Three Days of the Condor

Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Robert Redford in Three Days of the Condor (1975)

Vitals

Robert Redford as Joe Turner, alias “Condor”, CIA researcher

New York City, December 1975

Film: Three Days of the Condor
Release Date: September 24, 1975
Director: Sydney Pollack
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

In a July 2012 article of GQ, Sydney Pollack’s masterpiece paranoia government thriller Three Days of the Condor was named one of “The 25 Most Stylish Films of All Time.” Pollack apparently was shocked by questions about the wardrobe worn by Robert Redford, saying “He wore one outfit through the whole picture!”

True as that may be, Redford’s versatile costume throughout fits the character of Joe Turner, a desk-bound ex-military bookworm who finds himself in dangerous circumstances despite a relatively non-dangerous job with the CIA. Codenamed “Condor” by his CIA supervisors, Turner is “literally out to lunch” when a professional hit squad wipes out all of his co-workers, sending Turner on the run with no one to trust but a complete stranger, a troubled photographer that he takes hostage named Kathy Hale (Faye Dunaway), and presses into service to help him.

What’d He Wear?

One of the more noteworthy aspects of Robert Redford’s layered outfit in Three Days of the Condor is how it illustrates its versatility as his character adapts it to his evolving situation. At the outset, some could compare his dress to a banal college professor eking his way through a small East Coast liberal arts college as he explains esoteric history or literature to bored bio majors. By the end, he’s an elusive spy who outwits the world’s most powerful government agency… with the only major change to his wardrobe being putting on another guy’s coat.

But before that…

Evidently, James Bond traded in his Aston Martin for a motorbike.

Evidently, James Bond traded in his Aston Martin for a motorbike.

When we first meet Joe Turner, he’s riding his motorized bicycle down a crowded New York City street, “bucking headwinds” in the additional layers of scarf and beanie. The khaki soft wool scarf with its long-fringed ends is evidently left in his office after the catalyzing massacre, as is the navy ribbed-knit acrylic beanie that he pulls over his face to mess with his office secretary, Mrs. Russell (Helen Stenborg), and their aging but serious security guard, Jennings (Hansford Rowe). The cap may be identified by the logo on the front, which appears to be a set of wings in sky blue and forest green.

Although Redford initially had some trouble figuring out how to wear the hat.

Although Redford initially had some trouble figuring out how to wear the hat.

Condor then drops his hat and scarf to settle into his office wearing the casual Friday-friendly outfit that would dress him for the following two days as he ducks CIA killers. Per the wintry weather, he wears a tweed sport jacket woven in a large-scaled black-and-light gray herringbone, so named for its resemblance to the skeleton of a herring fish.

Condor mourns.

Condor mourns.

 

Despite its timeless configuration with a single-breasted, two-button front, the details of Condor’s herringbone tweed sports coat date it to the height of the disco era with broad notch lapels and a long single vent. The edges of the lapels, vent, and pockets—including the welted hip pocket and flapped hip pocket—are welted for an effect some call “swelled edges”. The jacket has roped sleeveheads, each sleeve finished with four-button cuffs with the same type of mixed tan plastic sew-through buttons as on the front of the jacket. The jacket is lined in a bright scarlet.

Condor makes a shocking discovery upon his return to the office.

Condor makes a shocking discovery upon his return to the office.

Over the first half of the movie, Condor wears a dark navy woolen raglan-sleeved sweater with a loose boat neck that shows more of the shirt collar and tie knot than the classic crew neck. While a sweater with a more defined V-shaped neckline may deliver more neatness, Condor complements the coarser textures and more casual insouciance of his tweed jacket, chambray snap-front shirt shirt, woolen tie, and denim jeans with his choice of knitwear. The cuffs and hem are widely ribbed.

Amateur meteorologist Condor celebrates another successful precipitation prediction.

Amateur meteorologist Condor celebrates another successful precipitation prediction.

The low boat neck of the sweater shows off the thick knot of Condor’s wool knitted tie, striped in gold, gray, and tan. He immediately loosens the tie upon getting to the office and discards it later that night after he’s on the run, using it to restrain Kathy Hale after taking her hostage.

