Colin Farrell as Ray Velcoro, troubled and crooked Vinci PD detective
Ventura County, California, fall 2014 to spring 2015
Series: True Detective
Air Dates: June 21, 2015 – August 9, 2015
Creator: Nic Pizzolatto
Costume Designer: Alix Friedberg
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
True Detective returns to HBO tonight with the premiere of its third season, which has been suggested to be a return to form after the poorly received second season, which aired three and a half years ago.
The second season was a well-intended—if not perfectly executed—departure from the first season, transporting us from the evocative Louisiana swamplands to the noir-esque metropolis of southern California, experienced through the shifting perspectives and murky morals of three cops and an ambitious gangster. While all four shared the spotlight throughout the series, Colin Farrell’s Ray Velcoro emerged as the show’s likeliest contender for central character.
We meet Velcoro during his tenure as a troubled and incorrigibly crooked detective with the fictional Vinci, California police department and tapped to serve on a task force with Ventura County detective Ani Bezzerides (Rachel McAdams) and CHP officer Paul Woodrugh (Taylor Kitsch) to solve the murder of a shady city manager, Ben Caspere. Velcoro begins collecting clues through his own shady sources, including the aforementioned gangster Frank Semyon (Vince Vaughn), and Velcoro’s independent investigation leads him to a secret home owned by Caspere… where Velcoro is blasted with two non-lethal rounds from a shotgun.
What’d He Wear?
Ray Velcoro established an image—and reputation—as a “cowboy cop” in the first two episodes, cycling through a wardrobe of Western-styled tweed jackets, snap-front shirts, bolo ties, jeans, and cowboy boots. The series’ third episode, “Maybe Tomorrow” (Episode 2.03), finds him in recovery from the shotgun incident, checking in with his doctor, his superiors, and his grumpy ex-cop father Eddie (Fred Ward).
For this off-duty day, and intermittently through three episodes to follow—”Down Will Come” (Episode 2.04), “Church in Ruins” (Episode 2.06), and the arguably strongest episode “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” (Episode 2.07)—Velcoro adopts the more casual attire of a denim trucker jacket with a light, copper brown corded collar.
Velcoro’s Wrangler trucker jacket was one of the more popular wardrobe items from True Detective‘s second season. The manufacturer was quickly confirmed by the small black logo patch with “Wrangler” in yellow, stitched in just above the left chest pocket, but fans have also suggested that the jacket is of 1990s vintage, tailored to fit Colin Farrell.
The dark blue denim jacket has six metal buttons down the front and a seventh bottom button on a short extended tab along the waistline. All seven buttons correspond to a horizontal buttonhole reinforced with copper-colored thread to match the color of the thin-waled corduroy collar. (It was Lee who pioneered the contrasting corduroy collar with their 101LJ in the 1930s, rebranded the “Storm Rider” the following decade.)
Velcoro adopts the subtle disguise of a lighter wash denim jacket with a regular collar when trying to entrap his boss in the season finale, “Omega Station” (Episode 2.08). Evidently, wearing his own Wrangler trucker jacket would have made it too obvious that it was him so he had to find a different jean jacket for his disguise, complete with large-framed aviators and cowboy hat. Just the sort of outfit to blend in at a train station in Anaheim… sure.
Velcoro’s favorite shirts are the slightly oversized washed cotton utility shirts often associated with outdoors wear retailers like Eddie Bauer or L.L. Bean. The one he wears most frequently with his corded-collar Wrangler denim jacket is a drab olive green color with mixed brown urea plastic buttons, worn in “Maybe Tomorrow” (Episode 2.03), “Church in Ruins” (Episode 2.06), and “Black Maps and Motel Rooms” (Episode 2.07). The shirt has two box-pleated patch pockets on the chest that each close with a single button through a mitred-corner flap. Each cuff closes on one of two buttons for an adjustable fit as well as a smaller button on the gauntlet that Velcoro typically leaves undone.
“Down Will Come” (Episode 2.04) is the sole time that Velcoro wears a different shirt with his Wrangler jacket and jeans, opting for the light blue chambray cotton shirt that is also seen with his taupe tweed jacket. Based on the U.S. Navy’s classic work shirt, this chambray shirt has large off-white plastic buttons on the front placket. Each chest pocket has mitred bottom corners and as single button through the top to fasten it to the shirt. // These buttons don’t fare so well during Velcoro’s drug-fueled binge in the same episode when he tears the front of the shirt open, leaving only the top three buttons intact. His dramatic gesture
Under all of his shirts, Velcoro typically wears a white ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt (or “A-shirt”), though it gets the most exposure in these scenes when he wears his olive utility shirt unbuttoned in the motel room.
During the first half of the season, when Velcoro is still a Vinci PD detective, he prefers to wear black or dark brown cotton stretch jeans with his denim Wrangler jacket, presumably to avoid the “denim sandwich” or “Canadian tuxedo” look.
