Goodfellas: 30 Significant Style Moments

Vitals

Film: Goodfellas
Release Date: September 19, 1990
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Richard Bruno

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!

Background

Today marks the 30th anniversary since my favorite movie, Goodfellas, was released, ten days after it premiered to rave reviews at the 47th International Venice Film Festival. Based on the true story told in Nicholas Pileggi’s book Wiseguy, this Martin Scorsese-directed mob epic details a life in organized crime as recalled by Lucchese Mafia family associate-turned-informant Henry Hill (Ray Liotta), from his teenage years in the 1950s through adulthood until his arrest on May 11, 1980.

The ensemble cast includes Robert de Niro, Joe Pesci, Paul Sorvino, and Frank Sivero as Henry’s criminal colleagues and Lorraine Bracco as his wife and eventual accomplice.

Pesci, Liotta, and De Niro in Goodfellas.

Pesci, Liotta, and De Niro in Goodfellas.


What’d They Wear?

1. The crossed-and-tucked tie

Brooklyn, Summer 1955

As a pre-teen Henry wistfully watches from his window, silk-suited gangsters pull their Cadillacs up to the Cicero brothers’ cab stand in East New York, reflecting the first chapter of Wiseguy. In addition to the opulent clothing and jewelry, one of Hill’s recollections as recorded in Pileggi’s book was that “some of the visitors were so large that, when they hauled themselves out of their cars, the vehicles rose by inches.” We see this depicted on screen when Tony Stacks (Tony Sirico) draws up to the Pitkin Avenue cabstand in his black Cadillac, out of which steps the girthy Ronnie (Ronald Maccone), who slowly closes the car door behind him and reveals that he hasn’t even bothered to put forth the effort of tying his tie, instead just crossing it over his expansive belly and tucking the blade and tail into different parts of his trousers.

Ronnie makes his nightly visit to the cabstand.

Ronnie makes his nightly visit to the cabstand.

Fifteen years later, an adult Henry would emulate this look with a bronze silk tie worn with a mustard checked sport jacket to play cards with his fellow ‘fellas, likely choosing this affectation in tribute to the gangsters he had observed in his youth.

2. Young Henry Hill’s first “gangster” suit

Brooklyn, Summer 1956

Mrs. Hill recoils in horror as her teenaged son Henry (Christopher Serrone) proudly presents himself to her in his latest threads, a beige worsted suit with a sharp double-breasted cut, accompanied by a tonally coordinated cream silk tie with a four-in-hand knot nearly buried by the sharp point collar of his ecru shirt. It’s yet another reinforcement of how important clothing is to underworld status.

As she takes in her son’s new appearance—and his chosen vocation—from head to toe, Mrs. Hill’s eyes linger at the polished brown semi-brogue oxfords with their gleaming toe caps taunting her. His mother’s response must have been music to Henry’s ears, given what his first voice-over shared about his professional aspirations:

My god… you look like a gangster!

"Hi, Mom! Whaddya think?" Henry beams with pride as he shows off his new suit.

“Hi, Mom! Whaddya think?” Henry beams with pride as he shows off his new suit.

3. Meeting Jimmy Conway in blue dupioni silk

Queens, Summer 1956

“It was a glorious time… It was before Apalachin and before Crazy Joe decided to take on a boss and start a war. It’s when I met the world; it’s when I first met Jimmy Conway.” Goodfellas lets us be just as impressed with Jimmy (Robert De Niro) as the teenaged Henry was as the arch-criminal gets a grand introduction, striding through the door of a Queens gambling den in a dark blue dupioni silk suit, the double-breasted jacket elegantly wrapped over his white-on-white shirt and tie as he hands out twenties, fifties, and hundreds to doormen, bartenders, and our teenaged protagonist who brings him a seven-and-seven.

Jimmy the Gent works the room.

Jimmy the Gent works the room.

4. A more subdued Jimmy Conway

New York City, Summer 1956

Jimmy Conway displays a tactful sense of dress, pressing his mobbed-up silks into service for nights among his fellow gangsters but wisely toning it down as needed for occasions like his young protege’s first court appearance. When Henry “breaks his cherry” in court, Jimmy is there to greet him with a $100 bill and the oft-quoted credo of the underworld: “Never rat on your friends, and always keep your mouth shut.” Jimmy’s subtle dark gray business suit and open-neck white shirt is a timeless look, avoiding the dramatic cloths and cuts of gangland fashions.

