The Sundance Kid’s Gray Wool Traveling Suit
Robert Redford as Harry Longbaugh, aka “The Sundance Kid”, American outlaw and sharpshooter
Colorado to Bolivia (via New York City), Spring 1901
Film: Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid
Release Date: October 24, 1969
Director: George Roy Hill
Costume Designer: Edith Head
For Throwback Tuesday (that’s a thing, right?), BAMF Style is focusing on another BAMF hero – Robert Redford, who celebrated his 78th birthday yesterday – in the role that arguably shot his career into megastardom.
As Harry Longbaugh, alias “The Sundance Kid”, Redford played a level-headed – if pessimisitc – ying to the optimistic dreamer Butch Cassidy played by Paul Newman. Butch and the Kid were outlaws, killers, and thieves, but William Goldman’s script, George Roy Hill’s direction, and Newman and Redford’s bickering chemistry reinvented the two bandits’ image.
After being hunted by relentless lawmen across several states, Sundance begrudgingly agrees to accompany Butch to Bolivia, which Butch pitches as some sort of promised land despite knowing very little about it. The pair also take Etta Place, Sundance’s wife (common law?) who seems to have an “agreement” of her own with both men.
Sundance: Well, I think I’ll get saddled up and go looking for a woman.
Butch: Good hunting.
Sundance: Shouldn’t take more than a couple of days. I’m not picky. As long as she’s smart, pretty, and sweet, and gentle, and tender, and refined, and lovely, and carefree…
What’d He Wear?
For the journey, Sundance sports a gray tweed worsted wool suit with a black bowler hat. This is the more casual of his two suits, and it would be a very comfortable suit for the rigors of fin de siècle travel.
Likely uncomfortable with the idea of wearing a suit, Sundance almost never wears it correctly, usually leaving a button or two unfastened whether on the vest, the shirt, or both. He looks especially rakish when leaving Colorado with Butch and Etta with the jacket’s pocket flaps half-tucked in, the tie knot loose in the shirt’s open collar, and only one button of the vest fastened. As Vesper tells Bond in Casino Royale, he wears his suit “with such disdain”.
This suit coat (incorrectly referred to as a “blazer” at one point in the description) was auctioned in October 2007 by Heritage Auctions for $2,987.50. Although it appears very gray in the film, the auction photos appear more of a brownish gray. The auction describes Redford’s jacket:
Redford’s wardrobe in the film featured this worsted wool jacket; its Western Costume Co. tag in the lining lists Redford’s name alongside his chest measurement (41″, by the way) and sleeve length. In excellent condition, the blazer is a great remnant from one of the most beloved films ever made.
The sack coat is single-breasted with a high-fastening 4-button front. The swelled-edge notch lapels roll gently over the top button, creating a 4-roll-3 effect. The jacket has a welted breast pocket and flapped hip pockets. The shoulders are slightly padded, and the waist is suppressed to present more of an athletic profile. The jacket sleeves are pleated at the shoulder with a seam running down to the ceremonial 2-button cuffs. (A third button appears to have been added for the coat by the time it was auctioned.)
The suit vest, or waistcoat or whatever you want to call it, is single-breasted with short notch lapels and four welted pockets. It fastens with six buttons down the front to a small notched bottom.
The suit trousers rise high on Redford’s waist. They are fitted with very straight legs down to the plain-hemmed bottoms which have a short break over his boots.
Sundance’s white shirt is very modern given the scene’s 1901 setting. It buttons down a front placket and has squared button cuffs.
The soft turndown collar has a wide spread; this is one of the more anachronistic parts of the outfit, as dress shirts with attached collars wouldn’t be developed for mass production for at least twenty more years.
Sundance’s tie is dark red silk with brown paisley teardrop patterns. It is relatively slim and falls to just above the waistline.
Sundance wears his gold watch in the lower left pocket of his vest, connected to a gold chain attached to one of the vest’s buttonholes.
Being a Westerner who doesn’t give much of a shit about convention, Sundance wears his plain black leather calf-high riding boots whether he’s out west, enjoying the rides in a New York City amusement park, or arriving at a train station in the Bolivian countryside.
Sundance primarily wears a black bowler hat (which we Americans also call a “derby hat”), but he also sports a gray tweed newsboy cap that nicely matches his suit when jaunting through Coney Island.
In case you worried that a three-piece tweed suit with a high-fastening jacket and vest wasn’t warm enough, Sundance also wears an ivory union suit underneath with a three-button henley-style top.
Go Big or Go Home
Although they’re toasting to one of Butch’s pipe dreams that Sundance naturally shits on, seeing Butch and Sundance toast their mugs of beer on the porch of an old west brothel is one of the great buddy moments in film history.
At first, Sundance’s manner of seduction is horrifying, involving implied violence and a drawn Single Action Army, until it becomes obvious that this is part of his and Etta’s routine to “keep it fresh”, so to speak.
Sundance definitely exerts some behavior that is not admirable, however. For one thing, he is a very grumpy traveler. Butch manages to stay positive, but Sundance really just shits on everyone’s vibes!
Butch: All Bolivia can’t look like this.
Sundance: How do you know? This might be the garden spot of the whole country! People may travel hundreds of miles just to get to this spot where we’re standing now. This might be the Atlantic City, New Jersey of all Bolivia for all you know.
Butch: Look, I know a lot more about Bolivia than you know about Atlantic City, New Jersey, I can tell you that-!
Sundance: Aha! You do, huh? I was born there; I was born in New Jersey. Was brought up there, so…
Butch: You’re from the east? I didn’t know that.
Sundance: The total tonnage of what you don’t know is enough to shatter-
Etta: I’m not sure we’re accomplishing as much as we’d like here.
Sundance: Listen, your job is to back me up, because you’d starve without me. And you, your job is to shut up!
Butch: (to Etta) He’ll feel a lot better after he’s robbed a couple of banks.
Sundance: (to himself) Bolivia!
How to Get the Look
Either due to Sundance’s fashion-forward sense or master costume designer Edith Head’s brilliant blend of a classic suit and modern style, this gray tweed suit translates reasonably well more than 100 years after the scene was set. The hat might get a few strange looks and the union suit would probably make you sweatier than you’d like, but it’s hard to deny that the suit looks good.
- Gray-and-brown mixed worsted tweed three-piece suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted sack coat with notch lapels, 4-roll-3 button high-fastening stance, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, ventless rear
- Single-breasted vest with short notch lapels, 6-button front, four welted pockets, and notched bottom
- Flat front high rise trousers with straight leg and short-break plain-hemmed bottoms
- White button-down shirt with spread collar, front placket, and squared button cuffs
- Dark red silk necktie with brown paisley teardrop patterns
- Black leather calf-high riding boots with raised heels
- Black bowler hat
- Gold pocket watch, worn in left vest pocket through vest buttonhole
- Off-white long-sleeve henley union suit with 3 white buttons
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
What could they have here that you could possibly want to buy?