Joseph Siravo as “Johnny Boy” Soprano, gregarious gangster
Newark, New Jersey, Fall 1969
Series: The Sopranos
Episode: “Fortunate Son” (Episode 3.03)
Air Date: March 11, 2001
Director: Henry J. Bronchtein
Creator: David Chase
Costume Designer: Juliet Polcsa
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The highly anticipated Soprano saga prequel, The Many Saints of Newark, will be released tomorrow, expanding on the universe of the fictional DiMeo crew in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Michael Gandolfini has already received impressive notices in his portrayal of a teenage version of the role originated by his father, with Jon Bernthal and Vera Farmiga playing the young future capo’s parents, Johnny Boy and Livia Soprano.
David Chase has acknowledged that the prequel will be retconning some of the timeline that had been outlined in episodes of The Sopranos, specifically the flashbacks in episodes like “Fortunate Son”, which starred Joseph Siravo and Laila Robins as the parents of a pre-teen Tony (Mark Damiano II).
A veteran of stage and screen, Siravo died just over five months ago on April 11, 2021, at the age of 66. The actor had appeared in five episodes of The Sopranos as Tony’s charming but violent father.
As the first episode set after Livia’s death, “Fortunate Son” focuses on the respective roles of young men reacting to new responsibilities, including the recently “made” Christopher Moltisanti, Jackie Aprile Jr. trying to live in the shadows of his late “fawtha”, A.J. Soprano seemingly inheriting his father’s panic attacks, and Tony himself recalling the moment in his childhood when he was first made aware of his own father’s dangerous profession.
What’d He Wear?
“It was when mobsters used to dress well,” Chase explained to Alan Sepinwall for Rolling Stone when asked what drew him to the late ’60s setting. “Before tracksuits and all that.”
While The Many Saints of Newark promises plenty of sharp style via costume designer Amy Westcott, The Sopranos provided glimpses of this more glamorous era in gangster fashions, even in more dressed-down moments like Johnny Boy’s pinky-piercing shakedown of “Old Man” Satriale (Lou Bonacki), the proprietor of the Kearny pork store that would become the DiMeo crew’s de facto headquarters for decades to follow.
Johnny’s look is briefly seen but memorable, anchored by a blood-red knitted long-sleeve polo shirt, appropriately hued for the violence that would make the day forever significant in his young son’s formative mind. The shirt has four smoke-gray plastic 4-hole buttons sewn onto the ribbed placket, and the long ribbed collar portends the extremes of the disco decade to follow. The raglan-sleeved shirt has ribbed sleeves that Johnny wears pulled up each forearm.
To create a dangerous, intimidating appearance for his visit to Satriale’s, Johnny pulls on a black leather car coat, detailed with a revere-style collar, horizontal yokes across the front and back, and set-in sleeves. We don’t see much of the jacket below the chest, so it remains a mystery how many buttons fasten up the front, but it’s likely three or four.
As his son would echo decades later, Johnny wears plenty of gold jewelry. Around his neck, he wears a gold crucifix on a thin gold chain. He wears a gold curb-link chain bracelet around his right wrist with a large diamond ring shining fro his right pinky.
On his left wrist, Johnny wears a slim yellow gold wristwatch on a tapered expanding bracelet which gently swells around the tonneau-shaped champagne-colored dial, a minimalist affair detailed only with non-numeric hour markers and—ostensibly—the manufacturer’s mark, though I’m not expert enough to discern the maker from the admittedly close look we get at the watch. Johnny also wears his gold wedding band on his left ring finger.
The rest of Johnny’s outfit is also black, including black trousers, thin black socks, and black shoes that he’s already kicked off by the time he passes out with the newspaper at home.
As extensively shared on my friend Gabe’s Instagram account @TonySopranoStyle, Amy Westcott’s costume design for The Many Saints of Newark follows this general template for Jon Bernthal’s wardrobe as Johnny Soprano, clad in knitted shirts tucked into roomy trousers, all layered under an intimidating black leather jacket.
In addition to finding shirts nearly identical to those worn by Tony Soprano, Gabe has also shared his talent for sourcing clothing similar to those worn by other characters in the Soprano-verse, including a tough-looking and timeless red knitted shirt and black leather jacket that could just have well been in Johnny Boy’s closet half a century ago.
How to Get the Look
Johnny Soprano dresses apropos what result as a pivotal moment in his son’s childhood, clad in red and black: the colors of intensity, passion, and violence. Knitted shirts like the one Johnny wears for his “visit” to Satriale’s cycle in and out of fashion and are currently en vogue again.
- Black leather car coat with revere-style collar, button-up front, and chest yokes
- Dark red knitted long-sleeve polo shirt with 4-button placket
- Black flat front trousers with plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather shoes
- Black thin socks
- Gold curb chain-link bracelet
- Gold diamond pinky ring
- Gold tonneau-shaped wristwatch on tapered expanding bracelet
- Gold wedding ring
As of September 2021, a few outfitters have already been including these “sweater polos” in their collections—such as Cashmere Heartland, Mahogany Cashmere, Marks & Spencer, and Paul James Knitwear—though places like eBay will always have a few vintage and used examples available.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Drop your thoughts on The Many Saints of Newark in the comments!
A man honors his debts.