Proudly draping his arm around him to escort him from the courtroom, Jimmy's pride in the young Henry concretes his role as a de facto father figure, rewarding his new criminal vocation rather than beating him for it.

Proudly draping his arm around him to escort him from the courtroom, Jimmy’s pride in the young Henry concretes his role as a de facto father figure, rewarding his new criminal vocation rather than beating him for it.

5. Adult Henry at Idlewild Airport, 1963

Queens, Summer 1963

Few characters have received such an epic screen introduction. To the tune of Billy Ward and the Dominoes’ lush doo wop rendition of “Stardust”, we meet the now 20-year-old Henry Hill (Ray Liotta) while working with his explosive pal Tommy to hijack a truck outside Idlewild Airport, soon to be renamed JFK in tribute to the 35th President of the United States.

I consider this to be one of my top five “formative” outfits in my men’s style journey, as I was absolutely transfixed by every detail of Henry’s outfit in this scene. Indeed, the steady pan up from Henry’s olive-tinted alligator tassel loafers, the gray silk suit, and that black-and-white striped knit shirt, establish that Scorsese and company are well-aware how important clothing is to gangsters and how much an expensive and eye-catching wardrobe communicates success in their world.

Right on time, an elegantly casual Henry and Tommy smoothly carry out one of many truck hijackings.

Right on time, an elegantly casual Henry and Tommy smoothly carry out one of many truck hijackings.

Read more about the outfit here.

6. Henry’s flashy black-and-white nightclub garb

Brooklyn, Summer 1963

The adult Henry knocks it out of the park with back-to-back notable style which, while it may not be to everyone’s taste, exhibits just enough flash to confirm that he hasn’t spent the last seven years becoming an accountant. Our protagonist of sorts illustrates how wearing exclusively black and white can be anything but boring, sporting a creamy ivory silk sports jacket with a matching tie, the pièce de résistance being his black-bodied shirt with a white contrast collar that would flashy enough in its own rihgt, made all the more unique by being one of the razor-sharp “spearpoint” collars that Scorsese liked to dress his gangsters in.

Production photo of Ray Liotta in Goodfellas.

Production photo of Ray Liotta in Goodfellas.

Read more about the outfit here.

7. “Funny guy” Tommy’s shiny silk and spearpoint collar

Brooklyn, Summer 1963

Of our leading trio, the diminutive Tommy DeVito (Joe Pesci)—based on real-life killer Tommy “Two Gun” DeSimone—makes the most use of the infamous “spearpoint” shirt collars fashioned for the film by Geneva Custom Shirts that would become famous for their use in Scorsese’s oeuvre, particularly Goodfellas. Tommy enjoys a night out in the early ’60s while wearing an ice blue shirt rigged with one of these collars, not to mention a shark gray silk suit with a single-breasted, peak-lapel jacket (uniquely detailed in its own right with slim turnback “gauntlet” cuffs) and trousers tailored just right to let Tommy pack his trusty .38 in the waistband without need for belt or braces.

Tommy holds court at Bamboo Lounge, amusing the crowd of mobsters and molls.

Tommy holds court at Bamboo Lounge, amusing the crowd of mobsters and molls.

Read more about the outfit here.

8. The befuddled Bamboo Lounge waiter’s aloha shirt and lei

Brooklyn, Summer 1963

As a sucker for aloha shirts, I’d be remiss if I didn’t celebrate the waiters’ uniforms at the Bamboo Lounge, the tiki-themed bar eventually taken over by Henry’s crew. Hawaiian shirts are often reserved for festive occasions, and they certainly set the right mood as worn by the Bamboo Lounge waitstaff, though this particular waiter (Paul Mougey) must be feeling anything but festive as he warily watches his boss, Sonny Bunz (Tony Darrow), try to talk Tommy into paying his bill.

"What the fuck are you looking at?"

