Once Upon a Time in Hollywood: Leo’s Brown Leather Jacket
Leonardo DiCaprio as Rick Dalton, washed-up TV actor
Los Angeles, February 1969
Film: Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood
Release Date: July 26, 2019
Director: Quentin Tarantino
Costume Designer: Arianne Phillips
Now that Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood has been released on video and streaming services, I wanted to get cracking on the much-requested to cover Arianne Phillips’ fantastic costume design that brought the end of the swinging ’60s to life. Phillips’ costume design is one of ten categories for which Once Upon a Time in Hollywood is a contender at the Academy Awards this Sunday, in addition to nominations for Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actor for Leonardo DiCaprio, and Best Supporting Actor for Brad Pitt.
As Pitt’s yellow Aloha shirt and jeans was already the subject of a BAMF Style “preview” post last summer (with a more robust post to come, I assure you!), I wanted to turn my attention to Rick Dalton, the fading star of TV westerns who’s forced to admit at the start of the movie:
It’s official, old buddy. I’m a has-been.
Given how intensely people have requested content from Quentin Tarantino’s ninth movie, I hosted an Instagram poll last where more than 500 of you voted for which of Rick Dalton’s signature leather jackets should receive the first BAMF Style post, with more than two-thirds of the vote leaning toward the brown leather jacket that he wears in the first “contemporary” scene of the movie, set 51 years ago this week on Saturday, February 8, 1969.
Full of swagger to mask his insecurity, Rick brings his stuntman and best friend Cliff Booth along as they stride into Musso & Frank Grill, an iconic Hollywood hotspot that would’ve been celebrating its 50th anniversary that year. The occasion is a meeting with Marvin Schwarz (Al Pacino), the flamboyant talent agent and recent Rick Dalton superfan who dedicates himself to putting the star of Bounty Law back on the map with a series of the “spaghetti Westerns” that catapulted Clint Eastwood to superstardom earlier in the decade.
What’d He Wear?
There’s little surprise that Arianne Phillips’ vibrant costume design in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood has earned her accolades and nominations from the Academy Awards, BAFTAs, Chicago Film Critics Association, Critics’ Choice Awards, Hollywood Film Critics Association, and many more, with interest abuzz from fans ever since Leonardo DiCaprio posted a photo of he and Brad Pitt in their respective costumes on his Instagram profile in June 2018, more than a year before the movie’s release.
In the months to follow with more images and clips steadily being released by the production leading up to the release, fans were clamoring to hear not just from the director and stars but also from the production and costume design teams. In a July 2019 interview with The Hollywood Reporter‘s Cathy Whitlock, Phillips shared that:
Since DiCaprio’s character is a 1950s Western actor, his turtlenecks and leather jackets were “browns, oranges and mustards,” the designer says, while Pitt was clad in Hawaiian shirts, aviators and “denim, part of the 1960s youth culture.”
Rick Dalton’s color scheme becomes quite evident the first time we ever see him in color, riding alongside his loyal pal in his cream-colored Cadillac sporting brown leather jacket and boots with underpinnings in tonal shades that nod toward orange and gold. (Tarantino’s later-published novelization describes it as “his tan leather jacket.”)
Rick’s vintage brown leather jacket combines car coat styling with the shorter, tailored fit of a blouson-style flight jacket. The wide collar with its deep and narrow “V”-shaped notch resembles the wool serge M-44 “Ike” jackets worn by U.S. Army officers during World War II. The front closes with four leather-covered buttons, though in Rick’s distress as he leaves the restaurant, he only fastens the second button down. The cuffs are plain—devoid of buttons, zips, or straps—but are reinforced with wide pieces of leather that are shaped with a gradual point that meets the seam running down each sleeve.
All of the seams are double-stitched, including the collar edges, the wide placket-like panels flanking the four center buttons, and the horizontal yoke that extends across the chest just below the top button and above the two patch chest pockets, which are also double-stitched on the edges and along the pointed flaps that are each fastened with a single leather-covered button.
Under his jacket, Rick wears a tonally coordinated mock-neck long-sleeved jumper in a rust brown lightweight ribbed-knit material, possibly merino wool or an acrylic blend. I’ve been able to find a few modern alternatives, including:
- Parisbonbon pullover with the same color and style, made from expensive cashmere (via Amazon)
- A much cheaper but tanner cotton/acrylic version from Insearch (also via Amazon)
- Likely the best match, though a bit more burgundy than brown in “plum” merino wool from the Jos. A. Bank Traveler Collection (via Jos. A. Bank)
If you prefer a full turtleneck, options abound including the ASOS Design rollneck in rust-colored lambswool (via ASOS).
