Nucky Thompson’s Golf Attire

Steve Buscemi as "Nucky" Thompson on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 2.05: "Gimcrack & Bunkum").

Steve Buscemi as “Nucky” Thompson on Boardwalk Empire (Episode 2.05: “Gimcrack & Bunkum”).


Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, crooked city politician and influential mob bootlegger

Atlantic City, Memorial Day 1921

Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Gimcrack & Bunkum” (Episode 2.05)
Air Date: October 23, 2011
Director: Tim Van Patten
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn


As summer starts winding to a close, make sure you schedule some time this weekend to hit the links with your pals.

In Boardwalk Empire‘s second season, Nucky and political pals Harry Daugherty and Jess Smith blow off some steam after a Memorial Day ceremony by getting out onto the green. Things are tense for Nucky as his old protégé Jimmy Darmody is vying for power in the city, his Attorney General ally is more concerned with his weight than Nucky’s legal situation, and the unreliable Jess Smith is trying to use Nucky for a shady partnership. And that’s all just before they leave the clubhouse.

Nucky Thompson: Do you actually enjoy golfing?
Harry Daugherty: I enjoy being a man with the time to play it.

Maybe golf isn’t so relaxing after all.

What’d He Wear?

Although he doesn’t stick within the boundaries of traditional golf attire—which includes the very antiquated knickers—Nucky Thompson still dresses for the links like a stylish, respectable gentleman of the decade would and still incorporates his usual colorful flourish. As usual, none of his garments are a solid color or pattern—even his socks!

When we meet Nucky and his political comrades in the golf club’s locker room, he is buttoning up a glen plaid cotton sleeveless cardigan (go ahead, call it a sweater vest!) The pattern is a large-scaled brown and tan check and trimmed along all edges—neckline, armholes, and the top of the two set-in pockets at the waist—in brown ribbed knitting. The pattern stops mid-shoulder and the entire back is the same solid brown as the trim. The vest fastens with five brown plastic sew-through buttons down the front to the notched bottom.


Nucky’s sweater vest – rather than a sleeved sweater – is a wise choice for Memorial Day, allowing his arms a greater range of movement and keeping him cooler as the Atlantic City weather gets warmer.

Ralph Lauren produced a very similar sweater, described as a blend of 61% cotton, 24% cashmere, 10% silk, and 5% linen. It’s still available on Amazon for $125.80 (as of July 31, 2015), and looks exactly like the vest worn by Nucky, right down to the brown trim and plaid detail throughout. There are always a few examples available on eBay as well (including the auction where I found the following photos of the same garment.)


Thanks to Ralph Lauren, you too can dress like Nucky on the green!

The only major noticeable differences are that Nucky’s buttons are solid brown plastic and his vest is patterned in a larger-scaled check. Otherwise, I fully endorse this Ralph Lauren sleeveless cardigan for your Nucky Thompson-style golf outings.

Nucky wears one of his favorite shirts, a light blue cotton dress shirt with a fine white grid-check. It has white buttons down a plain, placket-less front and white contrasting double (French) cuffs that he fastens with a set of round silver clustered links. The cuff gauntlets also close with a single white button over each wrist. (For another example of this shirt in action, check out Nucky’s red windowpane suit three episodes later in “Two Boats and a Lifeguard”.)


Nucky offers one of his oft-seen “quit fucking around” glares.

With the shirt, he wears one of the custom-designed white “keyhole cutout” collars that were designed by John Dunn and his team for Nucky’s shirts in the early seasons. The collar is similar to the “Tyfold” collar developed by Cluett, Peabody, & Co. in 1903, and it is held in place with a gold bar under the tie knot. In this case, that tie is a series of muted brown and navy diagonal stripes separated by a fine tan shadow stripe. Nucky’s tie stripes run from his right down to the left.

Nucky’s trousers are actually part of a tan wool three-piece suit that he wears occasionally throughout the second season, though not in this particular episode. The suit’s pattern consists of a subtle brown triple-striped windowpane check. The trousers themselves are flat front with an adjustable rear strap and a fishmouth in the back, intended to be worn with suspenders or braces, which Nucky likely has on under his vest. The side pockets are slightly slanted and the jetted rear pockets close through a single button. The trouser bottoms are finished with turn-ups (cuffs).


Nucky wears a pair of two-tone spectator shoes in brown and cream leather. Since cleats were not yet common on golf shoes, Nucky’s five-eyelet oxfords are likely just a standard pair of shoes without any rubber nubs on the sole. In addition to the laces, the brown parts of the shoe are the caps, counters, throat, and tongue; the quarters are cream.

His tan socks rise up his calves with solid bands around the top. The rest of the socks have a darker brown square motif that resembles a classic Native American pattern.


Although we see Nucky raise his trousers to the top of his socks, it’s just to tie his shoes. His pants are undoubtedly regular suit trousers rather than golf knickers.

Nucky literally tops off his look with a straw flat cap in a tan basket weave. The open weave of the straw would be very cooling for an active morning on the golf course.

Don't even think about getting between Nucky Thompson and his golf cap!

Don’t even think about getting between Nucky Thompson and his golf cap!

To the best of my knowledge, the shot of him putting it on his head is the only time the cap features on the show.

How to Get the Look

It’s hard to imagine someone in 2015 getting so dressed up for a sport where courses are now allowing players in t-shirts and shorts to play, but it’s also nice to imagine a throwback to a more gentlemanly era. Sure, the deals made on the links may have been just as crooked as they are today, but at least the gents tried to look classy while doing so.

  • Brown-and-tan glen plaid sleeveless cotton cardigan sweater vest with 5-button front, notched bottom, and welted hip pockets
  • Tan with brown triple-stripe windowpane check flat front suit trousers with slanted side pockets, button-through jetted rear pockets, fishmouth back with adjustable strap, and turn-ups/cuffs
  • Light blue grid-check cotton dress shirt with detachable white “keyhole” cutout collar and white double/French cuffs
    • Gold collar bar
    • Silver “cluster” cuff links
  • Dark brown and navy blue “downhill”-striped silk necktie with tan shadow stripes
  • Brown-and-cream two-tone leather five-eyelet oxford-laced spectator shoes
  • Tan-and-brown patterned socks
  • Tan straw basket-woven flat cap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the second season, or just get the whole series!

The Quote

The world doesn’t owe you anything. I don’t care who you are.


Having Christopher McDonald as Harry Daugherty tell Nucky that “I enjoy being a man with the time to play [golf]” could possibly be a fun nod to McDonald’s role as “Shooter” McGavin in Happy Gilmore.


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