Spy Game: Redford’s Brown Leather Jacket in Beirut

Robert Redford as Nathan Muir in Spy Game (2001).

Robert Redford as Nathan Muir in Spy Game (2001).

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Robert Redford as Nathan Muir, shrewd CIA case officer

Beirut, Summer 1985

Film: Spy Game
Release Date: November 21, 2001
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
Redford’s Costumer: David Page

Background

Robert Redford finally teamed up with his spiritual successor Brad Pitt in the 2001 action hit Spy Game, directed by Tony Scott. Redford played Nathan D. Muir, the veteran CIA operative who took rookie Tom Bishop (Pitt) under his wing. Muir’s cynicism eventually clashes with Bishop’s idealism after nearly ten years on the job, and the two split after a morally disastrous mission in Beirut during the Lebanese Civil War.

The conflict in question that caused the rift in Muir and Bishop’s relationship is known as The War of the Camps (حرب المخيمات), roughly setting the action depicted to summer 1985. Bishop has been undercover in the area as a photojournalist named “Terry”, although his romance with the mysterious Elizabeth Hadley has been more than just a cover. When Muir arrives, he sees the danger in Bishop’s budding relationship, and his ultimate solution to meet the mission’s ultimate goal drives the two men apart.

In an interesting case of life reflecting art, the film had to move its production from Israel due to the escalation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in the fall of 2000, and the “Beirut” scenes were instead filmed in Morocco.

What’d He Wear?

Muir arrives in Beirut wearing a dark brown leather jacket constructed of a rugged cowhide that looks as well-traveled as Muir himself. Although likely vintage (or at least made to look so), it is classically styled with a comfortable fit and large shirt-style collar. It closes down the front with a dark brass zipper, and the cuffs are plain with no buttons, zips, snaps, or other frills.

SPY GAME

The taciturn Muir.

Muir’s leather jacket is very distinctive, particularly with the front yokes. Both sides have stitching extending horizontally from above the armpit before curving halfway across the jacket and falling vertically down each front panel of the jacket. In addition to the yoke, the left front panel of the jacket has a welted breast pocket that closes with a zipper. The jacket also has two slanted hand pockets above the waist line.

SPY GAME

A photo of Redford and Pitt on set before Pitt’s character leaves Beirut for another mission. Note that they are dressed differently here; Muir’s clothing is much more military-inspired with his khaki service shirt and aviator sunglasses.

The back of the jacket is also distinctive with its self-belt, cinched rear waistband, and thin adjustable leather straps on each side that close with a small steel buckle.

SPY GAME

Muir’s jacket is seen primarily in the Beirut scenes, but he is also briefly seen wearing it while training Bishop in Berlin in 1976, backing the thought that his rugged jacket has traveled with him for at least nine years.

SPY GAME

Muir and Bishop in Berlin.

America Suits has a replica available for around $130, but the site offers no photos or testimonials about the jacket in addition to the scanty description, so I can’t testify as to whether or not it’s an accurate replica.

Muir layers two shirts under the jacket. His base layer is a heathered gray cotton short-sleeve t-shirt, worn as an undershirt. Over the t-shirt, he wears a tan cotton utility shirt that buttons down a front placket.

SPY GAME

Sometimes, it’s more efficient to just wear a pair of glasses.

Muir’s utility shirt has a slim spread collar and large patch pockets on the chest that close with a buttoning flap. Edge stitching is present throughout the shirt from the collars and the pocket flaps to the placket and the rounded button cuffs.

Muir tucks both shirts into a pair of olive gray double reverse-pleated trousers with a medium rise. The trousers have on-seam side pockets and two jetted rear pockets that each close through a dark brown button. The bottoms are plain-hemmed with a short break to ease his movements as he darts in and out of destroyed buildings on his way to breakfast.

SPY GAME

Another behind-the-scenes shot of Pitt and Redford, likely discussing what it’s like to be a badass.

Distressed leather is clearly the basis of all of Muir’s accessories. His belt is thick well-worn brown leather with a large rectangular dulled brass clasp.

SPY GAME

The fellas have a laugh while spying on dangerous terrorists.

The low boots he wears in Beirut are also – you guessed it – distressed brown leather. Muir’s boots have a sueded finish, tan laces, and light brown leather soles. He wears them with a pair of dark brown socks.

SPY GAME

Not a place to wear your finest Oxfords, as a seasoned traveled like Muir would know.

Muir accessorizes more than some of the BAMFs we see on the blog, but it’s all mostly functional. The watch on his right wrist is a Victorinox Swiss Army Officer’s 1884 with a 41 mm stainless case, white dial, and stainless link bracelet.

SPY GAME

As a Victorinox watch wearer myself, BAMF Style approves this placement.

The one mostly decorative accessory of Muir’s is the silver finger on his right ring finger that Redford explained to the Hollywood Reporter last year:

It’s a very small silver ring that was given to me by Hopi Indians in 1966… Every film I have done since 1968, I’ve had that ring on my right-hand ring finger.

We’ve noticed.

SPY GAME

This shot offers one of the best views of Redford’s famous silver ring.

On the opposite hand, Muir wears a gold wedding ring, presumably to match his cover as a frice married man.

SPY GAME

Redford also sports a pair of stylish Oliver Peoples “Riley” brown tortoiseshell eyeglasses throughout the film. Although Oliver Peoples wasn’t founded until 1986, the frames certainly look like something a classic spy like Muir would wear. It also makes sense that OP would make an appearance since Brad Pitt is known to be a big fan of the brand himself.

Go Big or Go Home

Muir and Bishop bantering and dodging bullets as they head to breakfast among the rubble is very evocative of a similar scene more than thirty years earlier when Newman and Redford did the same thing in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid (albeit, Butch and the Kid were trying to escape breakfast).

SPY GAME

Bishop tries to talk Muir into going to Australia- nope, wrong film. Bishop tries to talk Muir into going for migas.

Once they get there, Bishop impresses his mentor with the gift of a flask, full of Scotch. Almost makes me wish I was someone’s mentor…

Bishop: Happy Birthday, Nathan. Did you know Langley has seven different birth dates for you?
Muir: And they’re all wrong.
Bishop: I know. Believe me, it wasn’t easy. KGB, Mossad, also wrong. Fortunately, I was well trained.

How to Get the Look

Going into hostile territory? You’ll want to be prepared with a badass, functional look.SpyMuirLthr-crop

  • Dark brown cowhide leather jacket with collar, brass zip front, curved front yokes, zip welted breast pocket, slanted hand pockets, belted rear, buckle side adjusters, and plain cuffs
  • Tan cotton utility shirt with spread collar, front placket, flapped button-down patch pockets, and rounded button cuffs
  • Heathered gray cotton short-sleeve crew neck t-shirt
  • Olive gray double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Thick brown leather belt with large dulled brass buckle
  • Brown sueded leather 5-eyelet low boots with tan laces and light brown leather soles
  • Dark brown socks
  • Victorinox Swiss Army Officer’s 1884 wristwatch with stainless 41mm case, white dial, and stainless link bracelet, worn on right wrist
  • Silver Hopi Indian ring with black imprint, worn on right ring finger
  • Gold wedding band, worn on left ring finger
  • Oliver Peoples “Riley” tortoiseshell-framed eyeglasses

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

Seventy-four casualties, an apartment block leveled, one dead terrorist? Yeah, happy.

