Al Pacino as Tony Montana, impulsive and hotheaded cocaine dealer
Miami, Summer 1981
Release Date: December 9, 1983
Director: Brian De Palma
Costume Designer: Patricia Norris
Tailor: Tommy Velasco
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Brian de Palma’s 1983 drug epic Scarface celebrated its 35th anniversary yesterday. A remake of a 1932 gangster film that itself took inspiration from the life of Al Capone, Scarface met with negative critical reception at the time of its release though it was a box office hit and racked up Golden Globe nods for lead actors Al Pacino and Steven Bauer.
As in the 1932 version, one scene finds the rising gangster returning home to flaunt his wealth in front of his concerned mother (Míriam Colón) and his devoted sister (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio). Waiting out by the car is the gangster’s flashy young pal, who catches sight of the gangster’s younger sister and is immediately smitten.
What’d He Wear?
“You think you can come in here with your hot-shot clothes and make fun of us?” shouts Mama Montana at her son during his first visit home in five years. Tony’s white three-piece suit and black open-neck shirt for a visit to the Montana family homestead clearly recalls the iconic disco suit worn by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever (1977).
Interestingly, Travolta’s character in Saturday Night Fever idolized Pacino, having a Serpico poster on his wall, quoting Dog Day Afternoon, and invoking Pacino’s name when half-dressed to shock his elderly grandmother. More than a decade later, Travolta would again co-opt a Pacino look with his cinephile character’s supposedly Serpico-influenced black leather jacket in Get Shorty (1995).
…but back to Scarface, where Pacino himself wore a white three-piece suit that was likely made for the production by Paramount tailor Tommy Velasco.
Even if the overall aesthetic was inspired by Saturday Night Fever, the details of Tony’s suit were updated for ’80s trends with the jacket’s dramatic peak lapels reduced to standard notch lapels that roll to a single-button closure. The jacket also has wide, padded shoulders with roped sleeveheads, “kissing” two-button cuffs, long double vents, and straight flapped hip pockets. Tony wears a black pocket square loosely puffed in the jacket’s welted breast pocket for a gauche match with his shirt.
The suit’s matching single-breasted waistcoat (vest) has five buttons, which Tony correctly wears with just the top four fastened, and jetted lower pockets in line with the fourth button down.
Tony’s plain-fronted trousers have flared bottoms finished with turn-ups (cuffs). His belt is black with a squared gold single-prong buckle.
Tony wears a soft black silk shirt with a spread collar that he wears flattened over the jacket lapels with the top half of the shirt’s buttons undone. The shirt has a plain front and button cuffs, which he rolls up when he wears the shirt on its own with a pair of cream slacks and a brown leather belt later in the film.
For the nighttime visit to his family, Tony wears black shoes, most likely his black Cuban-style boots with raised heels.
A brief vignette of Tony taking his sister Gina shopping later in the movie also appears to feature this suit, sans waistcoat. For this daytime shopping expedition, Tony wears the same tan patent leather cap-toe oxford shoes that he wears in other scenes, such as with his sky blue suit, gray silk suit, and the white tuxedo at his wedding.
If Mama Montana knew to be suspicious of Tony when he first arrived, her suspicions would have only been further confirmed if she caught up with him a few months later when greater success meant a plethora of gold jewelry festooning his torso, fingers, and wrists.
Tony wears two yellow gold necklaces, a larger Cuban-style chain and a slimmer rope necklace on a longer chain, that both get plenty of screen time due to his low-buttoned shirts. Tony also loads up his right hand with gold rings, wearing a diamond ring on his third finger and a ruby stone on his pinky.
Tony’s Omega La Magique yellow gold wristwatch is iconic in its own right. Less than 650 pieces were produced of the rare La Magique, which was introduced in 1981 and marketed as one of the thinnest watches in the world with its flat, 2.6mm rectangular case.
This isn’t his only white suit as he also wears a low-slung white pinstripe double-breasted suit when visiting Sosa in Bolivia and visiting Elvira poolside.
How to Get the Look
Despite the disco connotations of a white three-piece suit and black open-neck shirt, Tony Montana is never seen actually wearing this combination to the film’s famous Babylon Club… instead, he dons it for the more idiosyncratic occasion of a visit home to his mother and sister.
- White three-piece suit, consisting of:
- Single-button suit jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, 2-button cuffs, and double vents
- Single-breasted 5-button vest with lower jetted pockets, notched bottom, and adjustable back strap
- Flat front medium-rise trousers with belt loops, side pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black silk dress shirt with point collar, plain front, and button cuffs
- Black leather belt with gold single-prong buckle
- Black leather shoes
- Black socks
- Omega La Magique wristwatch on left wrist with gold bracelet, gold rectangular case, and round black dial
- Gold chain-link ID bracelet
- Gold ring with diamond, worn on right ring finger
- Gold ring with square ruby stone, worn on right pinky
- Two yellow gold necklaces
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Your son made it, Mama. He’s a success. That’s why I didn’t come around before. I want you to see what a good boy I’ve been.
Though Tony’s mother’s house is meant to be on the outskirts of Miami, the actual filming location for the Montana abode was 1443 W. E Street in Wilmington, a neighborhood in the harbor region of southern Los Angeles, California, adjacent to Long Beach.