Over his shirts, Rick wears a small gold pendant monogrammed with the initial “R” on a thin gold chain, which Phillips explained—to Fawnia Soo Hoo for Fashionista—was custom-made by jewelry designer Stuart England:
That gold pendant was custom-made for our film by a wonderful jewelry designer Stuart England. Stuart makes these wonderful medallions and pendants. I wanted to use his work for a long time in films. I almost did in ‘Kingsman: The Golden Circle.’ I just felt like Rick should have some kind of masculine jewelry and Steve McQueen was famously photographed with a medallion and I always loved that. I always thought it was sexy. So I thought Rick needed one, and Leo and Quentin responded to it. It actually is monogrammed with a little ‘R’ on it.
Phillips also explained to Haleigh Foutch of Collider in a December 2019 interview that the reverse of Rick’s necklace was etched with a Tudor rose-inspired design.
Rick wears a pair of light fawn casual pants made from a polyester twill that allows some stretch. They are styled like jeans with frogmouth front pockets (but no coin pocket) and patch back pockets. Perhaps in solidarity with Cliff, who wears a Wrangler trucker jacket in these scenes, Rick’s trousers are also a Wrangler product, identifiable by the small black patch with “Wrangler” in yellow text, stitched on the horizontal seam across the seat just above the back right pocket. Unlike modern Wrangler jeans, these back pockets lack the “W”-branded stitching and leather patches.
Though Wrangler is still around (and thriving), this particular style of pants has been mostly discontinued, though vintage examples exist via eBay, Etsy, and other outlets. (For example, these khaki polyester Wrangler jeans of 1970s vintage—found on Etsy—appear to be a near-perfect match for Rick Dalton’s trousers in these scenes.)
Rick’s jacket and untucked jumper cover his waistline, but he appears to be wearing the same dark brown leather belt with its monogrammed gold-and-silver single-prong oversized buckle that gets more prominent screen time with his orange leather blazer, tucked-in mustard yellow turtleneck, and brown slacks.
Leaning into his Western roles and his rural Missouri roots, Rick wears cowboy boots constructed of a dark brown leather with the traditional Western “bug and wrinkle” medallion stitching over the pointed toes and decorative stitching up the shafts.
“You can really tell the difference between Cliff Booth and Rick Dalton by their shoes,” Phillips explained in the aforementioned Collider profile. “If you imagine the feeling of wearing cowboy boots it makes you feel like a badass, right? Tough, strong, protected. And it’s a pair of boots he probably would have worn on Bounty Law or Lancer, so it’s a part of his persona… Quentin had a lot of ideas about his day wear as Rick Dalton, that maybe he took them off the wardrobe people from the set because he was too lazy to buy himself clothes.”
As opposed to Cliff Booth’s more distinctive (and slightly anachronistic) “bullhead” Citizen watch on its unique custom bund strap by Red Monkey Designs, Rick Dalton wears a more subdued classic timepiece that has been identified by Esquire Middle East as a Chopard Classic with a 36mm 18-carat yellow gold case, mechanical manual-winding movement, and brown alligator leather strap that closes on a gold-covered steel buckle. The watch has a round white dial with gilded hour markers with Roman numerals at the 12, 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions. (See more of the Chopard Classic collection here.)
Rick’s right pinky is adorned with a chunky gold lion pinky ring that was created in collaboration with property master Chris Call, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Quentin Tarantino. It’s perhaps no coincidence that “Leo”, both the real-life actor’s nickname and an astrological sign often associated with stardom, is the Latin word for “lion, making the king of the beats a particularly appropriate motif for Rick Dalton’s jewelry.
Ashamed to be crying in the Musso & Frank parking lot, Rick dons Cliff’s helpfully offered sunglasses, a pair of gold-framed aviators with amber-tinted lenses. Rick wears them for the entirety of his ride home with Cliff, even after he is re-energized upon realizing that Roman Polanski lives next door to him on Cielo Drive.
“So you’re feelin’ better now?” asks Cliff. “Gimme my glasses back!”
Given Brad Pitt’s longstanding real-life preference for Oliver Peoples sunglasses, it’s possible that these on-screen aviators are an OP product, though they may also be a true vintage pair.
Seeking an alternative? See below:
- J+S Premium Classic Aviator with gold 58mm frame and brown lenses (Amazon, $16.99)
- Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviator with gold 58mm frame and crystal brown “classic” lenses (Amazon or Ray-Ban, $153)
What to Imbibe
“Eight fucking whiskey sours… I couldn’t stop at fucking three or four. I have eight!” Rick chastises himself the next day in his trailer on the set of Lancer, providing a likely answer to what we see poured in his glass—and garnished with a maraschino cherry—at Musso & Frank Grill.
I was a little surprised that Rick blamed the whiskey sours and not the abhorrent Scotch-and-raw-egg concoction we see him making later that evening and drinking from a massive beer stein. Then again, the whiskey sour is the only cocktail I’d ever had honest-to-god nightmares about (thanks to the events of January 13, 2012, which centered around a cheap bar that believed in sours mix over more traditional ingredients) so I can sympathize with Rick.
