James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss
Newark, New Jersey, Spring 2006
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Members Only” (Episode 6.01)
Air Date: March 12, 2006
Director: Tim Van Patten
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Fans of The Sopranos are eagerly awaiting the release of David Chase’s prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, directed by Alan Taylor and set during the late 1960s. The movie was originally scheduled for release at the end of this week, but the coronavirus pandemic has delayed the release until March 2021. While it’s too soon for me to take a full look at the style of The Many Saints of Newark, @tonysopranostyle on Instagram has been comprehensively covering many of the outfits seen on set, including those worn by Jon Bernthal as Tony Soprano’s father “Johnny Boy” Soprano and by Michael Gandolfini as a teenage version of his father’s iconic TV character.
In recognition of what would have been James Gandolfini’s 59th birthday last Friday, today’s #MafiaMonday post explores a pivotal scene from the acclaimed series’ sixth season premiere.
The Sopranos had been cleverly marketed for Tony Soprano’s struggle between two families: his actual family and the crime “family” he leads, a struggle that often came to a head when dealing with his uncle, Corrado “Junior” Soprano (Dominic Chianese), a one-time capo in the family whose dementia has reduced him to a paranoid old man, merely a shell of the proud and quick-witted mobster he had once been. After repeated insults and incidents, Tony typically passes the role of Junior’s caretaker onto his sisters and their beleaguered husbands, but a series of events—and Tony’s own family-driven guilt—pulls him from the helm of his new boat and back to that Belleville abode where an “especially agitated” Junior sits on his unfortunate sofa cushions, his upper lip curling into his mouth without his dentures as he babbles about an enduring threat from a long-dead enemy…
What’d He Wear?
Did you know that George Foreman doesn’t just put his name on lean, mean, fat-reducing grilling machines? He also had a line of big-and-tall menswear!
While this may not be one of Tony Soprano’s subjectively cooler outfits in the series—not even in the episode, as that honor arguably belongs to his mint-and-black silk Nat Nast bowling shirt—I selected to cover it today for a few reasons:
- It’s featured during one of the most pivotal moments of The Sopranos
- James Gandolfini evidently liked it so much that he chose this shirt as one of the many wardrobe pieces he kept after the series wrapped
- Details are well-documented thanks to auction sites and the extensive research by my friend @tonysopranostyle
My previous Soprano-focused post celebrated the significance of his chevron-patterned polo shirt from the first season. Costume designer Juliet Polcsa had explained to The Independent‘s Christopher Hooton that she worked to avoid dressing James Gandolfini in polo shirts that clung to the actor’s midsection as he gained weight over the series run, but this somewhat oversized shirt from the sixth season premiere was an exception.
This taupe, beige, and black block-striped polo shirt was made by George Foreman as part of the former boxer’s big-and-tall line, sized 3XB according to the 2013 auction listing at Gotta Have Rock and Roll. (Six years later, the shirt was again sold via Heritage Auctions with the “Signature George Foreman” tag having been evidently cut out.) The 2008 Christie’s auction listing of his “bloody” clothes confirm that he wore this over a white ribbed cotton Jockey sleeveless undershirt.
Constructed in a mercerized cotton blend to increase its luster and resistance to washing, this multi-toned shirt is primarily colored in the dark mottled gray found across the back and the elbow-length sleeves, though the front is patterned in stripes of unequal widths that extend, from the right to left, in beige, mottled gray, black, ribbed beige, ribbed gray, and light taupe. The collar matches the mottled gray stripes down the front, piped on the edges in beige and black. The three-button “French placket” at the top matches with the black stripe down the center, though Tony wears the top two buttons undone to reveal a dark gray inner placket.
@tonysopranostyle was able to find a few listings for identical shirts on Poshmark and graciously sent me close-up photos (click here) that better illustrate what the fabric itself looks like.
Tony keeps his look simple below the waist, wearing black single reverse-pleated slacks from his favorite trouser brand, Zanella, likely with a black leather belt that coordinates with his black derby shoes.
