one Raylan takes from Bo’s henchman.

When Raylan gets his hands on the USP Compact, he is able to turn the tables on Bo before anyone can blink. He dual-wields the USP Compact and his Glock until the battle intensifies, and he hands the USP Compact over to Ava.

Shoe's on the other foot.

Shoe’s on the other foot.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

The entire series is excellent and worth both watching and owning. The episodes used for this post were “The Lord of War and Thunder” (Episode 1.05), “Bulletville” (Episode 1.13), “The Moonshine War” (Episode 2.01), and “The Life Inside” (Episode 2.02).

(Admittedly, I’m still only halfway through the second season as of this writing. I think I can be 100% certain that I will love the show as a whole when I’m finished, though.)

JustRGur-pewpew

Pew pew.

The Quote

This is Deputy Marshal Raylan Givens. I’m gonna need an ambulance… and a coroner.

Reservoir Dogs – Mr. White

Harvey Keitel as Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs (1992).

Harvey Keitel as Mr. White in Reservoir Dogs (1992).

Vitals

Harvey Keitel as Larry Dimmick, aka “Mr. White”, professional armed robber

Los Angeles, Summer 1992

Background

If you’ve never heard of Reservoir Dogs, you’ve either:

a) Chosen to live under a rock
b) Never stepped into a college dorm room inhabited by at least one male (see also: The Boondock Saints)

Once again, I turn to the pros at Clothes on Film to help express the importance of this film’s costuming. Chris Laverty, who interviewed the film’s costumer Betsy Heimann, states:

Betsy Heimann’s costume design for Reservoir Dogs spawned a legacy in pop culture and fashion that is still being felt today. Heimann and director Quentin Tarantino determined a cinematic sub-genre by redefining the appearance of the petty gangster. From shambolic to symbolic; a man in a black suit, white shirt and black tie walking in slow motion is possibly the single most memorable costume image of the nineties.

Tarantino, who originally planned on making the film on a paltry $30,000, eventually managed to raise $1.2 million to make his debut that some maintain is still his best even more than twenty years and ten films later. I know I throw this word around a lot on BAMF Style, but Reservoir Dogs is nothing short of iconic. From the opening conversation, with Tarantino nasally breaking down Madonna’s propensity for promiscuity to the final shots fired cutting to Harry Nilsson’s tribute to coconuts.

Of course, it is the film’s simple opening credit sequence that sticks with every viewer. Eight men, all but two relatively unknown but on the verge of stardom, slowly strolling from a diner to a Cadillac. An otherwise banal situation, enhanced by the men’s casual demeanor in their slick dark suits, George Baker Selection’s “Little Green Bag”, and the knowledge that few – if any – of these men will be alive by the end of the day.

What’d He Wear?

Reservoir Dogs establishes many of the Tarantino trademarks from pop culture references to his interwoven world of criminals. It also establishes his “professional criminal” uniform of black suit, white shirt, and black tie, which would show up again in Pulp Fiction and, sans tie, in Jackie Brown.

As Heimann noted in her discussion with Clothes on Film:

“Quentin wanted to pay homage to French New Wave films. He also wanted the robbers to have certain anonymity. When he showed me some film clips, I remarked that the men were all wearing dark suits with white shirts and dark ties. This provided the anonymity we were looking for.”

While the men may stand out from the rest of the civilian world, they do blend anonymously into a world where all criminals wear the same thing.

While similar on the surface, each man's suiting reflects particular aspects of his personality.

While similar on the surface, each man’s suiting reflects particular aspects of his personality.

What most people don’t initially realize is that only Mr. White and Mr. Brown (QT himself) are wearing actual suits, while the other men are wearing suit coats with either dark trousers or black jeans. Of the film’s relatively small budget, only $10,000 was allocated to costumes, which meant Heimann and Tarantino had to get creative. Luckily, this budgetary limit also worked in favor of the film’s realism, as Heimann explains:

“In my mind, these guys had been in/were just released from prison, which would leave them without many choices of clothing. If their instruction was to wear the dark suit and tie, they could put that together easily and for very little money at a thrift store. That is how the concept came together.”

Appropriately, both for the film’s context and the casting, Harvey Keitel’s suit as Mr. White looks the sharpest throughout. Heimann utilized Keitel’s connection with the agnès b. brand to outfit him in his black wool suit. agnès b. is an especially appropriate choice given the timing and context of the story; it was a very popular brand during the era, showing up often in Bret Easton Ellis’s masterful satire of materialism American Psycho. Furthemore, Agnès herself (who has the Tarantino-esque badass birth name of Agnès Troublé) was very passionate about film noir and American crime cinema, leading her choosing New York for her first international store in 1983.

RDw-CL1-jkt1

Mr. White’s suit utilizes the narrow silhouette that Heimann and Tarantino aimed for, even working on Keitel’s stockier frame. The single-breasted jacket has slim notch lapels that roll down to the 2-button front. The jacket has a welted breast pocket and straight hip pockets with flaps that occasionally tuck into the pocket.

The suit jacket has natural shoulders and a ventless rear. The sleeves have 3 non-functioning buttons on the cuff and often fall short of the shirt sleeve underneath.

The details of Mr. White's suit jacket set it apart from the others.

The details of Mr. White’s suit jacket set it apart from the others.

Mr. White’s suit trousers have a more generous fit than the slimmer-fitting jacket. They are single reverse-pleated with a high rise and full break, plain-hemmed bottoms. His black leather belt has a dulled silver rectangular clasp.

Mr. White in various stages of duress.

Mr. White in various stages of duress.

Since every man’s jacket, trousers, and footwear are different, the only garments that each man truly has in common are the white dress shirt and slim black tie. However, Heimann was sure to make sure that there was still realistic and characteristic variety:

“Each had a different shirt with a collar that worked well with their neck. I also chose different widths of black ties for each one. As long as they all looked like they were wearing a black suit, white shirt and tie, it didn’t need to be an actual suit. The narrow silhouette fit their body types and the nervous quality of their characters.”

Mr. White’s shirt is white cotton has a baggy fit, often spilling over the waist of his trousers. The shirt has a spread collar, front placket, and breast pocket. The rounded button cuffs are often exposed when the jacket sleeve slides up his arm.

Keitel on film and behind-the-scenes, practicing his aim.

Keitel on film and behind-the-scenes, practicing his aim.

Mr. White wears a skinny black silk necktie that makes him look even broader with the widely-spread shirt collar and unbuttoned jacket. The tie has a red label on the back; I don’t believe this is an agnès b. tie since she typically has a black label with white cursive, but someone out there may know better than I.

Any word on the tie?

Any word on the tie?

Unlike Mr. Blonde’s rockabilly cowboy boots, Mr. White wears a pair of well-traveled cap toe 4-eyelet bluchers constructed from black oiled leather. His socks are black with wide vertical ribbing.

Oh, and uh... spoiler alert.

Oh, and uh… spoiler alert.

Like any professional gangster proud of his craft but avoiding overt attention, Mr. White keeps his accessories minimal but notable. He wears a gold tonneau-shaped wristwatch on a thin black leather strap.

These are the best looks we get at Mr. White's watch; my guess is IDing it is borderline impossible without a little more background info.

These are the best looks we get at Mr. White’s watch; my guess is IDing it is borderline impossible without a little more background info.

On his right pinky, he wears a gold ring with a square-cut diamond.

While pinky rings often carry a gangster connotation, Mr. White's is about as understated as one would expect.

While pinky rings often carry a gangster connotation, Mr. White’s is about as understated as one would expect.

His black acetate sunglasses are not Ray-Ban Wayfarers as many think, but instead they were made by Lanvin, the legendary French fashion house. Mr. White’s sunglasses have appeared on several lists determining the most badass movie sunglasses like this and this.

I see why.

I see why.

Underneath, he likely wears one of the white cotton crew neck undershirts he is seen sporting when driving the gang around town before the job.

Mr. White's preference for Lanvin shades extends to a pair of tortoiseshell wayfarers he wears when driving around with Nice Guy Eddie before the job.

Mr. White’s preference for Lanvin shades extends to a pair of tortoiseshell wayfarers he wears when driving around with Nice Guy Eddie before the job.

