Matthew McConaughey as Mud, mysterious fugitive and Arkansas River drifter
DeWitt, Arkansas, Summer 2012
Release Date: May 26, 2012
Director: Jeff Nichols
Costume Designer: Kari Perkins
As the weather’s getting warmer and days are getting more adventurous, BAMF Style is taking a look at the modern Mark Twain-style titular hero of 2012’s Mud.
Mud doesn’t give Matthew McConaughey the chance to show off any sharp clothes as any of his previous roles had, but it’s also part of the “McConnaissance” that has marked the complex roles of his more recent career. After a string of stupid romantic comedies and Kate Hudson vehicles, McConaughey decided to show the world he was a seriously talented actor with films like The Lincoln Lawyer, Bernie, Killer Joe, The Wolf of Wall Street, and Interstellar as well as his Academy Award-winning performance in Dallas Buyers Club and nihilistically stunning role in the first season of HBO’s mind-fucking True Detective.
In Mud, McConaughey plays a mysterious drifter living in a boat in the backwoods off the Arkansas River. Mud promises two adventurous boys, Ellis and the awesomely-named Neckbone, that he will give them the boat if they get him food and help him reunite with his troubled ex-girlfriend Juniper (Reese Witherspoon).
What’d He Wear?
According to CinemaReview.com, Mud’s lucky yellow shirt was the result of a collaboration between McConaughey and costume designer Kari Perkins, who “painstakingly washed, sanded, soiled, scratched, and tore [a shirt] until it looked weathered enough to reflect Mud’s personality and on-the-run way of life. McConaughey deemed it lucky, and the show was on.” It’s refreshingly ironic that McConaughey was so attached to the shirt given his oft-shirtless persona in real life.
The shirt itself is a pale yellow rayon button-down shirt with a large fit that was intentionally chosen to hide McConaughey’s renowned physique after he refused to wear the expertly tailored prototype made for the film. Perkins explained the decision in an interview with the Costume Designers Guild:
“Matthew came to the set early to prep and walked around in it for about a week, then said ‘I look too good!’… We ended up creating something a little looser that didn’t showcase his body as well—a rayon, boxy-cut shirt.”
Mud’s well-worn, sun-bleached shirt, of which Perkins made twenty multiples for all of the film’s stunts and action, has seven brown plastic buttons down the front placket… technically only six buttons since the second from the bottom is missing. Mud always wears the top two buttons and the bottom button undone. The patch pocket on the left breast is loose around the top, a very realistic touch for a man who would be constantly dipping into that pocket for his cigarettes.
The short set-in sleeves have cuffed ends, falling just above the elbow. On the inside of the left sleeve is the wolf’s eye emblem, a “protective talisman” according to the CDG interview, sewn by Perkins in brown thread in a 3-inch pocket to fit her vision of “a mummified eye”.
Mud’s distressed medium-dark blue denim jeans are a pair of classic Levi’s, as evident from the familiar red tag on the inside of the right rear patch pocket… the very pocket that shows the most fray. The bottoms are also frayed, with the side seams split a few inches up from the bottom. The left leg shows additional damage with shredding on the side pocket and lower calf to the point where a large hole exists in the jeans over the left shin pone.
GQ further explored:
We knew Levi’s made top notch jeans that can stand up to just about any wear and tear (a reputation received from outfitting just about every late 19th century blue collar worker) so it’s no surprise that Matthew McConaughey’s title character in Mud sports a single pair throughout the flick. Camped out on an Arkansas island for most of the movie, McConaughey’s character never takes off his artfully shredded pair, whether climbing trees or dodging bullets…
Mud wears a distinctive and fittingly worn brown leather belt with tan diamond-shaped patches sewn into it.
On the right side of his belt, Mud wears a very distressed dark brown leather flapped knife pouch that closes with a single snap.
Mud’s brown leather boots have high riding heels with crosses nailed into them for good luck.
Perkins nicely summed up her costume decisions in the CDG interview:
All of the costumes for all of the characters were worn out and aged down. All had to have a look of being worn-in and loved.
Go Big or Go Home
If you share Mud’s craving for Van Camp’s Beanee Weenee Original beans, look no further than Amazon! You won’t have as much luck with his cigarettes though; ‘Kings Light’ is a fictional brand developed to resemble Marlboros.
How to Get the Look
Much like Mud himself, his attire is simple but well-worn and meaningful, customized to his superstitions and to fit his rugged life on the island. After all, Mud is adventurous – not glamorous.
- Pale yellow rayon short-sleeve shirt with soft collar, 7-button front placket, and breast patch pocket
- Mud has a “wolf’s eye” emblem stitched in brown onto the inner left sleeve
- Medium-dark blue denim Levi’s jeans
- Mud’s jeans are especially distressed on the left front pocket, left shin, right rear pocket, and split bottoms
- Brown distressed leather belt with tan-sewn diamond-shaped patches
- Brown leather riding boots with tall heels
- Mud also nailed crosses into the riding heels
Socks and underwear are also recommended, especially if you’re going to be camping out by the Arkansas River.
The pistol that Mud carries in his rear waistband and eventually gives to Neckbone is a Colt Mk IV Series 70, a classic variant of the original 1911A1 developed by Colt in 1971 with the “legendary Series 70 firing system… a faithful reproduction to Government Models manufactured prior to World War II,” according to Colt’s website. The Series 70 firing system provides a cleaner trigger pull due to the lack of a firing pin safety that was present on all post-war and Series 80 pistols.
The Mk IV Series 70 was first designed to be an improvement to Colt’s original Government Model 1911A1 with a “collet” barrel bushing that would grip the barrel and improve accuracy. However, this bushing was smaller than the slide diameter and thus more prone to breakage, and the original bushing became standard on both the Series 70 and Series 80 in 1988.
Mud carries his Colt Mk IV Series 70 in “condition one” like most 1911 users. Condition one means the pistol is chambered with the hammer down and external thumb safety applied.
Toward the end of the film, Mud is weaponless after giving his Mk IV Series 70 (unloaded) to Neckbone, so he is forced to commandeer a Remington Model 870 Wingmaster full-length shotgun. The Wingmaster was introduced in January 1950 as an early variant of Remington’s now venerable Model 870 line of pump-action shotguns. The Wingmaster is especially known for being a reliable, durable shotgun with its lightweight receiver in polished blue steel and impressive walnut stock and fore-end.
The Remington used by Mud has ventilated ribbing on the full-length 28″ barrel. Based on the bore, it’s almost definitely a 12-gauge.
I own a Remington Model 870 Wingmaster with a 28″ barrel (no ribbing, however) that fits 2.75″ 12-gauge shells. No complaints.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
The sun does shine on a dog’s ass some days, don’t it?