Josh Brolin as Llewelyn Moss, welder, hunter, and Vietnam veteran
Terrell County, Texas, Summer 1980
Film: No Country for Old Men
Release Date: November 9, 2007
Director: Joel Coen & Ethan Coen
Costume Designer: Mary Zophres
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
As the Monday after Thanksgiving marks the start of deer hunting season here in western Pennsylvania, today seems a fitting day to revisit one of my favorite hunters from modern cinema, Josh Brolin’s laconic Llewelyn Moss in the Coen Bros. masterpeice No Country for Old Men.
Unable to sleep due to his guilty conscience, Llewelyn makes one in a succession of critical errors when he pulls himself out of the bed he shares with his beleaguered wife Carla Jean (Kelly Macdonald) at the Desert Aire Trailer Park in Sanderson. She finds him in the kitchen, fully dressed and filling a jug of water that he plans on taking to a bullet-riddled man he had encountered earlier in the day and had abandoned in favor of an attaché case full of greenbacks.
Llewelyn: If I don’t come back, tell mother I love her.
Carla Jean: Your mother’s dead, Llewelyn.
Llewelyn: Well then I’ll tell her myself.
Obviously aware of the reckless futility of his return mission, Llewelyn’s trouble is compounded when he reaches the site of the massacre only for gunmen to arrive and nip at his heels from the back of a rapidly advancing Ford Bronco.
Llewelyn’s ability to blend in is his strongest asset against his experienced pursuers. He always dresses to match the sandy palette of West Texas, so his nighttime excursion naturally sees a break from his pattern of tan shirts as he wears a pale blue shirt that reflects the night over the desert sky. Pursued by men in suits and vivid colors, Llewelyn is the only one who belongs. They may be able to outpower him at first with their automatic weapons and 4×4 trucks, but he outmaneuvers them by adapting to the natural terrain. After Llewelyn dives into the water, his pursuers are left behind, and only a dog – unencumbered by the trappings of modern technology – is capable to continue the chase.
Of course, it’s a piece of “modern” (at least in this context) technology that stops the dog – a brightly shining 1911-style pistol that signals the destructive power of new technology against old tactics.
What’d He Wear?
Carhartt has enjoyed a time-tested reputation for its durable, heavy-duty work jackets as a favorite of rugged American outdoorsmen for more than a century, so it’s no surprise that Llewelyn Moss dons a Carhartt chore coat when his situation calls for an outer layer. Family-owned since it was founded in 1889, Carhartt celebrates the 100th anniversary of its first chore coat this year (2017). This particular jacket, Carhartt’s iconic #C001, was introduced in 1917 and can still be purchased for $79.99 from Amazon or Carhartt.
The durable coat is made from heavy 12 oz. 100% ringspun cotton duck, a tightly woven canvas whose snag-proof, water-repellent, and wind-resistant qualities make it ideal for working outside. It is colored in a medium mustard tan tone called “Carhartt brown” and the inside is blanket-lined with quilted nylon lining through the sleeves. All of the main seams are triple-stitched and riveted.
The shirt-style collar is brown pinwale corduroy with unseen buttons underneath should the wearer want to add an optional hood. The jacket has five brass metal buttons down the front with two buttons at the end of each sleeve to adjust the fit around the wearer’s wrists. The back is split with pleated “bi-swing” shoulders for additional ease of movement.
The coat has four patch pockets on the outside, all with rounded bottoms and rivets in the top corners. The right chest pocket closes with a button on a rectangular flap, but the other three pockets are open at the top. The right and left hip pockets are both larger than the chest pockets.
Llewelyn wears a light blue-gray striped Western-styled snap-front shirt custom made for the production by Anto Beverly Hills. The thin double sets of broken stripes are coral red in color and change direction for an “uphill” diagonal direction on the front placket and chest pockets (though they remain vertical on the pocket flaps).
The shirt is detailed with a single pointed Western yoke in the center of the back and a pointed yoke on each front shoulder above the chest. The shirt has smoked snaps up the front placket though there is a standard plastic sew-through button at the neck that Llewelyn wears unbuttoned. Both chest pockets have a pointed flap with a center snap to close. There are three snaps at the end of each cuff.
Underneath the shirt, which Llewelyn rips apart to use as a makeshift tourniquet after he is wounded, he wears a white ribbed cotton sleeveless A-shirt. Several undershirts from the film’s production have been auctioned off from usual underwear brands like Fruit of the Loom and Hanes.
