Robert De Niro as Frank “the Irishman” Sheeran, tough Mafia enforcer
Philadelphia, Christmas 1960
Film: The Irishman
Release Date: November 1, 2019
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Design: Sandy Powell & Christopher Peterson
Last year’s holiday season, there was plenty of buzz around The Irishman, Martin Scorsese’s latest mob epic which had been released to Netflix following a brief limited theatrical run. At 209 minutes, The Irishman clocked in as Scorsese’s longest movie to date, following real-life enforcer Frank Sheeran (Robert de Niro) through his connections to the mob via Philadelphia boss Russell Bufalino (Joe Pesci) and his friendship with outspoken labor leader Jimmy Hoffa (Al Pacino).
Everything seems to change for the boys after the Kennedy administration puts the mob in the government’s crosshairs, but they get one final moment of peace at Christmas 1960, just less than a month before JFK would take office. Frank and Russell gather with their families for an intimate holiday celebration where the only real tension is Frank’s 11-year-old daughter Peggy withholding her affection for the Bufalino patriarch, refusing to see him as a benevolent “Uncle Russell” despite his Christmas gift of skates lined with a C-note.
On #MafiaMonday with just a week until Christmas, let’s look a little deeper at Frank Sheeran’s seasonal style during this brief holiday scene.
What’d He Wear?
“These guys don’t dress to be noticed — you know, the peacock variety of those gangster guys,” costume designer Sandy Powell explained to Indiewire of The Irishman‘s low-key protagonists. We’re used to seeing a little more flash from the gangsters of Scorseseworld, whether its silk suits and alligator shoes in Goodfellas or the colorful wardrobe of pastel silk sport jackets worn by Robert De Niro in Casino.
Even in the more toned-down world of The Irishman, Christmas calls for a little extra sartorial pizzazz, especially given everyone’s good fortunes and promising futures at the dawn of the ’60s. Frank Sheeran tends to let his clothing speak an octave louder than his voice (while his guns speak louder still), so it’s hardly surprising when he dresses for the holidays in a single-breasted blazer made from a dark, subdued burgundy wool. The narrow notch lapels are finished with sporty swelled edges, rolling to two silver-toned shank buttons that echo three buttons on each cuff. The jacket has low-slung flapped pockets on the hips and a welted breast pocket he leaves empty, saving the ornamentation for his busy neckwear.
Frank’s narrow tie is likely an authentic vintage piece, patterned in a gray-on-black geometric paisley print that covers the neck of the tie, bordered by a trio of gold stripes crossing “downhill” from right-to-left. Below the gold stripes at the blade and above the gold stripes from the knot through the tail, the tie is patterned in the same paisley but in a tonal burgundy-on-burgundy that coordinates with his blazer. Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson pointed out in a Vanity Fair featurette that Frank was intentionally dressed in a narrower tie, more contemporary with the era and a direct contrast to the bolder, ’50s-style tie that the older Russell wears with his Christmas cardigan.
New York shirtmaker Geneva Custom Shirts made many of the shirts worn by the principal cast in The Irishman, so Frank’s pale pink cotton shirt with its puckered self-stripe is likely no exception. The shirt has a point collar, front placket, and rounded cuffs that close through a single button. Under his left cuff, he wears a gold tank watch with a rose gold rectangular face and textured black leather strap, identified by BAMF Style readers Cedric and Aldous as a 1940s-era Bulova President.
One of Frank’s Christmas presents from the Bufalinos is a new gold-finished watch which appears to have an expanding band, though he keeps his Bulova tank watch on for the duration of the short scene.
From the waist down, Frank wears a conservative kit that would work just as effectively with a blazer in the traditional navy wool and neatly harmonizes with the top half of his outfit. He wears dark gray wool pleated trousers with a slim black leather belt that closes through a ridged silver-toned single-prong buckle. He coordinates the belt to his shoes, a pair of black calf cap-toe derbies worn with uninspired black socks we see under the cuffed bottoms of his trousers.
Frank only wears this blazer on screen at Christmas, but several scenes set in the early 1970s feature him in another burgundy blazer, updated for the times with broader lapels and sportier details like swelled edges and a flapped breast pocket.
How to Get the Look
Assumed to be around 40 years old in this scene (yes, I know), Frank Sheeran was intentionally dressed to be more contemporary than the older Russell Bufalino, styled in the slimmer lapels and tie widths that would be fashionable in the early years of the decade to follow. Frank also doesn’t shy away from incorporating some dignified festivity with a burgundy blazer and busily patterned retro tie.
- Dark burgundy wool single-breasted blazer with narrow notch lapels, 2 silver-toned shank buttons, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets,
- Pale pink puckered self-striped cotton shirt with point collar, front placket, and 1-button rounded cuffs
- Gray-on-black geometric paisley-printed vintage tie with burgundy blade and tail separated by thin gold triple “downhill” stripes
- Dark gray wool reverse-pleated trousers with belt loops and turn-ups/cuffs
- Slim black leather belt with ridged silver-toned single-prong buckle
- Black calf leather cap-toe derby shoes
- Blakc socks
- Bulova President vintage yellow gold tank watch with rose gold rectangular face (with gold hour markers and 6:00 sub-dial) on textured black leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie, currently streaming on Netflix and recently released via the Criterion Collection.