Michael Kenneth Williams as Albert “Chalky” White, nightclub owner and bootlegger
Atlantic City, August 1924
Series: Boardwalk Empire
Episode: “Farewell Daddy Blues” (Episode 4.12)
Air Date: November 24, 2013
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: Terence Winter
Costume Designer: John A. Dunn
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
This weekend is St. Patrick’s Day, a time when many observe the feast day of Ireland’s foremost patron saint by donning their greenest attire and celebrating in a range of style, whether it’s the customary indulgence in classic Irish recipes like corned beef and cabbage or the more contemporary tradition of getting plastered on Jameson and taking selfies next to an artificially viridescent Chicago River.
If you’re at a loss for what to wear, you can take a page from the Chalky White playbook and borrow some green tweeds.
The fourth season finale of Boardwalk Empire finds the once-powerful gangster Chalky returning from a violently interrupted recuperation at his uncle’s homestead in Havre de Grace, Maryland. Returning to Atlantic City, Chalky confronts his former ally Nucky Thompson (Steve Buscemi) at gunpoint and demands the politician-turned-bootlegger’s help in ridding himself of his rival, the urbane Dr. Valentin Narcisse (Jeffrey Wright).
Chalky then confronts Dr. Narcisse at the Onyx Club that he once ruled. The two enemies agree to trade “a daughter for a Daughter” as Dr. Narcisse will return Chalky’s kidnapped daughter Maybelle to him in exchange for the whereabouts of their shared paramour Daughter Maitland (Margot Bingham)… just when the ultimate tragedy strikes, sending Chalky retreating back to the relatively safe harbor of Havre de Grace, where we leave the depressed ex-gangster drinking to the tune of Ms. Bingham singing Ma Rainey’s blues classic “Farewell Daddy Blues” that lent its title to the episode.
What’d He Wear?
The only information that Chalky volunteers about his new threads is that they are borrowed, though it’s a fortuitous fit as Michael K. Williams looks sharper than many would in the secondhand suit.
Green had a rather unexplored color for Chalky up to this point, whose suits had been almost every other major color but green up to this point, though he did wear a stylish navy-and-green plaid suit in the first episode of the season while at the Onyx Club. He makes his less-than-triumphant return in the season finale wearing another man’s green tweed suit with a single-breasted, two-button suit jacket.
Chalky wears a pale blue cotton shirt with a green cast that complements his suit. He wears the shirt buttoned up the wide front placket to the neck, where it has a large, soft attached point collar, a noted contrast with the starched with club collars that he had always worn with his colorful patterned shirts up to this point.
The suit has a matching six-button waistcoat, with narrowly welted pockets and a short notched bottom, and flat front trousers with a full fit and finished on the bottoms with turn-ups (cuffs).
Chalky wears a pair of brown leather cap-toe boots with derby lacing, a timeless and sharp style that would look just as good with a business suit for a job interview, with jeans for a night out, or with a borrowed tweed suit when hoofing it hundreds of miles between Atlantic City and a small Chesapeake town in Maryland.
Perhaps contributing most to Chalky’s appearance when he first appears at the outset of “Farewell Daddy Blues” (Episode 4.12) is a ratty beige scarf, dirty and frayed around the edges and seemingly serving no greater purpose than illustrating for Nucky just how far his former friend has fallen. Chalky wisely abandons the scarf for his meeting with Dr. Narcisse later in the episode.
Chalky also has a brown felt fedora with a brown ribbed grosgrain silk ribbon, though the hat doesn’t do him any favors as it’s hardly the quality of his prior headgear and he wears it far back on his head with the brim upturned like a porkpie.
Chalky White’s sartorial approach may be different, but his armament certainly isn’t. He confronts Nucky with his matched set of nickel-plated M1911A1 pistols with wide bores indicating .45 ACP. This is the same pair that he first drew down on Meyer Lansky toward the end of the first season and had notably carried—and used to great effect—in the seasons to follow.
Little is seen to provide positive identification of Chalky’s 1911 pistols, but—if they are indeed from the early 1920s time period of the show—that limits the potential manufacturer not only to Colt but also to North American Arms Company, Remington-UMC, and Springfield Armory, the three manufacturers identified in Bruce Canfield’s 2011 article for American Rifleman detailing the “non-Colt” 1911s produced during the World War I era.
Of course, more than a century after the venerated pistol debuted, almost every major firearms manufacturer from SIG-Sauer and Smith & Wesson to Detonics and Kimber has taken their shot (pun not intended) at delivering their own fresh take on John Browning’s classic semi-automatic pistol design.
How to Get the Look
Far from his bold plaid suits, colorful bow ties, and astrakhan fur-collared coats, Chalky White carries himself with his characteristic pride and dignity that gives a boost to his borrowed tweeds.
- Green tweed suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets
- Single-breasted 6-button waistcoat with welted pockets and notched bottom
- Flat front trousers with turn-ups/cuffs
- Pale blue cotton shirt with large point collar, wide front placket, and button cuffs
- Brown calf leather cap-toe derby-laced boots
- Brown felt fedora with brown ribbed grosgrain silk ribbon
- Beige scarf with frayed edges
Though not one of the character’s signature outfits, it’s certainly worth discussing for its deviance from his usual… as well as its seasonal significance.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Outside my house last night… family inside and I can’t even go in. Wearing another man’s clothes… standing here with my friend.