When he’s not on a job, Mr. White shows a preference for casual attire. His first meeting with Joe Cabot to discuss the job finds him wearing a dark red short-sleeve Lacoste polo shirt with two red buttons.

Lacoste: If yuppies could kill.

Lacoste: If yuppies could kill.

Chris Laverty reflects on this interesting choice in the Clothes on Film article:

Out of all the Dogs, Mr. White is perhaps the most dangerous because he seems so normal; we do not expect the violence within.

Laverty makes a good point, as Mr. Blonde’s light silk bowling shirt reflects a more classic gangster image. Of course, once Mr. White is back in a “gangster context” and takes an active role planning the job, he also looks a little more like a Sopranos extra.

"Oof, madone! He pisses in a bag now? Jesus Christ, fuckin' kill me now. Huh!"

“Oof, madone! He pisses in a bag now? Jesus Christ, fuckin’ kill me now. Huh!”

Mr. Orange’s recollection of Mr. White, Joe, and Eddie in the bar after his recruitment shows Mr. White in a black short-sleeve shirt with a pattern of pale blue and cream-colored boxes that would certainly be welcome in Paulie Gualtieri‘s closet.

Mr. Orange and Mr. White share a laugh over severed pinkies.

Mr. Orange and Mr. White share a laugh over severed pinkies.

His other outfit, a cream-colored Hawaiian shirt with a printed palm tree motif paired with cream slacks, also projects the “sleazy gangster” image that tells us a little more about Mr. White. On the surface, he may seem like a calm, principled professional, but he’s as much an opportunistic killer under the surface as anyone else in the movie.

Go Big or Go Home

Mr. White commands a level of respect from the men in his group. Even Joe, the leader, “allows” Mr. White to take his old date book; sure he gives him shit about it, but if any of the other guys tried that, Joe would probably just kill them.

On the job, Mr. White maintains professionalism without resorting to wanton violence like Mr. Blonde. He has his scruples, but he still proves to be ruthless when necessary when he instructs Mr. Orange to cut off a store manager’s pinkies if the need arises. His ruthless pragmatism is best summed up in his own words:

The choice between doing ten years and taking out some stupid motherfucker ain’t no choice at all. But I ain’t no madman.

Mr. White is certainly a throwback to an earlier era of gangsterdom. Believing heavily in the “honor among thieves” code, he remains confident that Mr. Orange is an honest criminal and that Joe will ensure that Mr. Orange will receive the proper medical attention. He connects only with fellow criminals, telling Mr. Pink that he considered “taking [Mr. Blonde] out myself” when the latter went on a killing rampage, but the idea of killing a fellow criminal was obviously more damaging to him than saving innocent lives. He only draws his gun on Joe when it is clear to him that Mr. Orange – still a fellow criminal in his mind – is in danger.

Mr. White, ardent defender of criminals' rights.

Mr. White, ardent defender of criminals’ rights.

Once he is mortally wounded, Mr. White begrudgingly learns and accepts the truth of Mr. Orange’s deception. Despite the fact that it will mean his own demise, Mr. White sticks to his principles and administers the coup de grâce to Mr. Orange. Mr. White cares about his duties as a criminal before anything else.

Branding-wise, Reservoir Dogs focuses on many more real-life brands than Tarantino’s later fictional universe of defunct cereals and “Red Apple” cigarettes. Mr. Orange clearly smokes Marlboro Lights and keeps Spaghetti-Os in his apartment, Mr. Blonde drinks Rémy Martin with Joe, and Mr. White offers Mr. Pink one of his Chesterfields. Here, Mr. White’s choice is more an indication of characterization than product placement; Chesterfields enjoyed their greatest popularity in the earlier half of the 20th century, an era when Mr. White’s “honor among thieves” code would have been more relevant. Now, they’re scarce in the U.S. (but still pretty popular in eastern Europe if you’re looking for a deck.)

"Here... have a Chesterfield."

“Here… have a Chesterfield.”

If you’re looking to live the Mr. White lifestyle without resorting to crime, slip into your black suit and wayfarers, light up a Chesterfield, and listen to some solid ’70s hits while cruising through town in a gray ’88 Lincoln Town Car.

How to Get the Look

Mr. White best portrays the slim black suit, white shirt, and black tie that Tarantino was going for when creating his mobbed-up crew. Some people say black suits are only appropriate for weddings and funerals, but Mr. White shows us that there’s nothing wrong with wearing a black suit for a jewelry store robbery either.

RDw-crop

  • Black wool agnès b. suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with slim notch lapels, 2-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, ventless rear, and 3-button cuffs
    • Single reverse-pleated trousers with high rise, belt loops, on-seam side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms with a full break
  • White cotton dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and rounded button cuffs
  • Black silk slim necktie
  • Black leather belt with dulled silver rectangular clasp
  • Black oiled leather cap toe 4-eyelet bluchers
  • Black ribbed dress socks
  • Gold pinky ring with square-cut diamond
  • Gold tonneau-shaped wristwatch on thin black leather strap
  • Lanvin black acetate wayfarer-style sunglasses
  • White cotton crew neck short-sleeve undershirt

The Gun

Further cementing his place as the group’s de facto leader, Mr. White is allowed to carry his own personal handgun during the robbery in addition to the one issued to each member of the team. In fact, it could be argued that since each team member was issued a Smith & Wesson 9 mm (which is listed in a deleted scene as Mr. White’s weapon of choice), Mr. White actually had a role in choosing which sidearm would be used.

In addition to the Smith & Wesson Model 659 used by each member of the robbery team, Mr. White carries his own personal Smith & Wesson Model 639 in his waistband.

Mr. White takes aim with his S&W 659 in his right hand and his personal S&W 639 in his left.

Mr. White takes aim with his S&W 659 in his right hand and his personal S&W 639 in his left.

Smith & Wesson first developed its Model 39 in the early 1950s when the U.S. Army was considering a new service pistol to replace the .45-caliber M1911. The Model 39, introduced into the civilian market in 1955, was the first American-designed double-action semi-automatic pistol. It was also Smith & Wesson’s first semi-automatic pistol to be chambered for a popular cartridge, as the firm’s only prior semi-auto, the Model 1913, was chambered for the proprietary and now obsolete .35 S&W round. The Model 39, while never as popular as the 1911, found steady adoption by some police and military units in the following decades. Its adoption by the Illinois State Police in 1967 broke the ground for integrating semi-automatic pistols into major police arsenals.

Beginning in 1979, Smith & Wesson introduced its second generation of semi-automatic pistols. The single-stack Model 39 was replaced by the alloy-framed Model 439, the blued steel or nickel Model 539, and the stainless Model 639. The double-stack Model 59 was replaced by the alloy-framed Model 459, the blued steel Model 559, and the stainless Model 659. I’m sure you’re seeing a pattern here.

Smith & Wesson Model 659

Each member of the robbery team carries a Smith & Wesson Model 659, with Mr. White, Mr. Orange, Mr. Pink, and Mr. Blonde receiving prominent attention with theirs. Like its predecessor, the Model 59, the Model 659 is a traditional double-action (DA/SA) semi-automatic pistol chambered in 9×19 mm Parabellum with a double-stack 14-round box magazine. It is 7.44 inches long with a 4-inch barrel, and it weighs 1.72 pounds. Older versions were manufactured with rounded trigger guards, but Mr. White carries a later model with a squared trigger guard.

The pros at IMFDB tracked down this Model 659 and traced it as the one used in the film by Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink.

The pros at IMFDB tracked down this Model 659 and traced it as the one used in the film by Steve Buscemi as Mr. Pink.

Smith & Wesson Model 639

As the only man on the team to openly carry two guns, Mr. White keeps his Smith & Wesson Model 639 tucked into his waistband. This is the gun he draws on Mr. Pink during their early showdown that led to one of the film’s many iconic images. The Model 639 has the same size and operation as the Model 659; the only difference is its single-stack magazine which only carries 8 rounds of 9×19 mm ammunition. Mr. White’s Model 639 (serial #A838685) is an earlier production model, evident by the rounded trigger guard and adding additional evidence to the argument that this was his personal sidearm.

IMFDB also managed to get its hands on the exact Model 639 used by Harvey Keitel in the film. Note the serial number #A838685 and the clear designation of "Model 639" above the trigger.

