Emile Hirsch as Clyde Barrow, amateur armed robber
Texas, Spring 1932
Series Title: Bonnie and Clyde
Air Date: December 8, 2013
Director: Bruce Beresford
Costume Designer: Marilyn Vance
Earlier this week, I posted about the (possibly brown) single-breasted, peak-lapel suit worn by Derrick De Marney in Hitchcock’s 1930s thriller Young and Innocent. Today’s post expands on that theme, exploring a similar suit worn by another desperate young man on the run during the 1930s.
A trigger-happy killer who rarely displayed remorse or reason, the real Clyde Barrow was certainly no BAMF, but his exploits with partner-in-crime Bonnie Parker were almost immediately romanticized by a hungry public during the early years of the Great Depression. Their story thus became fodder for several stylized cinematic adaptations, most prominently the iconic 1967 film Bonnie and Clyde with the unrealistically attractive Faye Dunaway and Warren Beatty assuming the title roles.
The Bruce Beresford-directed miniseries Bonnie and Clyde aired in two parts in December 2013, taking a different approach that recreated many of the lesser known facts and figures from Clyde Barrow and Bonnie Parker’s crime spree.
Of course, that’s not to say that the miniseries follows historical detail. Bonnie and Clyde historians may have been interested to see filmed depictions of the gang’s exploits like the tragic killing of John Bucher, the Grapevine double murder, and the car crash that badly burned Bonnie for the last months of her life, but much dramatic license is taken in presenting these incidents, often out of order and without adhering to the known facts.
What’d He Wear?
In the series, Clyde Barrow sports a brown nailhead worsted suit for the inauspicious start to his criminal career with Bonnie. Though a full cut was certainly fashionable during the 1930s, Clyde’s oversized suit dwarfs him to the point that he is reduced to the appearance of a little boy wearing his father’s clothes. The ill-fitting suit is a realistic touch given Clyde’s modest budget as a two-bit hood.
The single-breasted, ventless suit jacket with its wide peak lapels is consistent with fashions of the era. The already oversized jacket is emphasized with roped, padded shoulders and a full cut. The jacket has a welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, four-button cuffs, and a two-button front that Clyde wears open.
The low-rise trouser are reverse-pleated with a full cut through the legs down to the cuffed bottoms. The baggy fit was more acceptable in the 1930s, but I would still give these trousers a longer rise and a lifted break over his shoes to reduce the aforementioned “little boy in his dad’s clothes” image. Clyde wears a wide black leather belt with a squared steel single-prong buckle, similar to belts that the real Clyde Barrow had been photographed wearing during his lifetime.
Clyde wears a light gray cotton shirt with a point collar, front placket, and button cuffs. Based on the space around his neck, it’s just as oversized as his suit and adds to the overall image of Clyde being overwhelmed by the ambitions of his criminality.
Abstract printed ties were en vogue during the early ’30s. “Hand painted art deco designs started in the ’20s but really found a place in the 1930s,” wrote Debbie Sessions of Vintage Dancer. “Earthy greens, yellows, peach, and blues were the predominant colors of the ’30s.” Clyde’s short, wide silk tie with its gray and gold leaves printed on a dark “midnight green” ground was typical of the era.
Clyde wears an olive felt fedora with a non-contrasting grosgrain band and a non-trimmed overwelt edge. He previously wore this same hat with his charcoal chalkstripe three-piece suit before graduating to a better looking and better proportioned gray fedora.
Following his release from prison, Bonnie takes Clyde to a Texas motel for their first night together. He sits wearing only his underwear, a pair of era-specific light blue cotton boxer shorts with a two-button fly, before Bonnie makes her move.
Clyde wears the same black leather cap-toe derby shoes seen in other early scenes with a pair of light gray socks.
How to Get the Look
You’ll certainly want a better fitting suit, but Clyde’s early suit is consistent both with the era’s fashions and his real life counterpart’s eye for style.
- Brown nailhead worsted oversized suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with wide peak lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Reverse-pleated low-rise trousers with tall belt loops, side pockets, back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Light gray cotton shirt with point collar, front placket, and button cuffs
- Midnight green silk tie with gray and gold leaf print
- Wide black leather belt with squared steel single-prong buckle
- Black leather four-eyelet cap-toe derby shoes
- Light gray socks
- Pale blue cotton undershorts with a 2-button waistband closure
- Olive felt fedora with olive grosgrain ribbon