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.

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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.

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  • 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.

Patrick Redfern’s White Dinner Jacket

Two years ago, I broke down the great off-white dinner jacket worn by Sean Connery in Goldfinger. For your end-of-summer fancy soiree (which I assume you’re hosting), the white or off-white dinner jacket should always be an option.

Nicholas Clay as Patrick Redfern in Evil Under the Sun.

Nicholas Clay as Patrick Redfern in Evil Under the Sun (1982).

Vitals

Nicholas Clay as Patrick Redfern, philandering Latin teacher

a remote Mediterranean island, Summer 1937

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

1982’s Evil Under the Sun is a lavish adaptation of Agatha Christie’s 1941 novel, jumping on the popularity of its successful predecessors Murder on the Orient Express and Death on the Nile by stacking together a star-studded cast, dressing them up in expensive period costumes, and dropping them into a murder mystery in an exotic locale.

Since the original novel was set on an English island, the filmmakers evidently decided they could weasel much more camp value out of a warm island palace, and the secluded hotel in Devon was scrapped in favor of a regal resort in the middle of the Adriatic Sea. Quiet intrigue gave way to flamboyant grandstanding as a delightful cavalcade of stars chewed the scenery against a backdrop of murder and Cole Porter.

Nicholas Clay was one of the film’s many stars, playing Patrick Redfern, a charismatic if inattentive husband who grows more and more nefarious as each brogue-covered layer is stripped away by master detective Hercule Poirot.

What’d He Wear?

For the resort’s cocktail hour, Redfern is appropriately dressed in an ivory dinner jacket just as white-toned dinner jackets were coming into fashion. The Black Tie Guide, which should be considered the definitive online guide to men’s formalwear, notes that:

White dinner jackets premiered alongside the mess jacket in resorts like Palm Beach and Cannes, albeit with much less fanfare.  Constructed of cotton drill, linen or silk they were originally worn with either black or white trousers of tropical weight wool.  Their popularity at tropical locales grew slowly but surely and by the time the mess jacket had become passé in 1936 they were as common as traditional dark coats.  In its August 1936 issue, Esquire defined the quintessential warm-weather formal evening wardrobe: “This year, the big swing is to single- or double-breasted [light colored] dinner jackets, collar and self lapel facings.  These are worn with[black] tropical dress trousers, patent leather oxfords or pumps, a white, soft shirt with either soft or laundered collar and a black dress tie.”

As the film is set in a tropical locale in 1937, Redfern’s double-breasted, light-colored, self-faced dinner jacket, soft white shirt, black dress tie and trousers, and patent leather oxfords hit the Esquire nail on the head. The character, a supposedly humble schoolteacher who hides great wealth and is much more fashionable than his dowdy wife, would be the sort of guy who would wear exactly what Esquire prescribes when heading to a tropical island.

Redfern nails it while Poirot's eccentric taste prevents him from even entering the same sartorial arena.

Redfern nails it while Poirot’s eccentric taste prevents him from even entering the same sartorial arena.

As Esquire indirectly stated, the white dinner jacket implied a drop in formality that is reflected throughout the outfit.

Redfern’s dinner jacket is ivory lightweight wool with a 4×1-button double-breasted front. The substantial shawl lapels are self-faced – rather than grosgrain or satin-faced – and roll cleanly to his waist. The waistline is only slightly suppressed, more of an indication of the 1980s boxy fit than the 1930s athletic fit. Still, Clay’s athletic silhouette is kept intact by the jacket’s correct ventless rear, darted front, and long natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads.

Redfern enjoys cocktail hour.

Redfern enjoys cocktail hour.

The buttons, including the 4-button surgeon’s cuffs, are all white plastic, again a less formal option than mother-of-pearl. The welted breast pocket is embellished with a white silk handkerchief poking out; a red carnation pinned to the left lapel further enhances the ensemble. The hip pockets are jetted, as they should be.