Condor turns a local deli into the "New York Public Library".

Condor turns a local deli into the “New York Public Library”.

Condor wears a blue cotton shirt with Western detailing including pointed yokes on the front and back and snaps rather than buttons. The shirt snaps up the front placket with the only traditional button being a white pearl-like plastic button to fasten at the neck. There are two snaps to fasten each cuff and each chest pocket closes with a distinctive double-pointed, double-snap flap that Levi Strauss & Co. has coined the “sawtooth” pocket flap.

Condor re-dresses on the second day in the same shirt he'd been wearing the day before, started by an unscheduled mailman's visit.

Condor re-dresses on the second day in the same shirt he’d been wearing the day before, started by an unscheduled mailman’s visit.

Condor wears light blue denim jeans identified as Levi’s by the distinctive red tag against the inside edge of the back right pocket. He holds up his jeans with a wide brown leather belt that closes through a gold-finished single-prong buckle.

As Mrs. Russell sadly has no further need for her .45, Condor reaches across her desk to grab it and shove it into his jeans, ID'd by their distinctive red tag.

As Mrs. Russell sadly has no further need for her .45, Condor reaches across her desk to grab it and shove it into his jeans, ID’d by their distinctive red tag.

Apropos his occupation, Redford’s bookish character has been outfitted with a pair of gold semi-rimmed aviator-shaped eyeglasses with a horizontal bar straight across the top of the frame.

Redford’s usual silver ring is on the third finger of his right hand, best seen as he’s taking a bite of his pretzel here. Redford has explained in interviews that this ring was a gift from a Hopi tribe in 1966, and he’s worn it in most films since then up through his final film, The Old Man and the Gun, released in September 2018.

Though Redford wears his own ring, the actor’s Rolex Submariner that appeared in movies like The Candidate and All the President’s Men has been swapped out for a steel Doxa SUB300T Sharkhunter dive watch with a black dial on a dark brown leather bund-style rally strap.

Condor's mix of accessories can be seen as he processes everything he's learned over coffee in Kathy's kitchen.

Condor’s mix of accessories can be seen as he processes everything he’s learned over coffee in Kathy’s kitchen.

Condor also wears a pair of black leather three-point gloves.

Payphones. Another blast from the past.

Payphones. Another blast from the past.

After discovering the massacre at work, Joe is forced to go on the run. He grabs a .45 from the deceased Mrs. Russell’s desk and stuffs it into his waistband under his jacket, Dutch Schultz-style. The spy begins to take shape as he turns up the lapels of his sports coat against the cold holiday air. These scenes are some of my favorite in the film, with cheerful classic Christmas carols playing in the park as Joe tries to act normal, buying a pretzel from a street vendor with eyes in the back of his head, paranoia setting in as he realizes he has no one he can trust.

The only friend that Joe can still trust after an office massacre is a genuine New York City pretzel.

The only friend that Joe can still trust after an office massacre is a genuine New York City pretzel.

After a fatal gunfight in an alley, Condor kidnaps a local woman and takes refuge in her apartment. We see the last of his tweed sports coat when he leaves it behind in her home, swapping it out for a warmer dark navy wool pea coat from her boyfriend’s closet.

Since the earliest examples were first worn by mariners in the early 18th century, the pea coat has transcended its naval origins to solidify its place as a fall and winter outerwear staple for men and women. The heavy melton wool construction and short fit provide warmth and mobility, two essential assets for a man on the run during winter like Condor.

Seasons greetings!

Seasons greetings!

Condor’s commandeered pea coat is configured in the classic double-breasted layout with a total of ten buttons, all flat dark blue plastic with four sew-through holes and imprinted anchor designs. Aside from the two buttons across each other at the neck, the jacket has two parallel columns of four buttons running down the front, flanked by a deep “handwarmer” pocket on each side for Condor to place what Kathy calls his “huge gun”.

Joe's unkempt appearance provides an underdog contrast to the government official in a three-piece suit, short-brimmed fedora, and fur-collared overcoat.