“What the fuck are you looking at?”

Aside from snapshots taken during contextually appropriate tropical vacations, the mobsters themselves seem to stray away from aloha gear.

9. Henry’s red, white, and blue knitwear

Brooklyn, Summer 1963

Henry hits a hat trick! Though hardly seen on screen—and never photographed below mid-chest—this blue two-toned knit short-sleeved sports shirt with its white and red stripes has become one of the most popular garments from the Goodfellas canon, worn open over one of Henry’s usual white ribbed tank top undershirts prominently showing off that gold cross that would pose a bit of a problem for his upcoming romance.

As Henry never paid taxes or registered to vote, his red, white, and blue shirt is arguably the most patriotic aspect of the character. (The movie ignores the real Henry Hill's less-than-celebrated U.S. Army service in the early 1960s.)

As Henry never paid taxes or registered to vote, his red, white, and blue shirt is arguably the most patriotic aspect of the character. (The movie ignores the real Henry Hill’s less-than-celebrated U.S. Army service in the early 1960s.)

10. Henry’s herringbone fleck jacket and cross

Long Island, Summer 1964

Chekhov’s cross comes back when Henry picks up his new girlfriend Karen (Lorraine Bracco) for a date. Knowing that her Jewish parents are only a few steps behind her, Karen quickly buttons up Henry’s “Lido collar” sport shirt as far as it would go, covering up his gold Catholic cross necklace just in time for Henry to confirm her lie that he’s half-Jewish (“just the good half”) to prove his worthiness to take out their daughter. He wears a gray flecked herringbone silk sports coat, the same one he would wear with a dark purple polo shirt during the famous Air France heist.

Karen prepares Henry to meet her parents.

Karen prepares Henry to meet her parents.

Read more about the outfit here.

11. Bruce’s Lacoste tennis outfit

Long Island, Summer 1964

Karen’s worlds collide when she brings Henry to her family’s country club, instructing him when a tip is or isn’t necessary, far from the world of the greenback-powered Copacabana. He meets one of her admirers, the sleazy neighbor Bruce, dressed head to toe in white for tennis with the familiar green Lacoste crocodile embroidered over his left breast… the opposite of Henry, who has dressed for leisure in his beige guayabera.

Henry isn't too enthused about the smug interloper.

Henry isn’t too enthused about the smug interloper.

You could argue that actor Mark Jacobs even shares a passing resemblance to the famous French tennis champion, though Bruce’s future proves to be less promising when his assault on Karen is repaid by getting pistol-whipped into submission by Henry. (For what it’s worth, Bruce also wears Lacoste when getting his deserved retribution from Henry, this time in the form of a pale yellow windbreaker.)

12. Henry’s ass-kicking leather blazer

Queens to Long Island, Summer 1964

Henry’s dressed for a day of mob duties, specifically laying some pressure on wig specialist Morrie Kessler (Chuck Low), when he gets a call that Karen is in trouble. He’s already dressed for what he needs to do after learning that the aforementioned asshat Bruce had tried to force himself on Karen. He looks every bit the tough guy as he steps out of his Chrysler convertible, tucks a blued .38 into the self-belted waistband of his brown trousers, and crosses the jacket wearing a russet leather sport jacket, black contrast-buttoned shirt, and one hell of a grimace.

Henry exacts his violent revenge.

Henry exacts his violent revenge.

Read more about this outfit here.

13. Henry’s closet

Queens, Spring 1970

As Henry’s success in the mob grows, so does his wardrobe. During a montage set to Dean Martin’s “Ain’t That a Kick in the Head”, we span across Karen’s and Henry’s substantial closets in their new home, capturing an array of beautiful silk suits and sport jackets by the dozen, many of which are unfortunately never spied beyond this quick montage.

An enviable closet.

An enviable closet.

One significant item is what appears to be a deep red silk suit, never worn by Liotta on screen but similar to one sported by Steve Martin in My Blue Heaven, the Nora Ephron-penned comedy based on her husband Nicholas Pileggi’s notes from meeting with Henry Hill.

