Michael Douglas as Nick Curran, suspended homicide detective
San Francisco, April 1991
Film: Basic Instinct
Release Date: March 20, 1992
Director: Paul Verhoeven
Costume Designer: Ellen Mirojnick
The nylon bomber jacket has made a comeback in recent years with few knowing the story of its all-too appropriate name, developed as the “MA-1” in the 1950s for American bomber pilots to replace the older B-15 flight jacket. Two decades later, the bomber jacket hit the civilian market with manufacturers like Alpha Industries introducing it to new audiences in colors other than the standard military olive drab. It was further popularized in TV and movies, including the almost ubiquitous appearance of an Alpha Industries MA-1 worn by Steve McQueen in The Hunter (1980).
Though the MA-1 bomber jacket was being phased out of active military use by the early ’90s, it still remained a staple of men’s casual wear and was a fitting choice as the go-to off-duty jacket worn by Michael Douglas’ fashionably tailored homicide detective Nick Curran in Basic Instinct.
What’d He Wear?
Having spent much of the early portion of Basic Instinct in custom tailored suits and shirts from Cerruti and Anto, respectively, the recently suspended Nick Curran makes the most of his suspension by noticeably dressing down for a night of clubbing with the mysterious Catherine Tramell (Sharon Stone).
Nick struts into the club wearing a large and loose sage green sweater with a ribbed waist hem and a deep v-neck. The sweater is rather nice, likely made from a luxurious soft wool like merino or cashmere, but Nick’s decision to wear it sans undershirt results in a somewhat sleazy effect that may fit in at a coked up den of iniquity like Johnny Boz’s club but doesn’t age the outfit well… plus a wool sweater against bare skin in a sweaty dance club won’t do any favors to the sweater or the skin.
Following his tryst with Catherine, Nick steps outside to find her with her sometime girlfriend Roxy (Leilani Sarelle). He’s zipped up to protect himself against the cold in a black nylon bomber jacket, complete with two snap-flapped hand pockets, a zippered patch pocket on his left sleeve with two pencil slots, and black ribbed knit collar, cuffs and blouson-style hem.
Michael Douglas is likely wearing an original Alpha Industries MA-1 jacket, still manufactured nearly five decades after they were introduced to the civilian market. You can pick one up in any of seven colors – including black – for $150 on Amazon or the Alpha Industries site, which suggests it as the perfect garment for “a spontaneous night in the city.” I’m sure Nick Curran would agree!
Not sure if a black nylon bomber jacket is right for you? (Spoiler: it probably is!) Try this affordable $30 Jackson™ bomber jacket from Target (link).
When meeting his partner, Gus “Cowboy” Moran (George Dzundza), to break the news about his amended nature of his association with the dangerous Miss Tramell, Nick wears the same outfit but with a dark burgundy knit polo shirt thankfully replacing the green sweater. The shirt has three large mother-of-pearl sew-through buttons on the top placket, and Nick curiously wears the shirt collar over the knit collar band of his jacket.
Nick wears a pair of medium-light blue wash jeans with a straight leg and the familiar red tag on the back pocket indicating that these are likely Levi’s 505™ Regular Fit jeans in what would now be called “medium stonewash” denim. Marketed on the Levi’s site as “the original zip fly jeans,” the 505 Regular Fit was first created in 1967 and is currently celebrating its 50th year of production. Nick wears his Levi’s with a dark brown leather belt.
Nick wears chestnut brown suede desert boots with brown socks, best seen when approaching Catherine the morning after their first night together.
He is certainly meant to be wearing the same boots that evening with Gus, but a shot of Michael Douglas’ stuntman leaping out of the way of Roxy’s speeding Lotus reveals a pair of black leather trainers with flat soles.
Nick’s watch, a plain stainless wristwatch with a white dial and steel expanding bracelet, doesn’t get much screen time in this sequence, further evading any sort of positive identification.
How to Get the Look
Nick Curran’s bomber jacket, jeans, and desert boots are pure McQueen (and thus, highly BAMF-endorsed) but the deep v-neck without a shirt underneath? I bet you can find a way to do better!
- Black nylon MA-1 bomber jacket with flap hip pockets, zip-up left sleeve pocket, and knit collar and cuffs
- Alpha Industries MA-1 Flight Jacket: Amazon
- Sage green soft wool v-neck long-sleeve sweater
- Medium blue stonewash Levi’s 505 Regular Fit straight-leg denim jeans
- Levi’s 505 Regular Fit Jeans: Amazon
- Dark brown leather belt with single-prong buckle
- Chestnut brown suede desert boots
- Black socks
- Stainless steel wristwatch with round white dial on steel expanding bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Looking for a more traditional way to sport an otherwise fine green v-neck sweater? Nick Curran also revives the sweater a few scenes later, this time layered over one of his attractive brown cotton Anto dress shirts.
You can also take notes from fellow former San Francisco detective John “Scottie” Ferguson (James Stewart) in Vertigo (1958), who wears a similar sweater with a plain white shirt as seen in Tuesday’s post.