Since the jacket is double-breasted and worn less formally than most black tie ensembles, a cummerbund is optional although still the standard option for resort formalwear. Redfern keeps his jacket buttoned at all times so it is left to speculation whether or not he wears a cummerbund. It’s likely that he would, as the Black Tie Guide continues:

By 1937 The New Etiquette was describing the [cummerbund] as a “popular and chic” waist covering for informal evening wear at resorts.  “It is meant for hot weather to obviate the necessity of having the harness of a waistcoat over the shoulder and back when it might be uncomfortably warm.  On the right people at the right time it is decorative and correctly in the spirit of colorful gaiety.” As the author alluded, the cummerbund could be used to infuse warm-weather formal wear with color and even patterns.  Most often though, black silk continued to be de rigueur for waist coverings worn with the white dinner jacket.  The pleated formal sash could also be correctly matched with a black tuxedo according to the book’s author, but only when those tuxedos were worn at resorts; the acceptance of cummerbunds year round was still at least a decade away.

Redfern’s formal trousers are black with flat fronts and a silk braid running down each side. He often places his hands in the on-seam side pockets, and the plain-hemmed bottoms slightly flare out with a short break.

Redfern’s shirt also indicates the relaxed formality of his outfit. It is white with a plain (not piqué or pleated) front and mother-of-pearl buttons (not studs). He wears a set of round golf cuff links through the double cuffs. Under the shirt’s soft turndown collar, Redfern wears a black silk “thistle”-shaped (or “semi-butterfly” or “hourglass”) bow tie that is clearly not a pre-tied version, which deserves a thumb’s up. Also, the thicker tie is good for someone with Clay’s large face and strong features.

Mrs. Redfern knows not to trust her husband when he starts employing his Roger Moore eyebrow.

Mrs. Redfern knows not to trust her husband when he starts employing his Roger Moore eyebrow.

On his feet, Redfern wears a pair of black patent leather cap-toe balmorals with raised heels. With the stitched toe cap on the uppers, this balmoral is more commonly seen as a business shoe and not with a formal outfit like a dinner suit. However, both the casual nature of his ensemble and the shiny patent leather excuse this choice.

Redfern eyes the cocktails being passed around as he lounges in the hotel parlor.

Redfern eyes the cocktails being passed around as he lounges in the hotel parlor. He looks somewhat out of place next to his gaudy-dressed cast mates and surroundings.

 

Also, this less formal jacket and shirt would look very strange with the pinched bow pumps considered to be “proper” with black tie. Redfern wears thin black dress socks, as he should.

His watch has been identified by Roman and Will – two great commenters here – as a vintage Gruen Curvex on a black alligator strap. With its large Arabic numerals and oblong silver case, it is a more casual watch than most would accept with black tie, but it works here.

Redfern's watch, now almost definitely identified as a Gruen Curvex. (Thanks, Roman and Will!)

Redfern’s watch, now almost definitely identified as a Gruen Curvex. (Thanks, Roman and Will!)

Go Big or Go Home

The white 4×1-button double-breasted, lapeled dinner jacket says plenty about its wearers. The most famous wearer was Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca, but a similar jacket also showed up on Emilio Largo, one of the more stylish Bond villains.

Bogie in Casablanca, Adolfo Celi as Largo in Thunderball, and Clay. (Largo image sourced from The Suits of James Bond.) Clay steps up his game by adding a red carnation.

Although Largo and Redfern, as a terrorist and a murderer respectively, qualify more as villains than Rick Blaine, each of the three men carries a mischievous charm and a devil-may-care attitude as they conduct their shady business among fellow patrons of an exotic bar/casino/hotel.

Despite posing as a man of modest means, Redfern is still able to afford a leisurely week at such an exclusive Mediterranean resort… although it is his Broadway diva mistress that buys his room, so that sort of negates it. However, he still lives lavishly while there, indulging in numerous cocktails and rubbing elbows with the rich and famous.

Although I have no idea what the hell his wife is sipping on here.

Although I have no idea what the hell his wife is sipping on here.

The Redferns are eventually revealed to be a horribly deceptive couple of whom even Frank and Claire Underwood would disapprove. The casting of Jane Birkin as Redfern’s supposedly “plain Jane” wife Christine is interesting, especially given the start of her career as a mod icon and symbol of Swinging London.

Christine plays her part well, looking continuously haggard and beleaguered as her husband enjoys the attentions of Diana Rigg as the doomed diva. (Interestingly, Rigg is eight years older than Birkin. I guess the Redferns targeted cougars.)