14. Henry’s unorthodox tie knot

Queens, Spring 1970

Henry gets some experimentation with his ties as he tries to dress the part of a wiseguy, getting ready one morning in brown suit and tie. He appears to have foregone a step with the tie, draping the blade over the front of the knot rather than pulling it through as seen with the conventional four-in-hand. Evidently, the unorthodox look appeals to Karen…

Update! Thank you to reader R.M., who suggested that this tie-tying method is also referred to as the “Onassis knot” in reference to Greek magnate Aristotle Onassis, who briefly made this offbeat look fashionable during the mid-20th century.

Even gangsters need to make time for their morning coffee before work.

Even gangsters need to make time for their morning coffee before work.

15. Henry’s teal green silk suit at The Suite

Queens, June 11, 1970

This fateful night at The Suite Lounge is arguably the turning point both in Henry Hill’s criminal life as well as Goodfellas, providing a tonal shift where we’re transformed from the relative glamour of Mafia life in the ’60s to the violence and drug-fueled danger underscoring the ’70s sequences. During a party for the recently paroled Billy Batts (Frank Vincent), Batts makes reference to Henry and Jimmy as “those Irish hoodlums down there,” and—though Jimmy takes credit as the sole Irishman—Henry’s half-Irish ancestry is suggested by the green sheen of his iridescent silk suit, worn over a black shirt with subtle contrast stitching and white buttons.

Several hours later, with a bloodied Batts in the trunk of Henry’s Pontiac while Jimmy mourns the structural integrity of his shoes, our mobbed-up trio makes a late night stop to Tommy’s family home for a shovel where they’re welcomed inside by Mrs. DeVito (Catherine Scorsese) for an early breakfast. This remarkable scene also introduces the older woman’s penchant for painting, depicting an old man “with a nice head of white hair” sitting on the water with his two dogs… and with a striking resemblance to the doomed Billy Batts.

"Looks like someone we know..." jokes Jimmy of Mrs. DeVito's painting. He may be referring the the older man's physical resemblance to Billy Batts, but the painting subject and Henry appear to share a similar approach to dressing.

“Looks like someone we know…” jokes Jimmy of Mrs. DeVito’s painting. He may be referring the the older man’s physical resemblance to Billy Batts, but the painting subject and Henry appear to share a similar approach to dressing.

Read more about this outfit here. Perhaps underscoring the significance of Henry’s outfit, the next time we would see him wearing a green silk jacket would be during his interview with Karen to enter the Witness Protection Program.

16. Carbone’s pink shirt for a Copa date

New York City, Fall 1970

A composite of Lucchese gangsters Angelo Sepe and Richard Eaton, Frankie Carbone (Frank Sivero) is one of the more frequently featured side characters in Henry Hill’s orbit, typically providing assistance for Tommy’s gruesome work whether he’s at the wheel or the coffee pot. For Friday night at the famous Copacabana, he dresses the most colorfully of the guys with a bright pink shirt under his double-breasted blazer, accented with a pink silk pocket square.

"Saturday night was for wives, but Friday night at the Copa was always for the girlfriends."

“Saturday night was for wives, but Friday night at the Copa was always for the girlfriends.”

17. Henry’s “Lido collar” shirt at Paulie’s

Brooklyn, Fall 1970

When the Hills bring their family to dinner at the Cicero household, Paulie pulls Henry aside for a brief conference about Billy Batts. Henry wears a gray plaid suit detailed with a burgundy double windowpane check, dressing it down for the informal dinner with a white sports shirt with a one-piece “Lido collar” that lays flat atop the jacket lapels. This type of collar dates back to the emergence of leisure wear in the early 20th century, found among the beachside resorts in the French Riviera and here updated to fit the sartorial sensibilities of the disco era when it became common for gents to wear their shirts half-buttoned up the torso to reveal their jewelry… such as Henry’s necklace rigged with Catholic cross and Star of David.

Production photo of Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas.

Production photo of Ray Liotta and Paul Sorvino in Goodfellas.

