Jack Nicholson as Francis “Frank” Costello, sadistic Irish-American mob boss
Boston, Summer 2006
Film: The Departed
Release Date: October 6, 2006
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
To celebrate Jack Nicholson’s 80th birthday today, April 22, BAMF Style is looking at an iconic role from his latter career as crime boss Francis “Frank” Costello in The Departed. Nicholson reportedly wanted “a little something more” for his character*, and elements of real-life Boston mobster Whitey Bulger were incorporated into Jack’s eccentric and erratic character.
This brief but memorable scene, featuring Nicholson in some timely springtime pastels, was filmed June 28, 2005 at the Long Wharf in Boston. Two of Massachusetts’ finest, Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) and Sergeant Dignam (Mark Wahlberg), are monitoring Costello’s movements and decide to show their face.
What’d He Wear?
This outfit is one of the more conservative of Costello’s increasingly chaotic wardrobe choices, which include a seersucker blazer with a purple polo shirt, a leopard-print tie with a Glen plaid jacket, and a leopard-print robe (in case he didn’t drive home his animal print fervor strongly enough.)
Nicholson’s desire for his character to jump from the screen extended to his wardrobe as well, as costume designer Sandy Powell explained*: “Basically everybody else is in ordinary street clothes in neutral tones of black, brown, gray, and beige. Originally, we were just going to make Nicholson’s Frank Costello blend in, but after meeting Jack, it was obvious he wanted to take the look a little more to the extreme in terms of color and design. Costello is a guy who has so much power, he can wear whatever he wants and no one would dare question it. So we definitely had more leeway with his character’s wardrobe.”
A hallmark of Costello’s appearance is that his outfit would be congruous if not for one bold item that launches it into chaos; with his Glen plaid jacket, it’s the leopard-print tie, and with his seersucker blazer, it’s the bright fuchsia polo. As he strolls along the Long Wharf, Costello’s relatively traditional outfit of a white shirt, navy striped silk tie, and khakis is thrown off by a lavender jacket. A navy blazer or matching khaki suit jacket would have been the obvious outer layer, but Francis Costello is never one to take the obvious route.
Costello’s lavender linen sportcoat is single-breasted with notch lapels that roll down to the two smoked mother-of-pearl front buttons. The jacket has a welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, single rear vent, and four buttons on each cuff that match the two on the front.
Beyond the jacket, Costello’s attire consists mostly of conventional menswear staples. His white cotton poplin dress shirt has a semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, and button cuffs with a second button to close the gauntlets.
Costello’s tie consists of a repeating pattern of three thin beige, white, and beige stripes running left-down-to-right over a navy jacquard silk ground.
Costello wears khaki gabardine trousers with a full cut that appear to be aided by darts to comfortably curve over Nicholson’s hips. Nicholson wears the trousers low, below his waist line and stomach. They have curved on-seam side pockets and jetted back pockets. His espresso brown leather belt has a curved gold single-prong buckle.
Costello’s dark brown cow leather moc-toe penny loafers coordinate with his belt, worn with dark taupe dress socks.
Costello’s all-brown sunglasses appear to be the Revo “Transport” model with brown alloy frames and “terra” brown polarized lenses. They’ve been discontinued in the years since The Departed but can still be found from online retailers like Amazon or Sierra Trading Post.
Throughout The Departed, Frank Costello wears two distinctive rings on his left hand, a white gold twist ring on the third finger and a yellow gold twisted knot ring on his pinky.
Costello also wears a distinctive digital watch that has been identified by Glenn Moller* as a Nike Big Al “D-Line” WC0001-001. The digital display is flush with the aluminum links, looking more like a bracelet than a traditional wristwatch. The expanding aluminum links are elasticized on a black urethane band. Costello wears the digital model, but an analog version is currently still available on Amazon (as of April 2017) for $150. You might also have some luck on eBay.
How to Get the Look
In The Departed, Jack Nicholson’s clothing illustrates how just one item – say, a bold pastel sport coat – can totally change the look of an otherwise traditional and conservative outfit into something much bolder.
- Lavender linen single-breasted 2-button sportcoat with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, long single vent, and smoked mother-of-pearl buttons
- White cotton poplin dress shirt with semi-spread collar, front placket, breast pocket, button cuffs
- Navy jacquard silk over-striped tie
- Khaki gabardine flat front trousers with belt loops, curved on-seam side pockets, jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with curved gold single-prong buckle
- Dark brown cow leather moc-toe penny loafers
- Taupe dress socks
- Revo “Transport” brown alloy-framed sunglasses with terra brown polarized lenses
- White gold twist ring
- Yellow gold twisted knot ring
- Nike Big Al “D-Line” WC0001-001 aluminum digital sport watch on expanding link bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Buy the movie.
Excuse me, I’ve got a date with some angels.
This outfit, and Nicholson’s unapologetic on-set presence, were beautifully chronicled by James Devaney for Getty Images. These images can be found in the below gallery and also offer some additional insight and details into this idiosyncratic outfit.