Tony Soprano’s Black Bullethole Shirt in “The Weight”

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 4.04: "The Weight")

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos (Episode 4.04: “The Weight”)

Vitals

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano, New Jersey mob boss

New Jersey, Fall 2001

Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “The Weight” (Episode 4.04)
Air Date: October 6, 2002
Director: Jack Bender
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa

Background

I know it’s only been a week since my last post about the style of The Sopranos, but I have a great reason for returning to my favorite show as today happens to be the birthday of my friend Gabe, the hardworking curator of @tonysopranostyle on Instagram. Having attained more than 30,000 followers in less than a year on the platform, @tonysopranostyle remains an authoritative and entertaining source of information for everything James Gandolfini wore during his iconic tenure portraying the boss of the New Jersey Mafia, from his boldly printed shirts and velvet tracksuits to his gold jewelry and cigars.

Not just an expert, Gabe also puts his money where his mouth is, tracking down and purchasing many shirts in the original designs from the manufacturers who were sourced by costume designer Juliet Polcsa for the series. Gabe started his collection in late 2016 when, having read Christopher Hooton’s interview with Polcsa for The Independent, he used the brands cited by Polcsa to find a black Alan Stuart shirt with the same scattered abstract pattern that Gandolfini wore for a few scenes in the fourth season episode “The Weight”.

Two episodes after Ralph Cifaretto made his ill-natured joke about Ginny Sack and her “90-pound mole”, the off-handed quip rose to influence the central plot and even title of this fourth episode of The Sopranos‘ fourth season. Despite trying to avoid the fray, Tony is reluctantly enlisted by New York boss Carmine Lupertazzi to organize a hit against Johnny Sack due to concerns that the protective John would go rogue and take Ralph out himself.

“Fucked-up thing is I don’t even like Ralph,” Tony complains of his role in the messy situation. “If he were drowning, I’d throw him a cinder block.”

What’d He Wear?

Gabe told me he instantly recognized this viscose Alan Stuart shirt from “The Weight” due to its distinctive motif of shaded gray abstract squares that each have a black dotted center to match the black ground, a shape he likened to bullet holes for their irregular edges and the theme of the series itself. Tony wears a long-sleeved shirt with a point collar, front placket, and pocket, though Alan Stuart evidently used this pattern for a variety of styles, including the short-sleeved banded-bottom polo like Gabe found.

Tony wears a few top buttons of his shirt undone to reveal the low neckline of his white ribbed cotton sleeveless undershirt and his usual gold St. Jerome pendant worn on a slim open-link necklace.

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos

Tony frequently wears pleated trousers in classic, conservative colors like gray, khaki, taupe, and black, and these double reverse-pleated slacks are no exception, constructed from gray wool to call out the repeating pattern on his shirt. Possibly—and likely—made by his preferred trouser brand Zanella, these trousers have side pockets and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottom. Tony often wears his button-up shirts untucked, but he tucks in this shirt to reveal a black leather belt with a polished steel single-prong buckle, coorda

Though he usually wears his button-up shirts untucked, Tony tucks in this Alan Stuart shirt and thus reveals his black leather belt that coordinates with his black leather lace-up shoes, probably his go-to Allen-Edmonds derbies.

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos

Frustrated by his role in the Cifaretto-Sacrimoni feud, Tony consults with Uncle Junior (Dominic Chianese) while watching Who Wants to Be a Millionaire?
Am I reading too much into the show’s intentions to assume that choice was made to echo Tony’s earlier-stated concerns about the burden of being a modern-era mob boss: “This day and age? Who wants the fuckin’ job?”

Tony adorns himself with his usual complement of gold jewelry including a pair of rings ranging from the simple wedding band on the third finger of his left hand to the ruby-and-diamond bypass ring on his right pinky. All but covered by the left sleeve of his shirt, Tony wears his signature 18-karat yellow gold Rolex Day-Date ref. 18238 watch with the champagne gold dial, nicknamed the “President” or “Presidential” in reference to its unique semi-circular three-piece link bracelet.

On his right wrist, Tony wears the gold bracelet that @tonysopranostyle describes as resembling “a Cuban curbed link chain and an Italian Figaro link chain with a twist.”

James Gandolfini as Tony Soprano on The Sopranos

Gabe also pointed out to me that you can see Patsy Parisi (Dan Grimaldi) wearing a long-sleeved Alan Stuart shirt with an identical pattern two seasons later in the final scene of “Johnny Cakes” (Episode 6.08), worn under his tan suede jacket that resembles early A-1 pattern flight jackets.

Dan Grimaldi as Patsy Parisi on The Sopranos (Episode 6.08)

“What the fuck is happening to this neighborhood?” Patsy bemoans at the end of “Johnny Cakes” (Episode 6.08), dressed in his own Alan Stuart shirt under his suede flight jacket.

While overlapping clothing brands is certainly common in the world of The Sopranos, the noticeable similarities are typically confined to their silk tracksuits from brands like Genelli or the paneled Axis and Nat Nast bowling shirts favored by multiple characters like Tony, Bobby Bacala, Vito Spatafore, and even Larry David if we’re including the extended HBO universe.

Seeing Patsy in an identical shirt as the Skip, albeit in an arguably smaller size to fit the trim Dan Grimaldi, is one of the few times that we would see the same unique shirt worn by different characters. Now if only we got to see Paulie Walnuts wearing that Tabasco polo

How to Get the Look

My friend Gabe, the curator and researcher behind @tonysopranostyle, sports his own "bullethole"-patterned Alan Stuart shirt last year.

My friend Gabe, the curator and researcher behind @tonysopranostyle, sports his own “bullethole”-patterned Alan Stuart shirt last year. Note also his Tony-style accessories of a ruby pinky ring and chain-link bracelet.

@tonysopranostyle perfectly illustrated how to take inspiration from the style of The Sopranos, finding a similarly patterned shirt without directly copying the look. Given the uniqueness of many of Tony’s prints, it’s likely a wiser sartorial philosophy to follow that route of adapting the character’s style rather than mimicking it… even if a member of Tony’s own crew may have chosen the latter path.

  • Black “bullethole”-motif viscose long-sleeved shirt with point collar, front placket, and breast pocket
  • Gray wool double-reverse pleated trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
  • Black leather belt with polished steel squared single-prong buckle
  • 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…

Check out the entire series. I also recommend following my friend @tonysopranostyle on Instagram!

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