18. Paulie’s monogrammed shirt

Queens, Spring 1972

As a quiet caporegime who values evading detection and legal consequences, Paulie Cicero (Paul Sorvino) follows a generally subdued dress code of solid-colored camp shirts and the occasional sport jacket. However, he takes a break when visiting Henry at his mistress Janice’s apartment, dressed up in a full suit and tie. The rich blue self-striped suit takes styling cues from then-popular country-and-western clothing with its curved seams extending down from the sleevehead roping, and the wide tie with its bubbled circular pattern also connects to ’70s trends.

What I found most interesting about the outfit was the “P.V.” monogram on the left cuff of his ice blue shirt, suggesting that the outfit was likely made when the character was to be named after his real-life counterpart, Paul Vario, before his last name was changed to Cicero for the movie.

Note also that Paulie wears a ruby stone in his pinky ring, likely in tribute to the real Paul Vario's birthstone, born July 9, 1914.

Note also that Paulie wears a ruby stone in his pinky ring, likely in tribute to the real Paul Vario’s birthstone, born July 9, 1914.

19. Jimmy’s safari suit in Florida

Tampa, Spring 1972

Even before Roger Moore’s 007 became famous for his safari suits, Jimmy Conway dresses for an extortion down in Cigar City with a structured taupe safari suit. The unique short-sleeved jacket has the traditional notch lapels of a tailored suit but with shoulder straps (epaulettes) and four pockets, all detailed with button-down flaps, worn over his undershirt and gold pendant.

Even safari wear's detractors would have to admit that a zoo in the early '70s would be an appropriate place to wear it.

Even safari wear’s detractors would have to admit that a zoo in the early ’70s would be an appropriate place to wear it.

Upon their return to New York, the crew is almost immediately arrested for their role in the Tampa beating. A news photo taken during Jimmy’s capture shows him wearing another safari-inspired leisure suit, this one lighter in color with longer sleeves and box-pleated pockets, worn over a dark polo shirt.

20. Henry’s Adidas tracksuit in prison

United States Penitentiary, Lewisburg, Summer 1974

While on “Mafia row” in Lewisburg federal prison, Henry wears a navy polyester “tricot” Adidas tracksuit and white Adidas sneakers that illustrate his athletic youthfulness in relation to the three older gangsters in his shared living space. The jacket and pants are both detailed with Adidas’ signature triple stripes (reportedly purchased from Karhu Sports in the 1950s for two bottles of whiskey) and the familiar trefoil logo embroidered in white over the left breast and left hip. Under the jacket, Henry wears one of the blue mesh tank tops he had also worn during his pre-prison civilian life, most notably when trying to disguise the smell emanating from his trunk after moving Billy Batts’ remains.

Polyester warm-up suits like this dawned outside the gym during the mid-1970s when jogging was the latest fad, setting a new standard for active-wear as acceptable casual attire. Ironically, tracksuits would eventually gain fame as the “Bensonhurst tuxedo” favored by the hardly “active” New York and New Jersey mobsters as prominently featured on The Sopranos.

Adidas and J&B: the preferred brands of imprisoned mafioso.

Adidas and J&B: the preferred brands of imprisoned mafioso.

21. Lois’ “lucky hat”

Queens, Fall 1978

Henry enlists the family babysitter, Lois Byrd (Welker White), to courier drugs back and forth from Pittsburgh, despite her disparaging—and undeserved!—comments about the City of Champions. When we meet Lois during the montage set to The Rolling Stones’ “Monkey Man”, Henry playfully grabs the cotton bucket hat from her head, much to Lois’ annoyance. However, it would be Henry that’s more annoyed a year and a half later when Lois insists on picking up her “lucky hat” before the final leg of his lucrative deal on May 11, 1980.

“A hat?” asks Karen in disbelief.

Henry teases Lois—notably wearing her lucky hat—as she and Karen obsess over the baby she borrowed for the latest trip to Pittsburgh.

Henry teases Lois—notably wearing her lucky hat—as she and Karen obsess over the baby she borrowed for the latest trip to Pittsburgh.

Nearly thirty years later, Welker White would return to the Scorsese canon as Jimmy Hoffa’s wife in The Irishman.