Bugsy Siegel in White Tie

Warren Beatty as "Bugsy" Siegel in Bugsy (1991).

Warren Beatty as “Bugsy” Siegel in Bugsy (1991).

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Warren Beatty as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, debonair and mercurial Jewish “celebrity” gangster

Hollywood, March 1945

Film: Bugsy
Release Date: December 13, 1991
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky

Background

Unfortunately, the ultra formal white tie dress code is all but extinct in American culture. The popularity of black tie in the post-World War I era was the first bullet to the chest of white tie, but an increasingly informal society has peppered white tie with more bullets than the St. Valentine’s Day Massacre. Luckily for sartorial purists, Downton Abbey and programs of its ilk have inspired a resurgence in early 20th century formalwear. As Mad Men has taught us, all it takes is a good TV show with well-dressed characters to get Americans to dress better.

A natty dresser like Bugsy Siegel didn’t need examples from the movies, though. While I’ve never seen a photo of the real guy in white tie, it makes sense that an image-conscious guy like Siegel would sport a tailcoat for a night of dancing at the legendary Ciro’s nightclub in West Hollywood to cultivate his image as a romantic ladies’ man rather than a vicious mobster. Siegel even tells a photographer from The Herald that catches him in mid-dance:

See that they run that, and not one of those sinister mugshots.

In the film’s universe, it’s Thursday night, March 8, 1945. The U.S. First Army has just taken Cologne back after the Battle of Remagen and the Allies are making their way further into the heart of Europe to surround Hitler. V-E Day is just two months away. In the Pacific, the Americans continue firebombing Japan.

The mood at Ciro’s is light, but conspiracy and intrigue are laced in every conversation. After dancing with an eager young ingénue, Siegel acquaints himself with the Count and Countess di Frasso, sparking his own ambition to fly to Europe and kill Mussolini. The usual cavalcade of stars present at Ciro’s isn’t well-represented here, although George Raft (Joe Mantegna) – a boyhood friend of Siegel’s from Hell’s Kitchen – makes an appearance.

The real Ciro’s was the place to be seen for movie groupies in the ’40s and ’50s. It was opened in January 1940 by William Wilkerson, the same entrepreneur that discovered Lana Turner and actually founded the Flamingo before Siegel took the idea and ran with it. Until closing its doors in 1957, stars ranging from the Rat Pack to Lucy and Desi could be found enjoying its luxe baroque atmosphere. Future presidents JFK and Ronald Reagan drank and dined with the likes of Marilyn Monroe and Cary Grant, as well as gangsters like Bugsy Siegel. Ciro’s is long gone now, having converted to a rock club in the ’60s before the site became The Comedy Store in 1972.

What’d He Wear?

Bugsy adheres pretty closely to the rules of formal evening dress… which is pretty surprisingly for a guy named “Bugsy”. His black wool tailcoat is nicely tailored with wide peak lapels faced with black silk. The front cuts away at a sharp angle, as an evening dress coat should. There are few instances where evening dress can be adjusted to fit popular trends; Bugsy’s wider lapel points and slanted gorges, padded shoulders, and the white linen handkerchief, tri-folded into his breast pocket can be considered among them.

BUGSY

A very intense phone call.

The four decorative buttons and 3-button cuffs are covered in the same black satin silk found on the lapel facings. The buttons are one of the few deviations from standing evening dress, as most traditional tail coats were fitted with six front buttons and four buttons on the cuff. There are also two decorative satin-covered buttons on the rear waistline above the single vent tails.

BUGSY

Bugsy offers an eager newspaper photographer a much better side than you’ll see in “one of those sinister mugshots”.

Moving further down, Bugsy’s trousers are made of the same black wool as his tailcoat with a black satin stripe down the side. The trousers may actually have the correct double stripe, but it is difficult to tell from the angles offered in the film. They are double reverse-pleated with a high rise under the waistcoat and correctly plain-hemmed bottoms. He wears them with ivory-colored suspenders with silver clips for his waistband. They are only seen on the ground with his shoes after Virginia’s late night visit.

The waistcoat has a V-shaped opening and wide shawl lapels with flat bottoms. It closes in the front with four mother-of-pearl buttons on a single-breasted layout.

BUGSY

George Raft’s black tie pales in comparison to Bugsy’s classy white tie.

The bottom of the waistcoat has a wide notch and two welted pockets. Traditionally, the bow tie and waistcoat were constructed from the same white or off-white piqué. In this case, Bugsy’s low-cut waistcoat is a deeper ivory that clearly contrasts against the plain white tie.

BUGSY

Even a shady L.A. gambling den is a fine place to sport white tie… although you’ll almost definitely be the only one doing so.

Bugsy’s white cotton formal shirt has the proper detachable wing collar, although standing collars are also an option. His wing collar is held into place by a gold button on the front and a gold button through the rear. The stiff front closes with two diamond studs visible between the tie knot and the waistcoat opening. His single cuffs are fastened in place by rectangular gold cuff links.

BUGSY

The guy sure spends a lot of time on the phone.

Bugsy also nails the bow tie, wearing a white piqué bow tie that is clearly real, evident both by the knot and its appearance when untied.

BUGSY

I don’t know what the rules of evening dress say about undershirts, but Bugsy sports a white cotton crew neck short-sleeve t-shirt.

BUGSY

A detachable collar and non-adjustable bow tie are a nice way to prove to your late night booty call that she made the right choice.

Bugsy ignores the traditional (and, if you ask me, outdated) black patent leather opera pumps for a pair of 4-eyelet cap-toe balmorals made of well-polished black calf leather. His socks are likely also black, and probably silk. Balmorals – or Oxfords – are acceptable alternatives for opera pumps, although some fellas have also worn Chelsea boots or side-buttoning boots with white tie.

BUGSY

If Bugsy breaks any steadfast white tie rules, it is his choice of wearing a wristwatch rather than a pocket watch, although he should be given a break for nailing the rest of the look so nicely when no one else in the club is even trying. His gold watch is worn on a slim black leather strap.

BUGSY

Bugsy deals with commoners.

Bugsy’s only other accessory is a gold pinky ring on his left hand with a dark stone. Although he’s married, Ciro’s is no place for a playboy gangster like Bugsy to be wearing a wedding ring.

Go Big or Go Home

And speaking of rings, one of Bugsy’s all-time smooth moments comes when he hands a ring to a slow-witted Ciro’s waiter and points out Virginia. The waiter doesn’t move, so Bugsy instructs him: “Put it in her hand.” While Johnny Mercer and Jo Stafford croon the 1945 hit “Candy” from stage, Bugsy watches with hungry eyes as Virginia accepts the gift and distresses her uniformed date.

How to Get the Look

Can you pull off full evening dress?

