Michael Kenneth Williams as Albert “Chalky” White, nightclub owner and bootlegger
Atlantic City, Spring 1924
Series: Boardwalk Empire
* “New York Sour” (Episode 4.01, aired September 8, 2013, dir. Tim Van Patten)
* “Resignation” (Episode 4.02, aired September 15, 2013, dir. Alik Sakharov)
* “Acres of Diamonds” (Episode 4.03, aired September 22, 2013, dir. Allen Coulter)
* “All In” (Episode 4.04, aired September 29, 2013, dir. Ed Bianchi)
* “The North Star” (Episode 4.06, aired October 13, 2013, dir. Allen Coulter)
* “William Wilson” (Episode 4.07, aired October 20, 2013, dir. Jeremy Podeswa)
* “The Old Ship of Zion” (Episode 4.08, aired October 27, 2013, dir. Tim Van Patten)
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
Tailor: Martin Greenfield
As BAMF Style’s Boardwalk Empire week continues, the focus shifts to “Chalky” White, the shrewd, pragmatic, and popular bootlegger who rises through the hierarchy of the Atlantic City underworld to finally own his own nightclub at the outset of the fourth season.
Michael K. Williams is arguably one of the best actors of this generation, and his nuanced portrayal of Omar Little on The Wire has cemented that character as one of the greatest TV performances of all time. As a Star Wars fan, I was delighted to hear last month that he’ll be part of the star-studded cast of next year’s Han Solo-focused prequel as reported in Variety.
Boardwalk Empire‘s fourth season is a tour de force for Williams, building up to Chalky’s climactic arc gaining ground in “The Old Ship of Zion” (Episode 4.08) through the season’s tumultuous final episodes.
What’d He Wear?
Chalky presides over The Onyx Club on a nightly basis, always smartly and sharply attired in a striped dark navy tuxedo with a wing collar and fancy waistcoats.
The dinner jacket is duo-toned navy blue wool with tonal satin striping throughout. The wide, sharp peak lapels are faced in black grosgrain silk and roll to the high-stanced single-button closure, positioned a few inches above Williams’ natural waistline. The single front button and the four buttons on each cuff are all covered in the same black grosgrain as the lapel facings.
Chalky’s dinner jacket has a welted breast pocket, which he wears empty, and straight jetted pockets on the hips.
Chalky looks strong and imposing in his full cut dinner jacket, shaped by darts to flatter Michael K. Williams’ physique with padded, sloped shoulders and roped sleeveheads. The back is ventless, the most formal vent option for a dinner jacket.
In the left lapel of his jacket, Chalky wears a gold eight-pointed star pin with a large blue square-set stone.
The flat front formal trousers match the striped navy dinner jacket for a full dinner suit effect. They have a straight fly, on-seam side pockets, plain-hemmed bottoms, and – most notably – a very wide black grosgrain braid stripe down the outside of each leg.
Chalky wears two different fancy silk waistcoats with his tuxedo, each incorporating some degree of blue to call out the navy dinner suit.
His blue jacquard silk waistcoat gets the most screen time, worn in all but two of the episodes that feature him in a tuxedo. The pattern consists of lighter blue and beige abstract flurries printed on a navy silk ground. This single-breasted vest has short lapels, a high-fastening front with six self-covered buttons, and a notched bottom.
In “Resignation” (Episode 4.02), “Acres of Diamonds” (Episode 4.03), and “The North Star” (Episode 4.06), Chalky sports a dashing double-breasted waistcoat with a repeating pattern of blue-trimmed white squares printed on black silk. The squares abstractly alternate between full squares, dotted squares, round dots, and two bars – either horizontal or vertical.
This double-breasted vest has a “keystone”-style 6-on-3 button scheme with a straight-cut bottom and sweeping peak lapels. (“Keystone” means that the button rows taper in their spread from top to bottom…like the lower portion of a keystone.) All six buttons are covered in black grosgrain silk.
Chalky wears a white formal shirt with a narrow-pleated bib front and double (French) cuffs, always sporting cuff links to match his shirt studs whether they’re the silver-trimmed black set or gold mother-of-pearl set seen in “The Old Ship of Zion” (Episode 4.08). The shirt is worn with a detachable wing collar, secured to the front and back of the collar band with a gold stud.
According to a post-show auction that included this outfit, the shirt “by St. Laurie” was custom made for the production by Kozinn + Sons in New York.
Chalky invariably wears a black faille diamond-pointed bow tie that coordinates nicely with the similarly textured black grosgrain facings of the jacket lapels.
Chalky wears black calf leather five-eyelet plain-toe oxfords with dark navy dress socks. Plain-toe oxfords (also known as bal-type or balmorals to us Americans) are the most formal practical footwear for black tie, and it makes sense that Chalky, whom Williams himself described as having “a shoe fetish,” wouldn’t sacrifice formality in this department.
Chalky wears his usual gold square-cased dress watch on his left wrist. It has a gold square dial and slim black leather strap.
The navy dinner suit, rather than the usual “darker than black” midnight blue is a curious choice that may reflect the retro-styling that Lisa Padovani mentioned in a 2013 article with Entertainment Weekly after the fourth season wrapped: “I’m inspired by contemporary stuff too and I’ll think, ‘That could translate into 1920s…’ We try to incorporate old pieces with new pieces and old trimmings and accessories with the new things we manufacture to give it a seamless quality.” Daniel Craig’s midnight blue dinner suit in Skyfall was color enhanced to a bolder navy on that film’s promotional material, briefly popularizing navy tuxedoes as seen on celebrities like Eddie Redmayne and Ryan Gosling.
After production wrapped on Boardwalk Empire, this entire outfit – including the dinner suit, shirt, bow tie, square-dotted waistcoat, and shoes – were auctioned at ScreenBid.com.
The outfit was described as:
This dark blue and black striped tuxedo has a black lapel and includes a black vest with a blue square pattern. The tuxedo shirt, as worn by Chalky – as played by Michael Kenneth Williams – is a bib shirt with a detachable collar and white stripe by St. Laurie. Also included in the lot is a black faille bowtie and silver/black square shirt studs, as well as Chalky’s shoes.
NB: The silver and black studs were not ever featured on the show, to the best of my knowledge.
How to Get the Look
Chalky White incorporates a welcome dose of color into his black tie ensemble, hosting nightly at the Onyx Club in a striped navy tux and rotating cycle of fancy waistcoats.
- Dark navy satin-striped wool single-breasted 1-button dinner jacket with black grosgrain-faced peak lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, black grosgrain-covered 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Gold eight-pointed star lapel pin with blue stone
- Blue-toned patterned silk 6-button waistcoat with lapels
- Dark navy satin-striped wool flat front formal trousers with black grosgrain side braid, on-seam side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- White formal shirt with narrow-pleated bib and double/French cuffs
- Detachable wing collar
- Gold mother-of-pearl shirt studs
- Gold cuff links
- Black faille diamond-ended bow tie
- Black calf leather 5-eyelet plain-toe balmorals/oxford shoes
- Dark navy dress socks
- Gold square-cased wristwatch with gold square dial on black leather strap