The Talented Mr. Ripley: Dickie’s Yellow Mesh-Knit Shirt

Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Vitals

Jude Law as Dickie Greenleaf, narcissistic profligate playboy

Italy, Summer 1959

Film: The Talented Mr. Ripley
Release Date: December 25, 1999
Director: Anthony Minghella
Costume Design: Ann Roth & Gary Jones

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

My last post focused on one of the unlucky Mr. Greenleaf’s unique summer shirts that fell into the hands of an envious Tom Ripley in Purple Noon (Plein Soleil), the 1960 French adaptation of Patricia Highsmith’s psychological thriller novel The Talented Mr. Ripley. Highsmith’s novel was adapted under its original title by writer and director Anthony Minghella in 1999, starring Jude Law as the expatriate playboy Dickie Greenleaf and Matt Damon as the obsessive Ripley.

Ann Roth and Gary Jones were justifiably nominated for the Academy Award for Best Costume Design based on their work in The Talented Mr. Ripley, establishing Tom Ripley as an obvious outsider to the Italian beach villa lifestyle with his Ivy League corduroy jacket, oxford cloth button-down shirts, and pebbled derbies. On the other hand, the elegant man of leisure, Dickie Greenleaf is perfectly dressed not only for the warm Mediterranean climate but also the simple demands required of a profligate spending his Jet Age summer days and nights hopping from sailboats to jazz clubs.

Shortly after making Tom’s acquaintance, Dickie allows him to spend time at the home that he shares with his fiancée Marge Sherwood (Gwyneth Paltrow) on the Amalfi Coast, in the fictional town of Mongibello. “He makes me laugh,” is Dickie’s reasoning for keeping the awkward Tom around, and the young man shortly joins a welcoming Marge and a cheeky Dickie at breakfast as the latter makes espressos and explains the origins of his distinctive jewelry.

What’d He Wear?

Dickie dresses for breakfast in one of his knit resort shirts, the type he tends to prefer around the house rather than out and about with a blazer and slacks. The soft shirting is yellow and white open-weave mesh. The majority of the shirt is yellow mesh, though a wide white mesh panel does extend down the front of each shirt from the shoulder to just above the waistband.

While the shot may be intended to focus on Dickie's coffee cup, it also gives the audience a closer look at the details of his shirt and shorts.

While the shot may be intended to focus on Dickie’s coffee cup, it also gives the audience a closer look at the details of his shirt and shorts.

The slim one-piece “Italian collar” is also white, curved and styled flat to make it clear that this casual shirt is not to be worn buttoned up to the neck. There is a small patch pocket at the hips, centered on the bottom of each white panel with a yellow banded top.

Styled like a typical short-sleeved sport shirt, the shirt has four mother-of-pearl sew-through buttons down the plain, placket-less front to a short, pointed tab with a double-button closure on the straight-cut bottom. There is also a short vent on each side hem with a stacked two-button closure.

THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY

For morning espressos on the terrace, Dickie wears a wild pair of white shorts with a deep sea-themed print of red, gold, and touches of green featuring fish swimming among sea weeds. They have a white zip fly, side pockets, and jetted back pockets.

For what it’s worth, these shorts were voted the best of Dickie’s shorts in a 15th anniversary commemorative piece published by Bustle on Christmas Eve 2014, second only to the neon-green briefs that Matt Damon sports at the beach for his first encounter with Dickie and Marge.

Later, Tom catches Dickie with Silvana (Stefania Rocca), one of undoubtedly many mistresses from Dickie’s “love ’em then leave ’em” turnstile. Dickie turns to his trusty white linen-silk slacks when sporting this shirt in town, hand-cuffed at the bottoms. These pleated trousers have straight side pockets, button-through back pockets, and belt loops where he wears his black leather Gucci belt.

Dickie works his charm on Silvana.

Dickie works his charm on Silvana.

While Dickie may be wearing a pair of beach-friendly white slip-on plimsolls with his shorts, he appears to be wearing a pair of white leather loafers with hard leather soles when Tom finds him working his charms on Silvana. Per his custom even with jackets and ties, Dickie wears no socks.

We also get a deeper look into the Dickie Greenleaf eyewear collection as he wears a pair of dark, square-framed sunglasses. They are certainly not the distinctive orange Persol shades that Dickie wears later that day when squiring Tom and Marge about on his sailboat.

THE TALENTED MR RIPLEY

“That ring is superb!” Tom can’t help but to comment. After some ribbing from Marge, Dickie tells Tom: “I had to promise – capital P – never to take it off. Otherwise, I’d give it to you.” Chevkov’s ring in question is gold with a gleaming green stone, symbolizing Dickie’s wealth that Tom craves and calling to him in that moment like the green light on the end of Daisy’s dock called to Gatsby.

Tom eyes Dickie's distinctive accessories.

Tom eyes Dickie’s distinctive accessories.

Less distinctive but equally ubiquitous is the gold ridged ring, resembling some wedding bands, that Dickie wears on the middle finger of his right hand. Dickie also wears his usual wristwatch, a steel-cased analog watch with a silver dial and silver mesh bracelet with a single-prong buckle. The watch remains unidentified though online speculation has suggested that it may be a vintage model produced either by Bulova, Hamilton, Longines, or Wittenauer.

Whether Dickie actually wore a Hamilton or not, the Hamilton Jazzmaster is a fitting timepiece for a man of Dickie’s particular interests and lifestyle.

One More Time…

The shirt makes its final appearance in Rome when Tom is packing his suitcases and takes a moment to caress his face with this shirt belonging to his late friend before packing it withe the rest of Dickie’s belongings.

It's one thing to appreciate a friend's taste in clothing. It's something else to do... this?

It’s one thing to appreciate a friend’s taste in clothing. It’s something else to do… this?

Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

Jude Law and Gwyneth Paltrow in The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999)

How to Get the Look

Dickie Greenleaf shows how the power of a single item of clothing as his mesh-knit resort shirt transforms from chaotic to classy merely by swapping out the bottoms that are worn with it.

  • Yellow-on-white mesh-knit short-sleeve sport shirt with curved one-piece collar, plain front, and patch hip pockets
  • White linen-silk pleated trousers with belt loops, straight side pockets, button-through back pockets, and self-cuffed bottoms
  • Black leather Gucci belt
  • White leather loafers
  • Steel wristwatch with silver dial on silver mesh bracelet
  • Gold double-ridged ring, worn on right middle finger
  • Gold signet pinky ring with gold stone, worn on left pinky
  • Dark square-framed sunglasses

The yellow-on-white mesh-knit shirt is very unique. If you want to step in that direction without going all out with buttons and mesh à la Dickie, Rag & Bone offers the beige cotton pajama-piped Greenleaf Shirt, undoubtedly inspired by Jude Law’s insouciant elegance in The Talented Mr. Ripley.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie and read Patricia Highsmith’s novel.

Quote

Now you’ll find out why Miss Sherwood always shows up for breakfast, Tom. It’s not love, it’s my coffee machine.

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