The Birds: Mitch’s Tweed Jacket and Drab Trousers
Rod Taylor as Mitchell “Mitch” Brenner, smooth defense lawyer
Bodega Bay, California, Summer 1962
Film: The Birds
Release Date: March 28, 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rita Riggs
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
I try to be very responsive to comments, e-mails, and suggestions on this blog, but sometimes life gets in the way. (Feel free to prod if you’re waiting for a response on something, of course!)
Three years ago, Teeritz (a wonderful commenter and blogger well-known to the BAMF Style community) suggested covering Rod Taylor’s outfits in The Birds, particularly the tweed suit jacket and side-pocket trousers worn for the day of the actual bird attack. I’m ashamed to admit that I had gone 26 years of life without seeing The Birds until last month, and my fellow Pittsburghers know that sharing the city with pigeons means that few things are more frightening than a potential avian mutiny.
What’d He Wear?
With tensions running high after the unusual bird activity the day before, Mitch Brenner is quick to leap into action after his mother reports the death of a neighbor who appears to have been pecked to death by birds. Though dressed casually for the day, he throws on the gray Donegal tweed suit jacket that he wore for his little sister’s birthday party the day previously and heads into town.
Mitch’s single-breasted tweed suit jacket has slim notch lapels that roll cleanly down to the closely-spaced three-button front, which he buttons in the center just above the waist. Appropriately sporty for a country weekend suit, Mitch’s jacket has flapped hip pockets that slant slightly back as well as a flapped ticket pocket on the right that follows the same rear slant. The jacket also has a welted breast pocket, roped sleeveheads, 3-button cuffs, and double side vents.
Mitch also wears the same type of white cotton shirt that he’s worn with all of his suits and sport jackets. The shirt has a large spread collar, front placket, and rounded cuffs that close with a single button and no gauntlet button. There are also no darts or pleats on the back or sides.
Mitch’s suit has matching trousers, of course, which he wore the day before during the party. For this casual day around the house, he instead wears the same olive drab utility pants previously seen with his cream ribbed-knit sweater worn during Melanie’s first venture to Bodega Bay. The trousers are held up with a thick dark brown oiled leather belt that closes in the front through a brass single-claw buckle with rounded corners.
The olive drab cargo pants resemble the herringbone twill (HBT) cotton utility trousers issued by the United States military during World War II, indicating Mitch’s wartime service. The subsequent OG-107 fabric was used on field garments through the early 1970s when it was replaced by the OG-507 polyester/cotton blend.
Mitch’s trousers are very simple with only a large patch pocket on each side that closes with a single metal button through each flap. There are no hand pockets or back pockets, and the bottoms are plain without turn-ups or straps. The straight fly likely closes with buttons.
Mitch also wears the same brown leather low boots as he did with his cream sweater. These dark brown boots have four brass eyelets and tan stitching on the moc-toe, on the quarters, and around the heelcap. While protecting Melanie from the upstairs bird attack, he briefly flashes the heavy brown soles at the camera, revealing a yellow rectangular logo on the arch. His light gray socks are briefly glimpsed when bending over to help before the gas station explosion.
Mitch’s simple yet elegant wristwatch has a gold case with a gold crown and silver dial with plain hour indicators, worn on a dark brown alligator strap.
How to Get the Look
Mitch’s resourcefulness is evident in his practical and comfortable attire during the bird attack, incorporating fashion and utility as he prepares to protect his family, his new girlfriend, and his town from the foul fowl.
- Gray Donegal tweed single-breasted 3-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, slanted flapped hip pockets, flapped ticket pocket, 3-button cuffs, and double side vents
- White cotton dress shirt with large spread collar, front placket, and 1-button rounded cuffs
- Olive drab herringbone twill (HBT) cotton military-issue utility trousers with tall belt loops, button-down flapped side cargo pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown oiled leather belt with round-edged single-claw brass buckle
- Dark brown leather moc-toe 4-eyelet boots
- Light gray socks
- Gold wristwatch with silver dial on dark brown alligator leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
I think we’re in real trouble. I don’t know how this started or why, but I know it’s here and we’d be crazy to ignore it…
It was legendary costume designer Edith Head who designed the iconic mint green suit that Tippi Hedren wears throughout The Birds.
Rod Taylor is one of the most underrated actors of all time. One of the screen’s great tough guys as well. Two films of his I highly recommend are “Dark of the Sun” and “Darker Than Amber”. I do not believe either of those films would merit a write up on this sight, from a sartorial standpoint anyway. Well maybe, just maybe, Dark of the Sun.
Daww, I’m flattered, LS! A mother’s rage at her son’s infatuation with a gal from the city manifests itself into an attack on the entire seaside town by mad birds. That’s about all I remember from Film Studies (1984) where we covered a slew of Hitchcock’s finest work.
I’ve always liked this look of Taylor’s in this film. The tweed jacket always struck me as a grab&go item rather than a deliberate choice. And it works well with the cargo pants.
Rod Taylor was an underrated actor. He made quite a few films that are entertaining solely because of his presence in them.
Oh, and I too developed a crush on Suzanne Pleshette thanks to the Newhart show back in the ’70s. You’re right about her voice, LS. And those eyes of hers…
Loved the post. It inspired me to watch ‘The Birds’ for the first time since my dad introduced me to it eight years ago.
Also, since you gave permission, have you put any more thought into Magic City or Butch Coolidge?
Watched the movie dozens of times but for some reason noted pants this time. Reminded me of cargo shorts,can’t really say was impressed by wardrobes selection. But who cares,we are all really staring at Tippi,who can blame Hitch for being a perv,what a dish.
I believe he is dressed in green army issued pants to indicate two things. He and Melanie represent the two green love birds in the film. Also he’s wearing his army pants as a reference to him fighting the birds in the “Bird War” mentioned in the diner scene. Its an odd combo with his suit jacket but Im sure its intended as symbolism.
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What is he wearing around his neck?
No comment on one of the signature costumes of the entire movie — Taylor’s white fisherman sweater with blue paisley scarf?
Well, now that you mention it… keep your eyes peeled over the next few weeks 😀