Sidney Reilly’s Gray Shawl-Collar Cardigan

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 10: "The Trust")

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly in Reilly: Ace of Spies (Episode 10: “The Trust”)

Vitals

Sam Neill as Sidney Reilly, shrewd anti-Bolshevik and former British agent

Long Island, Fall 1924

Series: Reilly: Ace of Spies
Episode: “The Trust” (Episode 10)
Air Date: November 2, 1983
Director: Martin Campbell
Costume Designer: Elizabeth Waller

Background

Following his trial in absentia for plotting against the Bolsheviks during the Russian Revolution, British agent Sidney Reilly (Sam Neill) has been living in exile in New York, feverishly plotting an anti-Bolshevik invasion of Russia to be led by his comrade Boris Savinkov. His fundraising tactics include a public auction of his vast art collection and various meetings with prospective donors, including an appeal to secure financial support from no less than Henry Ford! The show depicts the Ford meeting as arranged by his ex-wife Nadia, with whom Reilly is on surprisingly good – and I mean good – terms.

In the meantime, Reilly has also hired a new secretary, Eugenie (Eleanor David), of whom he is suspicious. Reilly arrives at his Long Island home one weekend afternoon where Eugenie introduces him to Madame Chinova (Heather Canning), a Russian-born woman who took notes on a brutal interrogation conducted by Soviet agents. Her notes from the interrogation confirm for Reilly the existence of a group known as The Trust… and this group may be the key to Reilly’s plans.

What’d He Wear?

About midway through the episode, Reilly’s dark blue Austin saloon pulls up to his Long Island estate. The chauffeur holds open the rear door, from which Reilly emerges looking every bit the hard-boiled Bogart type in his khaki gabardine trench coat and wide-brimmed beige fedora. The trench coat had been catching on for both men and women in the early 1920s after its popularity among British service members during World War I.

A scene from earlier in the episode as Reilly accompanies the sinister Soviet agent Monkewitz (Forbes Collins).

A scene from earlier in the episode as Reilly accompanies the sinister Soviet agent Monkewitz (Forbes Collins).

Reilly’s trench coat lacks the traditional storm flaps on the front and back, though it has a large collar, epaulettes, and a high 8×4-buttoning double-breasted front that is reinforced by the self-belt buckled around the waist. The raglan sleeves have belted cuffs at the ends, and the back has a box pleat running down the center. Below the belt, a buttoned tab separates the vent from the split pleat. Reilly’s trench coat lacks the traditional storm flaps on the front and back.

Reilly strolls into his home, where Eugenie is waiting at the door. Note the trench coat, fastened midway down the vent below the belt.

Reilly strolls into his home, where Eugenie is waiting at the door. Note the trench coat, fastened midway down the vent below the belt.

Upon entering his home, Reilly swiftly discards his trench coat over a chair to reveal his dressed-down ensemble of a shawl-collar cardigan sweater, bow tie, and trousers.

Reilly’s light gray shawl-collar cardigan is made from heavy gauge ribbed knit wool with a warm, “fuzzy” texture. The top two of its eight brown woven leather buttons are “rolled over” by the expansive shawl collar, and Reilly wears it with four buttons fastened, leaving the lowest button undone to prevent bunching at the waist.

The shawl collar of Reilly's cardigan rolls over the top two buttons. The lack of buttonholes on the left lapel implies that the rolled-over buttons are merely decorative (unless there are toggles beneath the left lapel that the buttons would fasten onto).

The shawl collar of Reilly’s cardigan rolls over the top two buttons. The lack of buttonholes on the left lapel implies that the rolled-over buttons are merely decorative (unless there are toggles beneath the left lapel that the buttons would fasten onto).

The cardigan has no pockets. The cardigan also has tan suede elbow patches on each arm. The cuff of each sleeve is wide-ribbed and rolled back once over each wrist.

Eleanor introduces Reilly to his guest, Madame Chinova.

Eleanor introduces Reilly to his guest, Madame Chinova.

Reilly wears a striped Winchester shirt with a large white point collar contrasting against the light blue-on-white striped shirt. The shirt has mother-of-pearl buttons up the front placket and likely buttoned barrel cuffs that would better fit under the long sleeves of his heavy cardigan sweater.

The real life Reilly was frequently photographed in bow ties, including one famous photograph of the spy looking rather tired and gaunt in 1924, the year of this episode’s setting. With this outfit, Sam Neill’s Reilly wears a patterned butterfly-shaped bow tie in muted tones of brown, tan, and navy paisley.

Reilly listens to Madame Chinova's story.

Reilly listens to Madame Chinova’s story.

Reilly wears dark gray wool trousers, possibly the same pants that he would wear in the following episode with his sky blue argyle sweater and bow tie. Those trousers have double forward pleats, side pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs).

Reilly’s dark brown leather shoes are also appropriate for this more casual outfit. They appear to be cap-toe derbies, slightly darker than the cap-toe oxfords he would wear with the argyle sweater outfit featured in the following episode, and they appear to be worn with dark gray socks that would correctly continue the trouser leg line.

Reilly arrives home. Note the trench coat tossed onto the chair behind him.

Reilly arrives home. Note the trench coat tossed onto the chair behind him.

It’s unconfirmed if Reilly is wearing a wristwatch in this scene as the long sleeves of his cardigan fully cover his wrists, but other scenes depict him wearing a gold tank watch around this time as wristwatches were certainly in style for men by the early 1920s, having been popularized during World War I.

How to Get the Look

Sidney Reilly looks right at home (well, he is at home) standing by his mantle on a chilly fall day in his chunky wool knit cardigan sweater, augmented with the elegant touch of a patterned bow tie and contrast collar shirt.

  • Light gray heavy-gauge ribbed knit wool cardigan sweater with shawl collar, 8 brown woven leather buttons, tan suede elbow patches, and wide-ribbed cuffs
  • Light blue-striped Winchester shirt with contrasting white point collar, front placket, and button cuffs
  • Muted brown and navy paisley-patterned butterfly-shaped bow tie
  • Dark gray wool double forward-pleated trousers with side pockets, jetted right back pocket, and turn-ups/cuffs
  • Dark brown leather cap-toe derby shoes
  • Beige soft felt wide-brimmed fedora with brown grosgrain band
  • Khaki gabardine trench coat with high collar, 8×4-button double-breasted front, belt with buckle, raglan sleeves with belted cuffs, center box-pleated back and single vent
  • Gold tank watch with white square dial on black leather strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the series.

2 comments

  1. Pingback: Sidney Reilly’s Blue Argyle Sweater | BAMF Style
  2. Pingback: Peaky Blinders – Tommy’s Charcoal Herringbone Suit and Model T | BAMF Style

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