After he gives up his badge mid-season and goes into private security, Velcoro is more comfortable wearing regular blue denim jeans, specifically a pair of Levi’s 501® Original Fit in a dark indigo wash. Throughout the series, he wears the same wide dark brown leather belt with a large steel single-prong buckle.
Velcoro’s police-issued holster for his Browning Hi-Power is a black right-side belt holster. Once he’s left the force, he carries the same Hi-Power in a tan leather inside-the-waistband (IWB) holster fastened to the back of his jeans with a black clip. He also carries his knife clipped in the right front pocket of his jeans.
Valli Herman reported in a 2015 Costume Designers Guild article that costume designer Alix Friedberg took inspiration from “a blend of law abiders and law breakers… some of Richard Avedon’s weary loaners from In the American West” when developing Ray Velcoro’s Southwestern sartorial aesthetic. Thus, our anti-hero stays true to a pair of brown leather custom-made cowboy boots with a short, square toe from the Stallion Boot Company of El Paso.
What to Imbibe
Doctor: May I ask how much you drink in a given week?
Ray Velcoro: All I can.
It’s no wonder that Ray Velcoro lives his life on the edge, unafraid of the potentially fatal consequences of his investigation while his liver wails for help against an endless barrage of beer, whiskey, vodka, and tequila… and those are just the legal substances he abuses.
Sitting at his usual table at the Black Rose, Velcoro can often be found chain-smoking his Natural American Spirit cigarettes—the yellow pack, equivalent to what used to be called “Lights”—and taking long pulls from his bottles of Modelo Especial. This Mexican beer was first bottled in 1925 and, as of July 2014 when the series was in production, it was the second most imported beer to the United States, selling nearly 23 million cases annually. Modelo Especial is a product of Grupo Modelo, the Mexico City brewery that also brews the Corona and Pacífico export brands.
The most neo-noir moments of True Detective find Ray Velcoro and Ani Bezzerides holding up in their secluded motel room with knives, guns, and a bottle of J.P. Wiser’s Deluxe. J.P. Wiser’s holds the distinction of being Canada’s oldest continually produced Canadian whisky. John Philip Wiser began production of his product at the Charles Payne Distillery in Prescott, Ontario, in 1857.
Perhaps the choice of J.P. Wiser’s whiskey was meant to imply that our protagonists are growing wiser through their collaborative investigation? It’s not a very commonly seen spirit in TV shows and movies, though it did appear in the hands of the violent McManus brothers in The Boondock Saints (1999).
Ray Velcoro carries a Browning Hi-Power as his sidearm both on duty and while working private security for Frank Semyon after his resignation from the Vinci Police Department. While this early “Wonder Nine” semi-automatic pistol remains a reliable, venerable choice eighty years after its development, it’s surprising to see it as a policeman’s authorized sidearm in an age that finds most law enforcement agencies issuing more modern and lighter Glock, SIG-Sauer, and Smith & Wesson handguns with double-action systems.
John Browning began his development of what would become the Browning Hi-Power around the start of World War I in 1914, though it would take more than two decades for the weapon to actually enter production. Working within the French military’s stipulated guidelines of a caliber of 9 mm or larger, weight no more than 1 kilogram,
Working within the French military’s stipulated guidelines, Browning took nearly ten years to create a prototype of a pistol with an external hammer, magazine disconnect, a weight not exceeding one kilogram, and a capacity of at least ten rounds in a caliber of 9 mm or larger. Browning filed his patent in June 1923, but he died four months before the patent was granted in February 1927. It would take another eight years before the Browning Hi-Power was officially introduced to the world, but what an impression it made. Dieudonné Saive expanded on Browning’s design, developing a staggered, double-stacked magazine that expanded the capacity to a full 13 rounds of 9×19 mm Parabellum ammunition, earning it the moniker “Wonder Nine” that would be applied to other high-capacity 9 mm pistols to follow.
How to Get the Look
Ray Velcoro dresses down when off-duty with a denim jacket that he takes caution not to wear with matching jeans, a pro tip for trucker jacket wearers who don’t want to look like they’re sporting a mismatched leisure suit.
- Dark blue denim Wrangler trucker jacket with camel brown corded collar, chest pockets with button-down flaps, hand pockets, and single-snap cuffs
- Olive drabi washed cotton utility shirt with spread collar, front placket, button-down flapped inverted box-pleat chest pockets, and button cuffs
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless A-style undershirt
- Dark blue denim Levi’s 501 Original Fit jeans
- Brown leather belt with dulled steel squared single-prong buckle
- Brown leather square-toed cowboy boots
As of January 2019, the only new denim jacket that Wrangler offers with a corded collar is the Wrangler® Blanket Lined Denim Jacket, lined with a red buffalo check flannel acrylic material that adds a warm, rustic aesthetic. However, ASOS and other manufacturers currently offer corded-collar trucker jackets without visible blanket lining.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
The first season of True Detective earned the show a reputation that some say was blemished by the second season, though I think the latter sits better when watched independently rather than as an extension of the first.
Either way, early reviews for the third season starring Mahershala Ali sound as though it’s worth tuning in tonight!
Frankly, I’m apoplectic.