Much of my enjoyment of this guilty pleasure piece of celluloid comes from the soundtrack. The score consists entirely of Cole Porter hits, masterfully arranged by John Lanchberry. Unfortunately, most of the tracks are unavailable on YouTube, so I can’t share any here. The first cocktail hour is scored by “Longing for Dear Old Broadway” (from The Pot of Gold, one of the earliest shows written by Porter) and “You Do Something to Me”. “You Do Something to Me” is one of Porter’s most popular songs, and it became a standard in the songbooks of legends like Frank Sinatra and Ella Fitzgerald.

Here is Leo Reisman and his Orchestra performing “You Do Something to Me” in 1929, the year Porter penned it for Fifty Million Frenchmen.

How to Get the Look

Though his behavior shouldn’t be copied, Patrick Redfern’s casual and comfortable tropical black tie sets a fine example for anyone who wants to class up a warm holiday.eutsprw-crop

  • Ivory double-breasted 4×1-button dinner jacket with large shawl lapels, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 4-button surgeon’s cuffs, and ventless rear
  • Black flat front formal side-braided trousers with on-seam side pockets and slightly flared plain-hemmed bottoms
  • White plain front shirt with front placket, mother-of-pearl buttons, and double/French cuffs
  • Black silk “thistle”-shaped bow tie
  • Gold round cuff links
  • Black patent leather cap-toe balmorals
  • Black thin dress socks
  • Gruen Curvex wristwatch in an oblong silver case on a black alligator strap

To be extra natty, pin a red carnation to your left lapel and tuck a white silk handkerchief into the breast pocket.

Do Yourself A Favor And…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

It’s funny to think if Giuseppe Verdi had been an Englishman his name would have been Joe Green.

Don Draper’s Gun Club Check Sportcoat

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, drowning his sorrows in badassery in "The Good News" (Mad Men, Ep. 4.03).

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, drowning his sorrows in badassery in “The Good News” (Mad Men, Ep. 4.03).

Vitals

Jon Hamm as Don Draper, recently divorced Madison Avenue ad man (although I guess it’s safe to call him Dick Whitman here…)

Los Angeles, December 1964

Background

Ah, poor Don Draper*. By the third episode of Mad Men‘s fourth season, “The Good News”, Don has just gone through a divorce and is managing a tenacious relationship with his kids, he’s alienating co-workers either by yelling at clients or sleeping with secretaries, and his best friends consist of a softcore dominatrix and the driest, most British person in his office.

To put his troubles behind him during one of the loneliest times of the year, Don plans a trip to Acapulco for New Year’s, ostensibly to lose himself in a sea of cocktails and bikini-clad girls. Don gets an early start to his hedonistic journey by stopping over for a night in Southern California to visit Anna Draper, the one woman who really knows him and still loves him. Of course, his troubles are compounded when he learns that Anna is dying.

* Some sarcasm intended. He’s not an easy guy to feel bad for.

What’d He Wear?

As each season of Mad Men progresses through the 1960s, Don’s checkered sport coats become louder and louder. This progression reaches its apex halfway through season 5 when Don struts into the Campbell home wearing an eye-catching plaid sport coat that would be horrifying on anyone else, but Jon Hamm still manages to look debonair.

For Don’s New Year’s journey to California in “The Good News”, he ditches his gray business suit and opts for a very classy sport coat with a gun club check.

Dick + Anna '64

Dick + Anna ’64

Originally known as “The Coigach” when it was developed in Scotland as a regional (or “district”) check, the American Gun Club embraced and adopted this distinctive pattern in 1874. According to Gilt:

There was a time when the gun club check—a pattern marked by alternating broken bands in two or more colors on a light background—bore no relationship to armed recreation. Wearing it actually meant that you were a gamekeeper or other worker in the Coigach district of Scotland’s Northwest Highlands. At that time (about 1847 to the mid 1870’s) it was quite appropriately known as the Coigach, one of a series of “district checks” fashioned for particular Scottish estates.

GQ article breaks down the traditional colors seen with gun club check:

The fabric’s signature motif was created by four colors (traditionally black, red-brown, light gold, and pine green) intersecting to create boxes of various sizes. The resulting pattern was quite geometric up close, but from afar read like a landscape of the countryside’s color palette.

