Ray Liotta as Henry Hill, New York mob associate and club owner
New York City, Spring 1964
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno
It’s gonna be a good summer!
…as Jimmy Conway tells Henry Hill after watching him split up the take from a recent robbery at the JFK’s Air France terminal. Cargo thefts had always been a mob tradition, but the April 1967 heist of $420,000 in cash set a new high mark for the mob as the proceeds were all in “totally, totally untraceable”. No need for shady fences or risky transactions of stolen goods.
Henry dresses fashionably for the robbery, wearing a herringbone sports coat that shows up a few times over the course of Goodfellas. It’s a fine primer on how one can dress for a date, a heist, or even burying a mob murder victim. (Not that BAMF Style condones that sort of thing…)
What’d He Wear?
Henry Hill wears a black and white herringbone fleck sports coat with a shine that indicates the possibility of mohair or silk in its construction. Silk suits have long been associated with gangsterdom, and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility that Henry would choose a silk sport jacket for both romantic encounters and the robbery that would define his early criminal career.
The single-breasted, ventless sports coat has a full cut similar to the classic American sack suit popularized by Brooks Brothers, though this piece is far from traditional Ivy style. The jacket’s slim notch lapels roll to a three-button front that Henry wears unbuttoned, consistent with his dressed-down approach. The shoulders are padded, and the sleeves are roped at the heads and end with three buttons on each cuff. The jacket also has a welted breast pocket and straight hip pockets with edge-stitched flaps.
Henry typically wears the sport jacket with navy blue flat front trousers that rise high on his waist. The trousers have slanted side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms. Henry’s shoes appear to be black leather cap-toe lace-ups, worn with thin black ribbed silk socks.
The sport jacket makes its first appearance when Henry picks Karen up for their first real date. He wears a white short-sleeved shirt with a camp collar. This slim, rolling collar has a loop on the left side that would ostensibly close with a button under the right leaf, though Henry wears the top button—and, initially, the second button—open on the shirt’s plain front.
Under the shirt, Henry wears a large gold cross pendant on a thin gold chain as a symbol of his family’s Catholic faith. He has no strong religious convictions himself, but what’s a mobster without his gold chains, eh? Once he converts to Judaism to marry Karen, he adds a Star of David necklace.
The sports coat makes its next appearance for Henry’s famous Air France heist at JFK airport. No white shirt here, as Henry opts for a soft knit short-sleeved polo shirt in dark indigo with three black plastic buttons.
For most of these scenes, Henry is still an unmarried, fringe mob associate with the Lucchese family looking to make his bones. He can afford front row seats and Dom Pérignon at the Copa, but he isn’t at the level of wiseguy yet where his hands are weighed down by pinky rings and gold bracelets. His only other accessory from the cross pendant is a gold watch, strapped to his right wrist by a brown leather band.
Fast forward a few years to around December 1970 when Henry, now married to Karen, is smooching his mistress Janice in a bar full of mob associates. The new decade is starting to rear its tacky head, and Henry wears a lavender silky polyester knit polo shirt with ribbing on the waist hem and the ends of the short sleeves. There are three smoke gray plastic buttons on the placket, and Henry wears the soft shirt collar on top of the jacket’s lapels.
Go Big or Go Home
Not only do we see Henry wearing the same sports coat for a date, a mob heist, and a covert burial, but we also get a similar soundtrack of classic early ’60s “girl group” hits for each event. The Chantels’ “Look in My Eyes” from 1961 picks up where Henny Youngman’s cheesy one-liners leave off to provide a soundtrack to the Air France heist.
“Look in My Eyes” was the group’s second major hit after hitting early success with their million-selling “Maybe” in December 1957. Personnel and label changes led to the five-girl group becoming a quartet when they cut “Look in My Eyes” for Carlton Records in 1961, which reached #6 on the R&B charts and #14 on the pop charts.
The Shangri-Las contribute their second track to the Goodfellas soundtrack with “Remember (Walking in the Sand)” playing in the bar as Jimmy pulls Henry away from an increasingly frustrated Janice to tell him that Billy Batts‘s rotting corpse needs to be moved.
The track has an appropriately mysterious and melodramatic sound to punctuate the dark comedy of Jimmy and Tommy taunting Henry during Batts’ re-burial. It was originally recorded in 1964 for The Shangri-Las album Leader of the Pack, named after their best known song which was also featured earlier in Goodfellas.
And, of course, The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” immediately follows Henry picking up Karen for a date for their now-famous night at the Copa… but we’ll get into that suit later.
How to Get the Look
Henry Hill shows how one outfit can be diversified depending on the situation, all just by swapping out shirts.
- Gray specked silk herringbone single-breasted sport jacket with slim notch lapels, 3-button front, welted breast pocket, flapped straight hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Indigo soft knit short-sleeve polo shirt with 3 black plastic buttons
- Navy blue flat front trousers with slanted side pockets, jetted rear pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather cap-toe laced shoes
- Black thin ribbed silk socks
- Gold Catholic cross pendant
- Gold wristwatch on brown leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
By the time I grew up, there was thirty billion a year in cargo moving through Idlewild Airport and believe me, we tried to steal every bit of it.