Steve Buscemi as Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, crooked city politician and influential mob bootlegger
Atlantic City, New Year’s Eve 1922
Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Resolution” (Episode 3.01)
Air Date: September 16, 2012
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
Tomorrow night is New Year’s Eve, an evening that sees many flocking to friends’ houses, bar parties, or an overcrowded section of New York without realizing that even the country’s most populous city can’t handle the lavatory needs of one million intoxicated visitors.
But I digress. For the lovable gang of murderous bootleggers on Boardwalk Empire, New Year’s Eve is an opportunity to party at the home of the town’s gregarious and graft-loving treasurer, Nucky Thompson. To ring in 1923, Nucky has a full evening planned with a literal treasure chest of gifts as well as live entertainment from Eddie Cantor and Billie Kent,
his latest mistress an up-and-coming showgirl.
Guests include old favorites like Charlie “Lucky” Luciano, Meyer Lansky, and Arnold Rothstein, but Nucky also welcomes a relative newcomer, the volatile Italian gangster Gyp Rosetti who doesn’t set a good example for America’s youth about treating a host with kindness.
What’d He Wear?
And then there’s you. Fucking breadstick in a bow tie. You pasty-faced, cocksucking-
Poor Nucky goes to all this work to look sharp for his New Year’s bash, and then he goes and gets insulted for his bow tie and complexion. Although I can’t guarantee that your party’s Gyp Rosetti won’t level a few unnecessary insults in your direction, I can endorse Nucky Thompson’s dinner suit as a fine way for a gentleman to stand out at any upcoming New Year celebrations.
As the party’s King Tut, Nucky knows it’s his duty to his guests – as well as his own sartorial reputation – to maintain his usual resplendent levels of dress for the evening. He saunters into the party in a black wool dinner jacket that seems to have borrowed more styling cues from his business suits than the typical tuxedo. The single-breasted jacket has three black satin-covered buttons in the front (with the lapels gently rolling over the top button), at Nucky’s typical high stance, with straight shoulders, roped sleeveheads, and a full chest. Nucky continues to channel his classic Edwardian style with satin-faced “turnback” gauntlets accompanying the four satin-covered buttons on each cuff.
Nucky’s dinner jacket was clearly styled after his business suits, not unlike the lukewarm-received ivory Tom Ford “Windsor” dinner jacket that showed up on James Bond in Spectre. Its sporty details like the unconventional multi-button front, flapped hip pockets, and single rear vent are all more traditionally seen on suit jackets and sport coats than dinner jackets, where they are considered very out of place. However this was 1923, and the dinner jacket was still finding its footing. It’s not beyond the edge of reason to assume that a flamboyant individualist like Nucky would use this opportunity to allow himself to stand out from the others while embracing a style that is clearly comfortable for him. Plus, as the host of the party, who would be allowed to complain? (Besides Gyp Rosetti, who takes it upon himself to take offense to everything.)
For a more contemporary look that would also be correct to black tie, a dinner jacket should have a single button in the front (for smoother lines), jetted hip pockets, and preferably a ventless back. Most modern jackets that follow Nucky’s example of more than one button in the front and single vents end up looking more like rentals… and that’s a look that would certainly disappoint Nucky Thompson.
Nucky’s dinner jacket has wide peak lapels with slanted gorges, and a closer look at the collar reveals some of the jacket’s poorly-fitting aspects. There is a larger gap between Steve Buscemi’s neck and the jacket collar, revealing much more of the shirt and vest beneath than one would typically desire. This could be explained by the revolver holstered under Nucky’s left armpit, which would certainly pull the jacket away from the neck, but it’s surprising that this would not have been taken into consideration when Nuck was being fitted for what would obviously be a bespoke jacket.
Nucky sports a small green pin through his left lapel.
Under his dinner jacket, Nucky wears a black silk double-breasted waistcoat with a subtle black check pattern.
Nucky’s waistcoat has shawl lapels, four welted pockets, and a 6-on-3 button layout over the straight bottom. The taupe silk back of the vest is printed with ornate dots.
In the lower left welt pocket of his vest, Nucky wears his gold Elgin open-faced pocket watch, attached to a gold 18″ chain. The watch has a white dial and a 6:00 sub-dial. At the other end of the chain, which loops through the upper left welt pocket, is a trio of gold cubes.