Joe’s unkempt appearance provides an underdog contrast to the government official in a three-piece suit, short-brimmed fedora, and fur-collared overcoat.

And how does Condor protect his feet during this constant movement? A pair of utilitarian brown napped leather with five gunmetal D-ring eyelets and three speed hooks up the short shaft for their olive laces, laced against a brown oiled leather instep. Condor wears taupe ribbed socks.

In the back of Kathy's Bronco, Condor uses his heavy boots and .45 to hold Higgins at bay.

In the back of Kathy’s Bronco, Condor uses his heavy boots and .45 to hold Higgins at bay.

Condor’s demeanor shifts with the coat as he evolves from the reluctant researcher on the run to the elusive spy who holds corrupt government officials at gunpoint while engineering their embarrassment.

The Gun

When Joe Turner returns from picking up lunch to find his office massacred, he comes to the inescapable conclusion that he too is in danger and picks up the pistol that Mrs. Russell, the office’s brusque receptionist, kept in her desk drawer. “Identify the armament,” the Major demands of Joe after the latter calls the CIA panic line. “It’s a .45 automatic, will you guys bring me in? Please.” While the Major was just being thorough, Condor’s corrupt section chief S.W. Wicks (Michael Kane) uses that knowledge against him, also requesting a .45 when he goes out into the field to meet—and double-cross—Condor.

Condor is directed to slowly de-cock his .45.

Condor is directed to slowly de-cock his .45.

As a veteran of the U.S. Army (“Signal Corps,” notes Higgins), Joe would have already been somewhat familiar with the M1911 series of handguns that the American military had adopted as its standard service pistol since before World War I, making it a lucky break for him that Mrs. Russell had chosen to keep that particular weapon in her desk. (James Grady’s source novel Six Days of the Condor mentions Mrs. Russell’s handgun to be a .357 Magnum revolver.)

A U.S. Army example of the Colt M1911, the .45-caliber semi-automatic pistol that Joe nervously carries in his waistband through New York City after the office massacre.

There appear to be at least two different prop weapons used throughout Three Days of the Condor to represent Joe’s sidearm: one, a balsa wood prop extensively detailed to resemble the Colt M1911 (rather than the post-1920s evolution, the M1911A1) and a Star Model B, a Spanish copy of the venerated service pistol.

A Star Model B is used as the stand-in, identifiable by its M1911-style trigger but M1911A1-style arched mainspring housing. The fact that it's resting on the right side with only the left side visible was likely to hide the brass external extractor on the right side that clearly identifies this as the Star pistol rather than a classic Colt .45.

A Star Model B is used as the stand-in, identifiable by its M1911-style trigger but M1911A1-style arched mainspring housing. The fact that it’s resting on the right side with only the left side visible was likely to hide the brass external extractor on the right side that clearly identifies this as the Star pistol rather than a classic Colt .45.

Chambered in 9x19mm Parabellum, the Star Model B was frequently used in productions from the 1960s through 1980s (such as The Wild BunchThe Getaway, and The Untouchables) as the .45-caliber blank was notably unreliable. Three Days of the Condor is no exception, swapping out the .45 prop with the 9mm Star Model B in scenes that call for Joe to fire his weapon as well as when Wicks requests a “.45” and is actually handed a Model B, visually differentiated by the brass extractor on the right side of the slide serrations.

Slightly different than the <em>Nerdy Rider</em> photo above of Joe perched and bundled up on a motorbike as an Impala eases past him in traffic, this shot is much more indicative of a hero in a spy film.

Slightly different than the Nerdy Rider photo above of Joe perched and bundled up on a motorbike as an Impala eases past him in traffic, this shot is much more indicative of a hero in a spy film.

Legendary firearms designer John Browning developed the M1911 in the early years of the 20th century when the United States government was seeking a new semi-automatic pistol for the military. After several test versions, Browning perfected the pistol that would be formally adopted by the U.S. Army on March 29, 1911, followed by the U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps two years later. The single-action, recoil-operated pistol carried seven rounds of powerful .45 ACP ammunition in the magazine, with an extra to be carried in the chamber. The M1911 and its 1920s evolution, the M1911A1, served as the standard service pistol for the American military until the 1980s when it was replaced by the M9, a military version of the Italian-made Beretta 92FS.

