James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob chief
North Caldwell, New Jersey, Spring 2000
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Full Leather Jacket” (Episode 2.08)
Air Date: March 5, 2000
Director: Allen Coulter
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
It’s the jaaacket!
As a series centered around life in the American Mafia, it’s no surprise that the fashions of The Sopranos feature plenty of leather jackets. But there’s only one jaaacket, and it’s this piece of throwback outerwear that gives the eighth episode of the second season its name.
Guest star David Proval (who turns 77 today!) starred as Richie Aprile, the excessively prideful ex-con who believes his “old school” values earn him a top spot in the North Jersey mob pecking order, though he often clashes against the rules established by new boss Tony Soprano (James Gandolfini).
Amid rising tensions between the two, Richie makes the peace offering of a leather jacket to Tony, excitedly recalling that he had taken the jacket a generation earlier from a famous local tough… but Tony is, at best, bemused by the vintage gift.
“Junior’s aside when Richie gives Rocco’s jacket to Tony—’He later died of Alzheimer’s’—illustrates how meaningless Richie’s petty, long-ago victory was,” notes Sopranos scholars Matt Zoller Seitz and Alan Sepinwall in their essay about the episode in The Sopranos Sessions, released to great acclaim earlier this year. “When Rocco breathed his last, he didn’t remember Richie’s triumph or anything else.”
After granting the jacket a sniff, Tony pays Richie the ultimate insult when—during a visit to Tony’s home—Richie spies the Soprano maid’s husband sledging through the house in his prized coat.
What’d He Wear?
Prior to “Full Leather Jacket”, we never actually see Tony Soprano wearing a leather jacket as all of his casual outerwear to this point had been cotton or gabardine bomber-style jackets. Of course, one minute in the coat received from ultimate trendsetter Richie Aprile, and Tony would soon begin wearing blousons and blazers in black and dark brown leather from the end of the second season through the series finale.
One could hardly call Richie Aprile’s taste in clothing refined, and his outerwear in particular seems to consist of a cycle of ratty Members Only jackets. However…
Tony: What’s dis?
Richie: “What’s dis?” It’s the jaaacket!
Tony: The jacket…
Richie: The jacket I took off Rocco DeMeo.
Tony: Oh yeah… yeah.
Richie: Cocksucker had the toughest reputation in Essex County, but he never came back after I got ‘tru wit’ him.
Uncle Junior: He later died of Alzheimer’s.
Tony: Oh yeah?
Richie: Try it on!
Tony: It’s your fuckin’ jacket.
Richie: You love this jacket! You and my kid brother, you woulda killed for this jacket… silk lining, fine Corinthian leather… nobody believed with my size, I could carry this jacket, but with the belt… it was like Rommel.
Tony: It’s a… nice jacket.
The mahogany leather car coat has wide lapels that suggest its 1970s provenance and closes with a closely spaced 4×2-button double-spaced front with a full self-belt that wraps around the waist and closes through a single-prong buckle. The bellows pockets on the hips are box-pleated with quilted single-button flaps that match the quilting on the wide turnback cuffs.
Richie claims that the coat is made from “fine Corinthian leather,” a marketing shortcut for the Newark-processed leather developed by Chrysler in the mid-’70s. Chrysler’s advertising agency Bozell had first used the term “Corinthian leather” the previous year in advertising materials for the 1974 Imperial LeBaron, though it was popularized by celebrity spokesperson Ricardo Montalban as he described the “rich Corinithan leather” used to make the cushioned seats offered in the 1975 Chrysler Cordoba.
The lining does appear to be silk, per Richie’s dialogue, though the sky blue, old gold, and white paisley pattern covering it is hardly the stuff of opulent luxury.
Tony wears a short-sleeve cream-and-black knit pullover, styled like a T-shirt with a raised and ribbed mock-neck in cream. The ends of the elbow-length short sleeves and the hem are also ribbed in cream, except for the right sleeve which is black to match that side of the shirt. In a January 2020 Instagram post, my friend @tonysopranostyle identified the maker as Tuscan, appropriately an Italian-made company. (Check out his post to learn more about the look and to see a similar shirt in a different colorway!)
The shirt is mostly cream save for the front right side—including the right sleeve—that is black. The black right side is separated by the cream left side with a tan zig-zag vertical line that begins a series of parallel zig-zag lines in white, brown, tan, white, and brown out to the end of that side of the shirt, all extending down from the shoulder seam to just above the ribbed hem. The only decoration on the black right side of the shirt is a small abstract embroidered pattern in dark brown, beige, and tan that resembles steam rising from a freshly poured cup of coffee.
Tony wears black trousers with either double or triple sets of reverse pleats, side pockets, and jetted back pockets that each close with a button. The untucked shirt covers his waist, though he’s probably wearing a black belt.
Contrasting the flashy jacket and loud shirt on his upper half, Tony wears a subdued pair of black calf apron-toe derby shoes and black socks.
Naturally, Tony wears his full complement of gold jewelry and accessories, including his yellow gold Rolex Day-Date ref. 18238 on the “President” link bracelet, gold wedding ring, ruby-and-diamond gold ring on his right pinky, and gold figaro chain-link bracelet on his right wrist. While we don’t see it due to the high neck of his pullover, he likely is wearing his usual gold necklace with the St. Jerome pendant as well.
How to Get the Look
Whether you’re trying to look like Rocco DeMeo or Robert Evans, Richie Aprile’s got you covered with a super ’70s jacket.
- Mahogany “Corinthian leather” double-breasted car coat with wide lapels, self-belt, box-pleated bellows pockets with quilted flaps, and quilted gauntlet cuffs
- Cream-and-black abstract patterned knit mock-neck
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
- Black double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted button-through back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Black leather belt with single-prong buckle
- Black calf leather apron-toe derby shoes
- Black socks
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
- Rolex President Day-Date 18238 yellow gold wristwatch
- Gold open-link chain bracelet
- Gold pinky ring with ruby and diamond stones
- Gold wedding ring
- Gold open-link chain necklace with round St. Jerome pendant
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the entire series, but watch the second season to see the jaaacket!
So what brings you to an English-speaking neighborhood?