Warren Beatty as Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, “celebrity” gangster and casino builder
Las Vegas to L.A., August 1946
Release Date: December 13, 1991
Director: Barry Levinson
Costume Designer: Albert Wolsky
The second warm-weather Mafia Monday in a row transports us from the glamour of 1950s Miami to the barrenness of the post-war Mojave Desert.
Bugsy Siegel has been dealing with a lot of professional issues. Construction of his “oasis in the desert” – the Flamingo Hotel and Casino – is going way over budget, and he’s just been arrested for the murder of his old pal Harry “Big Greenie” Greenberg (Elliott Gould). What’s a volatile celebrity mobster to do?
What’d He Wear?
A construction site in the middle of the Mojave Desert on a summer afternoon is a hot place to be wearing a suit, so Bugsy keeps fashionably cool with a soft silk sport shirt, worn untucked, with fully cut trousers, two-tone spectator brogues, and browline sunglasses.
Bugsy’s long-sleeved sport shirt is tan all around with a wide maroon front strip over the collar and buttons. The six light tan plastic buttons close down the maroon-colored plain front. The entire camp collar is also maroon, all around the neck, with a loop on the left notch that would be used to button the top button that Bugsy leaves unfastened. Each cuff closes on a single button.
The shirt has a single patch pocket over the left breast, bisected diagonally with the upper left portion in the same tan as the shirt and the lower right portion calling out the maroon of the collar and front panel. The pocket closes through a single button.
Bugsy’s shirt has a straight hem with a split vent on the right and left sides of the waist. The straight-hemmed bottom allows him to wear it untucked, which was starting to become both accepted and popular for men’s casual wear.
Since his shirt is untucked, the waistband of Bugsy’s cream linen trousers remain covered through the scene. They appear to have single reverse pleats and are fully cut down through the leg to the slightly flared and cuffed bottoms.
Bugsy wears distinctive two-tone derbies with dark brown longwing broguing that isn’t typically found on shoes with a cap toe. The cap toe is also dark brown, as is the open-laced facing with its matching dark brown laces. The perforated vamp is white leather. His socks are dark, likely dark brown.
A similar shoe, albeit a wingtip rather than a cap toe, would be the “Charleston Brown & White Two Tone Brogue” offered by Shipton & Heneage. Another cool wingtip alternative would also be the “Conard Wingtip” from Johnston & Murphy. This pair of genuine ’40s cap toe oxfords on Etsy is one of the closest examples I’ve been able to find of Bugsy’s shoes.
Bugsy wears the same thick tortoise-framed browline sunglasses that he had earlier sported with his gray chalkstripe flannel suit. These glasses have gold rims and brown lenses.
The style is slightly anachronistic, as Shuron Ltd. didn’t introduce the first pair of browline glasses to the market until the following year, 1947, when the Flamingo had already been built and Bugsy himself was killed. (It could be argued that this is the film’s indication that a fashionable “visionary” like Siegel would’ve been ahead of the times in many ways, but…) In fact, an authenticated pair of sunglasses worn by the real Bugsy Siegel around this time much more resembled those worn by Virginia Hill on screen.
The Movie Shop developed its own replicas of these sunglasses, called “Beatty Bugsy Style Sunglasses” on its site that were available for £12.99. ERLIK markets a pair of “BUGSY” sunglasses, although these brown tortoise acetate-framed sunglasses are not a browline style.
On his left pinky, he wears the same gold ring that adorns his finger throughout the whole movie.
Bugsy dresses very en vogue for the immediate post-WWII years that found men in luxurious casual wear as a backlash against years of somber suits, scratchy military uniforms, and civilian fabric restrictions. The untucked silk sport shirt, fully cut trousers, and browline sunglasses are all evocative of postwar fashions and attitudes.
- Tan silk long-sleeve straight-hem sport shirt with button cuffs and maroon camp collar, plain front button strip, and bisected button-through breast pocket accent
- Cream linen single reverse-pleated full cut trousers with turn-ups/cuffs
- Dark brown and white two-tone leather cap toe longwing brogue derby shoes
- Dark brown socks
- Thick tortoise-framed sunglasses with gold rims and brown lenses
- Gold pinky ring with dark stone, worn on left pinky
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Firstly, my name is Benjamin, as in the Bible. And second, I’ll see you all when the Flamingo opens on Christmas Day.