Note the extended trigger, helping identify this as an original M1911 and not the evolved M1911A1.

Note the extended trigger, helping identify this as an original M1911 and not the evolved M1911A1.

How to Get the Look

Robert Redford on set of <em>Three Days of the Condor</em> (1975). If you're not feeling like a jacket and tie, you could just scrap both and warm up with a dark pea coat.

Robert Redford on set of Three Days of the Condor (1975). If you’re not feeling like a jacket and tie, you could just scrap both and warm up with a dark pea coat.

Robert Redford’s classic fall look is one of the most celebrated men’s outfits in the movies, transcending some of its trendy 1970s style details by coordinating interestingly textured fall staples like a herringbone tweed sports jacket, pullover sweater, knit tie, and chambray shirt that never go out style.

  • Black-and-light gray large-scaled herringbone tweed single-breasted 2-button sport jacket with wide notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, scarlet red lining, and single vent
  • Blue chambray snap-front shirt with “sawtooth” double snap-flapped chest pockets and double-snap cuffs
  • Gold-and-gray striped wool tie
  • Navy blue boat-neck sweater with raglan sleeves
  • Dark navy melton wool 10-button pea coat
  • Levi’s 517 light-medium blue wash denim bootcut jeans
  • Wide brown leather belt with large, thin gold-finished single-prong buckle
  • Brown napped leather boots with D-ring eyelets, speed hooks, and brown oiled leather instep
  • Taupe-gray ribbed socks
  • Doxa SUB300T Sharkhunter steel dive watch with black dial on dark leather bund-style rally strap on his right wrist
  • Gold-framed aviator-style eyeglasses
  • Silver tribal ring
  • Khaki soft woolen scarf with frilled edges
  • Navy blue ribbed knit “beanie” cap

There are some production stills of Redford wearing a pair of steel-framed aviator sunglasses with dark lenses, but I don’t believe he actually wears them at any point during the actual movie.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie and read James Grady’s source novel, Six Days of the Condor!

You can also take the Condor walking tour of New York City! The novel’s Washington, D.C., setting was changed to New York to accommodate Robert Redford’s schedule as he was living in New York but already shooting All the President’s Men in Washington. As the D.C. setting for Condor was deemed less essential to that particular plot, most of the action was transported to the Big Apple, recording for posterity some wonderful footage of the city at Christmastime in the mid-1970s.

Turner first shows up to work in the morning at the “American Literary Historical Society” at 55 East 77th Street. He heads out for lunch, heading to 1226 Lexington Avenue where Lexington meets with East 83rd Street. For Turner, walking on foot, the most practical choice would be to head southeast on 77th and north up Park Avenue until reaching 83rd. Take a right and head southwest to 1226 Lexington, which is now the Lexington Candy Shop.

CONDOR

 

After he returns to the office and discovers the massacre, he heads out again on foot. He heads south one block, walking down Madison Avenue, to a phone booth at East 76th Street, where he first calls The Major. After The Major tells him to go somewhere neutral and wait, he heads to the Guggenheim Museum at 1071 Fifth Avenue. For Condor, this means walking back up north, either up Madison Avenue or over to “Museum Mile” on Fifth Avenue. He goes next to Central Park, which is literally right there, and is serenaded by a brass band playing “Good King Wenceslas” works his way through a pretzel before realizing… hey, the fat old drunk wasn’t in the office!

Condor sprints over to Heidigger’s apartment and discovers him dead. Okay, he says, why don’t I try my place? He tries to go home, but the CIA guys waiting inside scare him and he takes off running. I don’t know where either residence is and Internet was no help. Evidently, Condor lives somewhere near Harlem or Morningside Heights, the stomping grounds for Columbia University, since we next see him at a phone booth in the area at Riverside Drive and West 122nd Street. He makes the call and is told to go to the Ansonia Hotel at Broadway and West 73rd Street (not 71st as Condor believes).