Although he may wear some unconventional items like the fancy waistcoat and non-traditional dinner jacket, Nucky keeps everything relatively standard and simple from the waist down. His black wool flat front formal trousers have the typical satin side stripe with on-seam side pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms. On his feet are a pair of black patent leather cap-toe oxfords and black dress socks.
Wing collars were still de rigueur for men’s formalwear in the early 1920s, not that it would’ve stopped Nucky. Still, he adheres to convention with his white formal shirt with its textured piqué front bib, black studs, and detachable wing collar. The collar is held into place with a single metal stud through the front and through the back.
When Nucky takes off his dinner jacket (and Billie takes off everything), we see more of his formal shirt, which appears to have a tonal stripe through the sleeves. At the end of each sleeve is a mother-of-pearl gauntlet button and rounded double cuffs, through which Nucky wears a set of flat, round black cuff links with gold trim.
And, ah, the black satin bow tie that made Gyp so angry. Perhaps Gyp, who was sporting a diamond-pointed bow tie that evening, was just upset by Nucky’s choice of a batwing-shaped tie. Or – more likely – Gyp is just insane. Either way, Nucky appears to have overcome his rookie mistake of wearing a bow tie with a visible adjuster.
When he ditches Margaret after the party, Nucky dons his usual evening outerwear, consisting of a black homburg, white printed silk scarf, and black wool overcoat. The single-breasted coat has peak lapels and 3-button cuffs visible in this scene. (I can’t confirm any other appearances of this particular coat anywhere else in the series, unfortunately.)
For the first time in the show’s history, Nucky appears to be constantly armed. Like many a movie badass, he opts for a shoulder holster with a brown leather rig holstering his nickel Colt Police Positive revolver – with white pearl grips, of course – under his left armpit for a right-handed draw. The holster is secured with a gray adjustable strap that hooks over his right shoulder.
happily married man, Nucky wears a plain gold wedding band on the third finger of his left hand. The ScreenBid.com prop auction earlier in 2015 confirmed that Nucky’s ring was actually gold-painted. If you’re married, you may want to opt for something a little more authentic and less… you know… painted.
What to Imbibe
When it’s time to get down to business with his associates, Nucky and his crew dig into a bottle of bootleg American whiskey, a libation in which he also takes post-party solace.
Of course, it’s a party – a New Year party, at that – so Nucky also has champagne on hand for his guests. Ever the gracious host, the Veuve Clicquot flows very freely through the Thompson house on New Year’s Eve 1922. Let it flow freely through yours as well!
How to Get the Look
Nucky welcomes 1923 with – as expected – a very individual, non-conformist approach to black tie. What will you be wearing to welcome 2016?
- Black wool single-breasted 3-roll-2-button dinner jacket with satin-faced peak lapels, welted breast pocket, rear-slanting flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs with satin-faced “turnback” gauntlets, and single rear vent
- Black check-printed silk double-breasted waistcoat with shawl lapels, 6×3 button front, four welt pockets, straight bottom, and taupe spotted silk back
- Black wool flat front formal trousers with satin side stripe, on-seam side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White striped formal shirt with detachable wing collar, textured piqué front bib, black studs, and double/French cuffs
- Gold-edged flat black round cuff links
- Black satin “batwing”-shaped bow tie
- Black patent leather cap-toe oxford shoes
- Black dress socks
- Black wool single-breasted overcoat with peak lapels and 3-button cuffs
- White printed silk scarf
- Black felt homburg with black ribbon
- Brown leather shoulder holster with gray strap, for RHD revolver
- Elgin gold open-faced pocket watch with white dial and 6:00 sub-dial on gold 18″ chain attached to gold fobs
- Plain gold wedding band
Based on the details, this does appear to be the same dinner jacket that Nucky would wear throughout the fourth season, albeit with different shirts, bow ties, and waistcoats. I’ll cover his fourth season black tie at another time.
And Nucky certainly has a habit for wearing non-traditional formalwear, as the unique dinner jacket paired with a white bow tie during the first two seasons can verify.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
New year, new rules.