According to Wikipedia, the whiskey sour would have been nearly a century old by the time Rick downed his cursed eight cocktails, having been first mentioned in print by the Waukesha Plain Dealer newspaper in January 1870. “Unlike other nineteenth-century drinks that appealed exclusively to high society, the whiskey sour was modeled after the maritime grogs of the 1870s,” writes Aliza Kelly Faragher in The Mixology of Astrology, associating the drink with Aquarians. “Sailors would drink citrus-infused elixirs (‘sours’) to combat waterborne disease.”
To make a whiskey sour in a manner that won’t encourage nightmares or embarrassing acting mishaps (and may just succeed in combating waterborne disease!), I suggest the following from The Gentleman’s Guide to Cocktails by Alfred Tong:
- 50 mL (2 oz) bourbon whiskey
- 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
- 1 tablespoon cherry juice
- 50 mL (2 oz) lemon juice, freshly squeezed
- 50 mL (2 oz) sugar syrup (or to taste)
Add the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake hard and strain into a tumbler full of ice.
The Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide suggests a simpler method, shaking and straining 2 oz of whiskey, 1 oz of lemon juice, and 1/2 teaspoon of either superfine sugar or simple syrup into a chilled sour glass, then garnishing with a half-slice of lemon and a maraschino cherry.
How to Get the Look
A celebrity known for his roles in Westerns, Rick Dalton adds a cowboy-inspired touch to the classic Hollywood casual ensemble of a leather jacket and boots.
- Brown leather hip-length vintage jacket with wide, narrow-notched collar, four leather-covered buttons, two vertical-split chest pockets (with pointed, single-button flaps), and plain cuffs with ornamental stitching
- Rust brown ribbed-knit merino wool mock-neck long-sleeve jumper
- Fawn-colored polyester twill vintage Wrangler jeans with belt loops, frogmouth front pockets, patch back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Dark brown leather belt with oversized gold single-prong fitting and silver “R”-monogrammed extension
- Dark brown leather cowboy boots with decorative-stitched shafts and “bug and wrinkle”-stitched pointed toes
- Gold “R”-monogrammed/Tudor rose pendant on thin gold necklace
- Gold chunky lion-motif pinky ring
- Chopard Classic 18-carat yellow gold wristwatch with round white dial on brown textured leather strap
- Gold-framed aviator sunglasses with amber-tinted lenses
As seen with most popular stylish movies, replicas of dubious quality quickly abounded for those seeking Rick Dalton’s jacket. The best bet for fans would likely be to seek something vintage that is more unique for their own personalities, but anyone hell-bent on replicas can find a few here:
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
If you were one of the 174 who voted for Rick’s orange Western-themed leather blazer as the topic of this post, have no fear… that post will be here before the summer!
If comin’ face-to-face with the failure that is your career ain’t worth cryin’ about, then I don’t know what the fuck is!
Historically, the standard ratio for any sour, whether it’s a whiskey sour, a margarita, a daiquiri, or whatever, is 5-3-2. 5 parts (2.5 oz.) base spirit, 3 parts (1.5 oz) sour, 2 parts (1 oz.) sweet. Since cherry juice is sweet-tart, Alfred Tong’s recipe would probably work better with 2.5 oz of whiskey, 1 oz each of lemon juice and syrup, and 1 Tbsp of cherry juice, which would come out sweeter and more fragrant than a more basic one.
Coming into this late but I would also like to add that egg whites are an ingredient of a classic whiskey sour(along with many other classic and modern cocktails). It helps produce a richer mouth feel and a visual layer of foam during final presentation. But if you’re not into the idea of having part of a raw egg in your cocktail you can achieve similar mouth feel with gomme syrup.
Thanks for another great post. I’ve seen the movie 6 times , 3 times on the big screen. Love the soundtrack, vintage cars and clothes. Looking forward to some more Cliff Booth posts
Thank you for yet another great post! This movie is full of great style in so many aspects. I hope you’ll cover morse outfits from it.
Thank you very much! Indeed, that’s the plan. I’ll likely switch between covering Cliff’s and Rick’s outfits over the next few months, plus perhaps peppering in some outfits worn by side characters like Randy (Kurt Russell) and the real-life stars portrayed in the film like Steve McQueen and James Stacy.
Love the post!
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Once upon a time is a great biographical movie. No doubt the actor Leonardo DiCaprio is also a big name in the movie industry.
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Once upon a time is a classic and very good movie. It has a taste of youth.
Three years late and kind of feeling like a Wrangler shill after my last comment on the Dove Linkhorn entry but you can actually still get the polyester pants today, they’re the Wrancher Dress Jeans. Really only ever seen them at places like Cavenders or online but if they were ever actually discontinued then they brought them back well before production of OUATiH