While at the helm of his fishing yacht, Tony wears a black nylon windbreaker personalized with the name of the craft, “Stugots II”, embroidered over the left breast in white thread. The blouson-style jacket has a black-finished front zipper, hand pockets, and elasticized cuffs… and no, despite the name of the episode, it is arguably not a Members Only jacket.
Even for this more casual occasion, Tony wears his everyday gold jewelry, including the St. Jerome pendant on a thin necklace that falls out from his shirt as he crawls across Uncle Junior’s floor. On his right hand, Tony wears his usual gold pinky ring with its diamond-and-ruby bypass setting, and he dresses his right wrist in a gold bracelet that @tonysopranostyle describes as resembling “a Cuban curbed link chain and an Italian Figaro link chain with a twist.”
In addition to the plain gold wedding ring he’s again wearing on his left hand after reconciling with Carmela the previous season, Tony wears his usual Rolex Day-Date “President”, identified as a ref. 18238 in 18-karat yellow gold. The luxury chronometer has a champagne-tinted gold dial with the day of the week across the top and a date window at 3:00, fitted to the unique semi-circular three-piece “President” or “Presidential” link bracelet that was introduced alongside Rolex’s new Day-Date model in 1956. Tony wore this Rolex President in nearly every episode from the second installment, “46 Long”, through the finale.
Go Big or Go Home
A little pasta, a little Artie Shaw… Tony is really making the most of his night babysitting a senile Junior until, you know, he isn’t.
A talented clarinetist, Shaw was only 28 years old when he became a sensation with his band’s rendition of the Cole Porter-penned “Begin the Beguine”. The following year, in 1939, Shaw’s band recorded the new standard “Comes Love” with the 22-year-old Helen Forrest providing vocals.
“Who’s down there?” a terrified Junior shouts when Tony calls upstairs that dinner will be ready in ten minutes.
“Artie Shaw! Ten minutes,” Tony sarcastically responds.
“Don’t go anywhere…” utters Junior. Tony—needing to be needed—interprets this response as fear and reminds Junior that he won’t be leaving…
… just in time for the muttering old man to dig out his blued steel .38 and, in a fit of dementia, pop off a shot into his nephew’s belly.
The weapon that sets the final season of The Sopranos into motion is a Rossi Model 68, confirmed when the live-firing revolver was auctioned by Live Auctioneers in May 2009. (The Golden Closet also includes a non-firing Smith & Wesson Model 36 replica that was used as an on-screen stand-in.)
Amadeo Rossi SA was founded in the Brazilian industrial city of São Leopoldo in 1889, eventually growing to worldwide exportation. In 1978, the Rossi Model 68 was introduced as an evolution of the brand’s earlier Model 27 Pioneer revolver. Cosmetically and operationally similar to the popular Smith & Wesson “Chiefs Special”, the compact Model 68 carries five rounds of .38 Special in its cylinder and was produced by Rossi in Brazil using Smith & Wesson tooling and machinery under license.
How to Get the Look
Though perhaps not one of Tony Soprano’s most fashionable outfits, the George Foreman-branded polo shirt and black Zanella trousers he wears when uncle-sitting in “Members Only” illustrate how simple it can be to affect the look of television’s most famous mob boss… though the gold jewelry and Rolex arguably take his look to the next level of luxury.
- Taupe, beige, gray, and black vertical block-striped cotton blend short-sleeved polo shirt with short 3-button top
- Black single reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops, extended button-closure waist tab, side pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- Black leather belt
- Black leather derby shoes
- Black socks
- White ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt
- Rolex Day-Date “President” 18238 self-winding chronometer watch in 18-karat yellow gold with champagne-colored dial and Presidential 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
Do Yourself a Favor and…
You can also browse the original auction listings below:
- Christie’s (bloody shirt, undershirt, and trousers)
- Gotta Have Rock and Roll (shirt only)
- Heritage Auctions (shirt only)
- Live Auctioneers (shirt and trousers)
Fuck it… you wanna get something done, you gotta do it yourself.