Steve Martin’s Red Silk Suit in My Blue Heaven

Steve Martin with Rick Moranis in My Blue Heaven (1990). Sadly, this is just a promotional photo and Steve's rad Ray-Ban sunglasses didn't make it into this scene.

Steve Martin with Rick Moranis in My Blue Heaven (1990). Sadly, this is just a promotional photo and Steve’s rad Ray-Ban sunglasses didn’t make it into this scene.

Vitals

Steve Martin as Vinnie Antonelli (aka Tod Wilkinson), ex-Mafia informant

New York City, Early Winter 1990

Film: My Blue Heaven
Release Date: August 17, 1990
Director: Herbert Ross
Costume Designer: Joseph G. Aulisi

Background

This week’s focus on dupioni silk continues with the loud red suit worn by Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, posted today to celebrate my sister’s birthday as this flick is a family favorite that she and I are constantly quoting to each other.

Although Ray Liotta’s Henry Hill provides himself the living epigraph of living the rest of his life “like a schnook” at the end of Goodfellas, the story really didn’t end there. Loosely based on Hill’s post-mob life in the witness protection program, My Blue Heaven was written by Nora Ephron, who had been inspired by her husband Nicholas Pileggi’s interviews with Hill. Through the interview process, it was discovered that a career criminal like Hill didn’t reform himself immediately (if at all) and was often getting into trouble with authorities – returning to his old criminal ways, maintaining a high profile, and even entering a bigamist marriage under his “new” name – all depicted in My Blue Heaven.

This sequence finds Vinnie Antonelli – the film’s Henry Hill substitute played by Steve Martin – returning to New York to testify in a major mob trial against his old boss. The reserved FBI agent guarding him, Barney Coopersmith (Rick Moranis), expects that the two will be spending the night in at the motel and attempts to satiate Vinnie’s wish for Italian food in the form of macaroni and cheese and salad with Italian dressing. Vinnie, finally back on his home turf after months in suburbia, has other ideas.

What’d He Wear?

As Vinnie and Barney ostensibly begin to settle in for a quiet evening at their motel, Vinnie wears a red dupioni silk suit, styled like many of his others, that was evidently newly acquired that day from his tailor Gaetano. Hardly an outfit for being babysat by a milquetoast FBI agent, Vinnie clearly already has his pre-testimony night of “drinking and girls” on his mind.

Vinnie’s suit has a single-breasted jacket with a low-stance single-button closure. The wide peak lapels have a slightly abbreviated gorge and a buttonhole stitched in the left lapel.

Vinnie talks Barney into enjoying a night on the town.

Vinnie talks Barney into enjoying a night on the town.

The jacket has straight, wide, padded shoulders and a ventless back, all very characteristic attributes of stylish suits at the time although it thankfully avoids the excessively baggy, full fit of the era that even James Bond couldn’t avoid in Licence to Kill. The jacket has a welted breast pocket and straight jetted hip pockets. Each sleeve ends with 3-button “kissing” cuffs.

Vinnie's red silk suit shines with every turn he makes.

Vinnie’s red silk suit shines with every turn he makes.

The low button stance of the jacket works nicely with the lower rise of the trousers, which have single reverse pleats, straight side pockets, and no back pockets. Vinnie wears a black leather belt with a slim single-claw gold buckle to hold up his trousers.

Barney doesn't seem to notice that, while he is ordering dismal room service, Vinnie is getting dressed to go out.

Barney doesn’t seem to notice that, while he is ordering dismal room service, Vinnie is getting dressed to go out.

Vinnie’s light pink dress shirt nicely compliments the overwhelming quantity of red in the rest of the outfit. The shirt has a spread collar, front placket, and a plain back with no pleats. He further thumbs his nose at anonyminity by wearing a shirt with his distinctive initials – “V.A.” – monogrammed on the left breast pocket.

Vinnie isn't staying Very Anonymous with the monogrammed shirt.

Vinnie isn’t staying Very Anonymous with the monogrammed shirt.

The shirt has long, squared French cuffs that Vinnie fastens with an elaborate pair of gold cuff links that each feature a mounted onyx pebble.

Also a good view of Vinnie's Rolex.

Also a good view of Vinnie’s Rolex.

Vinnie’s silk tie is printed with a lavender paisley pattern.

He wears a pair of well-shined black leather tassel loafers, a more subtle option that downplays the loud suit more than his flashier “everyday” two-tone spectator loafers in black and white would. The trouser leg line is nicely carried into the shoes by a pair of maroon silk dress socks.

Vinnie goes the whole nine yards and sports a pair of socks that perfectly matches his suit.

Vinnie goes the whole nine yards and sports a pair of socks that perfectly matches his suit.

A man of luxury, Vinnie doesn’t let his new witness protection status get in the way of his jewelry either. His two-tone Rolex DateJust is possibly a 116233 model with a stainless steel 36mm case, 18-karat yellow gold bezel, and a mixed gold and stainless Jubilee bracelet. The white face appears to be the appropriately named “Roman dial”.

Vinnie and Barney get closer than ever while dancing with new pals.

Vinnie and Barney get closer than ever while dancing with new pals.

An expensive watch might not signify his criminal background to the nice folks of Fryburg, California, but Vinnie’s gold pinky ring would certainly make him stand out further from the early bird crowd. Nicely calling out the color of his suit, Vinnie’s ring has a brick red-colored, oval-shaped setting.

Go Big or Go Home

Honestly, this scene has lent me some of the best advice for dating (or confidence in general) when Vinnie advises Barney to “look ’em in the eye” when talking to women. Despite his bigamy and his self-admitted preference for women who are “kinda dirty or somethin'”, Vinnie proves to be a reasonably respectful barroom suitor.

In fact, Vinnie hands down many life lessons – possibly part of his new wave of inspiration as he writes his story – including:

  • How to treat a suit: don’t sit around wearing your pants without the jacket.
  • How to talk to women: “look ’em in the eye.”
  • How to dance… especially the meringue.

    Vinnie follows all three of his own rules during his night out with Barney and the charming guidettes.

    Vinnie follows all three of his own rules during his night out with Barney and the charming guidettes.

How to Get the Look

Ymbl7red-cropou can take the guy out of the Mafia, but you can never take the Mafia out of the guy; Vinnie proves both unwilling and unable to even pretend he’s no longer the type of guy who goes out in a bold red silk suit, flashing his Rolex and pinky ring as he buys rounds of drinks for the bar.

  • Red dupioni silk tailored suit, consisting of:
    • Single-breasted 1-button jacket with wide peak lapels, padded shoulders, welted breast pocket, jetted hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and ventless back
    • Single reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, straight side pockets, no back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Light pink dress shirt with spread collar, front placket, monogrammed breast pocket, and double/French cuffs
  • Lavender paisley printed silk tie
  • Gold elaborate cuff links with a mounted onyx pebble
  • Black leather belt with rounded-edge gold single-claw buckle
  • Black leather tassel loafers
  • Maroon silk dress socks
  • Rolex DateJust two-tone gold wristwatch with white Roman dial on yellow gold and stainless mixed Jubilee bracelet
  • Gold pinky ring with brick red oval setting

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Buy the movie.

Footnotes

Another sartorial focus in this scene would be the two stereotypically-dressed mob assassins who track down Vinnie at the nightclub. They are wearing, as Hannah later unwittingly mocks:

Your honor, are we to believe that this man is in danger? That some cartoon character hitmen in black suits with white-on-white ties armed with guns are going to walk through that door…?

If these guys were any more stereotypical, their names would be Rocco and Bruno or something like that.

If these guys were any more stereotypical, their names would be Rocco and Bruno or something like that.

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