BugsyWT-crop

  • Black wool cutaway tailcoat with 4-button decorative front, wide peak lapels with black satin facings, welted breast pocket, 3-button cuffs, and 2 decorative rear buttons over single vent with tails
  • Ivory piqué low-cut waistcoat with wide shawl flat-bottom lapels, V-shaped opening, 4-button single-breasted front, two welted pockets, and wide notch bottom
  • Black wool double reverse-pleated high-rise formal trousers with black satin side stripes, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • White cotton formal shirt with stiff plain front and single cuffs
    • White detached wing collar
    • Diamond front studs
    • Gold rectangular cuff links
  • White piqué bow tie
  • Black calf leather 4-eyelet cap-toe balmorals
  • Black silk dress socks
  • White cotton crew neck short-sleeve undershirt
  • Gold wristwatch on black leather strap
  • White linen pocketsquare
  • Gold pinky ring with dark stone, worn on left pinky

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

I only talk this much before I’m gonna kill someone.

Goodfellas – Henry’s Herringbone Fleck Sportcoat

Ray Liotta as Henry Hill in Goodfellas (1990).

Ray Liotta as Henry Hill in Goodfellas (1990).

Vitals

Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, New York mob associate and club owner

New York City, Spring 1964

Film: Goodfellas
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno

Background

It’s gonna be a good summer.

…as Jimmy Conway tells Henry Hill after watching him split up the take from a recent robbery at the JFK’s Air France terminal. Cargo thefts had always been a mob tradition, but the April 1967 heist of $420,000 in cash set a new high mark for the mob as the proceeds were all in “totally, totally untraceable”. No need for shady fences or risky transactions of stolen goods.

Henry dresses fashionably for the robbery, wearing a herringbone sportcoat that shows up a few times throughout the course of Goodfellas. It’s a fine primer on how one can dress for a date, a heist, or even burying a mob murder victim.

What’d He Wear?

Henry’s sportcoat is a black and white herringbone fleck with a shine that indicates the possibility of mohair or silk in its construction. Silk suits have long been associated with gangsterdom, and it’s not beyond the realm of believability that Henry would choose a silk sportcoat for both romantic encounters and the robbery that would define his early criminal career.

GOODFELLAS

Henry does the right thing and gives Paulie his tribute of $60,000.

The sportcoat is single-breasted with a large, full cut. The slim notch lapels roll down to a 3-button front that Henry wears open all the time. The jacket also has padded shoulders, roped sleeveheads, and 3-button cuffs. The breast pocket is welted and the hip pockets sit straight with edge-stitched flaps. The rear is ventless.

GOODFELLAS

Henry typically wears the sportcoat with a pair of navy blue flat front trousers that rise high on his waist. The side pockets are slanted, the rear pockets are jetted, and the bottoms are cuffed.

GOODFELLAS

“Oh, that’s so bad…”

Not much is seen of Henry’s feet in these scenes, but he appears to be wearing a pair of black leather cap toe shoes with thin black ribbed silk socks.

The first time we see the sport coat is briefly when Henry picks Karen up for their first real date. He wears a casual white camp shirt with short sleeves. The slim collar would close with a single button through an extended loop, but Henry wears the top button (and, initially, the second button) open. The rest of the large, clear plastic buttons fasten down the shirt’s plain front.

GOODFELLAS

Next, Henry dons the same sport coat for the Air France heist at JFK. For this, he also wears a soft knit dark navy blue short-sleeve polo shirt with three black plastic buttons on the collar placket.

GOODFELLAS

The real heist was on Friday, April 7, 1967, but the film seems to knock it back to the spring of 1964. That doesn’t explain why Henry looks so damn sweaty, though!

Fast forward a few years to around December 1970 when Henry is smooching Janice in a bar full of mob associates. The new decade is starting to rear its tacky head, and Henry wears a lavender short-sleeve polo shirt with ribbed short sleeves and a ribbed waistband. The material is a silky polyester, and the placket closes with three gray plastic buttons.

GOODFELLAS

Henry makes a wiser sartorial decision than Jimmy on this particular occasion.

Under the shirt, Henry wears a large gold cross pendant on a thin gold chain as a symbol of his family’s Catholic faith. He has no strong religious convictions himself, but what’s a mobster without his gold chains, eh? Once he converts to Judaism to marry Karen, a Star of David also adorns his neckwear.

GFher-CX-cross

For most of these scenes, Henry is still an unmarried, fringe mob associate with the Lucchese family looking to make his bones. He can afford front row seats and Dom Pérignon at the Copa, but he isn’t at the level of wiseguy yet where his hands are weighed down by pinky rings and gold bracelets. His only other accessory from the cross pendant is a gold watch, strapped to his right wrist by a brown leather band.

GFher-CX-watch

Go Big or Go Home

Not only do we see Henry wearing the same sportcoat for a date, a mob heist, and a covert burial, but we also get a similar soundtrack of classic early ’60s “girl group” hits for each event. The Chantels’ “Look in My Eyes” from 1961 picks up where Henny Youngman’s cheesy one-liners leave off to provide a soundtrack to the Air France heist.

“Look in My Eyes” was the group’s second major hit after hitting early success with their million-selling “Maybe” in December 1957. Personnel and label changes led to the five-girl group becoming a quartet when they cut “Look in My Eyes” for Carlton Records in 1961, which reached #6 on the R&B charts and #14 on the pop charts.

The Shangri-Las contribute their second track to the Goodfellas soundtrack with “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” playing in the bar as Jimmy pulls Henry away from an increasingly frustrated Janice to tell him that Billy Batts‘s rotting corpse needs to be moved.

The track has an appropriately mysterious and melodramatic sound to punctuate the dark comedy of Jimmy and Tommy taunting Henry during Batts’ re-burial. It was originally recorded in 1964 for The Shangri-Las album Leader of the Pack, named after their best known song which was also featured earlier in Goodfellas.

And, of course, The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” immediately follows Henry picking up Karen for a date for their now-famous night at the Copa… but we’ll get into that suit later.

How to Get the Look

Henry shows how one outfit can be diversified depending on the situation, all just by swapping out shirts.

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  • Gray specked silk herringbone single-breasted sport coat with slim notch lapels, 3-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped straight hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless rear
  • Navy blue flat front trousers with slanted side pockets, jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Dark navy blue soft knit short-sleeve polo shirt with 3 black plastic buttons
  • Black leather cap-toe laced shoes
  • Black thin ribbed silk socks
  • Gold Catholic cross pendant
  • Gold wristwatch on brown leather strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

By the time I grew up, there was thirty billion a year in cargo moving through Idlewild Airport and believe me, we tried to steal every bit of it.

The Wolf of Wall Street: Glen Plaid Suit in London

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

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

Vitals

Leonardo DiCaprio as Jordan Belfort, swaggering stockbroker

London, Summer 1995*

* In reality, this was August 1993. All you really need to know is that it’s the summer.

Film: The Wolf of Wall Street
Release Date: December 25, 2013
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell

Background

You all heard (or read) me bitching about how poorly pink was incorporated into Sean Connery’s cream linen suit in Diamonds are Forever, so now let’s see a more subtle way that a gent can wear that most tender of colors without looking like a buffoon or a mezza fanook.

After illegally making $22 million in three hours thanks to the Steve Madden IPO, boastful stock magnate Jordan Belfort heads for Europe to hide his ill-gotten gains in a Swiss bank account. An unexpected hiccup pops up when Jordy needs a European citizen’s name for the account. Luckily for our protagonist, his wife has a classy English aunt (played by the super awesome Joanna Lumley) that’s willing to help out.

What’d He Wear?

