James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
Montclair, New Jersey, Fall 2007
Series: The Sopranos
– “The Ride” (Episode 6.09, dir. Alan Taylor, aired May 7, 2006)
– “Chasing It” (Episode 6.16, dir. Tim Van Patten, aired April 29, 2007)
– “The Blue Comet” (Episode 6.20, dir. Alan Taylor, aired June 3, 2007)
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
On the seventh anniversary of James Gandolfini’s death, I chose to celebrate the actor’s legacy with another look from the landmark HBO series The Sopranos. (Fans of the Skip’s outfits should already be following my friend @TonySopranoStyle on Instagram!)
In the series’ penultimate episode, “The Blue Comet”, Tony Soprano had no idea that this therapy session would be his last, blissfully idling his time in Dr. Jennifer Melfi’s waiting room by purloining a pepper-marinated steak recipe from Departures magazine. Unbeknownst to him, it’s one ravaged periodical too many as Dr. Melfi is already having serious concerns about having potentially spent the last seven years enabling a dangerous sociopath rather than helping him.
As their session intensifies, the typically testy Tony is caught off guard when it’s Dr. Melfi who’s quicker to resort to sarcasm and hostility, to the point where Tony himself observes, “you sound like you’re glad I’m takin’ it on the chin!” In the face of her stating her intent to cease treatment, Tony resorts to defensiveness, manipulation, and denial, tactlessly “chalkin’ this up to female… menopausal… situations,” but she stands strong. Not Tony’s insults nor his citing his son’s recent suicide attempt can change the resolute doctor’s mind.
What’d He Wear?
While tailored suits and jackets were always a prominent part of Tony Soprano’s wardrobe, his heightened power and status by the show’s final season found him increasingly dressed in stylish sport jackets and ties for many occasions ranging from his frequent therapy appointments to nights on the town with his guys. In at least three episodes across both parts of The Sopranos‘ sixth and final season, Tony wears a rich golden tan herringbone sports coat, likely woven from a wool or wool-silk blend cloth and detailed with front darts and roped sleeveheads.
This sport jacket, which Tony wears for what turns out to be his final session with Dr. Melfi, is single-breasted with notch lapels that roll to a single button, proportionally positioned to balance James Gandolfini’s large frame while also denoting Tony’s jacket as a fashionable alternative to more traditional two- or three-button garments. Like the four “kissing” buttons on each cuff, this sew-through button is dark brown with beige contrasting trim.
The size of the jacket draws greater attention to its minimalist styling like this one-button front, ventless back, and and jetted hip pockets.
Tony echoes the golden tones of the jacket with his yellow satin-striped shirt, styled with point collar, plain front, and double (French) cuffs with gold textured cuff links. His dark brown woven silk tie is patterned with a series of black-outlined rectangles, arranged in “downhill”-direction collections that alternate between horizontally oriented slate-colored rectangles and vertically oriented tan rectangles, all consisting of nine misshapen squares with the center square colored black.
Tony wears black wool double reverse-pleated trousers, finished with turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms. The lack of a visible belt buckle suggests that the Skip is wearing suspenders (braces). His black calf leather split-toe derby shoes are likely the Allen Edmonds “Dickson”, which Gandolfini also wore in a lighter brown leather during The Sopranos‘ later seasons.
In Earlier Episodes
This sports coat made its first appearance (by my observation, at least) in “The Ride” (Episode 6.09) when Tony joins his crew for Christopher’s bachelor party at Vesuvio. For this dinner, he wears a lighter cream shirt similarly styled to his later yellow striped shirt with point collar, plain front, and double cuffs for his gold cuff links. His silk tie is patterned in a series of gold squares, with each grid cell alternating between a vertically textured box or a gold square within a square. This is the only time he wears a pocket square with this jacket, rakishly folding a cream silk kerchief in the jacket’s welted breast pocket to match his shirt. Tony’s dark brown trousers have the usual pleats and side pockets.