22. Henry’s holiday velvet

Queens, Christmas 1978

Jimmy Conway’s crew is celebrating more than just Christmas and Hanukkah in December 1978, having just pulled off the largest heist in American criminal history to date with more than $5.8 million in cash and jewelry stolen from the Lufthansa cargo terminal at Kennedy airport. Henry joins his comrades-in-arms for yuletide festivities at Robert’s Lounge, dressed for the season in a brick red velvet sports coat with a subdued shirt and tie.

While the rest of the crew quickly gets on Jimmy’s dangerously bad side with their extravagant purchases including a pink Cadillac and fur coat (“they’re wearing it!” complains Morrie), Henry remains in his good graces by limiting his conspicuous expenditures to a white Christmas tree, a gold Rolex, and a bundle of cash gifted to his wife.

Henry keeps the "schmuck on wheels" Morrie at bay from pestering Jimmy at a time when it would be considerably dangerous to do so.

Henry keeps the “schmuck on wheels” Morrie at bay from pestering Jimmy at a time when it would be considerably dangerous to do so.

Read more about this outfit here.

23. Henry’s layered overcoat and leather jacket

Queens, Winter 1979

As bodies pile up in the weeks following the Lufthansa heist, Henry learns some relatively good news when a beaming Jimmy relays that their psychotic pal Tommy is about to get his button as a made man in the Mafia. Henry barely has a chance to peel off the layers he wore against the winter chill, a long camel suede double-breasted topcoat worn over a black leather zip-up blouson and royal blue knit polo shirt.

While not prominently featured, I appreciate this outfit for blending a more traditionally formal outerwear garment with casual underpinnings.

Jimmy shares Tommy's good news with Henry.

Jimmy shares Tommy’s good news with Henry.

24. Tommy gets made

Brooklyn, Spring 1979

When the time actually comes for Tommy to attend his induction ceremony—and we all know how that goes—he dresses in a sharp monochromatic outfit of a silky glen plaid single-button sport jacket, a white tonal-striped shirt with that dramatic spearpoint collar he loves, and a black tie with matching pocket square, the image completed by his usual black cowboy boots that give the 5’4″ Joe Pesci a vertical boost (though not quite enough to make up the difference to match his real-life counterpart, the 6’2″, 225-pound Tommy DeSimone.)

"Don't paint any more religious pictures, please..." Tommy shoots his cuffs before heading off to his fate.

“Don’t paint any more religious pictures, please…” Tommy shoots his cuffs before heading off to his fate.

Read more about this outfit here.

25. Henry’s baggy knitwear for an arrest

Queens, May 11, 1980

Less than two years after Henry was released from his latest prison stretch, he’s darting through the New York City suburbs in his massive Cadillac Coupe de Ville, coked-out with a bag of guns in the trunk and an omnipresent helicopter flying overhead to add to his paranoia. This is the most scattered we’ve ever seen Henry, and his clothing reflects it; gone are the sleek silk suits of the ’60s era or the menacing leather jackets, replaced by an oversized off-white striped knit shirt that envelops him as he jumps from one errand to the next, his frustration and paranoia mounting with each hit of cocaine and spin of the helicopter blade.

In addition to the regular complement of gold jewelry, Henry also sports a pair of black Ray-Ban Balorama sunglasses, the same model as Clint Eastwood famously wore nearly a decade earlier in Dirty Harry.

Karen and Henry keep an eye on their constant overhead surveillance.

Karen and Henry keep an eye on their constant overhead surveillance.

Read more about this outfit here.

26. Karen’s black leather skirt suit

Queens, Summer 1980

“Don’t give me the ‘babe of the woods’ routine,” Karen is later advised by a federal prosecutor as she tries to make the case for her innocence sporting a white polka-dotted housedress. Of course, the agent has heard the wiretaps indicating Karen’s clear involvement in Henry’s drug operation, and her streetwear as seen weeks earlier—a wide-shouldered, shawl-collar jacket and tight skirt in matching black leather—is more consistent with her actual persona as a cocaine-addicted mob wife who hides a gun in her underwear when the police come knocking at the door. Her lilac shirt foreshadows the fashions of the Miami Vice decade to follow.

A leather-clad Karen consults with a suspicious Jimmy after Henry's arrest.

A leather-clad Karen consults with a suspicious Jimmy after Henry’s arrest.