IMFDB also managed to get its hands on the exact Model 639 used by Harvey Keitel in the film. Note the serial number #A838685 and the clear designation of “Model 639″ above the trigger.

 

Both the Model 639 and the Model 659 stainless variants were the last of Smith & Wesson’s second generation pistols to be introduced, and production ran from 1981 to 1988. The pistols became very popular during the ’80s with the Model 639 seeing a lot of action in Beverly Hills Cop, and the Model 659 showing up in many episodes of Miami Vice. By the time Reservoir Dogs was filmed in 1992, Smith & Wesson had already developed its third generation of pistols with a four-digit numbering system. The Model 659 was replaced by the 5906, and the Model 639 was replaced by the 3906, although additional trigger systems, calibers, and finishes meant an even greater variety of models as the line continued.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

If you're not into wearing black suits, you can at least buy a doll that is. This is an actual item that exists.

If you’re not into wearing black suits, you can at least buy a doll that is. This is an actual item that exists.

Buy the movie.

Also, check out IMFDB’s Reservoir Dogs page; it was one of the first pages on the site and receives continuous attention to keep all information as detailed and accurate as possible. The Clothes on Film article is also a terrific read.

The Quote

You shoot me in a dream, you better wake up and apologize.

Footnote

If you’re curious about what some of the other men are wearing, Clothes on Film explains:

“Harvey had a relationship with Agnes B, and he didn’t need a multiple, so the designer gave us a suit.

Quentin didn’t need multiples ether. I found his suit on a shelf in a warehouse downtown. Mike Madsen wore trousers from C&R Clothiers and a black suit jacket. Steve Buscemi and Tim Roth were another matter. I needed four suits for each of them. I found a cache of 1960s dark navy, charcoal and black jackets; all alike just different colours. I paired them with black jeans and boots.”

So, both Mr. Orange (Roth) and Mr. Pink wore jeans. Why? Budget obviously, and because it did not matter. Their silhouette is the important factor. Providing all the team appeared to be in full suits, it is not essential that they actually were. The identical black suits ensemble so beloved by fashion spreads of the mid-1990s was created out of myth which eventually became reality. This is not a lie; this is moviemaking. Even so, Heimann had to be sure exactly how they would appear on screen, “I brought one of each colour jacket to the Director of Photography (Andrzej Sekula), and he assured me that they would all photograph black.”

Some labeling is briefly visible on Mr. White's shirt and suit jacket. Any idea what this says?

Some labeling is briefly visible on Mr. White’s shirt and suit jacket. Any idea what this says?

Michael Caine in Get Carter

Michael Caine as Jack Carter in Get Carter (1971).

Michael Caine as Jack Carter in Get Carter (1971).

Vitals

Michael Caine as Jack Carter, ruthless London gangster

Newcastle, England, Spring 1971

Background

Get Carter is arguably one of the greatest crime films of all time, making it – by default – one of the greatest films of all time. Bleak, gritty, and violent, and, the film was the love child of director Mike Hodges and superstar Michael Caine with a screenplay written by Hodges from Ted Lewis’ 1970 novel Jack’s Return Home. Although Hodges had originally drafted the screenplay with Ian Hendry (who would play Eric Paice in the film) in mind for the lead role, Caine eventually took the role that cemented his place as a cinema icon. Hodges was surprised that a major star like Caine would take on the role of Jack Carter; although Caine had previously played a gangster in The Italian Job, Charlie Croker was more of a charming ne’er-do-well while Carter was a restrained but brutal and ultimately unlikable killer. Caine said:

One of the reasons I wanted to make that picture was my background. In English movies, gangsters were either stupid or funny. I wanted to show that they’re neither. Gangsters are not stupid, and they’re certainly not very funny… Carter is the dead-end product of my own environment, my childhood; I know him well. He is the ghost of Michael Caine.

The hard-boiled realism found popularity in the United States, with the New Yorker lauding the film as “so calculatedly cool and soulless and nastily erotic that it seems to belong to a new era of virtuoso viciousness.” British reception wasn’t as warm. Perhaps expecting the cheeky criminals set against pop music from films like The Italian Job, the British critics weren’t pleased with Caine’s turn as a remorseless killer in a complex world of wanton violence, corruption, and pornography.

What’d He Wear?

Carter suits up for his vengeful journey home in a slick blue mohair three-piece suit that has become legendary. Last December, Will Hersey from Esquire ranked Carter’s suit as the fourth greatest suit in film history. (The top three were Jake Gittes, 007 in Goldfinger, and – of course – Cary Grant in North by Northwest… all of whom have seen plenty of coverage on this blog!)

The least badass thing about Carter is his haircut, but 1971 was sort of an "anything goes" year for things like that...

The least badass thing about Carter is his haircut, but 1971 was sort of an “anything goes” year for things like that…

Jack Carter’s mohair suit has been written about extensively, with Chris Laverty’s article at Clothes on Film being the definitive analysis. (Of course, Clothes on Film is also the definitive website for all movie costume analyses!) Laverty’s well-researched article surpasses much of my own ability, so I’ll be offering excerpts from his article throughout the post. Please be sure to visit Clothes on Film – in addition to the Get Carter article, it’s easy to spend a few hours reading the incredible analyses that Chris and his team have written about some very stylish flicks.

Laverty begins discussing Carter’s suit as:

Cool, coordinated, just a little loud; this is the timeless appeal of Jack Carter’s 3 piece suit. In portraying cinema’s ultimate anti-hero, Michael Caine wears his costume like a second skin.

Laverty goes on to rightly praise the work of Evangeline Harrison, the film’s costume director:

Harrison kept things simple; clothes dictated by their environment rather than trends. This is Newcastle 1971, a period when the North of England had yet to undergo regeneration. While London had enjoyed the Swinging Sixties and moved onto the hippy era, Newcastle was still in the midst of skinny ties and scandalous mini-dresses. When Carter arrives he steps back in time. The only costume point of reference he shares with the local inhabitants is a trench coat, except his collar is turned sharply upwards. Similar to a teenager modifying their school uniform, Carter’s every sartorial rebellion is two fingers up; in this instance to a long obliterated past.

Other than the pre-credits sequence in London, Carter wears the same suit throughout. Likely tailored by legendary outfitter Douglas Hayward, the suit was constructed to emphasize a strong, X-shaped physique with wide shoulders and leg bottoms and a narrow waist. Even when Carter just wears his untucked shirt and trousers, the flared trouser bottoms and large collars on the fitted shirt keep this effect intact.

Carter's intimidating profile is even further enhanced when he is filmed from lower angles.

Carter’s intimidating profile is even further enhanced when he is filmed from lower angles.

Hayward does a fine job of making Carter appear athletic, as the brief scene where Carter faces off against Peter and Con McCarthy wearing just his birthday suit reveals that Caine wasn’t exactly ready for the Olympics.

Carter’s suit was constructed from dark blue “Dormeuil tonik” mohair, a luxurious cloth best described by Laverty:

Dormeuil tonik mohair was popular during the late 1950s and throughout the 60’s, in particular with the Mod crowd. Dormeuil (House of Dormeuil) actually coined the term ‘tonik’ in 1958. They sold this luxury cloth in an astonishing 20 oz per square yard weight, though 9.5 oz (practically summer weight) is far more common today. Mohair is taken from the underside of the Angora goat. Somewhat coarse yet with a detectable sheen, mohair can be troublesome to tailor due to a high level of memory retention that makes it difficult to shape. The advantages of this extravagance are clear, as Carter would know only too well as he selected the suit from his wardrobe. Not just as a staple and serviceable (we presume it is the only suit he packs by his minimal luggage), but also to imply how far he has come – literally and figuratively.

Although Carter’s destination of Newcastle is decidedly more rural than London, he doesn’t opt for a traditional country suit in tweed or brown flannel, instead drawing attention to himself as an urbane gangster.

Carter's blue suit puts him perfectly at home in a pub, although he sticks out a bit when tramping through the woods.

Carter’s blue suit puts him perfectly at home in a pub, although he sticks out a bit when tramping through the woods.