The jacket appears again during a brief sequence in “Chasing It” (Episode 6.16) when Tony and his core crew are out for an evening of gambling in Atlantic City. Apropos the casino setting, Tony is dressed more like the archetypal gangster with a black shirt and trousers that heavily contrast against his light jacket and tie, a silk cravat patterned with black cross-hatched stripes against a beige-and-gold ground.
Jewelry and Accessories
On National Watch Day, I would be remiss not to mention Tony’s signature luxury watch, the 18-karat yellow gold Rolex Day-Date “President” self-winding chronometer that Gandolfini had worn throughout the series since the second episode aired in 1999.
When Rolex introduced its innovative Day-Date model in 1956, it was the first mass produced watch to include both the full day of the week and the date, with the magnified date window at 3:00 and the day of the week—offered in 26 languages—cycling through at the top of the dial. The Day-Date was introduced alongside a new three-piece link bracelet that, after it was adopted by LBJ the following decade, would be forever known as the “President” or “Presidential” bracelet. BAMF Style reader Chris identified Tony’s 36mm Day-Date as a ref. 18238 (rather than the misidentified ref. 118238) by its heavier bracelet and polished lugs.
On his right wrist, Tony wears his 18-karat gold link bracelet with a custom fancy curb link that @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. His rings include his usual gold ruby-and-diamond bypass ring on his right pinky and plain gold wedding band on the third finger of his left hand.
The Casino Connection
Interestingly—at least in my opinion—Tony’s outfit in “The Blue Comet” recalls one of the many costume changes worn by Robert De Niro as hotshot casino chief “Ace” Rothstein in Casino (1995), specifically when Ace is denied his gaming license by the Nevada Gaming Commission. Both are moments marking the ignominiously abrupt close to years of work that could have promised relative salvation (legal salvation for Ace and emotional salvation for Tony) ultimately denied to each gangster.
You can read more about Ace’s tan blazer, long-collared Anto shirt, and matching brown silk tie and pocket square in this 2016 BAMF Style post.
What to Cook
The steak recipe that Tony can’t resist in Departures, which kicks off the process that results in Dr. Melfi discontinuing her sessions with him, is for ribeye steak marinated with Espelette, described as a “fiery Basque papper [that] puts any grilled steak into orbit.” With a description like that, how could he pass it up?
Columbus returned from the new world with chile [sic] peppers as curiosities. The pungent pods were soon discovered as a cheap substitute for black pepper (so expensive at the time it was used as currency in some countries). Varieties spread quickly throughout the Mediterranean and North Africa but only the tiny village of Espelette had the beloved Piment d’Espelette.
While I haven’t been able to source the exact recipe that caught Tony’s attention with the above introduction, recipes for Espelette marinade abound online, including this one from Baltimore-area spice giant McCormick that calls for two tablespoons of Espelette pepper powder, two teaspoons of Italian seasoning (which is undoubtedly abundant in the Soprano household), a teaspoon of onion powder, and half a teaspoon of Sicilian sea salt.
How to Get the Look
While the Jersey mobsters of The Sopranos may not be arbiters of sartorial gold standards in their velour tracksuits, bold printed rayon shirts, and abundant gold jewelry, their fearless leader Tony stands out as arguably one of the most tasteful dressers of the Soprano crew in his array of suits and sport jackets with coordinated shirts and ties.
- Golden tan herringbone silk single-button sport jacket with notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight jetted hip pockets, 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Light yellow satin-striped shirt with point collar, plain front, and double/French cuffs
- Gold textured cuff links
- Dark brown woven silk tie with black-outlined rectangle motif
- Black wool double reverse-pleated trousers with turn-ups/cuffs
- Dark suspenders with brown leather hooks
- Black leather split-toe derby shoes
- 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. Anthony pendant
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Well, you don’t need a gynecologist to know which way the wind blows.