Jordan dresses for context, donning a Glen Plaid suit for his English setting (as it was popularized by the Prince of Wales) and appealing to the “old lady” vote with a pink shirt and floral printed tie. Of course, Aunt Emma is no regular “old lady” so the sartorial gestures were unnecessary.

Sexual tension?

Sexual tension?

The lightweight wool suit is black and light gray Glen Plaid with a light red overcheck that is brought out by the pink and red in his shirt and tie. Other than the padded shoulders, the jacket is very similar to the currently fashionable single-breasted suit coats with peak lapels, a medium 2-button front stance, and long double rear vents..

WOWSgp-CL-Trou

A behind-the-scenes shot of DiCaprio filming the scene offers the best look at his tie under the open jacket.

A behind-the-scenes shot of DiCaprio filming the scene offers the best look at his tie under the open jacket.

Jordan’s suit jacket has a welted breast pocket and flapped hip pockets that sit straight along his waist. The four black plastic buttons on each cuff are smaller versions of the two buttons on the front, and the cuffs are likely functioning “surgeon’s cuffs”. The peak lapels have high, slanted gorges and a buttonhole is stitched through the left lapel. The sleeves are long with heavily roped heads at the shoulders

The trousers are more dated to the ’90s with their double forward pleats that emphasize their already generous fit. They rise nicely to his waist with a seamless transition from buttoned jacket to trousers without the shirt or tie peeking out. In keeping with the ’90s fashion, the full-break trouser bottoms are cuffed with turn-ups.

Jordan’s shirt is a refreshing pale shade of pink with a large point collar and double cuffs that are fastened with a pair of unseen links.

His tie falls victim to the “frantic” printed tie fad that even claimed James Bond during the ’90s with a red floral and green leaf pattern on a dark navy silk ground. It’s subtle enough from a distance, but up close it can evoke an Italian grandmother’s couch.

Jordan makes the sartorial gods happy by matching a black leather belt to his black leather cap toe balmorals, likely worn with a pair of black dress socks.

One of his many gold watches makes an appearance here on his left wrist. It’s definitely not the same black-dialed TAG Heuer Series 1000 that he used to inspire the masses on IPO day; this dial is light-colored.

Jordan lays it all out for Aunt Emma, wearing a - so far - unidentified watch.

Jordan lays it all out for Aunt Emma, wearing a – so far – unidentified watch and his wedding ring.

Jordan wears his plain gold wedding band on his left ring finger, which becomes funny when you realize he’s wearing it as he briefly attempts to romance his wife’s 66-year-old aunt.

How to Get the Look

Jordan’s London attire is a great example of a man dressing for context. England? Pay respects to the former Prince of Wales with a Glen Plaid suit. Visiting an older female relative? Charm her with a pink shirt and floral tie. Is it the ’90s? Cuff those trousers, pad those shoulders, and slip a Tamagotchi in your pocket.

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  • Black & gray Glen Plaid (with light red overcheck) lightweight wool suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with peak lapels, 2-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped straight hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and double rear vents
    • Double forward-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and cuffed bottoms/turn-ups
  • Pale pink dress shirt with large point collar and double/French cuffs
  • Dark navy silk ground necktie with red floral and green leaf pattern
  • Black leather belt with squared steel buckle
  • Black leather cap toe balmorals
  • Black dress socks
  • Gold wristwatch with light-colored dial on link bracelet, worn on left wrist
  • Plain gold wedding band, worn on left ring finger

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

Is she fucking hitting on me?

Footnotes

Jordan may have been a jet-setter, but the already expensive production cut costs when it could. The “London park” scenes were actually filmed in Brooklyn on November 20, 2012. According to movie-locations.com:

Although there are brief shots of the South Bank Lion by the South Bank’s County Hall and of Westminster Bridge in London, the meeting with Emma was filmed in the US with Kensington Gardens and the extravagant gilt Albert Memorial added digitally. Even the brief shot of Emma’s London house is CGI.

Bond Style – Cream Linen Suit in Vegas (Diamonds are Forever)

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971).

Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971).

Vitals

Sean Connery as James Bond, British government agent

Las Vegas, Spring 1971

Film: Diamonds are Forever
Release Date: December 17, 1971
Director: Guy Hamilton
Wardrobe Master: Ray Beck
Tailor: Anthony Sinclair

Background

Apologies for the blog’s inactivity lately; between my girlfriend’s sister’s wedding and spring being a very busy event seasons at work, it’s been difficult to find time for a fun – albeit time-consuming – sideline like BAMF Style. You didn’t expect me to miss the 00-7th of May, though?

And what’s a better way to celebrate the approaching Hallmark holiday of Mother’s Day without exploring a look from one of the most sexist films of an already somewhat chauvinist franchise?! (Hey, at least he wears some pink here.)

Towards the end of Diamonds are Forever‘s rambling waste of a plot, Bond finds himself tracking down reclusive billionaire casino owner Howard Hughes Willard Whyte via a 1970s version of a Talkboy. Armed with this knowledge (and only this knowledge), he sets off for the billionaire’s desert home where Whyte is being held captive by… a locked door and two bikini-clad women named after – you know what, let’s forget about describing the scene here.

What’d He Wear?

If anything should be learned from this post, it’s the importance of properly pairing all parts of an outfit. Although Diamonds are Forever is known for being more lighthearted and “comedic” than its predecessors, James Bond managed to keep his style relatively on point, remaining fashionable for 1971 without too much excess. He wisely dons a sharp cream linen suit for this final act in the desert… then ruins it with a goddamn pink tie.

Connery is mystified: why did he need to wear a suit and tie if he was just going to take off the jacket for most of the scene anyway?

Connery is mystified: why did he need to wear a suit and tie if he was just going to take off the jacket for most of the scene anyway?

There’s nothing wrong with a pink tie if worn properly. The color is admittedly not very Bondian, but still even a muted version or a maroon would have been better than the bright pink number we see in the film. Hell, even one that fit properly without falling short and fat on Connery’s dad gut would have been better than the shit that showed up on screen. Ugh. Let’s talk about the suit before I really start to get angry.

The suit, as seen on the Christie's auction page.

The suit, as seen on the Christie’s auction page.

The cream linen suit itself is pretty snazzy. No surprise, as it was tailored by the legendary Anthony Sinclair of Conduit Street. Sinclair provided most of Connery’s suits from Dr. No through Diamonds are Forever. It speaks volumes for Mr. Sinclair that he didn’t give up tailoring after seeing how poorly his suit was paired with the pink tie-

Okay, back to sanity. Cream linen is a wise choice for a hot day in the Las Vegas desert, nicely blending fashion and function. When the suit was auctioned at Christie’s in February 2001, it was described as:

A two-piece suit of cream linen, the single-breasted jacket lined in bronze art silk, the jacket labelled inside Anthony Sinclair Ltd. 29 Conduit Street, W.1. Mayfair 6682/3621, with typescript details March, 1971. Sean Conery Esq., 662 T.2302 L.B.D., the cotton lining of the back trouser pocket inscribed in an unknown hand in blue ballpoint pen 454 M — made for Sean Connery as James Bond in the 1971 Eon film Diamonds Are Forever.

Auction houses often get information wrong, but there’s no reason to doubt any of the details listed here, especially coming from a reputable house like Christie’s. The eventual sale price of the suit was £2,115 ($3,073 in real money), in the lower end of the £2,000 – £3,000 estimate.

