Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, powerful Mafia boss
Lake Tahoe, Winter 1958
The Godfather is an American cultural phenomenon that needs no explanation. (For all the people secretly bummed out that I won’t give an explanation, here: It’s an epic three film journey following the rise of a Mafia family in the United States from 1901 to 1979).
There are differing opinions as to whether the first or the second part was the best. No one ever says it’s the third one. As this is primarily a sartorial blog, I can state that – sartorially – the third film was a failure. No one in that movie looked like 1979.
In the first two films especially, costumes were a large indicator of the story. Much credit for this should be given to costume designer Theadora Van Runkle. When Michael is a proud Marine, he wears his uniform. When he is a college man looking for work, he wears a simple odd jacket, tie, and trousers. As he grows into the Don we have come to know, he wears expensive suits. Interestingly, Michael never wears a hat (aside from his USMC officer’s cap) until he becomes involved in the family.
This post will focus on the first act of The Godfather, Part II, where Michael Corleone is holding court on the day of his son’s Communion.
What’d He Wear?
For his son’s Communion and subsequent celebration, Michael wore a 2-piece lightweight dupioni silk suit. The color is gray with black and white flecking. Due to the lightweight silk material, the suit wrinkles easily after sustained sitting.
The jacket is a 3-roll-2 button front, with the notch lapels rolling over the top button. Each cuff has 3 buttons also. The jacket is ventless with a welted breast pocket and a straight flapped hip pocket on each side.
Michael’s suit trousers have double forward pleats on each side with plain-hemmed bottoms instead of turn-ups or cuffs. The only visible pockets are the two side pockets. A black leather belt with a rounded steel single-claw buckle keeps the pants up.
The white shirt has a long point collar and buttoned barrel cuffs. There is a front placket and no breast pocket. Michael wears a thin black silk necktie with no tie bar or pin.
Hardly seen in the film but confirmed by production stills, Michael’s shoes are light gray tasseled loafers, worn with dark socks. The socks are probably black to match his belt and tie.
Finally, Michael disregards gangster stereotypes by keeping accessories and jewelry limited; he wears only a white face wristwatch with a dark strap and his plain silver wedding band on his left ring finger.
Go Big or Go Home
Michael Corleone lives large. He has a Lake Tahoe home (or compound) on the water with a team of bodyguards armed better than some small militaries. He has dozens of silk suits. A Communion party for his 7-year-old son includes a full band, massive dinners, and free-flowing champagne. He has crowds of people, including his own sister, that wait in line all day just to talk with him. He approves of multimillion dollar deals and talks back to senators who can’t give him what he wants.
Trust me, if I knew how to live like this, I’d keep it to myself.
What to Imbibe
It may be a celebration and your family may be serving champagne, but you’re all business today. The only thing entering your system to do any damage are the countless packs of unfiltered Camels.
Hey, wait a minute, complains Frankie Pentangeli… aren’t you “up in the Sierra Mountains drinkin’ champagne… champagne cocktails…”?
Whether he is or isn’t, let’s have a look at this celebration-worthy cocktail.
Do you have a champagne flute? Good. Put a sugar cube in the bottom and add 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters to dissolve it. Next, add an ounce of brandy (Michael has Courvoisier in a later scene) and top the glass off with champagne. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
It’s certainly not the most masculine drink, but it’s tasty and Captain Renault drinks one with Victor Lazlo in Casablanca, so we’ll give it a pass.
How to Get the Look
Basically, the only thing you don’t have yet is the suit. To be fair, specked dupioni silk suits aren’t right for everyone. I’m sure in anyone’s hands but the capable ones of Ms. Van Runkle, it wouldn’t have worked for Al Pacino either. But give it a shot:
- Gray lightweight dupioni silk suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted 3-roll-2-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Double forward-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White dress shirt with long point collar, front placket, and buttoned barrel cuffs
- Thin black silk necktie
- Black leather belt with a rounded steel single-claw buckle
- Light gray leather tasseled loafers
- Black dress socks
- Steel round-cased wristwatch with a white dial on a black leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the series. Seriously. These guys are not cool with you downloading illegally.
We’re both part of the same hypocrisy, senator, but never think it applies to my family.
Although very reminiscent of a fleeting mid-1950s fashion and thus appropriate for the film, Fredo’s choice of attire for the party would also be very appropriate for a “What NOT to wear” blog.