Redford’s Fisherman Sweater in Spy Game
Robert Redford as Nathan Muir, experienced CIA case officer
Berlin, Christmas 1976
Film: Spy Game
Release Date: November 21, 2001
Director: Tony Scott
Costume Designer: Louise Frogley
Redford’s Costumer: David Page
After recruiting the talented Tom Bishop for an assassination in the closing days of the Vietnam War, CIA case officer Nathan Muir determines that Bishop would make a fine operative for the agency. Nathan pulls the strings to isolate Bishop for more than a year, secretly assigning the young Marine to a lonely post in Berlin.
Muir then shrewdly chooses Christmas – a vulnerable holiday for lonely folks – as his opportunity to swoop in with a “chance encounter” at a train station. Bishop joins Muir and one of his wives for a Christmas party that evening, and their decade-long career is born.
What’d He Wear?
Nathan Muir provides a comfortable and fashionable way to layer for a winter party.
Muir wears an ivory-colored (or báinín) wool cable knit “fisherman sweater”, also known as an Aran jumper. This classic and oft-reinterpreted winter staple for both men and women takes its name from the Aran Islands off the west coast of Ireland. Aran jumpers are constructed from natural, water-repellant wool fiber that can absorb 30% of its weight in water before feeling wet, keeping its sea-bound wearers warm and dry.
The complex textured stitching on each sweater often uniquely tells the story of its wearer or his family, and – according to Aran Sweater Market – was often used to identify the bodies of dead fisherman who washed up on the beach after an accident. The cable seen on most fisherman sweaters symbolizes a wish for safety and good luck, the honeycomb symbolizes hardworking bees, diamonds symbolize eventual wealth and success, and the basket stitch represents the full basket that would bring home a hearty catch from a day at sea.
Beneath the sweater, Muir wears a light blue long-sleeve shirt with a subtle gray check. The shirt has a medium-spread collar and dark gray plastic buttons down the front and on the cuffs. He also wears it later during Bishop’s training, layered underneath a charcoal zip-front sweater.
At the train station, Muir foregoes an overcoat in favor of a warm tweed sportcoat and wool scarf. The slightly oversized single-breasted jacket is constructed of gray tweed with swelled edges throughout. It has notch lapels, a welted breast pocket, and flapped hip pockets. The two-button front and two buttons on each cuff are black leather clusters. It has padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, and it appears to be ventless. It is decidedly not the same as the gray herringbone tweed sportcoat he wears during the film’s “present day” scenes set in CIA headquarters in 1990.
Muir’s scarf is dark brown and navy blue plaid wool. It looks soft and is likely cashmere, a much more luxurious wool befitting a man like Nathan Muir who knows what he likes.
Muir sports a pair of drab brown wool trousers and dark brown leather bluchers with this outfit. Given this knowledge and Muir’s propensity for subtlety, it can be assumed that his socks are also a dark shade of brown.
Most of Muir’s accessories are consistent with what we see through the rest of Spy Game. He wears his same stainless Victorinox Swiss Army Officer’s 1884 wristwatch on his right wrist; this watch has a stainless 41mm case, white dial, and stainless link bracelet.
Robert Redford’s usual silver ring – a gift from Hopi Indians in 1966 – is on the third finger of his right hand, while he wears a gold wedding band on the ring finger of his left hand, apropos to the beautiful blonde on his arm in the Berlin train station.
Rather than the Oliver Peoples specs he wears in the film’s later-set sequences, Muir wears a pair of gold-framed aviator-style eyeglasses seen in most of Spy Game‘s 1970s segments.
What to Imbibe
Muir lays out his rules for drinking pretty clearly during Bishop’s training.
Bishop: I thought spies drank martinis.
Muir: Scotch, never less than twelve years old.
Bishop: Is that right? Agency rules?
Muir: My rules.
Here, the Scotch in question is a bottle of The Glenlivet 18 Year single malt. If you’ve ever got about $80 burning a hole in your pocket, it may be worth it for you to invest in a bottle as well.
How to Get the Look
Nathan Muir proves that no red or green are needed to look stylish and comfortable for a chilly holiday party.
- Ivory cable-knit natural wool crew-neck “fisherman’s sweater”
- Light blue gray-checked long-sleeve shirt
- Gray tweed single-breasted 2-button sportcoat with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, flapped hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Brown trousers
- Dark brown leather bluchers
- Dark brown socks
- Victorinox Swiss Army Officer’s 1884 wristwatch with stainless 41mm case, white dial, and stainless link bracelet, worn on right wrist
- Silver Hopi Indian ring with black imprint, worn on right ring finger
- Gold wedding band, worn on left ring finger
- Gold square-framed “aviator” eyeglasses
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Technology gets better everyday. That’s fine. But most of the time all you need is a stick of gum, a pocket knife and a smile.
Aran jumpers are an absolute classic, superbly functional and a beautiful item of handcraft.