CONDOR

Condor enters the alley from the 73rd Street side and immediately gets into a shooting scrape. Since you never want to hang around after killing a corrupt CIA station chief, Condor takes it on the heel. He runs up Broadway, past the Hotel Beacon at 2130 Broadway at 75th Street, and ducks into a ski apparel shop (where “Silver Bells” is playing) one block north of the hotel at Broadway and West 76th Street.

After picking up/kidnapping Katherine Hale (Faye Dunaway) at the store, they drive across the Brooklyn Bridge in her classic orange 1970 Ford Bronco. They park outside her apartment in Columbia Heights and enter 13 Cranberry Street, where she lives with her unseen boyfriend (played on the phone by director Sydney Pollack, if you’re curious). That night, Condor ventures out to his old friend Sam Barber’s apartment, but – again – I fail to provide the address for this.

The next day, Condor and Katherine team up to pull the wool over the CIA’s eyes, first going to their offices in the old 1 World Trade Center building before some wiretapping fun at the New York Telephone Building (240 East 38th Street) and hitman trolling at the Holiday Inn (440 West 57th Street and 9th Avenue). Finally, her task complete, Katherine is dropped off at the Hoboken train station for Condor to complete his night’s work.

Condor supposedly confronts Atwood at his home in Chevy Chase, Maryland (at the fictional “365 Mackenzie Place”), but it is actually the de Seversky Mansion at the New York Institute of Technology in Old Westbury, New York, which is now a popular wedding venue. This would be a long walk for you from Manhattan, so just chalk it up to interesting knowledge. Joubert returns Condor to his beloved Manhattan later that day, where he confronts Cliff Robertson outside the New York Times building at 229 West 43rd Street. Double points for you if there’s a Salvation Army band playing while you’re there.

Advantage Condor!

Advantage Condor!

The Quote

Listen. I work for the CIA. I am not a spy. I just read books! We read everything that’s published in the world. And we… we feed the plots – dirty tricks, codes – into a computer, and the computer checks against actual CIA plans and operations. I look for leaks, I look for new ideas… We read adventures and novels and journals. I… I… Who’d invent a job like that?

54 comments

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  7. Roman

    Doesn’t matter how closely you can replicate this look, you’re still not Robert Redford, therefore you’ll end up looking as hipster. Some looks just can’t be pulled off by anyone except their original bearer.

  8. Max

    An outfit doesn’t make a hipster. A hipster makes an outfit hipster.

    I’ve yet to find a crewneck that works anything like this one did (much like rollnecks never seem to work like Bullitt’s), but a smaller V-neck is close enough for hand grenades (or a turtleneck for the Bullitt). The jeans always appeared to me more like 517’s than 501’s.

    I’d likely pay something like $30k in cash for a “shitty orange 1970 Ford Bronco” like that one. And then another $30k turning it into a toy. And I’d have it painted.

    • Roman

      Well, yes and no. If not hipsters, there’d be nothing wrong with that style, but now, it’s sullied, sullied just like the toothbrush moustache – before WWII, it’s Chaplin’s moustache. Now, it’s Hitler’s. Time passes, collective unconscious cleanses, so, in a time, it’d be fine. But not right now.

      • Max

        I can’t think of anything more hipster than not wearing particular attire because hipsters are wearing it. “This is my tweed. You’ve probably never heard of it.” It’s a weakness of will.

        Besides, the only “group” I see wearing that get-up are the humanities professors who went to graduate school to avoid the draft (I live two blocks from Yale).

    • luckystrike721

      Max, Thanks for the 517 tip! You’re probably right, so I’m making the change in the article.

      And I’m sure you’d much better care of your ’70 Bronco than she did. A Bronco under your care would never be described as “shitty”! I was merely commenting on the condition, not the car itself. 1967-1971 was a brilliant era for cars, as well as music, movies, and attire.

      I too do the v-neck for the Condor look and a turleneck for Bullitt. I just have to face the fact that I’m not Redford or McQueen and can’t pull it off like them…

      • Max

        A first-generation Bronco of mine would definitely would not look like hers; it’d be caked in mud.

