Al Pacino as Tony Montana, ambitious Cuban-American cocaine dealer
Miami (and Colombia), Summer 1981
Release Date: December 9, 1983
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
One of the few sartorial rules actually practiced in the United States is adherence to the “no white after Labor Day” rule. While it’s technically outdated, having been decided after the Civil War by snobbish housewives who wanted to establish their place in society, it makes sense that light-colored attire would find its place in the summer. Further enhancing the arbitrary rule, the snobbish housewives’ society determined that Memorial Day would mark the first day for white clothing to be appropriate in polite society.
While he may not be the prime example of “polite society” in the eyes of postbellum America, Tony Montana redefined drug dealer chic in 1983’s Scarface with his numerous sharp suits and incomparable swagger while wearing them.
What’d He Wear?
For his meeting with Sosa and subsequent poolside rendezvous with Elvira, Tony wears a light cream suit with a thin, dark pinstripe. He pairs the suit with reddish clothing, including a red shirt and handkerchief and cordovan belt and shoes. The white and red mix is pretty commonly seen with Tony, including his white wedding tuxedo and accompanying red bow tie.
The suit jacket is double-breasted with a 4×1 button front. The peak lapels have a concave breakline and a slanted gorge, adding an exotic flare and stretching the lines up to the padded shoulders. The white horn 3-button cuffs match the four white buttons on the front of the jacket.
The jacket has a ventless rear, but it fits well enough that Tony doesn’t look too tightly dressed when he fastens the front. Though he isn’t one for etiquette, Tony properly keeps the jacket buttoned when he is standing and unbuttons it to sit down – although he leaves it open when getting heated during his discussion with Sosa.
There are straight jetted pockets on each hip and a welted breast pocket, where Tony rakishly places his display handkerchief. The handkerchief is red silk with many small white polka dots throughout. It hangs out of the pocket more than the traditional pocket puff, and – like the rest of his outfit – wouldn’t garner much respect in old-fashioned sartorial circles.
Tony avoids the faux pas of matching it exactly to his solid red shirt, although it is still very flashy and should only be attempted by someone with enough chutzpah to defend himself either in words or with fists.
While we’re on the subject of his shirt, Tony wears a dark red silk button-down shirt. Everything about the shirt and the way he wears it screams ’80s drug dealer, but that is exactly what a guy like Tony is going for, unlike the more restrained windbreaker and linen shirt chosen by Sosa.
The shirt has a luxuriously large fit, further enhanced by Tony’s refusal to button it up any higher than his xiphoid process. The red plastic buttons, should they be used, button on a placket. The sleeves fasten with buttoned cuffs.
Tony later wears this shirt when meeting with Seidelbaum, the undercover cop. (That time, he pairs the shirt with a light tan suit which will be covered later.)
This suit’s trousers are flat front with a low rise. Tony never removes the jacket, so we only see the slanted side pockets, although his suits typically have a right rear button-through jetted pocket, so we can expect the same with this suit. He wears a cordovan leather belt with a small rounded brass buckle.
The trouser bottoms are plain-hemmed with a slight flare and a short break, showing off his shoes and most of his socks whenever he is sitting or lounging.
Tony’s shoes appropriately match his belt. They are cordovan leather balmorals with a raised heel to enhance Pacino’s 5’7″ height, which gives him a slight edge over Michelle Pfeiffer but he still looks diminutive next to the 6’2″ Paul Shenar and even 5’11” F. Murray Abraham. Despite his height, Tony’s presence is commanding and the difference in size is hardly noticeable.
Tony wears a pair of dark red silk dress socks, both matching his shirt and highlighting the reddish leather of his cordovan shoes.
Proud of his constantly growing wealth, Tony wears an abundance of jewelry throughout the film. One of the most noticeable is his collection of gold Omega La Magique watches, which he seems to own a variety of to match every suit or shirt in his collection. With this suit, Tony wears a La Maqiue on his left wrist with a gold expanding bracelet, gold rectangular case, and small round red dial.
The Omega La Magique was introduced in 1981, making it the perfect watch for a vanity-driven character like Tony to wear. It is a symbol of ’80s opulence, considered to be one of the thinnest watches made in that era with a 2.6 mm thickness and a face so small that it bordered on impracticality. The La Magique, however, was still thicker than the Longines Feuille d’Or (which had a movement less than 1 mm thick!)
On his right wrist, Tony wears a stainless link bracelet.
And what criminal kingpin would be complete without his rings? Tony sports both of his gold rings on his right hand, with a diamond on his ring finger and a square-cut ruby on his pinky.
Tony also sports two yellow gold necklaces. The largest one, closer to his neck, is appropriately known as a Cuban-style chain. The thinner one, further down his chest, is a simple gold rope necklace.
When he returns to Miami, Tony dons a pair of black sport aviators, which were all the rage during the ’80s. I remember my grandfather wearing a pair, and I’m sure many of your fathers had a pair as well. Tony’s glasses were black with teardrop-shaped acetate frames and amber gradient lenses. You can pick up a similar pair at zeroUV for the snazzy price of only $9.99… or just raid your grandparents’ house.
Tony wears quite a few white suits in Scarface, including this cream pinstripe suit, his white wedding suit, and another pure white three-piece suit when stopping at home to visit his family. He avoids the pastels that defined the era’s extravagance, although some of his blue suits begin to approach Miami Vice territory.
Go Big or Go Home
May your Memorial Day be full of copius amounts of J&B on the rocks, served by a swimsuit-clad early-’80s Michelle Pfeiffer.
How to Get the Look
If you’re familiar with “business casual”, this variation of “drug dealer casual” will advise you how to dress for your weekend jaunts down to Colombia.
- Light cream pinstripe suit, consisting of:
- Double-breasted jacket with peak lapels, 4×1 button stance, padded shoulders, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless rear
- Flat front low-rise trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, and slightly flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark red silk button-down shirt with spread collar, front placket, and button cuffs
- Cordovan leather plain-toe 4-eyelet balmorals
- Dark red silk dress socks
- Cordovan leather belt with small rounded brass clasp
- Omega La Magique wristwatch on left wrist with gold expanding bracelet, gold rectangular case, and round red dial
- Stainless link bracelet, worn on right wrist
- Two gold necklaces
- Gold ring with diamond, worn on right ring finger
- Gold ring with square-cut ruby, worn on right pinky
- Black acetate teardrop-framed sport aviators with amber gradient lenses
- Red silk display handkerchief with white polka dots, worn puffed in jacket breast pocket
If you do go for this look, try and show some modesty with your shirt buttoning. If someone wants to see your chest that badly, they’ll accompany you to the beach.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
I never fucked anybody over in my life didn’t have it coming to them. You got that? All I have in this world is my balls and my word and I don’t break them for no one. Do you understand? That piece of shit up there, I never liked him, I never trusted him. For all I know he had me set up and had my friend Angel Fernandez killed. But that’s history. I’m here, he’s not. Do you wanna go on with me, you say it. You don’t, then you make a move.