The suit jacket fits nicely on Connery’s torso with natural shoulders, roped sleeveheads, and long double rear vents that flap around in the dry Nevada wind, revealing the “bronze art silk” lining. The jacket is single-breasted with reasonable notch lapels rolling down to a 2-button front. Each sleeve has four matching buttons at the cuff. Both the breast pocket and the hip pockets are patches.

When Connery first arrives at Willard Whyte’s home, he has both buttons fastened. This is far from the only sartorial misstep in this scene, since he ruins the look with a pink t- not going there. Yet.

The buttoned jacket keeps the tie in place. Unfortunately, Bond gets a bit overzealous about the buttoning.

The buttoned jacket keeps the tie in place. Unfortunately, Bond gets a bit overzealous about the buttoning.

Bond’s trousers have front darts, allowing for a higher rise, and 3-button side-tab “Daks top” adjusters, a feature that Anthony Sinclair had been placing on Connery’s trousers since Dr. No nine years earlier to provide a clean, belt-less look. The waistband fastens with a hidden clasp under the squared extended front tab.

Yes, Bond, it's a woman in a bikini. Now put it back in your pants, because she's probably there to kill you.

Yes, Bond, it’s a woman in a bikini. Now put it back in your pants, because she’s probably there to kill you.

The trousers also have on-seam side pockets and a jetted right rear pocket that closes with a brown plastic button that matches those on the side adjusters. The slightly flared bottoms are plain-hemmed with a short break.DAFcream-CL2-Pants2

Bond wears the same brown leather monk strap ankle boots – with brass strap buckles – that he wore in some earlier scenes with his gray worsted suit. His socks are a much darker brown (I thought black until I did some color correction see for myself.) I would opt for a pair of lighter-colored socks both to match the trouser leg and to keep my feet cooler in such a warm climate, but – again – this is far from the worst part of the outfit.

Oh, hey Thumper.

Oh, hey Thumper.

Connery retains the Bond tradition of a Turnbull & Asser shirt with the distinctive 2-button turnback cuffs (also known as “cocktail cuffs”), although he only has one button on each cuff fastened, either out of laziness or to keep his wrists and hands freer for stunts. For Connery’s sake, let’s assume the latter.

Bond doesn't take Bambi and Thumper's innuendo-laced threats seriously until it's too late. Then again, would you?

Bond doesn’t take Bambi and Thumper’s innuendo-laced threats seriously until it’s too late. Then again, would you?

The light ivory shirt gets plenty of screen time since Connery keeps his jacket off, evidently not ashamed to show off that tie in all of its glory. The large collar has a wide spread, and the shirt buttons down a front placket. Most of his action scenes in this sequence are performed jacket-less, showing the shirt’s double rear darts at the shoulder.

I kind of get how this machine would work. But why does it seem to change Bond's voice even when we're in the same room as him?

I kind of get how this machine would work. But why does it seem to change Bond’s voice even when we’re in the same room as him?

There’s no avoiding it now, so let’s talk about that tie. In general, there’s nothing wrong with a carnation pink repp tie. I wouldn’t wear one for business (nor am I sure I’d wear one at all), but they can have their time and place. Unfortunately for Sean Connery, this is about as wrong as it can get.

First off, the tie is far too short – likely due to the Windsor knot – with the already too wide blade not even making it past the lowest visible button on his shirt. He wisely loosens it when he gets to Whyte’s, giving it a little more length, but the damage is already done. It’s hard to imagine that this look was ever fashionable despite the wide and short tie fad that emerged in the ’70s. This is just too short and too wide in all the wrong places.

God help a Bond movie when Q is dressed better than 007.

God help a Bond movie when Q is dressed better than 007.

While no tie that length would look good, at least a different color tie might help? The pink against the cream suit and ivory shirt all washes together. With no contrast except his much darker footwear, the outfit becomes monochromatic in the shittiest way. A nicer look may have been a dark tie – perhaps navy, maroon, or brown – or no tie at all. The only possible justification I can imagine for the costumers putting this tie on him is thinking, “Hey, Vegas is full of neon shit! Let’s throw some bright, obnoxious color on Bond too!”

Connery's cringe matches mine when I first saw that goddamn tie.

Connery’s cringe matches mine when I first saw that goddamn tie.

Bond fared better when he very briefly wore this suit in the pre-credits sequence in Japan (or wherever he is before going to Ca-Ca-Cairo) when he sported a brown tie. He also accessorized differently in the pre-credits scene, wearing a pair of brown 3-eyelet derbies and tan socks that nicely carried the leg into the shoe.

If only the filmmakers had swapped the Japan shirt/tie/shoes with the Vegas shirt/tie/shoes.

If only the filmmakers had swapped the Japan shirt/tie/shoes with the Vegas shirt/tie/shoes.

With only six items (jacket, trousers, shirt, tie, shoes, and socks), this is one of the simplest suits featured in the Bond series. He doesn’t even wear a watch, and his dive into the pool reveals no undershirt either. It’s likely that he’s wearing undershorts, but with Sean Connery, you never know.

(Admittedly, a glimpse of metal is seen under his wrist when he gets out of the car outside the Whyte house and in some production photos. However, the watch looks like it’s gone for the rest of the sequence. According to Dell Deaton’s comprehensive JamesBondWatches.com, this is the Gruen Precision 510 dress watch worn by Connery when he didn’t need a Rolex.)

Matt Spaiser nicely covered this outfit on his blog, The Suits of James Bond, and he managed to do so without getting as vehemently angry as I do about this tie. Kudos to Matt for his self-control and dignity.

Go Big or Go Home

007 isn’t wearing any sort of holster, nor does he carry his trusty Walther PPK for this scene. He takes a Colt Detective Special from Leiter (the same one he carries in the photo at the top of this post), but stuffs it in the jacket pocket without a second thought… especially since he has his jacket off for the remainder of the sequence. Apparently, Bond’s overconfidence is at a peak here as he swaggers into Whyte’s home, ostensibly unarmed, and casually faces off against his two henchwomen with his jacket slung over his shoulder. One assumes his plan all along was to drunk the two women under the water to get information, but it sure took him plenty of beating to get there.

For a more accurate look at how James Bond might approach a potential desert combat situation against an unknown number of assailants, check out the climatic battle scene in Quantum of Solace when he wears a dark blue zip jacket and jeans and carries another agent’s SIG-Sauer P226.

How to Get the Look

Without the tie, it’s a classy and casual look for warm weather. With the tie, you look like a fucking clown who shouldn’t be trusted with a firearm… or a closet. No wonder Bambi and Thumper wanted to kick his ass.

Connery enjoys a refreshing Gatorade between takes.

Connery enjoys a refreshing Gatorade between takes.