The single-breasted suit jacket has a long fit, long double rear vents, and the slightly pulled-in waist to enhance the imposing athletic profile for which Hayward and Caine were aiming. Laverty notes that the notch lapels on Carter’s suit jacket are, in fact, an “ostentatious notch lapel that peaks ever so slightly, otherwise known as a ‘Capone lapel’.”

Only a gangster as badass as this deserves to wear a "Capone lapel".

Only a gangster as badass as this deserves to wear a “Capone lapel”.

The front has two dark blue plastic buttons; Carter typically keeps his top button fastened for a business-like look. The jacket also has a welted breast pocket and flapped hip pockets that slant rearward. Edge stitching is especially visible on the lapels and pockets.

Carter's mohair suit shines under certain light.

Carter’s mohair suit shines under certain light.

Carter’s jacket has padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, 4-button cuffs, and a light blue satin viscose lining that matches the rear of his vest. Although some contemporary poster art for the film features Caine in a “flower power” jacket, the suit coat wisely maintains a conservatively solid lining while even stoic heroes like James Bond fell victim to garishly lined suit coats that otherwise didn’t yield to the excesses of the era.

Always present under Carter’s jacket is his matching dark blue mohair vest (or “waistcoat” since this is a British flick) with a high-fastening 6-button front, notched bottom, and notched sides. As I mentioned, the light blue lining matches the jacket, and an adjustable strap is buckled across the rear. He rarely wears the vest waistcoat without the jacket, but it appears to have two welted lower pockets.

carter-CL2-2vest

Carter’s suit trousers sit very low on his waist with a slim fit down his legs to the slightly flared plain-hemmed bottoms. The trousers have curved frogmouth front pockets.

Carter would definitely piss off today's travelers.

Carter would definitely piss off today’s travelers.

Sometimes considered a faux pas with a three-piece suit, Carter wears a belt with his trousers. It is only briefly seen as he runs through the streets of Newcastle at night, but it appears to be black leather with a gold buckle. Perhaps the low rise of the trousers keeps the belt from “bunching up” under the vest waistcoat too much.

It appears that Carter's shirt is even becoming untucked due to his movement in the extremely low rise trousers.

It appears that Carter’s shirt is even becoming untucked due to his movement in the extremely low rise trousers.

Carter wears two different sky blue Turnbull & Asser shirts during the film. The first shirt, seen only in the first few scenes on the train and in the pub, has two-button barrel cuffs. For the rest of the film, the shirt clearly has French cuffs. With the French cuff shirt, Carter wears a pair of large silver links that clip over the cuffs. The surface of the cuff links is white convex enamel with a border of dark blue painted dots.

carter-CL3-shrtcuff

Carter’s shirt(s) is fitted cotton poplin with a characteristically large spread collar that rises high on his neck. It has a front placket and, in lieu of a pocket, a dark blue monogrammed “JC” stitched over his left breast.

Angry Carter.

Angry Carter.

Carter also wears two ties during the film. His primary tie, worn for the bulk of the film with the French cuff shirt, is black patterned silk, tied in a thick four-in-hand knot.

The tie's pattern is subtle but visible in certain light.

The tie’s pattern is subtle but visible in certain light.

For the early scenes on the train and in the pub, Carter’s tie is dark blue silk with a thick diagonal rib, also tied in a thick four-in-hand knot.

carter-CL3-tie-blue

Carter’s shoes are black calfskin fullstrap lofers with squared cap toes, slightly raised heels, and gold snaffle bits. His socks are dark and appear to be black, although dark blue would also be appropriate to carry the leg line from the trousers into the shoes.

A few different shots of Carter in his fullstrap snaffle bit loafers, and a reasonably similar pair (inset).

A few different shots of Carter in his fullstrap snaffle bit loafers, and a reasonably similar pair (inset).

Jack Carter also has his own badass longcoat that he wears during some of the film’s most crucial scenes. Carter’s black heavy waxed cotton Aquascutum trench coat extends to just above his knee with a slightly slanted bottom. The front is double-breasted with ten buttons – two hidden under the large collar.

Carter doesn't let a rainy day get in the way of his quest for vengeance, and neither should you!

Carter doesn’t let a rainy day get in the way of his quest for vengeance, and neither should you!

Carter’s coat has all of the standard, if vestigial, features of a classic trench coat: curved gun flap on the right shoulder, storm flap/throat latch, and rear cape to keep out rain.

carter-CL5-trench2

The trench coat also has a wide belt with a silver (painted black) front buckle and four brass “D-ring” clips on the sides and rear, a holdout from the wartime trench coats when officers would clip grenades to their coat. Although Carter is a violent gangster, he does not use his D-rings for this purpose in the film.

carter-CL5-trench3b

“Frank wasn’t like that. I’m the villain in the family, remember?”

Carter’s trench coat has buttoned epaulettes on the shoulders, raglan sleeves, and cuff straps with blackened square buckles that are a mini version of the belt buckle. Especially on these cuff buckles, the black paint is wearing off and revealing the silver metal underneath.

carter-CL5-trench3a

See the small buttons on the edge of the pockets?

Although both Burberry and Aquascutum have laid claim to inventing the trench coat, with the latter claiming to have developed the coat as early as the 1850s, the oldest public record of the trench coat dates to 1901 when Thomas Burberry submitted his design to the War Office. Carter’s trench coat has a tartan plaid lining in tan, blue, and red that appears to be Burberry’s distinctive check, but Caine’s screen-worn trench coat was auctioned by Bonhams in 2011 and verified Aquascutum as the manufacturer of the Get Carter trench coat:

Michael Caine’s icon [sic] double breasted black trench coat, labelled ‘Aquascutum, Regent St., London, W1, Made In England, with further studio label numbered ‘60631 REG42′, of heavy waxed cotton, with belt and buckles to sleeves, together with a black and white photograph of Michael Caine on set wearing an similar coat, mounted together with a letter of provenance from Johnny Morris stating he as stunt double and Michael Caine wore this trench coat, which was one of two and that this particular one was used for fight sequences.
Caine's raincoat in action and (inset) at Bonham's forty years later.

Caine’s raincoat in action and (inset) at Bonham’s forty years later.

This coat sold for £7,500 in December 2011. I am unaware of the whereabouts of the second trench coat mentioned by Morris, but I think it’s safe to assume that if one was Aquascutum, they both were.
Carter’s sole accessory is a gold Rolex Day-Date wristwatch on a dark brown leather strap.
carter-CL6-watch

English tailor David Reeves, who advised Laverty with tailoring notes, created his own version of the “Carter suit” using Dormeuil tonik mohair. Reeves used Caine’s suit as inspiration when crafting his own sharp-looking mohair suit.

The only other suit that Carter wears in the film is a medium gray flannel suit worn during the pre-credits sequence in London. This suit has a double-breasted jacket with peak lapels and a 6×2 button front, but – like the blue suit – it has a welted breast pocket, slanted hip pockets, and 4-button cuffs.

Though he looks sharp in gray also, Carter's blue suit is far more befitting for the badassery that the rest of the film calls for.

Though he looks sharp in gray also, Carter’s blue suit is far more befitting for the badassery that the rest of the film calls for.

He wears a sky blue shirt with French cuffs and the dark blue silk tie with this suit.

Go Big or Go Home

Appropriately, Carter drinks plenty of Scotch during his sojourn. When meeting with his adversaries, he enjoys a few drams of Johnnie Walker Red Label on the rocks.

Keep walking, Carter.

Keep walking, Carter.

In his rented room, Carter also takes a few swigs from a bottle of MacKinlay’s Old Scotch Whisky, a brand that features prominently during the film’s denouement.

Carter was fired by MacKinlay's for not adhering to their "drink responsibly" principle.

Carter was fired by MacKinlay’s for not adhering to their “drink responsibly” principle.

Although he is a very European gangster right down to his fashion sense, Gitanes cigarettes, and non-firearm violence (for most of the film, anyway), the distinctively American brand of hard-boiled grit receives an extra nod when Carter reads Raymond Chandler’s classic detective novel Farewell, My Lovely on the train.

In addition to his fine choice of reading material, note Carter's button cuffs, not seen after his first night in Newcastle.

In addition to his fine choice of reading material, note Carter’s button cuffs and blue tie, not seen after his first night in Newcastle.

