James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
Newark, New Jersey, Spring 2004
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Irregular Around the Margins” (Episode 5.05)
Air Date: April 4, 2004
Director: Allen Coulter
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Memorial Day weekend has traditionally been the unofficial start of the summer season with cookouts and amusement park openings, despite the solstice itself still being a month away. (Today also concludes Mental Health Awareness Week in the UK, highlighting a topic that anchors to The Sopranos‘ central narrative.)
Many spent time during self-isolation this spring to catch up on classic TV shows, with The Sopranos frequently cited as a show that people were re-watching or discovering for the first time. As we’re hopefully moving away from the weeks and months of social distancing, I want to take a look at one of many summer-friendly looks from the show’s central character, conflicted Jersey mob boss Tony Soprano played by James Gandolfini, who deservedly racked up three Emmy Awards among other accolades for his portrayal. Tony brings a summery sartorial spirit to a moment of isolated indoor frivolity in “Irregular Around the Margins”, the memorable fifth episode of The Sopranos‘ fifth season.
“Whoops,” Tony chuckles as he walks in on Adriana La Cerva (Drea de Matteo) doing a line in the back office of the Crazy Horse, her Newark club. “You want?” she asks. Tony takes a beat before agreeing to join, being sure to lock the door behind him lest someone catch the skip partaking in illicit drugs, and with the girlfriend of a colleague, no less. She technically was supposed to have the day off, hence Tony scheduling a meeting with Phil Leotardo, but she explains that she doesn’t like to be home alone. However, the newly sober Christopher’s absence on a cigarette smuggling mission also frees Adriana up to pursue her chemical highs without his judgment.
On the contrary, she finds a non-judgmental, seemingly carefree friend in Tony, in whom she can confide that she was once scared of him. She reassures him that this fear has subsided, though part of her must know that her secret status as an FBI informant would likely result in Tony—latent attraction to her or not—ordering her execution faster than she could order another White Russian. (“She’s got diarrhea,” Chris had matter-of-factly explained to his crew before they left for North Carolina, an affliction for which she’s chosen White Russian cocktails as an ill-advised form of self-medication.)
Bonding over Christopher’s “constipated owl look” and partaking together in drugs and darts nearly lead to Tony and Adriana consummating what must have been years of a hidden mutual attraction… until they’re thankfully interrupted by the arrival of Phil Leotardo and Joe Peeps. “Without that knock, thought, you just know Tony would have made a move, consequences be damned, because it’s in his nature,” write Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz in The Soprano Sessions. “No matter the danger, the man always gives in to temptation.”
(Interestingly, the last time I wrote about Tony Soprano’s style it was published after a post about James Garner’s style on The Rockford Files. This time, it’s right after a post looking at one of Garner’s looks in Grand Prix. Weird coincidence.)
What’d He Wear?
Tony Soprano had been a fan of printed shirts, including tropical designs, since we met him during The Sopranos‘ first season, though his separation from Carmela during the fifth season finds him seemingly sporting more summery floral shirts than ever. Many of these have been well-chronicled by my friend @TonySopranoStyle on his in-depth Instagram account, including this floral shirt and pleated trousers from “Irregular Around the Margins” which was also included in a June 2008 Christie’s auction of clothing and memorabilia from the show’s production.
Tony’s Aloha-style silk shirt illustrates how a floral print doesn’t necessarily require tropical colors, presented in a relatively muted colorway of black and taupe flowers in a symmetrical panel print of single vertical strips against a beige ground. As described by AlohaFunWear, “an Aloha panel shirt arranges its print—as the name would suggest—in one or more vertical panels. By bringing some organization to their vibrant design, they offer a more sophisticated look for casual office days and Tiki bars while still capturing the spirit of the island.”
The auction listing confirmed the manufacturer as Burma Bibas, a New York City luxury menswear outfitter established in 1926 that specializes in colorful, unique printed silk sport shirts including many that Gandolfini wore across all six seasons of The Sopranos. While made in New York City and thus not an authentic Hawaiian shirt, this floral short-sleeved shirt follows the classic Aloha shirt pattern with its flat camp collar (with a loop) and straight hem with short side vents. The shirt has seven buttons up the plain front and a square, button-through breast pocket cut from material to seamlessly match the floral pattern overlaying it. The shirt’s ample elbow-length short sleeves are consistent with its overall generous fit.
Tony neatly coordinates the colors in the shirt’s print with the rest of his outfit, echoing the taupe flowers with his taupe pleated trousers and the black flowers with his shoes and likely his belt as well.
Confirmed by the auction listing to be Slates, a sub-brand of Dockers, Tony’s trousers have double reverse pleats, on-seam side pockets that curve inward toward the top (“quarter top”), jetted back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms. His black leather shoes are likely the same apron-toe tassel loafers he wears in the immediately following scene at his therapist’s office.
Tony’s usual assortment of gold jewelry and accessories is anchored by his luxury watch, an 18-karat yellow gold Rolex Day-Date “President” self-winding chronometer. The innovative watch was the first to include both the full day of the week and date, located along the top of the dial and in a 3:00 window, respectively, on Tony’s gold dial. The watch is secured to Tony’s left wrist via the signature three-piece “President”—or “Presidential”—link bracelet that was introduced by Rolex alongside the watch itself in 1956; the heavier bracelet and the polished lugs were used by BAMF Style reader Chris to more definitively identify Tony’s Day-Date as a ref. 18238 (rather than the frequently misidentified ref. 118238.)
On the opposing wrist, Tony wears his 18-karat gold link bracelet with a custom fancy curb link with what @TonySopranoStyle describes as “if a Cuban curbed link chain and an Italian Figaro link chain with a twist had a baby,” fastened with a safety clasp that provides more continuity than a “lobster”-style clasp.
Tony wears his usual gold pinky ring on his right hand with its bypass ruby-and-diamonds, though he has stopped wearing his gold wedding band due to animosity of his separation with Carmela that began at the end of the previous season. He also wears his usual gold St. Jerome medallion on a thin gold necklace.
How to Get the Look
Tony Soprano brings a beachy vibe to the back room of the Crazy Horse with his earthy-toned panel print Aloha shirt, a subdued alternative to some of the brighter tropical prints he wears by the water.
- Beige (with black and taupe floral panel print) silk short-sleeve Aloha-style camp shirt with loop collar, 7-button plain front, button-through breast pocket, and straight hem with short side vents
- Taupe double reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, “quarter top” side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Black leather belt with single-prong buckle
- Black leather apron-toe tassel loafers
- Black socks
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
- Rolex Day-Date “President” 18238 chronometer watch in 18-karat yellow gold with champagne-colored dial and “President” link bracelet
- Gold curb-chain link bracelet
- Gold pinky ring with bypassing ruby and diamond stones
- Gold wedding ring
- Gold open-link chain necklace with round St. Jerome pendant
To see more of Tony’s fashions from the show, I recommend you follow my friend @TonySopranoStyle on Instagram. If you’re curious about Aloha shirts and styles, you’d be well-served to follow my friend Aloha Spotter’s blog and Instagram account.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the entire series and its excellent literary companion The Sopranos Sessions by TV critics and die-hard fans Alan Sepinwall and Matt Zoller Seitz. While the series itself was removed from Amazon Prime last week, it will be fully available alongside HBO’s full stable of shows once HBO Max launches this Wednesday.
You’re not scared of me now… are you?