  • Cream linen suit, tailored by Anthony Sinclair, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted jacket with notch lapels, 2-button front, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and long double rear vents
    • Darted front trousers with “Daks top” 3-button tab side adjusters, on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted right rear pocket, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Light ivory poplin Turnbull & Asser dress shirt with large spread collar, front placket, and 2-button turnback/”cocktail” cuffs
  • Brown leather monk strap ankle boots
  • Dark brown thin dress socks

If you’re going to wear a pink tie with this suit, at least make sure it’s an appropriate length. You may just be able to pull it off.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

Footnotes

I couldn’t find any information about a costume designer for the film, other than Sinclair’s tailoring, of course. However, IMDb did list an uncredited wardrobe master named Ray Beck. Ray, after seeing that tie, I can see why you opted to go uncredited. Interestingly, this is the only film on Mr. Beck’s IMDb page where he worked uncredited. One would think working on a Bond film would be the pinnacle of a career in the film industry, but then again not all Bond films feature stupid pink neckties.

Bogart’s Trench Coat and Suit in Casablanca

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942).

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine in Casablanca (1942), surrounded by friends and foe.

Vitals

Humphrey Bogart as Rick Blaine, cynical “gin joint” manager

Casablanca, Morocco, December 1941

Film: Casablanca
Release Date: November 26, 1942
Director: Michael Curtiz

Background

Before Casablanca was released in 1942, Humphrey Bogart had spent the majority of his career in secondary roles as sniveling bastards. His first major role in The Petrified Forest saw him as a Dillinger-esque armed robber far more interested in his six-shooter than romance. He was the foil to Jimmy Cagney’s criminal “hero” in Warner Brothers gangster flicks like Angels With Dirty Faces and The Roaring Twenties, and it wasn’t until 1941 when he finally received star billing in both High Sierra and The Maltese Falcon. The latter film is often considered his breakout role as the cynical P.I. Sam Spade, but it wasn’t until a year later with Casablanca that he would finally be a romantic lead.

The role of Rick Blaine was perfect for Bogie, finally allowing him to develop a romantic depth to his character’s cynicism. Casablanca was never intended to be anything out of the ordinary, despite the cavalcade of stars and writers involved in its production. Many, including those at Warner Brothers, considered it to be a mere copy of the now-forgotten 1938 film Algiers. The film exceeded all expectations and is considered to be one of the few true masterpieces in cinema. It took home the three major production Oscars in 1943 for Best Picture, Best Director, and Best Screenplay (Julius J. Epstein, Philip G. Epstein, Howard E. Koch, and an uncredited Casey Robinson), and shines a contemporary look at World War II.

What’d He Wear?

They say April showers bring May flowers, but that doesn’t mean we don’t still get plenty of rain in May. It’s hard to look cool when it’s raining, but Bogie’s now-iconic trench coat provides the perfect basis for doing just that. Add a wet fedora and a dangling cigarette, and this could be the beginning of a beautiful wardrobe.

Rick heads to his mid-day meeting with Ferrari.

Rick heads to his mid-day meeting with Ferrari.

Of course, Bogie isn’t nude under that trench coat; he’s wearing a suit. Colorized images – and the controversial digitally colorized version of the film – have shown his suit to be anything from taupe to blue, but I think a tan shade of taupe makes the most sense given the desert context. Whatever light color the two-piece suit is, it appears to be made from a lightweight wool.

The suit coat is single-breasted with large notch lapels. The notches are gently rounded rather than pointed, and the left lapel has a buttonhole. The lapels roll down over the top button, revealing two of the three dark leather cluster buttons on the suit’s front. The four buttons on each cuff are also dark leather clusters.

CasaSuit-CL1-SuitJkt2

Bogie’s suit coat shoulders are padded to give the small-framed actor a more imposing presence, which any man would certainly need against Sydney Greenstreet! The three outer pockets are large patches with rounded bottoms, and a white linen handkerchief casually pops out from the breast pocket. The jacket’s rear is ventless.

Rick and Ilsa's day at the market.

Rick and Ilsa’s day at the market.

The suit trousers are very fitting for the early ’40s with their high rise, single forward pleats, and generous fit that slightly flares out toward the cuffed bottoms. Bogie often places his hands in the slanted side pockets.

CasaSuit-CL1-SuitTrou

The slim leather belt worn through the trousers’ thin loops appears to be the same light color as the rest of the suit, fastening through a simple front clasp.

Rick meets with Ferrari.

Rick meets with Ferrari.

Bogart’s white dress shirt has a spread collar with long, edge-stitched points. The collar’s long points look fine with the jacket on, but behind-the-scenes photos reveal a nearly disco-length collar when he takes the jacket off. The shirt also has double cuffs, but they fall short under the jacket sleeves and are hardly visible in the film itself.

Director Michael Curtiz and co-star Claude Rains watch Bogie take on co-star Paul Heinreid at chess.

Director Michael Curtiz and co-star Claude Rains watch Bogie take on co-star Paul Heinreid at chess.

Rick wears two ties with this suit. The first, for his visit to Ferrari, alternates dark and medium-colored stripes crossing diagonally down from the right to left.

Bogart goes from a scene with Sydney Greenstreet to one with Ingrid Bergman. Marked improvement.

Bogart goes from a scene with Sydney Greenstreet to one with Ingrid Bergman. Marked improvement.

The second tie, which he sports with the iconic raincoat and fedora for the finale, is a dark ground littered with small dotted squares.

See that big collar? Looks a little better with a suit coat, doesn't it?

See that big collar? Looks a little better with a suit coat, doesn’t it?

And now we get to the coat itself. Now synonymous with ’40s film noir P.I.s (despite the fact that Bogart was a bar owner, not a P.I. in Casablanca), Bogart’s topcoat is a standard khaki cotton gabardine drill trench coat with a 6×3 double-breasted front. It is on the shorter side for a trench coat, extending down to his knees.

Bogart takes on the Nazis.

Bogart takes on the Nazis.

The coat worn by Bogart in Casablanca was made by Burberry, which shares Acquascutum’s claim for the invention of the trench coat. Burberry’s claim is likely the more valid of the two, with Thomas Burberry having submitted a similar design for an Army officer’s raincoat to the British War Office prior to World War I. Thomas was also the inventor of gabardine in 1880, which is used in the construction of the traditional trench coat to provide its resistance to water.

The coat has wide edge-stitched lapels with small buttons under both sides of the collar. The epaulettes also close with a button on a pointed strap where the shoulder meets the collar. The storm flap extends to both sides of the chest and to a point in the back.

CasaSuit-CL3-Trench2

Magnoli calls these “Golden era” lapels.

Like most trench coats, there is a belted waist in addition to the button front, tied through a buckle. There are three metal D-rings across the back of the belt. Each raglan sleeve also has a buckled strap at the cuff. There are two slanted outer hand pockets, which appear to be open with no buttons or flaps.

♫... into the wild blue yonder... ♫

♫… into the wild blue yonder… ♫

Trench coats grew popular during World War I as a practical and comfortable military alternative to great coats or rubber jackets when fighting in the front line trenches. After the Second World War, the military connotations of the trench coat lent it a respectability for business outerwear, but at the time of Casablanca – set in 1941 and released in 1942 – it would’ve still been primarily a military garment. Although Rick himself never actually served in an official military, he had indeed been involved in war as a pro-Ethiopian gun runner and a Loyalist fighter during the Spanish Civil War. It’s very likely that he would’ve come across the trench coat during his dealings with the military and found its practicality attractive, especially as waterproof outerwear in a warm climate country like Morocco.