As a character, Carter is both cool and cold. He appears detached when working, but it should be kept in mind that his mission is a personal one, becoming more and more personal as the layers unfold and reveal the Big Sleep-style underworld that has so affected Carter’s family. I read another excellent evaluation of Get Carter, unfortunately without an author’s name attached but accessible at UKEssays.co.uk, which puts this far more eloquently than I ever could:

The notion of family is likewise a classical gangster genre factor, which is used in Get Carter to great effect. Distant, cold, and calculating though Jack Carter may be, it is the ultimate truism of the film that he is back in Newcastle to protect the honor of his family, in spite of his own painfully obvious lack of human empathy.

Despite his laconic, calculating demeanor, Carter is also undoubtedly eccentric. Laverty notes his accessories in this context:

Those huge silver cufflinks, white enamel encircled by tiny brown dots, gold buckle loafers, plus a tendency to throw cash at every problem that cannot be solved with violence, are indicative of his personality. Wealth should be exploited at just the right moment. At no point does Carter look more dominant than when towering over his niece/daughter Doreen (Petra Markham), wad of notes in hand and giant cufflinks bobbing in front of her face. He has returned to his roots as king. The high collar on Caine’s not insignificant neck means his face is illuminated in dark shadows; his body blending into the background.

The UK Essays essay also explains the subtleties in this man who would’ve just been a one-dimensional gangster in any other film:

That he is eccentric is likewise understood, typified when he walks stark naked down the street with a twelve bore shotgun outside of the house he is staying in. Furthermore, it is signalled that Jack is held in high esteem by his gangster associates and is clearly in possession of a coveted reputation as a tough man, underscored when the remarkably camp crime kingpin Kinnear (John Osborne) says to his mistress, “you don’t offer a man like Jack a drink in a piddly little glass like that; give him the bloody bottle.” It is all part of the building blocks that piece together to give us a wonderfully mosaic character, full of complexity and contradiction, including details such as Carter’s incessant pill‑taking and the curious nasal drops that he administers on his initial train ride north.

The importance of the “naked shotgun-wielding gangster” wasn’t lost of Laverty either:

With all this discussion of Carter and his women, it would be irresponsible of me not to include Britt Ekland as his mistress (and his boss's wife). Right?

With all this discussion of Carter and his women, it would be irresponsible of me not to include future Bond girl Britt Ekland as his mistress (and his boss’s wife). Right?

Subverting the filmic tradition that a gangster is characterised by his/her clothes, Jack Carter is at his most dangerous without them. Strolling outside his landlady’s house with a shotgun in hand and nothing else, he is genuinely on the verge of losing control. This is further amplified as he stumbles upon the pornography film featuring Doreen dressed as a schoolgirl, drugged and sexually abused by his recent sexual conquest Glenda (Geraldine Moffat). When Carter hauls Glenda from her bath, his unbuttoned shirt patchy wet and clinging to his skin, he could go either way. If Carter were not so calculating, cogs whirring as to how he might need Glenda still, she probably would have been tossed from the building, just like co-conspirator Cliff Brumby (Bryan Mosley) is moments later.

Treatment of women, both by Carter and by the film itself, is also worth investigating. Many critics have pointed out that the film suffers from a lack of feminist-forward characterization as all of its women are “troubled, unstable, and disempowered.” This essay defended Get Carter‘s portrayal by concluding:

Mirroring the paradox of Carter’s London swagger in the heart of industrial Newcastle, the treatment of women in Get Carter can be seen as a commentary on the anxieties of the time, especially concerning the consequences of the culture of permissive, promiscuous sexuality that had characterized the previous decade where films painted a distinctly different view of femininity and female sexuality.

The 1960s was an era of radical social progress around the world. Racial and gender issues made major jumps in the direction of equality and rigid social mores were relaxed as a cultural revolution swept western civilization. The decade has become mythical for nostalgia lovers; everything was changing for the better in the name of peace, love, and understanding.

Of course, Get Carter came along to wreck that illusion. Swinging London has been replaced by glum, working class Newcastle. The lighthearted humor set to Benny Hill’s theme is replaced by the black humor of Carter’s smirk after dispatching two villains into the River Tyne. Just as the “bright new era” of the 1960s was crushed by Get Carter‘s realistic cynicism, so was the concept that all women had received full equality during the decade of social justice. Rather than condemning women, however, Get Carter shows us that their plight was far from over as these smaller corners of the world still had women like Glenda, Anna, Margaret, and Doreen who all show signs of inner strength but are ultimately at the mercy of the brutal men – Carter included – who rule the community’s culture.

Glenda's apartment is fuckin' rad. Especially of note is the Stones' great Let It Bleed album from '69.

It is worth noting, though, that Glenda’s apartment is fuckin’ rad. Especially of note is the Stones’ great Let It Bleed album from ’69, seen in the lower right corner near her elbow.

Even before I had seen Get Carter, I could just tell that the title character was a BAMF. When creating the DVD cover for an amateur film I had made (about the life of ’30s outlaw “Pretty Boy” Floyd), I decided to emulate the iconic photo of Michael Caine posing with a shotgun.

Obviously.

Obviously.

How to Get the Look

Carter is a cool and efficient criminal who perfectly dresses the part: fashionable and practical without being too flashy.

A promotional photo of Michael Caine as Carter, handling a sawed-off Ithaca 37 shotgun that was actually used by Peter (Tony Beckley), another gangster in the film.

A promotional photo of Michael Caine as Carter, handling a sawed-off Ithaca 37 shotgun that was actually used by Peter (Tony Beckley), another gangster in the film.

  • Dark blue mohair suit, likely tailored by Douglas Hayward and consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with large notch lapels, 2-button front, welted breast pocket, slanted and flapped hip pockets, padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, 4-button cuffs, and long double rear vents
    • Single-breasted vest/waistcoat with 6-button front, two welted pockets, notched bottom, and light blue satin viscose rear lining with adjustable strap
    • Flat front low rise trousers with belt loops, frogmouth front pockets, and slightly flared plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Sky blue cotton poplin Turnbull & Asser shirt with large spread collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs
    • For an extra Carter-esque touch, get your monogram on the left breast.
  • Black silk necktie, tied in a large four-in-hand knot
  • Silver cuff links with white and dark blue enamel
  • Black leather belt with gold buckle
  • Black calfskin fullstrap cap-toe loafers with a gold snaffle bit
  • Black dress socks
  • Black heavy waxed cotton Aquascutum belted trench coat with epaulettes, 10-button double-breasted front, and slanted side pockets
  • Rolex Day-Date gold wristwatch on a dark brown leather strap

The Guns

The U.K.’s rigid firearm laws typically mean less guns in the hands of gangsters, but lawbreakers will always find a way as films like Get CarterSnatch., and Gangster No. 1 tell us.

Jack Carter is no exception to this, carrying a handgun but only using it when truly necessary after two armed gangsters corner him on a ferry. Carter draws his pistol, a SIG P210, and gives a decent account of himself in the ensuing gunfight.

carter-gun-SIG1

This is the sort of situation that the British government tries to avoid with its strict firearm laws.

If the SIG P210 looks familiar on this blog, you likely recall seeing it in the hands of another British badass. In Quantum of Solace, James Bond retrieved an ornate SIG P210 from a villain’s room during the climactic battle scene. Bond’s P210 was the gold-engraved 50th Anniversary edition; Carter carries a standard civilian version.

The P210 is an all-steel locked breech single-action semi-automatic pistol originally developed for the Swiss Army in 1949. The pistol gained a healthy reputation for durability and reliability during its long tenure as a service sidearm. It remained a popular service pistol into the 1970s, when it was replaced by the more modern SIG-Sauer P220. (The P220 was the first handgun in SIG-Sauer’s P22x family that is still very popular today.) Despite this, the P210 is still very admired and sought after by collectors, with some pieces fetching at least $2,000 in the U.S. and €4,000 in Spain. The Danish military still keeps the P210 (M/49 Neuhausen) in service, but I suppose you don’t hear about Denmark going to war very often in the post-Beowulf era.

Originally derived from the French Modèle 1935A pistol, the P210 was finally completed in 1949 and entered Swiss military service as the Ordonnanzpistole 49. The civilian model was the SP47/8, referring to its eight round magazine, until it was renamed the P210 in 1957 in keeping with the company’s nomenclature policy.