        Nobody is Redford or McQueen, but that doesn’t strike me as the prima fascia problem in this instance. I simply can’t find a crew neck that doesn’t by design come up over the clavicle. Put that over a collared shirt and tie and you’ve got Redford from the start of “The Way We Were” rather than the beginning of “Condor.” Similarly (or, conversely, I suppose) every roll neck I come across rests too low compared to Bullitt’s. Them’s the breaks when you’re trying to replicate a 40 year-old look.

        More to your point, though, it’s probably for the best. Even if I found that crew I probably don’t have the traps to make it play, nor neck enough for the rollneck (or even a mock-T, which is probably the closest).

        • Geno

          Isn’t it possible it’s a boat neck and not a crew neck? Also, one correction to the article: the 80s are more dated than the 70s.

    • Chris T

      I’m about 99% sure the canvas and leather shoulder bag he uses in the beginning of the movie is a Brady trout fishing bag (not sure which model, Ariel large maybe?). The only reason I know this is because I was looking into Ben Affleck’s wardrobe in Argo, and they mentioned that Brady made a special edition bag for that movie, and also that Affleck’s look in general was inspired by Redford in the 70s. I bet this is where they got it from. He swaps the shirt and sweater for a red plaid shirt but otherwise it’s pretty close.

  9. Roman

    Two negatives make an affirmative, so not wearing particular attire because hipsters are wearing it – being a “hipster of hipsters” – in this case means being a regular guy; as I said, there are fashions temporarily tainted by historical and cultural mishaps. E.g.: twelve years ago back in my not-very-rural hometown, I’ve become a laughingstock once I started wearing overcoat, with every moron I passed by pointing his finger at me and proclaiming “It’s Neo!”. It’s not like it stopped me; it was a fine garment outside of this local community, which was quite undeveloped in terms of personal style at this time – even in comparison with all the other Russia, style-wise undeveloped. So, just as overcoat was temporarily tainted for local area, this style is temporarily tainted globally.

    Besides, this particular outfit is not all that extreme “skinny jeans and Buddy Holly glasses” type, but a more subtle one – but hipster-ish nonetheless.

    • luckystrike721

      Max and Roman,

      You both have come up with some pretty good arguments. Indeed, the question of how to identify the hipster subculture is not an easy one, especially as hipsters themselves are so against any sort of description. Sartorially, it certainly means something much different than when Elaine first called Kramer a “hipster doofus” on Seinfeld!

      In terms of Redford’s attire here, I could certainly see a hipster sporting a herringbone tweed jacket, sweater, wool tie, jeans, and vintage gold-rimmed glasses. However, I could also see someone who wouldn’t be identified as a hipster pulling off the same look, perhaps with modifications to suit their own image. As Max states, it’s hard to find the exact item and be able to pull it off; whenever I try and wear Condor-like attire, I typically wear a dark v-neck sweater and baggier jeans, as well as a much less ’70s-styled jacket. Roman, you also have a good point that fashions are “temporarily tainted” and, with the hipsters’ current love for sweaters, tight jeans, glasses, and vintage wear in general, a poor attempt at the Condor look (or several looks featured here) could come off hipster-like rather than Condor-like.

      If anything, I’m proud that my blog post has been able to inspire such intelligent discussion! Commenters like you guys keep me writing, and I always appreciate the feedback.

      Thanks!
      Nick

      P.S. – Roman, I hope you’re still wearing that overcoat despite the Neo-calling morons. I bet it’s pretty BAMF!

      • Roman

        Thanks for your kind words! It was twelve years back form now, so that overcoat got all threadbare a long time ago, and I’ve got two replacements; now I use it only for forest walks with my girl – so I do not feel sorry to further ruin it rolling in the snow, sliding down the hills and stuff. And, eventually, locals caught up with style, so now coats are not such a rare sight.