Gilt goes on to explain:

At first, [gun club check] referred exclusively to the Coigach’s distinctive weave, which featured black and red bands alternating evenly on a white field. Over time, though, the term became a catchall for any type of similar pattern.

Don’s jacket fits the above criteria with a light yellow cream ground and an alternating pattern of black, rust brown, and light blue intersecting boxes for the true “gun club check” look. While a yellow jacket might be too loud for some men, the overcheck actually manages to keep it subdued and grounded rather than tacky.

Gun club check isn't just for the shooting range. (In fact, most guys at my shooting range hardly ever have sleeves on their shirts, much less checked sport coats.)

Gun club check isn’t just for the shooting range. (In fact, most guys at my shooting range hardly ever have sleeves on their shirts, much less checked sport coats.)

The sport coat itself is constructed of a twill-woven wool that is lightweight enough to be comfortable in the warm climate of Southern California. Gun club check is often seen on heavier fabrics like Harris tweed, but that would be too warm in a city that doesn’t get much cooler than 50°F around this time of year. Plus, an urbanite like Don wouldn’t have much use for a Harris tweed jacket while in either L.A. or New York.

Don’s jacket has a single-breasted, 2-button front with slim notch lapels. The padded shoulders have roped sleeveheads. The three patch pockets – one of the left breast and one on each hip – further indicate the jacket’s casual nature. It has 2-button cuffs, a short rear single vent, and an overall shorter fit that was fashionable in 1964. All in all, very fine work from the show’s deservedly esteemed costume designer Janie Bryant.

Stephanie fortifies for her dance with Don.

Stephanie fortifies for her dance with Don.

GQ promoted a Brooks Brothers example that looks like a heavier version of Don’s jacket. It’s not a spot-on match, but it’s hard to go wrong with Brooks Brothers.

Don nicely calls out the blue overcheck with a blue short-sleeve shirt. While many men eschew short-sleeve shirts with sport coats – or short-sleeved shirts in general – it is an effective look for a confident, well-built man in a warm climate (which certainly defines Don Draper in California). The shirt also has a very subtle blue overcheck.

No means no, Don.

No means no, Don.

Don’s blue shirt has white buttons down the front placket and smaller white buttons to fasten down the slim collar. The sleeves have narrow cuffs, and there is a pocket over his left breast for his always-present Lucky Strikes.

mm403gc-CL-shirt-full

Don wears a pair of charcoal flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and cuffed bottoms that break high over his shoes. He wears his usual slim black leather belt that fastens in the front with a small dulled silver buckle. The belt matches his shoes, which are definitely black leather and either have a plain toe or a split toe. I believe I see a strap over the arch, indicating loafers, but this could just be the light and my eye playing tricks on me. Since slip-on loafers are more casual and this is a more casual outfit, I would prefer wearing loafers over oxfords.

mm403gc-CL-shoes-pants

Either way, he wears thin dark dress socks – likely in black also – that effectively carry the leg line from the trouser bottoms into his mysterious shoes.

The dark gray trousers are a good choice for winter, even in the warm winter of L.A., but Don also has a pair of khaki chinos in this sequence that would work equally as well with this jacket. His chinos also have belt loops and cuffed bottoms as well as on-seam side pockets and jetted rear pockets that close with a button.

Painting the house is no excuse for wearing shabby pants.

Painting the house is no excuse for wearing shabby pants.

Underneath, Don wears his standard underwear of white crew neck short-sleeve cotton t-shirt and white cotton undershorts with an elastic waistband and single-button fly. Some people may prefer a bit more clothing while hanging around the house, but Anna has no complaints: “I’m not going to fight watching Dick Whitman paint my living room in his shorts.”

Although painting the house apparently is an acceptable excuse for not wearing pants at all.

Although painting the house apparently is an acceptable excuse for not wearing pants at all.

If someone does fight the image of you in your underwear, it’s time to put on some pants.

Don also swaps his businessman image by leaving his fedora at home and opting for a straw trilby during his afternoon evening in the sun.

mm403gc-CX-hat

The fourth season also marks a new watch for Don, his third out of four worn throughout the show. This one is a Rolex Explorer I, the classic Rolex luxury sport watch that has remained nearly identical since its introduction in 1953. Don’s Explorer, confirmed by the Arabic 3, 6, and 9 markers on the black dial, has a stainless case and bracelet.

