The Birds: Mitch’s Tweed Jacket and Drab Trousers

Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner in The Birds (1963).

Rod Taylor as Mitch Brenner in The Birds (1963).

Vitals

Rod Taylor as Mitchell “Mitch” Brenner, smooth defense lawyer

Bodega Bay, California, Summer 1963

Film: The Birds
Release Date: March 28, 1963
Director: Alfred Hitchcock
Wardrobe Supervisor: Rita Riggs

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

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 mixed 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 tweed “vacation” 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.

THE BIRDS

Mitch counsels the mostly useless townspeople.

Mitch also wears the same type of white cotton dress 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.

THE BIRDS

Most people wouldn’t wear a white dress shirt for housework projects, but a practical guy like Mitch doesn’t change when saving his family from a bird attack is the order of the day.

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 cable-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 BIRDS

Mitch preps for a game of Angry Birds, 1963 style.

The olive drab cargo pants do not appear to be any of the utility trousers issued by the U.S. military during the era, although the fabric and color resembles the “OG-107” olive green cotton that 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.

THE BIRDS

This scene was very sad for me as I’ve been a big fan of Suzanne Pleshette ever since I first saw The Bob Newhart Show as a youth. That voice…

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.

THE BIRDS

Mitch looks forward to kicking some bird ass.

Although not cosmetically exact, I received this pair of Clarks Bushwick boots for Christmas this year (Thanks, Mom!), and I can personally testify that they’re quite practical and comfortable, although I’m thankful that I haven’t yet had to test their utility during a bird strike.

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.

THE BIRDS

R.I.P. 😦

How to Get the Look

Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor in The Birds (1963).

Tippi Hedren and Rod Taylor in The Birds (1963).

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 mixed 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 green cotton utility trousers with tall belt loops, button-down flapped side cargo pockets, and plain 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…

Buy the movie.

The Quote

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…

Footnote

It was legendary costume designer Edith Head who designed the iconic mint green suit that Tippi Hedren wears throughout The Birds.

4 comments

  1. Craig Richards

    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.

    Like

  2. teeritz

    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.

    Like

  3. Jeff

    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?

    Like

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