      • Dirk

        Four years later I finally buy this *Redford Herringbone* but I first came across your post some time back and have wanted one ever since. Are hipsters still a thing or are they now just part of the landscape so they don’t get any more notice? Anyway, the Redford outfit certainly isn’t tainted … I mean, I doubt even one American out of a million would even recognize it, and to pair the jacket with a pair of denim and leather boots isn’t going to cause anyone to stop and point while shouting “Condor!” 🙂

        https://corridornyc.com/products/charcoal-herringbone-blazer

  10. Max

    Roman — I appreciate you sharing the back-story to your view, and it helps to clarify and focus the matter. The distinction that emerges is between attire that is itself tainted (like, say, a Nazi uniform) and that which may draw a particular brand of reaction from “dudes.” Not wanting to deal with the social response (whether real or perceived) represents a different set of reasons for avoiding a manner of dress.

    The essence of hipsterism is an intentional insincerity and a lack of operating capacity for it. Although shrouded in irony and sarcasm seemingly for their own sakes, hipsterism’s ultimate intention is to avoid attachments to sources of meaning and the emotional and intellectual risks those connections entail. Its “style” is no style at all but rather a reactionary turn to the obscure and contrary. Once what had been obscure and contrary becomes more mainstream, the hipster ethos requires that it be rejected and that the hunt for the “new” obscure must begin. The phenomenon reproduces itself consistently in every arena, from the clothes they wear to the beer they drink to the music they listen to, etc., etc., etc. It’s the expression of being intentionally untethered to any notion of meaning, and persistent and pervasive anxiety and alienation are its consequences.

    To be fair to them, hipsters are just one incarnation in time of an attitude that values being different for its own sake (rather than as the result of answering to a different standard) as a way to palliate unease with living in the world. At least since the Beats it has been a continuous subcultural mode for young people (typically white, affluent, suburban or exurban) who just can’t see themselves in the mainstream but who cannot attach themselves to an alternate center.

    Short version: If you don’t like the look, don’t sport it. But don’t reject it because you worry what “dudes” will think or because it resembles some variation on the uniform of some meaningless clique that are already as irrelevant as the Beats, the Hippies, the Punks, Grunge, etc. I can tell you, every male judge and lawyer over age 40 who was loitering around court this morning would have been simultaneously stunned and indifferent had I told them that they were dressed like hipsters.

    • Roman

      You’re absolutely right about the difference between “not wearing because people might not appreciate” and “not wearing because the outfit is historically ruined”, but, sometimes, it’s the same thing – people might not appreciate because the outfit is historically ruined. Example: aforementioned Nazi uniforms. Those were very cool and badass looking (Hugo Boss, duh), and they left quite an impact – Starship Troopers’ United Citizen Federation armed forces wore offsprings of original Hugo Boss designs, and that’s just the first thing that pops up my mind; dig deeper, and you’ll find enough references to Nazi uniform in modern culture to fill a small book. But walking the streets in those uniforms is a sure way to get your ass kicked – and for a reason.
      Condor’s clothes are, in fact, cool in casual way – but take a look at the second-to-last photo, or at the “Beanie-hat Rider” and try to imagine someone else’s head in place of Robert Redford. If your particular head is of a young guy, you’ll end up with a hipster. If head previously belonged to a middle-aged man, you’ll end up with college professor. Because of pop cultural osmosis seeing this look the way it originally was is impossible, now it’s just off.
      There is nothing wrong with wearing jeans and sweater-over-the-shirt-with-tie and herringbone jacket combo, but trying to make a replica of this outfit wouldn’t be right. Using influence of this outfit is better – throw in darker jeans, v-neck sweater instead of crew-neck, a dress shirt maybe – and you’ll look right.
      My apologies for any possible incoherence, as my English is not that good.

      • Max

        I’m not sure how I missed this. Too many sharp blows to the head. I apologize for my tardiness.

        As I read your last reply, it appeared to me that as we drilled deeper into the issue we may not actually disagree overmuch.

        Of course clothes mean. They communicate. If they didn’t we wouldn’t care about them. As you point out, the clothes don’t communicate a lot by themselves but much in combination with the context and the appearance of the person wearing them. At least as important as the nature of the “head” atop them, however, is the bearing of the heart within them. That’s the crux of my rejection of your initial point.