The Rolex Explorer adds a manly touch to a night of introspection.

The Rolex Explorer adds a manly touch to a night of introspection.

Although some consider the Explorer’s continued diameter of 36 mm to be a bit too small, the Explorer is undoubtedly a masculinely minimalist and utilitarian watch that was a fine choice for Draper’s wrist. I would’ve been sorrier to see it go if it hadn’t been replaced by the equally awesome Seamaster Deville from the fifth season onward.

Go Big or Go Home

Harkening back to his simpler Dick Whitman roots, Don joins Anna and her young niece Stephanie for a night of beer and bar food at a local L.A. roadhouse (“that place with the beer and abalone”).

After some banter and a little more info about Dick/Don’s backstory – did we know he had a few nonconsecutive years at City College before this? – Stephanie gets up to enjoy some Jan & Dean. This was 1964, after all, and harder rock from The Beatles and The Rolling Stones were just gaining popularity in the U.S. Ted Nugent and the Amboy Dukes were just getting started, and The Beach Boys were still singing about surfing instead of drugs. “Sidewalk Surfin'” was about as hardcore as a politically-forward yet mainstream girl like Stephanie would get.

Of course, it is Patti Page’s “Old Cape Cod” that manages to get Don onto the dance floor. After Anna declines due to her leg, Don affectionately but respectfully guides Stephanie across the dance floor as he gives her a brief music lesson.

Don: So you picked this song because it’s old? That doesn’t mean it’s bad.
Stephanie: It’s kind of corny.
Don: I think it sounds like she’s inviting us to a very beautiful place where there’s no surfing at all.
Stephanie: Have you ever been there?
Don: No. But every time I hear this song, I want to go.

The conversation tells us just how much the times are changing. The song, while clearly of a more classic era, was recorded in 1957 and was still only seven years old at the time of the scene. Yet for Stephanie, who grew up during the advent of rock, it may as well be from the ’40s. Still, it’s a great song, and it even found a place in Die Hard 2 nearly twenty years earlier. (Stephanie’s questionable taste is further explored three seasons later when she shows up seven months pregnant with a drug dealer’s baby. But more on that later…)

Tom and Lorenzo, who have a reputation for excellent Mad Men episode reviews, broke down this scene and the significance of the song in their post:

Stephanie gets up to play a song on the jukebox and she picks Patti Page’s 1957 hit, “Old Cape Cod,” as a way to tease the two older people into dancing. “If you spend an evening you’ll want to stay,” go the lyrics, which are referencing Don’s own feelings at the moment. He’s only there for the night, but it’s the first time we’ve seen Don smile since before the Kennedy assassination. He’s enjoying himself in this place with these people.

mm403gc-LS-dance

Tom and Lorenzo also comment on how Don’s night worsens after this brief moment of bliss:

Of course he’s still Don Draper, with all his demons intact, which means he makes a clumsy and – dare we say it? – almost embarrassing play for the half-his-age Stephanie later that night when he drives her home. Once again, he strikes out. Not just because Stephanie’s not interested, but because she’s got a bomb to drop: Anna doesn’t have much time left to live because she’s got cancer and worse, she doesn’t know it. Don is devastated and angry. Later, when he gets back to Anna’s place, he tenderly lifts her sleeping form off the couch and carries her to bed.

How to Get the Look

Don keeps his “California casual” look business-like but fresh. A few details are concessions to the era, but the look is dead-on for a fashionable gentleman turning heads in 1964 L.A.

mm403gc-crop

  • Gun club check (yellow cream with black, rust red, and light blue check) single-breasted sport coat with slim notch lapels, 2-button front, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and short rear vent
  • Blue (with subtle blue overcheck) short-sleeve shirt with slim button-down collars, front placket, breast pocket, and cuffed sleeves
  • Charcoal gray flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and cuffed bottoms
  • Black leather slim belt with dulled silver buckle
  • Black leather full-strap penny loafers
  • Black thin dress socks
  • White crew neck short-sleeve cotton undershirt
  • White cotton boxer shorts with elastic waistband and 1-button fly
  • Rolex Explorer I with a stainless case, black face, and stainless bracelet
  • Light brown straw trilby with a slim black ribbon

This is a much more practical version of the yellow check sport coat and blue Hawaiian shirt he wears in Hawaii two seasons later if you’re not into the whole tropical thing.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the fourth season.