SIG P210

It just looks more like a “P210″ than a “SP47/8″, don’t you think?

The pistol is typically chambered in 9×19 mm Parabellum, but variants in .30 Luger (7.65×21 mm Parabellum) and .22 Long Rifle have also been manufactured. It is a full-size handgun with a standard 5″ barrel and 8.5″ total length, comparable to the venerable 1911.

While the SIG P210 serves ably as Carter’s combat weapon, it is the double-barreled shotgun he finds in his dead brother’s house that truly serves as his “hammer of justice”, despite not even being fired once.

Slightly more intimidating than a hick in a bright red shirt, don'tcha think?

Slightly more intimidating than a hick in a bright red shirt, don’tcha think?

A double-barreled, side-by-side 12-gauge shotgun like this is one of the few weapons that a Brit can legally own with relative ease… as long as they’re recorded on a Shotgun Certificate. Shotguns, as amended in Section 2 of the 1968 Act, are subject to a less rigorous certification process as applicants are not required to have a good reason for ownership and there’s no limit on how many shotguns a certificate holder may own. Of course, a legally-owned shotgun must fit a few criteria:

  • Barrels must be longer than 24″
  • The smoothbore must be 2″ diameter or smaller
  • No revolving cylinder
  • No detachable magazine
  • Capacity limited at two cartridges (three, if chambered)
Job well done, Carter.

Job well done, Carter.

A few publicity photos, including the two above, feature Carter holding a sawed-off pump-action shotgun. This is the Ithaca Model 37 used by Peter (Tony Beckley) in the film; Carter never actually handles the Ithaca in the finished film.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

You’re a big man, but you’re in bad shape. With me it’s a full time job. Now behave yourself.

Footnotes

  • Interestingly enough, Caine’s on-set stand-in was named Jack Carter.
  • I had some pretty rad sources when writing this post. One was Chris Laverty’s article at Clothes on Film. The other was an uncredited essay at UK Essays. Check ‘em out.
  • Please forgive (but still point out!) any inaccuracies, redundancies, or other general stupidity in this post. I’m entering my third week of a brutal sinus infection, and it’s affecting my brain to an absurd degree.
  • You’ll notice that I neglected to mention the 2000 remake with Sly Stallone during this discussion. Other than this sentence, I plan to keep it that way.
Cheers!

Cheers!

Nucky Thompson’s Brown and Pink Check Suit

Steve Buscemi as Enoch "Nucky" Thompson in "The Ivory Tower", Episode 2 of Boardwalk Empire.

Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson in “The Ivory Tower”, Episode 2 of Boardwalk Empire.

Vitals

Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, Atlantic City’s corrupt treasurer and gangster

Atlantic City, January 1920 through August 1921

Background

To pay tribute to the return of Boardwalk Empire for its final season and recognize the current Gilt Groupe promotion that I’ll discuss, today’s post covers one of the most recognizable suits worn by the show’s protagonist, Enoch “Nucky” Thompson.

I was originally going to write about a different suit (you’ll never know which one!) but came across this promotion from Gilt Groupe while browsing Facebook. The “Dress Like a Boss” promotion states:

One of the most talked-about aspects of the HBO hit show is the costumes, especially the razor-sharp tailoring.

Enter our giveaway for a chance to win an authentic suit straight from the set, worn by the character Nucky Thompson.

While I couldn’t find anything explicitly stating which suit would be given away, the photo accompanying the promotion is the one used to the right with Nucky staring intently in “The Ivory Tower” in a brown and pink check suit. I figured this was as good a time as any to talk about this very noticeable suit.

(Good luck to any and all who decide to enter!)

What’d He Wear?

Brown and pink suits are certainly not unwelcome in Nucky’s closet, as previous posts make perfectly clear. This suit in particular is used to reintroduce Nucky’s character in “The Ivory Tower” on the heels of the brilliant pilot episode. Like Nucky, the suit is flashy but sharp; ostentatious but not without class. It perfectly defines his role as the shady city treasurer-cum-bootlegger for the first two seasons before becoming a full-fledged gangster. Thus, it is all the more appropriate that the last time Nuck wears the suit is during his impromptu marriage to Margaret in “To the Lost” just before the fateful act that changed the direction of the show and broke many fans’ hearts.

Even without looking at the other clothing and accessories involved, the suit itself is very busy looking. It can best be described as brown wool with a rust brown vertical stripes and salmon pink horizontal stripes crossing to form an overcheck. In my opinion, this would serve best as a cooler weather suit for fall or spring, but Nucky also wears it in August 1921 when tying the knot.

Nucky holding court in his office at the Ritz.

Nucky holding court in his office at the Ritz.

The jacket is single-breasted with notch lapels and a high-fastening 2-button stance. Like many jackets of this era, it has a long, squared fit and a closely-spaced high button stance to offer a long, clean look from the chest down. The natural shoulders and roped sleeveheads were also very characteristic of sack suit coats of the early 20th century.

Already distinctive by its unique pattern, Nucky's suit is further set apart from the rest by the jacket details.

Already distinctive by its unique pattern, Nucky’s suit is further set apart from the rest by the jacket details.

The details of the jacket are very traditional and country-inspired with patch pockets and a long single rear vent reinforced with the left side flapping over the right. The most distinctive feature of this jacket, also found on several other of Nucky’s suits, is the “throwback” Edwardian detail of half-cuffed sleeves with four buttons. These “turnback” cuffs are a hallmark of traditional-inspired bespoke suits, even showing up on James Bond’s dinner jacket in Dr. No.

Who else misses Jimmy? :(

Who else misses Jimmy? :(

Nucky’s vest (or waistcoat) is single-breasted with six dark brown buttons and a notched bottom. The buttons are placed on a relatively low stance to show off the shirt and tie underneath. The four welted pockets – two on the chest, two lower – slant slightly inward. Nucky wears his gold watch on a gold chain looped through the fourth button; the watch sits in his lower right pocket, the fob emerges from the lower left.

BEbpc-CL2-vest

The rear lining of the vest is deep lavender silk with a matching adjustable strap.

The suit’s trousers are flat front with a high rise, hiding the waistband under the vest, and cuffed bottoms.  There are on-seam side pockets and jetted rear pockets that close with a button.

Strange to see Van Alden during his more law-abiding days.

Strange to see Van Alden during his more law-abiding days.

Nucky’s trousers are likely worn with suspenders  due to the fishmouth rear with its adjustable tab. We don’t see them, but – if the rest of the outfit is any indication – you can be assured that they’re somewhat flashy.

Nucky wears a number of different shirts with this suit, all with rounded double cuffs made from the same material as the shirt and fastened up the sleeves with white gauntlet buttons. Each shirt is also paired with a white detachable “keyhole” tab collar, based on the Tyfold collar developed about twenty years earlier (as covered in his Easter suit post). His collar is always firmly held in place under the tie knot with a gold bar.

The first shirt, seen in “The Ivory Tower” (Ep. 1.02) is salmon, calling out the horizontal stripes in the suit overcheck, with gold disc cuff links. Nucky pairs this shirt with a copper-colored paisley silk tie.

BEbpc-CL4-shrt1

Nuck sets the paper down to greet his guest.

When the suit next appears in the second season, Nucky opts for more complex patterned shirts. The first is pale lavender with a repeating circular pattern throughout (in “What Does the Bee Do?” and “Two Boats and a Lifeguard”) and the second, which he wears for his wedding, is comprised of pink squares (in “To the Lost”). His second season cuff links are silver-colored clusters.

Nucky does a lot of newspaper reading in this suit.

Nucky does a lot of newspaper reading in this suit.

Nucky’s ties in the second season are also more varied and complex. In “What Does the Bee Do?”, he wears another paisley tie in lavender and pink silk. Four episodes later, in “Two Boats and a Lifeguard”, he wears a cream gold silk tie with blue four-pointers surrounded by an ornate red floral pattern. Both of these ties are worn with the pale lavender shirt.

This tie pops much more than the understated tie in the above pic.

This tie pops much more than the understated tie in the above pic.

For his wedding outfit in “To the Lost”, Nucky wears a pale blue silk tie with red and cream-colored floral wreaths.