        The fact that Clint Eastwood’s 40 year-old “head” crowns a brown plaid blazer over a brown sweater vest does not save it from being the geek attire it would sink to if the head were that of a 24 year-old Andrew Garfield, for example. That’s not just Clint Eastwood; that’s Dirty freaking Harry Clint Eastwood, not Robert Kincaid Clint Eastwood. Dress the same Clint of the same age in the same outfit and tell him to play Benjamin Braddock’s later years and the clothes change along with the persona (of course, Clint claimed to be constitutionally unable to play whiny losers).

        If a man carries himself like a hipster, that’s what he’ll be. A Triumph 6T Thunderbird and a black leather jacket won’t save him. You could outfit Dirty Harry with horn-rimmed glasses, a pocket protector and a sinus condition and he will still be a BAMF. The man makes the clothes at least as much as the clothes make the man. That, it seems to me, is the point behind the notion of anything called a “BAMF Style.”

  11. Craig Richards

    Funny, after reading this post I have been searching for a decent herringbone blazer to wear for the cooler temperatures. I have found an excellent one at Banana Republic, however after purchasing a new car a couple of weeks ago, I find myself rather cash poor at the moment. Over the weekend I did find one at the GAP outlet for about 70 bucks!! Upon closer inspection I decided against making the purchase because the material was stiff as plywood, it had a “chemical” smell to it, and a poor lining. I’m sure if I took it off on my arrival at a holiday party and other partygoers saw the lining, I would have been laughed at. I also tend to avoid articles of clothing that are potential fire hazards. I understand that in this instance “you get what you pay for”, but this particular garment’s quality was horrific at best. I do like some of the offerings by GAP, such as their “lived in” khakis, which fit me well and are of very high quality. Keep up the fantastic work on this blog. I also enjoy the feedback provided by the readers.

    • luckystrike721

      Thanks, Craig! A lot of our commenters here bring great perspectives and analysis to the table. Often, they have corrections or things I’ve missed as well.

      A well-built herringbone tweed sport coat that is able to keep warm, look good, and not fall apart would be a lucky find indeed. I have an old herringbone (non-tweed) suit from the ’80s… the pants are far too tight at this point, but the jacket still fits and feels good. It’s more of a mid-weather jacket, though, and doesn’t have the rugged weight of Redford’s tweed. $70 would certainly be a good deal for one of these; it’s lucky that you have the gift of non-impulsiveness! Sometimes, I see something that I assume is just what I’m looking for, then that cognitive dissonance kicks in and the purpose of the purchase is ruined. Gap and Banana Republic both tend to have typically great offerings, especially for this sort of attire, so I’d say to keep up the hunt!

      Another look I like is Dirty Harry’s herringbone jacket, which I also wrote about last year (http://bamfstyle.wordpress.com/2012/10/15/dirty-harry-red-vest/). It has a different fit and the elbow patches add a new dynamic, but it certainly worked for Eastwood.

      As a side note – just because I’m a car guy – what did you get?

    • luckystrike721

      I’ve heard good things about those – Almost 200 hp from a very efficient 1.6 and a cool sporty look. A great mix of quick performance, smart fuel economy, and a modern sporty look. Congrats!

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  13. Stacey

    I just couldn’t leave your site prior to suggesting that I actually loved the standard information an individual provide for your visitors?
    Is gonna be back often to investigate cross-check new posts

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  15. Victor

    Hey Bamfstyle,
    As noted in suggestions, would be interesting for a similar analysis on his dress style /character/ effectiveness for 2001 Spy Game including comparisons vs his more famous contemporaries

    Given your liking for Robert Redford in general and in particular Condor, I’m sure this may be a compelling assignment

  16. Tom

    Great article, I’ve loved this film since I saw it on TV as a kid in the 80’s here in the UK. I’ve been chasing the grey sports jacket for years without truly nailing it. One day I’ll get Brooks Brothers to make me one! This may be of interest to some of you… Robert Redford doing an interview with our very own Michael Parkinson in 1980, apparently wearing a very similar jacket (to my eyes at least!) It is not the same one as he wore in Condor as the lining appears to be grey rather than burgundy, but it has all the same attributes that you diligently point out here. Good interview too! http://youtu.be/p2CAa9MUMWQ
    Cheers,
    Tom

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