The Quote

Trust me, I work in advertising.

This sentiment doesn’t go over well with young radical-to-be Stephanie, who exclaims, “You’re kidding me. It’s pollution!” Don coolly retorts: “So stop buying things.”

Andy Garcia in The Untouchables

Andy Garcia as George Stone in The Untouchables (1987).

Andy Garcia as George Stone in The Untouchables (1987).

Vitals

Andy Garcia as Giuseppe Petri, aka “George Stone”, honest Chicago police recruit and expert marksman

Chicago, September 1930

Background

A contemporary interview from People magazine at the time of The Untouchables‘ release was very flattering to Garcia:

Andy Garcia really doesn’t have much of a part in The Untouchables. His big moments come at the beginning, when he angrily jams a gun barrel into Sean Connery’s neck, and at the end, when he coolly kills one of Al Capone’s henchmen from a prone position. Of quiet demeanor, Garcia’s minor character has no love scenes and little to say. Yet Garcia’s rich portrayal of Treasury agent George Stone, the Italian-American T-man with a chip of ice on his shoulder, adds up to much more than the sum of his minutes onscreen. He’s The Untouchables‘ quicksilver gunslinger, the deadly rookie who’s a natural pistolero.

Garcia’s character, particularly his background, are a nod to the political correctness of the original 1950s TV series’ inclusion of Nick Georgiade as Agent Rico Rossi, who served primarily to show the audience that not all Italian-Americans are mafioso.

What’d He Wear?

Stone has a very unique off-duty look that contrasts well with the other characters and could translate well throughout the decades. Both he and Malone, the two Chicago PD officers, prefer more casual everyday attire than feds Ness and Wallace in their dark three-piece suits. It isn’t until the final scene, when Capone is put away and Prohibition is on the verge of repeal, that we finally see Stone wearing a suit.

Cops.

The newly-formed “Untouchables” squad prepares for their fisrt raid.

Stone’s suede blouson is copper brown. It has a zip front, which is slightly anachronistic as the zipper was not truly considered proper for garments for another decade. A more era-correct choice would have been a button front. The cuffs each close with a single button.

The blouson has shirt-style collars and large patch pockets on the chest with flaps.

Stone's jacket.

Stone’s jacket.

Stone wears a pair of gray wool trousers with a generous fit that slightly flares toward the bottoms, which have cuffs (or turn-ups). The high-rise trousers are flat front with belt loops, but Stone prefers to wear suspenders. His suspenders (or braces, if you will) are brown leather with belt-like gold square clasps in lieu of the standard sliding adjusters.

Stone's pants.

Stone takes aim.

The trousers have slightly slanted side pockets and a right rear pocket that closes with a button on a pointed flap.

Underneath his jacket, Stone wears a very distinctive chocolate brown vest constructed of a smoother, finer suede than the jacket. It has a single-breasted 4-button front with a very small notched bottom and swelled edges. There are two very shallow hip pockets, mostly useful for carrying a book of matches or similarly-sized item.

The rear of the vest is also unique; it is soft tan wool – possibly cashmere? – with a widely-ribbed waist.

Stone's vest.

Stone’s vest.

When Stone first reports to duty with the squad, he wears a yellow intricately-striped shirt with a soft point collar, patch pockets on both sides of the chest, and button cuffs – rolled up. His tie has a black ground with small yellow oval capsules (encapsulating some small red design), tied into a tight knot. The wider bottom of the tie is held into place by a gold “squiggle”-shaped tie clip.

Stone and the fellas.

Stone and the fellas.

Following that, he wears a similar shirt in light blue with all of the same features – the stripes, the point collar, the button cuffs, and patch pockets. He also introduces a new tie with this shirt, featuring a diamond-shaped interlocking pattern of red, green, orange, and black. He also wears a fancier gold tie clip with a diamond.