Llewelyn sticks to his standard blue Levi’s 505™ Regular Fit jeans that he wears (sans belt) through the film. Celebrating its 50th year in production, the 505 Regular Fit is marketed as “the original zip fly” jeans. You can pick up a pair of 505s in a rick dark blue stonewash denim a la Llewelyn from Levi’s or discounted at Amazon.
One of the first items that Llewelyn loses when he starts his desperate run away from the Bronco gunmen is his beige straw cowboy hat with its wide curved brim. The cattleman crown is ventilated with three small eyelets on each side and has a thin, plain dark brown leather band tied around its base, similar to the Stetson Rancher.
When Llewelyn’s run takes him to the edge of the water, he determines that he needs to remove his jacket and boots before diving in. (Hence the Converse sneakers he wears in the following scene before picking up a pair of Larry Mahan boots.) His well-worn cowboy boots in this scene were crafted by Lucchese, according to an auction listing for this outfit, from aged dark brown leather with smooth shafts and tall heels.
Removing the boots reveals Llewelyn’s white tube socks, an uninteresting but unsurprising choice given that he later tells a salesman that when it comes to hosiery, “white’s all I wear.”
Llewelyn’s single piece of visible jewelry is a plain yellow gold wedding band that he wears on the third finger of his left hand.
An authentic detail of Llewelyn Moss’ on-screen wardrobe is his commitment to wearing durable, trusted workwear from strictly American heritage brands: Levi’s, founded in San Francisco in 1853; Stetson, founded in Philadelphia in 1865; Lucchese, founded in Texas in 1883; and Carhartt, founded in Michigan in 1889. In fact, save for the Larry Mahans and Converses that he would wear in later scenes, all of these companies had existed in one form or another before the turn of the 20th century and had thus been around for nearly a century by the time of the film’s 1980 setting.
How to Get the Look
The only time that Llewelyn Moss adds a layer to his usual outfit of a patterned snap-front shirt, blue Levi’s jeans, and cowboy boots, he opts for timeless rugged outerwear in the form of a Carhartt duck chore coat, ideal for outdoorsmen.
- Medium brown duck cotton canvas Carhartt chore coat with brown pinwale corduroy collar, five gold-toned buttons, four patch pockets, adjustable button cuffs, and pleated bi-swing shoulders
- Light blue-gray red-striped cotton Western-yoked shirt with point collar, front placket (with smoke snaps), chest patch pockets (with pointed single-snap flaps), and triple-snap cuffs
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
- Levi’s 505 Regular Fit non-stretch cotton denim jeans in dark blue stonewash
- Dark brown leather Lucchese cowboy boots
- White tube socks
- Beige straw Stetson cowboy hat with three-eyelet ventilated crown, curved brim, and thin dark brown leather band
- Gold wedding band
As Josh Brolin wears this outfit through several action scenes, many screen-used pieces from it in various states of distress and disrepair have been featured in different auctions: YourProps.com (Screen-Used Costume), YourProps.com (Stunt Costume 1 and 2), iCollector.com (Carhartt jacket), iCollector.com (rest of outfit).
Earlier in the day, Llewelyn Moss had been out hunting pronghorn when he came across the grisly scene of a drug deal gone wrong. Following a trail of blood, he discovered the lone survivor who made it to the shaded refuge of a tree with a valise full of cash and a shiny nickel-plated Colt Government Model semi-automatic pistol.
Brushing off the pistol’s source as “the gettin’ place” when Carla Jean inquires about it, Llewelyn packs it for his return trek to the massacre site. The decision was fortuitous as Moss finds himself relentlessly pursued and outgunned by a group of a gunmen in the back of a Bronco. Llewelyn swims to relative safety, but it’s not enough to keep away the gunmen’s dog.
Moss makes it to shore with just enough time to blow the pistol dry, eject the magazine and eject the live round in the chamber that had been compromised by the river water, reload and rechamber it, and fatally wound his canine assassin.
Cormac McCarthy’s source novel, which the Coens reverently and faithfully adapted for the screen, describes the pistol as “a nickelplated government .45 automatic,” with reference to a grip safety leaving no doubt to the 1911-series pistol that McCarthy had in mind as he penned the words.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
McCarthy had originally written the story as a screenplay, which explains both the uniquely simple writing style and why it translated so well to screen when the Coens so faithfully adapted it for their Oscar-winning screenplay.
I’m fixin’ to do something dumber than hell, but I’m going anyways.