CasaSuit-CL3-Trench3

Magnoli Clothiers, known for their film costume replicas, has created the “Casablanca Bogart Trenchcoat” in cotton canvas, available for $595. Offered in a range of colors from tan to black, it features “Long pointed Golden-Era style collar, Full-length working epaulettes, Dropped D-rings at back, Stitch-hemmed cuffs”, all accurate reflections of the coat worn by Bogie in the film. The Magnoli trench even features the movie’s 6-button front rather than the traditional 10-button front.

Bogart’s wide-brimmed fedora is dark felt, likely either dark gray or dark brown, with a high pinched crown and a wide black grosgrain ribbon.

CasaSuit-CL4-Hat

Bogart’s shoes don’t receive much screen time, but it looks like he is wearing a pair of dark brown leather plain-toe slip-ons. The full break of the trousers keeps the socks out of view, but he’s probably wearing a pair of light-colored breathable cotton socks.

CasaSuit-CL5-Shoes

Bogart was able to incorporate his usual jewelry and accessories for Rick Blaine. His wristwatch is a Longines Evidenza, which had just been released in 1941 and was seen on a dark brown leather strap on Bogie’s left wrist through much of his career. The tonneau-shaped gilt case had “H.B.” inscribed on the inside.

Bogart for Longines.

Bogart for Longines.

He also wears his usual gold ring with two rubies and a diamond on the third finger of his right hand. Replicas are available at Royalty and Hollywood Jewelry in Naples, Florida as well as on Amazon.

CasaSuit-CX2-ring

What to Imbibe

There’s something about the way Humphrey Bogart pronounces the word “bourbon”, somehow stressing each letter rather than the more common and certainly bastardized “berbin” that one hears in bars these days. The Bourbon whiskey found throughout Casablanca has a Kentucky Hill label.

Rick and Ferrari make peace over a bottle of Kentucky Hill.

Rick and Ferrari make peace over a bottle of Kentucky Hill.

I have yet to discover whether or not this was an actual Bourbon of the era. Regardless, the “brand” was revived in 2012 for the second season of American Horror Story when Sister Mary Eunice (Lily Rabe), having been overtaken by Satan, uses ” a bottle of, um, Kentucky’s” to lure the troubled Sister Jude (Jessica Lange) back to drink.

!

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(In case you’re interested in checking it out for yourself, this is about halfway through “Dark Cousin”, the seventh episode of American Horror Story: Asylum.)

The brand is likely not real and is a prop house’s attempt to mimic the look of the venerable Heaven Hill brand of Bourbon, which has been producing continuously since 1935. Interestingly, and sadly, the distillery chugged along for sixty years until the evening of November 7, 1996 when a fire broke out in an aging warehouse and spread to other buildings and vehicles, consuming 90,000 barrels of bourbon and creating a “river of fire” from the warehouses.

In addition to its multiple Bourbon brands (including Elijah Craig, Evan Williams, J.T.S. Brown, and Fighting Cock), Heaven Hill also produces a variety of other low-priced booze, ranging from whiskey and gin to tequila and brightly-colored, fruit-flavored liqueurs.

How to Get the Look

This is the classic Bogart look, oozing with cynicism and failed romance. Wear it if it’s raining or if you just feel like being extra cool.

CasaSuit-crop

  • Light taupe lightweight wool suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted suit coat with large rounded notch lapels, 3-roll-2 button front, patch breast pocket, patch hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and ventless rear
    • Single-pleated high rise trousers with belt loops, slightly slanted side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
  • Khaki cotton gabardine drill waterproof Burberry trench coat with long point-collared lapels, 6×3 button double-breasted front, slanted hip pockets, buttoned epaulettes, front and back storm flap, belted waist (with three rear D-rings), and buckle-strapped cuffs
  • White dress shirt with long-pointed spread collar and double/French cuffs
  • Dark maroon ground silk necktie with small dotted square motif
  • Dark gray felt wide-brimmed fedora with high pinched crown and wide black grosgrain ribbon
  • Dark brown leather plain-toe slip-on shoes
  • Taupe cotton dress socks
  • Tan leather belt
  • Longines Evidenza gilt-cased wristwatch on dark brown leather strap
  • Gold ring with two rubies and diamond

All colors are obviously a guess, but these are what I always imagined for the outfit.

The Gun

Although he carries a 1911 on all of the film’s artwork, the 5’9″ Bogart knew that he would look more menacing with a smaller sized gun. Thus, Casablanca‘s armorers handed him a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, a nearly ubiquitous compact pistol of the era.

The Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless was another of John Browning’s popular designs. It was introduced in 1903 – hence its nomenclature – and originally chambered for the .32 ACP (7.62×17 mm) round; a .380 ACP version was produced simultaneously from 1908 onward. Nearly 600,000 examples of the Model 1903 were produced through World War II when production wrapped in 1945 in the wake of the demand for more modern double-action pistols. The Colt 1903 uses a single-action trigger with a blowback action.

Stick 'em up!

Stick ’em up!

Despite its name, the Colt Pocket Hammerless actually does have a hammer, but it is totally concealed by the slide in order to ease draw from inside a pocket. Pocket carry became more and more common in the early 20th century after the industrial revolution when urban carry evoked images of an undercover detective or pinstripe-suited gangster rather than Wyatt Earp or Jesse James. The Colt 1903 was a fine solution to anyone looking to conceal a reliable handgun, offering a then-generous capacity of nine rounds (one in the magazine, one in the chamber) in one load.

The Colt 1903 Pocket Hammerless is small but substantial, weighing just around 1.5 pounds with a barrel shy of 4 inches long. To compare, the full-size 1911 is about a pound heavier with an inch longer barrel. The Walther PPK, which emerged in the ’30s as a spiritual competitor to the 1903, was the same size and weighed only 3 ounces less. The modern equivalent of the Colt 1903 Hammerless would be the Kel-Tec P-32, which can take a 7 or 10 round magazine of .32 ACP in a pistol that weighs 9.4 ounces when fully loaded, firing through a 3-inch long barrel; the P-32’s polymer construction makes it weigh less than half the mass of an unloaded Model 1903!

CasaSuit-GUN2

Still, the innovations of a polymer frame and a reliable subcompact mechanism were decades away when Rick Blaine decided he needed an intimidating but easily concealed sidearm. The Colt Model 1903 was a perfect choice for the former American gun runner who likes to have a couple aces up his sleeve.

I had always wanted a Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless of my own. Although I mention much more practical weapons, I’d always been attracted to their historical relevance and pleasing aesthetics. I finally managed to get one, imported from Texas, in December 2011. I haven’t tried Bogie’s firing from the hip, but my .32 Model 1903 is truly a point-and-shoot masterpiece; with little-to-no recoil, the round hits its desired target with every shot.

My 1917-manufactured Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, prior to my first stripping and cleaning.

My 1917-manufactured Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless, prior to my first stripping and cleaning. (If anyone is curious, my Bersa Thunder 380 can be spied in the open nightstand drawer with my old Uncle Mike’s IWB.)

For anyone curious, my particular Colt Model 1903 Pocket Hammerless is a blued Type III model, manufactured in 1917, with integrated barrel bushing and black checked hard rubber grips. I stripped and cleaned it after I first received it, and – with regular oiling – it fires like a dream.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

Louie, I think this is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.