Andy Garcia talking directly into the camera was the 1987 version of Justus D. Barnes firing into the camera at the end of The Great Train Robbery. Audiences believed that Garcia was truly in the theater with them.

Andy Garcia talking directly into the camera was the 1987 version of Justus D. Barnes firing into the camera at the end of The Great Train Robbery. Audiences believed that Garcia was truly in the theater with them.

Stone sports a pair of well-worn dark brown split toe bluchers on his feet with a pair of black socks.

Stone's feet.

Stone in action.

Like Ness, Stone wears a fedora throughout with a slim grosgrain ribbon. Stone’s hat is light brown felt with a matching band.

Stone's hat.

Stone chats up a potential witness.

Stone carries his service revolver in a black leather shoulder holster under his left armpit. Various grooves are cut into the leather to adjust the fit of the black straps.

Stone's holster.

Stone would never be allowed in a Chipotle these days.

Stone’s watch is never clearly seen, but it has a small stainless case, a square black dial, and it is worn on a black leather strap on his left wrist.

Stone on the phone.

Not an unfamiliar image to fans of The Untouchables TV show.

How to Get the Look

Stone’s look differentiates him from the rest of the characters in the film and has many elements that would still be fashionable today.

untGS-crop

  • Copper brown suede zip-front blouson jacket with flapped patch chest pockets and 1-button cuffs
  • Chocolate brown suede vest with 4-button front, shallow hip pockets, and tan cashmere rear
  • Gray wool flat front trousers with belt loops, slightly slanted side pockets, button-flapped right rear pocket, and flared cuffed bottoms
  • Light-colored striped shirt with soft point collars, chest patch pockets, and button cuffs
  • Black and red ornately-patterned necktie with a tight knot and wide bottom
  • Gold tie clip with a diamond
  • Dark brown split toe bluchers
  • Black dress socks
  • Brown leather belt-style suspenders with gold square clasps
  • Light brown felt fedora with thin grosgrain ribbon
  • Black leather RHD shoulder holster for 4″-barreled Smith & Wesson .38-caliber revolver

The Gun(s)

As the squad’s top marksman, Stone gets his hands on plenty of firearms over the course of one week. His police issue revolver is a Smith & Wesson Model 10 (known as the “Military & Police” model before the numbering system began in the 1950s). The Smith & Wesson .38 is one of the most venerable handguns in existence, still in production 115 years after its inception with more than 6,000,000 examples having been produced.

Stone aims his Smith & Wesson.

Stone aims his Smith & Wesson.

Unfortunately for the filmmakers, the Chicago Police Department actually issued a competing revolver, the Colt Police Positive Special, to its officers from the 1910s through the 1940s. The Police Positive was developed in 1907 as Colt’s response to Smith & Wesson’s quickly growing popularity in the police firearms market. It replaced Colt’s earlier New Police, a .32-caliber model that had been selected by Teddy Roosevelt to be carried as the first official NYPD revolver. The Police Positive Special, chambered in the same .38 Special cartridge as the Smith & Wesson, was rolled out the next year. Although production of the lower-caliber Police Positive ended after World War II, the Police Positive Special continued in production until 1995. With 750,000 revolvers built, the Police Positive Special remains Colt’s most widely produced revolver.

Although the Smith & Wesson is Stone’s issued sidearm, he does use a few Colt revolvers on the side. When we first meet him, he is training with a Colt Official Police, the upgraded version of the Police Positive. He also keeps his personal backup, a nickel-plated first generation Colt Detective Special with white pearl grips, in the small of his back. He notably draws his backup when confronting Malone during his initial recruitment and during the train station shootout, when he tosses it to Ness.

Two-Gun Andy.

Two-Gun Andy.

Stone is shown to be an expert with both sidearms and long arms. He is given a shotgun during the first raid, a hammerless Winchester Model 1912 pump-action 12-gauge. In Canada, Stone also proves himself to be proficient with the Thompson M1928 submachine gun, the ubiquitous symbol of the era.

Stone, well-armed for other operations.

Stone, well-armed for other operations.

Interestingly, the only LEOs shown handling Tommy guns are the police officers Stone and Malone; g-men Ness and Wallace stick to shotguns. This is perhaps a reflection of the era police officer’s firearm training vs. that of a federal agent.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.