Sammy Davis Jr. as Josh Howard, sanitation worker and World War II veteran
Beverly Hills, December 1959
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: August 10, 1960
Director: Lewis Milestone
Costume Designer: Howard Shoup
Tailor: Sy Devore
The days between Christmas and New Year’s Eve are an ideal week for reunions. In the Rat Pack’s arguably most famous film, Danny Ocean (Frank Sinatra) organizes a reunion of eleven men from his 82nd Airborne unit for a heist to ring in the new year.
After deciding not to attempt the life of “a one-eyed third baseman in Mobile,” former paratrooper Josh Howard (Sammy Davis Jr.) took a job in sanitation. “Trash is where you find it,” Josh explains. “You gotta follow the fleet!”
With few other promising prospects, Josh finds himself easily recruited back into the fold of his old army pals for the simultaneous robbery of five Las Vegas casinos at midnight on New Year’s Eve. “He’s the main cog,” Danny tells the team regarding Josh’s role in the heist. “If he goofs, it’s over.”
What’d He Wear?
As a professional sanitation worker, Sammy Davis Jr.’s character Josh Howard spends much of the heist’s planning and execution in the decidedly less-than-glamorous but functional uniform of a gray jumpsuit and turtleneck. However, the kickoff meeting calls for something a little more stylish and Josh is more than up to the task.
Josh dresses for the group meeting in a light gray sport jacket like the group’s leader Danny Ocean, though Davis wears a jacket more conventional in its suiting and styling than Sinatra’s distinctive tweed jacket. Josh’s light gray semi-solid woolen twill jacket appears to be worsted wool with slim notch lapels that roll to a high-buttoning three-button front that, again like Danny, is worn with the top two buttons fastened.
The ventless jacket has two “kissing” cuff buttons at the end of each sleeve and straight, jetted pockets on the hips. In the jacket’s welted breast pocket, Josh wears a gray patterned silk pocket square.
As a contrast to his white-shirted comrades, Josh wears a black-and-white micro-checked shirt that provides an overall gray effect just a shade cooler than his jacket for a natty monochromatic look, balanced by a slim, straight black satin silk tie that coordinates with the trousers. The shirt has a narrow semi-spread collar, a front placket, and squared barrel cuffs that each close with an oversized mother-of-pearl button.
Josh wears a pair of charcoal gray trousers with a medium rise and a thin fitted waistband, shaped over Davis’ hips with reverse pleats. These trousers have frogmouth front pockets, no back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms. The sheen of the trousers suggests a fabric of mohair or a mohair blend, a popular suiting during the era and certainly a favorite of Sammy Davis Jr., who would wear a brown mohair double-breasted suit for the film’s iconic finale.
The sleek, monochromatic outfit gets a subtle pop of color with Josh’s bright red socks, worn with black leather derby shoes.
Josh wears a gold wristwatch with an expanding bracelet on his left wrist, likely Davis’ own watch.
How to Get the Look
Sammy Davis Jr. embraced the opportunity to dress his character in the original Ocean’s Eleven in more than just a sanitation worker’s jumpsuit, opting for a cool, casual ensemble ideal for a low-key evening gathering.
- Light gray semi-solid worsted wool single-breasted 3-button jacket with welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, “kissing” 2-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Light gray micro-checked shirt with slim spread collar, front placket, and large mother-of-pearl button cuffs
- Black silk slim tie
- Charcoal gray mohair reverse-pleated trousers with fitted waistband, frogmouth front pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather two-eyelet V-front derby shoes
- Red socks
- Gold wristwatch on expanding bracelet
- Gray-on-gray patterned silk pocket square
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
It’s simple enough… in my book, “brave” rhymes with “stupid” and it still does.