Paul Newman’s Blue Suit as Harper

Paul Newman as Lew Harper in Harper (1966).

Paul Newman as Lew Harper in Harper (1966).

Vitals

Paul Newman as Lew Harper, wisecracking private eye

Los Angeles, Late Summer 1965

Film: Harper
Release Date: February 23, 1966
Director: Jack Smight

Background

The beginning of Harper is classic hard-boiled private eye stuff as we see our titular hero waking up in his shitty apartment cum office, pulling on his clothes, and drinking bad coffee (from a filter pulled out of the trash, no less) before slipping on his shoulder holster and heading out in his old roadster to a better part of town where the better class of people turn out to be worse in every other way.

While we’re used to Hollywood’s traditional tough guys like Bogart and Mitchum in roles like that, it was a refreshing turn of pace to see Paul Newman take on the lead role in one of my favorite cinematic subgenres. Philip Marlowe he ain’t, and he’s the first to acknowledge it when the grieving wife played by Lauren Bacall offers him a drink:

Sampson: Drink, Mr. Harper?
Harper: Not before lunchtime.
Sampson: I thought you were a detective.
Harper: New type.

Examples like that show how perfectly the legendary screenwriter William Goldman was able to adapt Ross Macdonald’s The Moving Target from the 1949 source novel to the screen in 1966. Only seventeen years had elapsed, but it was a much different world than the more noir-friendly world of the ’40s where one could expect a gumshoe in a trench coat on every other screen. Contending with movies that were consistently pushing the envelope for sex and violence, the double entendres of the classic noir era wouldn’t be enough to attract audiences from the era of “free love”. Goldman, Newman, and director Smight pulled together to make Harper a “new type” of detective in the spirit of Marlowe and Sam Spade without becoming an instant anachronism.

What’d He Wear?

Other than his brown accessories, Harper utilizes various shades of blue when building his wardrobe for his first day on the new job. Harper’s two-piece suit is a muted navy blue wool with a subtle blue tonal windowpane overcheck.

A nice blue suit plays nicely with Paul Newman's legendary blue eyes.

A nice blue suit plays nicely with Paul Newman’s legendary blue eyes.

The suit jacket is single-breasted with slim notch lapels that roll easily down to the 2-button front, which Harper keeps unbuttoned to fit with his informality. The low welted breast pocket slants slightly forward and each of the hip pockets sits straight with a slim flap. Like most standard American business suits, there is a single rear vent.

Harper

Harper’s jacket also has roped sleeveheads and 3-button cuffs.

Harper

Harper’s matching suit trousers rise high on his waist with flat fronts and a straight fly. The belt loops are slim and high, certainly high enough to accommodate a wider belt than the one he wears. Only the on-seam side pockets of the trousers are seen. The bottoms are cuffed.

Harper

Harper wears the same brown leather belt and shoes with this suit as he does with his brown plaid sport coat and brown suit. Both are the only non-blue items featured in this outfit. His plain toe derbies are cordovan, a shade darker than the belt.

Harper's work takes him to some interesting places, and his shoes often bear the brunt of the environs.

Harper’s work takes him to some interesting places, and his shoes often bear the brunt of the environs.

When we first meet Harper during his banal morning routine, he rolls out of bed wearing a white ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt, plain white cotton boxers, and thick white cotton tube socks. He seems to wear the same undershirt and boxers with his suit, but he wisely changes into dark dress socks – either navy or, more likely, black.

Insert Chandler-esque P.I. monologue here.

Insert Chandler-esque P.I. monologue here.

Harper wears a pale blue lightweight poplin short-sleeve sport shirt with a camp collar that spreads to fit a tie when he buttons it to the throat. I – and many others – often deride the short-sleeve shirt and tie look as belonging in the unflattering domain of office nerds (here and here) or high school principals, but Harper wisely keeps his suit coat on. The fact that L.A. can be very warm in summers and the fact that he’s Paul Newman also give him some extra passing points.

Harper mulls over whether or not to dress like a high school principal today. "Yep," he decides. "What the hell?"

Harper mulls over whether or not to dress like a high school principal today. “Yep,” he decides. “What the hell?”

The shirt has two patch pockets – one on each chest panel – and white plastic buttons down the plain, placket-less front. His tie is a solid dark shade of blue-gray silk, tied neatly in a four-in-hand and just kissing the top of his belt.

Although with the jacket on, you'd never know.

Harper’s wristwatch remains a mystery, although it gets slightly better exposure in these scenes. It has a round stainless case with a black dial and a black leather strap.

Although Pamela Tiffin is much more of a draw for the eye than a wristwatch.

Although Pamela Tiffin is much more of a draw for the eye than a wristwatch.

Harper’s only other piece of jewelry is a plain silver ring, which I assume is Newman’s own wedding band (not to be confused with Newman’s Own salad dressing), and is worn on the third finger of his left hand.

Harper

Under his suit coat, Harper straps on a brown leather shoulder holster, rigged to carry his 2″-barreled .38 Special snubnose revolver.

Go Big or Go Home

Although his music isn’t used in the film, Miles Davis’ 1959 masterpiece album Kind of Blue comes to mind when watching Newman nonchalantly navigate his ’55 Porsche through the hip backdrop of mid-’60s L.A… especially in this sequence, where Newman is wearing multiple kinds of blue and heads to a jazz bar.

And at that jazz bar, Harper gets himself a can of Tabor beer, which shows up several times throughout the story… did we ever establish if this was a real brand?

Harper enjoys a Tabor and some jazz.

Harper enjoys a Tabor and some jazz.

Whether it’s real or not, the exchange when Harper orders a beer is worthy of any pulp novel and should be kept in mind anytime one has to deal with a troublesome bartender…

Bartender: It’s two after six. We don’t serve domestic after six. Only imported.
Harper: Terrific. Keep the change.
Bartender: There is no change.
Harper: Keep it anyway.

How to Get the Look

Not including his eyes, Newman uses various shades of blue to great effect when establishing Harper’s role.

Harper1-crop

  • Navy blue tonal windowpane wool suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted 2-button jacket with slim notch lapels, slanted welt breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and single rear vent
    • Flat front high-rise suit trousers with belt loops, on-seam side pockets, cuffs/turn-ups
  • Pale blue short-sleeve sport shirt with spread camp collar, two chest pockets, and plain button front
  • Dark blue-gray silk necktie
  • Brown leather belt with round brass clasp
  • Dark cordovan leather plain-toe derby shoes
  • Black dress socks
  • White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
  • Stainless wristwatch with a round case and black dial on a black leather strap, worn on left wrist
  • Plain silver ring, worn on left ring finger

The Gun

Harper is a detective, so his preferred sidearm of a Colt Detective Special is reasonable. The Detective Special is ubiquitous in early crime films… and early crime in general, favored by both sides of the law for its concealability, reliability, and six round cylinder of popular and powerful .38 Special ammunition.

Harper packs his Detective Special... although, as a hard-boiled noir detective, he won't be holding onto it for the whole story.

Harper packs his Detective Special… although, as a hard-boiled noir detective, he won’t be holding onto it for the whole story.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie. I also still need to read Ross Macdonald’s source novel The Moving Target; any of you that have beat me to it should contribute your thoughts here!

The Quote

You got a way of starting conversations that ends conversation.