Nucky, unknowingly on the verge of knighthood.

Nucky, unknowingly on the verge of knighthood.

Nucky’s light brown leather balmorals are featured very prominently in an establishing shot in “The Ivory Tower”. They have brown waxed laces through the 6-eyelet quarters. Nucky also wears very distinctive socks; a pair of thin maroon dress socks with a white triple stripe and – further back on the foot – a red stripe broken up with blue and white blocks. Chances are that you’d need to get your socks custom-made if you want a pair just like these.

Flamboyant feet.

Flamboyant feet.

However, a shot of Nucky in the yard with Margaret’s children in “To the Lost” reveals a pair of brown and white leather spectator shoes with a pair of gray or taupe socks.

Nuck the family man.

Nuck the family man.

Since this suit gets most of its wear in the winter, Nucky usually wears it with a homburg and wool overcoat. The first season homburg is dark brown felt with a high, pinched crown. In the second season, specifically in “What Does the Bee Do?”, his homburg is pearl gray with a wide gray grosgrain band.

Nucky sports a Capone-like gray homburg as he transforms deeper into his role as gangster.

Nucky sports a Capone-like gray homburg as he transforms deeper into his role as gangster.

His camelhair overcoat has a 6×3-button double-breasted front with natural shoulders, slanted side pockets, cuffed sleeves, and a pinched back over a semi-belted waist.

BEbpc-CO1-outer

In “Two Boats and a Lifeguard”, set during the summer of 1921, Nucky wears this suit with a straw boater. The boater’s ribbon is striped with black, cream, and tan stripes.

A fine hat for any budding arms trader.

A fine hat for any budding arms trader.

And, of course, Nucky never ventures out into public without his red boutonnière pinned to his left lapel.

Go Big or Go Home

Gilt Groupe is giving you the chance to do just that! Once you get a suit like this, there’s really not much else you need to do to fill Nuck’s shoes. (Literally.)

Of course, you could always conduct business like Nuck. Get an ornate, wood-paneled office in a prominent downtown hotel, stock your liquor cabinet well, and berate your subordinates while getting your shoes shined. For an extra bit of mise-en-scène, get an organist to tinkle away at “Onward Christian Soldier” or “Old Comrades” as you do so. Ideally, the man you just fired will delight in the fact that you just gave him an “Ivory Tower”-style shitcanning and won’t take revenge on you.

How to Get the Look

You’re not gonna find this on the rack. You might get very lucky at a Goodwill, though…

From "What Does the Bee Do?" (Episode 2.04), using a different shirt and tie than described here.

From “What Does the Bee Do?” (Episode 2.04), using a different shirt and tie than described here.

  • Brown wool suit with a rust brown and salmon pink overcheck, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted long jacket with notch lapels, high stance 2-button front, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 4-button “turnback” cuffs, and long single rear vent
    • Single-breasted vest with 6-button front, four welted pockets, notched bottom, adjustable rear strap, and lavender silk lining
    • Flat front high-rise trousers with on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, fishmouth rear for suspenders, and cuffed bottoms
  • Salmon-colored shirt with white detachable keyhole-tab collar and attached double/French cuffs
  • Copper-colored paisley silk necktie
  • Gold collar bar
  • Gold disc-shaped cuff links
  • Flashy suspenders
  • Light brown leather 6-eyelet cap toe balmorals
  • Maroon striped socks
  • Gold pocket watch, worn through the vest’s 4th buttonhole and kept in the lower right pocket with a fob in the lower left pocket
  • Dark brown homburg with grosgrain band and tall, pinched crown
  • Camelhair double-breasted 6×3-button overcoat with pinched back, semi-belted rear, and slanted side pockets

Pin that red boutonnière to your lapel, and you’re all set!

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the show. This suit is featured throughout the first two seasons, with most of these screenshots coming from episodes 1.02, 2.04, 2.08, and 2.12. (Let me know if he wore it in other season 1 episodes, especially if they feature better shots of the clothing than you see here. I lost some of my screenshots, unfortunately, and I want to be as thorough and accurate as possible.)

The Quote

Nucky’s exchange with Jimmy from “The Ivory Tower” is a great example of this show starting strong by establishing its roles and relationships through one great scene of dialogue. What could’ve been a typical “you-went-behind-my-back-you-rat” piece of gangster talk becomes a solid, memorable, and witty exchange between two very determined men in two very desperate situations.

Nucky: What are you doing?
Jimmy: It’s 4:30. I’m clocking in.
Nucky: Just like that? I’d say our relationship has changed rather significantly in the past few days. Wouldn’t you agree?
Jimmy: You tell me.
Nucky: Actually, why don’t you tell me? You can start with what the fuck happened the other night. How’s that?
Jimmy: (sits) All right.
Nucky: Did I invite you to sit?
Jimmy: Me and Al, we got to talking about life.
Nucky: Who’s Al?
Jimmy: Capone. He works for Johnny Torrio.
Nucky: The chubby kid?
Jimmy: Yeah.
Nucky: Did Torrio sanction this?
Jimmy: Only after the fact. It was my idea. Mine and Al’s. We got to talking about life, family, money. He’s got a little boy of his own.
Nucky: Young children at home and there’s no goddamn accountability whatsoever.
Jimmy: I said I was sorry, Nuck.
Nucky: Really? When was that?
Jimmy: I’m sorry. I thought it would be easy, okay? Get the drop on them, swipe the truck. No one would get hurt.
Nucky: And me? Where’d I figure in?
Jimmy: It would have never been traced back to you.
Nucky: Well, guess what? A fed came in to see me this morning, standing right where you are now, asking questions about Saturday night.
Jimmy: What’d you tell him?
Nucky: To bugger himself. What the fuck do you think?
Jimmy: There were deer in the woods. Al got spooked, he started shooting.
Nucky: So you kill four fucking guys?
Jimmy: Five.
Nucky: Actually, there were four, but let’s not quibble over that little detail, shall we?
Jimmy: We couldn’t leave any witnesses, Nuck.
Nucky: Fucking idiot.
Jimmy: I screwed up, okay? I’m sorry. I’m gonna make it up to you. I’ll work extra hours.
Nucky: Whoa, hold on there. Wait a second. You don’t work for me anymore. Let’s get that straight right now. And you made that decision, not me.
Jimmy: Well, who’s gonna drive you?
Nucky: What’s the difference? You wanna be a gangster, kid? Go be a gangster. But if you want to be a gangster in my town, then you’ll pay me for the privilege. That envelope you gave me, “my end”?… According to my calculations, you’re three grand short.
Jimmy: What do you mean?
Nucky: Are you deaf and stupid? You pull a stunt like that, ass-fuck me with Arnold Rothstein in the process, you owe me another three grand.
Jimmy: Nucky, I spent most of the money.
Nucky: Three thousand dollars. You got forty-eight hours.

Footnotes

Steve Buscemi.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Dark Blue Chalkstripe Flannel on IPO Day

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort in The Wolf of Wall Street (2013).

It’s Labor Day, so sartorial traditionalists should start packing up their cream linen suits and pull their sharp chalkstripe flannels up to the front. Ideally, you have today off of work and one extra day before you need a snazzy suit to make an impression when strutting back into the office tomorrow.

Vitals

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, shrewd Wall Street stockbroker

Long Island, Fall 1993

Background

Though avoiding excess isn’t exactly Jordan Belfort’s thing (i.e. drugs, women) in The Wolf of Wall Street, he did manage to avoid some of the sartorial excesses of the late ’80s and early ’90s that continue to plague thrift shops and convenience stores to this day. For the most part, he wears none of the baggy double-breasted suits with low button stances and excessive shoulder padding.

Although some of his fashion choices earlier in the film are regrettable – albeit very fitting for a young stockbroker trying to make it in 1987 – he pins down a solid look later as his career matures, wearing a series of blue and gray power suits in a variety of fabrics and patterns.

What’d He Wear?

One of my favorite suits from The Wolf of Wall Street is the dark blue chalkstripe flannel suit that Belfort wears for the Steve Madden IPO.

Steve Madden doesn't quite share Jordan's sartorial panache.

Steve Madden doesn’t quite share Jordan’s sartorial panache.