27. Jimmy’s reading glasses

Queens, Summer 1980

In contrast to Karen’s loud leather-and-lilac look when she covertly comes to visit Henry’s erstwhile mentor, Jimmy is subdued as ever, continuing to generally eschew the flashy threads of his criminal colleagues in favor of a tasteful brown windowpane sports coat that has become one of his most frequently worn pieces as he approaches middle age in the mob. He affects a further non-threatening air with a pair of tortoise reading glasses, delicately balanced on his nose in a manner more evocative of a college professor than a Cosa Nostra killer… but Karen’s still wise to feel threatened by the man who’s been slowly exterminating those in her husband’s inner circle.

"You know what kind of questions they been asking him?"

“You know what kind of questions they been asking him?”

Following scenes would find Jimmy in an even wilder set of specs, larger-framed with high-strength lenses that intensify his glare as he meets with Henry in their favorite diner and then stares him down in court.

28. Edward McDonald’s trad office attire

New York City, Summer 1980

After a world enveloped in silk, leather, and gold, we’re sobered by the sight of Assistant U.S. Attorney Edward McDonald (playing himself) in his straitlaced light blue oxford button-down shirt, striped repp tie, and class ring, a Brooks Brothers-style trad that establishes him as an outsider in the lustrous world of Mafia tailoring. The mobsters, for their part, seem to have little regard for the feds’ subdued preferences as Tuddy Cicero taunts his arresting officers with “whoever sold you those suits had a wonderful sense of humor!”

McDonald counsels Henry and Karen on what they can expect during life in witness protection.

McDonald counsels Henry and Karen on what they can expect during life in witness protection.

29. Blue terrycloth robes

Throughout the ’70s, we see blue terry cloth as the preferred robe choice for many of our wiseguys:

  • Imprisoned capo Paulie wears a rich blue terry cloth robe with shawl collar as he slices garlic for dinner
  • During the May 11, 1980, sequence, Jimmy wears a notch-lapel robe in similarly colored blue toweling as he refuses to buy a bag of guns from Henry
  • Henry himself has a pale blue terry bathrobe when living in “egg noodles and ketchup” country after entering the Witness Protection Program
Paulie, Jimmy, and Henry model their respective terry cloth robes over the course of Goodfellas. Who wore it best?

Paulie, Jimmy, and Henry model their respective terry cloth robes over the course of Goodfellas. Who wore it best?

30. Tommy’s final revenge

In homage to the 1903 silent film The Great Train RobberyGoodfellas concludes with Joe Pesci’s psychotic Tommy leveling a revolver and firing six rapid-fire shots at the audience. “Ninety years later, it’s the same story, the gun shots will always be there, he’s always going to look behind his back, he’s gotta have eyes behind his back, because they’re gonna get him someday,” Scorsese explained in an interview with Mark Cousins.

Much as Justus D. Barnes’ threads in The Great Train Robbery established him as the prototypical screen cowboy, Joe Pesci is dressed as the quintessential movie gangster, wearing one of his shiny gray silk suits with the high-contrast combination of an off-white tie knotted under the substantial spearpoint collar of his sinister black shirt. Instead of Barnes’ ten-gallon cowboy hat, Tommy wears a black trilby set back on his head, its brim folded back to give Tommy’s judgmental stare its maximum impact despite less than three seconds of screen time.

♫ Regrets, I've had a few... ♫

♫ Regrets, I’ve had a few… ♫

Aside from the hat, Tommy’s costume appears to be the same outfit he wore when joking around with the guys prior to Morrie’s death scene.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie, and read Nicholas Pileggi’s Wiseguy.

You can also revisit all Goodfellas content on BAMF Style here.

7 comments

  1. Gary Wells

    The spearpoint collar…a holy grail of shirts for me. And looking at that brown leather blazer again, it reminded me of Rick Dalton’s. Not the same maybe but…

  2. Brubeck

    Great article! You can keep coming back to this movie again and again just to look at the clothes.

    You couldn’t pay me to wear a safari suit or a lido collar, but I love the attention to it nonetheless.

    The blue, double-breasted silk Dupioni is the killer for me.

Leave a Reply