Al Pacino as Michael Corleone, powerful Mafia boss
Lake Tahoe, Fall 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.)
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 gray dupioni silk suit with the black and white flecks and slubbing consistent with dupioni suiting. Due to the lightweight silk material, the suit wrinkles easily after sustained sitting.
The suit jacket’s notch lapels roll gently over the top of the three-button front, creating a 3/2-roll effect. The ventless jacket has a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, and three-button cuffs. The shoulders are straight with roped sleeveheads.
Michael’s double forward-pleated suit trousers have side pockets, no back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs). He wears a black leather belt with a rounded silver-toned single-prong buckle.
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 tie with no tie bar or pin.
Traditional sartorial logic would dictate black shoes and gray socks to match the belt and trousers, respectively. However, Michael subverts these traditions and dresses with the flash one would expect of a dupioni suit wearer, sporting a pair of light gray leather tassel loafers and black socks.
Michael’s only jewelry and accessories are an elegant yellow gold watch, possibly an 18-karat Omega Constellation, with a white dial and a plain white gold 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 military forces. 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 multi-million 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.
Basically, the only thing you probably don’t have yet is the suit. To be fair, 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, no back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- White dress shirt with long point collar, front placket, and 1-button squared cuffs
- Black silk skinny tie
- Black leather belt with a rounded silver single-prong buckle
- Light gray leather tassel loafers
- Black dress socks
- Gold round-cased wristwatch with a white dial on a gold bracelet
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 perfectly reflective 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.