Costume designer Sandy Powell wisely took her sharp designs to Giorgio Armani, who was indeed the go-to guy for power suits during the decade and had previously suited Martin Scorsese characters in some of his biggest films (GoodfellasThe Departed, etc.) Armani also has the ignominious distinction of being the preferred clothier for Patrick Bateman, Belfort’s fictional contemporary in the world of late ’80s and early ’90s Wall Street; one would find at least three or four mentions of Armani on nearly every page of American Psycho.

Giorgio Armani himself commented on his inclusion in the film’s costuming:

I remember the period well, when my deconstructed suiting emerged as an emblem of success. The era of power dressing on Wall Street projected tremendous amounts of resolute strength.

This suit was so indicative of Belfort’s success that Scorsese opened the film with Jordan wearing it during his fourth wall opening monologue. Jordan walks down the stairs of his sprawling Long Island mansion and steps outside, the sharp blue suit providing a rich contrast against the fall colors around him.

Jacket.

Morphine, anyone?

The jacket is single-breasted with peak lapels that are wide enough to look luxurious without being excessive. It buttons perfectly around the navel, unlike the popular but ultimately shitty extra-low stance of the era. Jordan typically keeps his top button fastened.

Belfort’s jacket has a welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, and 4-button cuffs. The shoulders are only slightly padded – another respite from the nearly bulletproof padding in most ’90s power suits – with roped sleeveheads. Edge stitching is present throughout, especially on the lapels.

As Jordan addresses his troops, his drug-fueled energy often sends him into a frenzy and the double rear vents flap up to reveal a subtle burgundy silk lining inside the jacket.

Jacket AND pants.

Jordan’s office and comically bulky computer monitor. Remember when computers weighed more than 8 pounds?

The suit trousers also avoid some of the shittier ’90s styling with a slightly low rise, belt loops, and double forward pleats. The trousers definitely have slanted side pockets, but there appears to be no left rear pocket. The cuffed bottoms fall with a medium break over his feet.

Speaking of his feet, Belfort wears a pair of black leather cap-toe balmorals with black dress socks. The black leather shoes nicely match his black leather belt. A flashier dresser would have likely opted for a pair of brown shoes with suspenders rather than a belt, but Jordan knows when he has to tone things down for business.

Fight.

Wearing a striped shirt with a pinstripe suit is not a cautious man’s game. It can often look clashy, clownish, and ultimately stupid. Some men say to avoid it altogether. However, Jordan goes at it with a sense of sartorial intelligence that would be difficult to copy. His shirt is pale blue with darker blue stripes of alternating width. At a distance, it all softens to a solid light blue, and up close it adds a sense of sophistication and refinement. Neither the stripes of the suit or the shirt are too bold to out-do the other; both striped garments actually complement each other.

Shirt

Note that I said they “complement” each other, not “compliment.” Jordan’s shirt is not telling his suit that it played a great game of golf last night.

The striped cotton shirt has substantial collars with a moderate spread. It buttons down a front placket, and has French cuffs that Jordan fastens together with mother-of-pearl links on a silver base. It fits across the rear with a plain yoke and side darts.

Shirt.

Jordan enjoys his morning routine of drugs and OJ.

The most eye-popping part of Jordan’s attire is his dark red silk tie, littered with white polka dots. Some men – the unadventurous type totally afraid of wearing striped shirts with striped suits – also forbid patterned ties on patterned shirts, likely out of fear of appearing like this. Jordan, of course, boldly says “fuck you” to this mindset (as he is wont to say to so many things!) and wears this equally bold tie.

Tie

…but he also burns dollar bills and does cocaine off of his desk, so let’s not start getting too many tips from this guy.

Jordan doesn’t accessorize much. Other than his cuff links, he only wears a watch and his wedding band, which is a plain gold band worn on his left ring finger. He may not honor the marriage very well, but at least he wears his ring?

Ring and watch.

He sat down.

His favorite accessory is obviously the “gold fuckin’ watch” that he tosses out into the crowd. When I first saw the film, I assumed it was a Rolex – possibly a GMT Master or a Submariner. Of course, both rewatching the film and scanning Internet proved me wrong, and it was revealed to be a TAG Heuer Series 1000, described by The Gentleman’s Journal as:

…an iconic gold divers sports watch from the mid 1980’s, which was phased out in the early 1992. A real icon of it’s generation, the series 1000 was unusual as not many people found the solid gold watch appropriate for diving. But in our opinion it is perfectly fitting for an outrageously badly behaved stock broker such as Jordan Belfort, to whom symbolizing wealth, power and extravagance is a daily routine!

Jordan's "gold fuckin' watch" never has a typical day at the office either.

Jordan’s “gold fuckin’ watch” never has a typical day at the office either.

Jordan does wear the watch in many of his earlier scenes at Stratton Oakmont, but he makes good on his word. Once he tosses it out into the crowd, it becomes the property of one lucky salesman. It fits snugly on his wrist, but he does unbuckle it when giving his speech (as one of the first screencaps on this post shows). In fact, while he gets up close and personal during the speech, his loosened watch even slips back over his shirt cuff.

Curious about what the real Jordan Belfort wore on Steve Madden IPO day? Belfort’s memoir The Wolf of Wall Street describes his attire on Wednesday, December 13, 1993 as a gray pinstripe suit, a blue tie with “little fishes” on it, black crocodile skin handmade cowboy boots (oh my…), and a thin, gold Bulgari watch that he describes as “understated” despite its cost of $18,000. I think this might be a case where fiction trumps reality. Advantage DiCaprio.

Go Big or Go Home

Despite his shitty habits, there’s no denying that Jordan Belfort knows how to get his team of employees motivated. His confidence carries to his sales team via both his fashionable business attire and his borderline psychotic energy.

Jordan's already got his watch ready to toss.

Jordan Belfort is a much more pleasant type of “American psycho” that Patrick Bateman. Where Bateman got his jollies from torturing prostitutes, the more good-natured Belfort preferred to toss his expensive watch into his employees’ workspace as positive reinforcement to sell. This comparison should make Belfort a much more sympathetic protagonist.

Of course, it’s not made explicit how much of that confidence is the result of his drug intake…

On a daily basis, I consume enough drugs to sedate Manhattan, Long Island, and Queens for a month. I take Quaaludes ten to fifteen times a day for my “back pain”, Adderall to stay focused, Xanax to take the edge off, pot to mellow me out, cocaine to wake me back up again, and morphine… Well, because it’s awesome.

Jordan’s methods of self-medication may contain some relatively harmless stuff, but mixing it all together is not a good idea. To relate, it’s like my common practice of ordering a bacon cheeseburger. Yes, I enjoy it despite the associated health risks, but I don’t order every burger on the menu. (Then again, a Carl’s Jr. Texas BBQ Burger® doesn’t quite cancel out the effects of an Applebee’s Cowboy Burger®. Maybe I didn’t think this analogy through… Just don’t mix a lot of drugs, kids.)

How to Get the Look

Jordan commands his office both with his attitude and his attire. This stylish spin on the traditional power suit is one of the few aspects of his character that should be emulated in real life.

wows5-crop

  • Dark blue chalkstripe flannel suit, custom tailored by Armani, with:
    • Single-breasted jacket with peak lapels, 2-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, slightly padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and double rear vents
    • Double forward-pleated trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, and cuffed bottoms (“turn-ups”)
  • Light blue striped shirt with large collars, front placket, rear side darts, and double/French cuffs
  • Dark red polka dot silk tie
  • Mother-of-pearl rectangle cuff links with silver trim
  • Black leather belt with silver square clasp
  • Black leather cap-toe balmorals
  • Black dress socks
  • TAG Heuer Series 1000 yellow gold wristwatch with gold bracelet, black bezel, and black dial
  • Plain gold wedding band, worn on left ring finger

Double points to anyone whose clothes are custom tailored by Giorgio Armani himself… I’m assuming you don’t need a blog to tell you what to wear, though.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the film. And, you know, don’t mix a lot of drugs. Mixing burgers might be okay, I forget where we landed with that.

The Quote

Let me tell you something. There’s no nobility in poverty. I’ve been a poor man, and I’ve been a rich man. And I choose rich every fucking time.