Love Story: Ryan O’Neal’s Sheepskin Flight Jacket

Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)


Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barrett IV, newlywed Harvard graduate

Boston, Fall to Winter 1968

Film: Love Story
Release Date: December 16, 1970
Director: Arthur Hiller
Costume Design: Alice Manougian Martin & Pearl Somner


If all goes to plan, I’ll be getting married exactly one year from today so it felt appropriate to revisit some of the fall-friendly fashions from one of the most famous—or infamous, if you’re so inclined—romance movies of all time, Love Story.

Ryan O’Neal and Ali MacGraw star as the Ivy League lovers Oliver and Jenny who, once she overcomes her distaste for his upper-class roots (drink every time she calls him “preppy”), defy his blue-blood father’s wishes and get married, beginning their humble lives together in a Boston apartment following his graduation.

Oliver remains defiantly bitter following his father’s rejection of Jenny, cutting off all contact. After receiving an invitation to his estranged father’s 60th birthday party, Oliver refuses to even respond with their regrets, resulting in his and Jenny’s first major argument. She runs from the apartment, sending Oliver on an increasingly desperate search from local shops to music classes, until he returns home that night to find her waiting on their stoop.

Regretting his behavior, Oliver offers his apologies, to which Jenny responds by hitting him with one of the most criticized lines in movie history:

Love means never having to say you’re sorry.

The laughable line was almost universally dismissed by critics and audiences, even as the latter sobbed at the film’s famous ending, with MacGraw later clarifying that she doesn’t subscribe to the ridiculous credo and O’Neal mocking it two years later in Peter Bogdanovich’s screwball comedy tribute What’s Up Doc?, when Barbra Streisand repeats it to him and he responds with “that’s the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard.”

What’d He Wear?

On Valentine’s Day this year, I focused on the shearling car coat that Oliver had worn around campus. As we now enter the transitional season, I wanted to focus on his other sheepskin outerwear, styled like a flight jacket.

Taking cues from the Brits’ Irvin flying jacket and the B-3 worn by American pilots, Oliver’s sheepskin jacket has a dark seal brown leather shell, broken in to a degree of considerable softness that shows in the patina. The inside “lining” is the piled fleece side of the sheepskin, colored a natural shade of beige that presents on the collar and cuffs, though it appears he had to roll back the end of each set-in sleeve to show the latter.

The jacket has a gilt-toned brass zipper up the front with a brown leather pull tab “tail”, with an extended semi-tab behind the zipper that tapers away at mid-chest. There are silver buckle-tab adjusters on each side of the waist hem. Oliver’s jacket lacks the double throat latch straps on mil-spec jackets, and the B-3’s slanted hand pockets are replaced by button-through flapped patch pockets on each hips, similar to those on the A-2.

Update! Thanks to a comment from BAMF Style reader Jim Welty, we know that these details are consistent with the M-445A and ANJ-4 flight jackets that were authorized by the U.S. Navy and USAAF, respectively, to replace the B-3 for American aviators during World War II.

Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

Oliver begins the search for Jenny at all of her favorite dry cleaners.

After his graduation, Oliver continues wearing Ivy staples like oxford-cloth button-down (OCBD) shirts under raglan-sleeve sweaters.

For this sequence, he doubles down on the shades of yellow, layering a mustard Shetland wool sweater over a light yellow OCBD that he initially leaves with the collar leaves unbuttoned and flat over the top of the sweater, though he appears to have them properly fastened and tucked under the sweater’s widely ribbed crew-neck by the time he runs out looking for Jenny. The shirt also has barrel cuffs that he keeps buttoned, extended out from under the long and widely ribbed cuffs of his prone-to-pilling Shetland.

Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

Oliver, hard at work before disaster strikes in the form of an invitation to his father’s 60th birthday party.

Oliver’s dark indigo-washed denim jeans are a fashionable alternative to the classic cuts offered by The Big Three (Lee, Levi’s, Wrangler), inspired by classic Navy dungarees with their patch-style front and back pockets and flared bottoms that fall with a quarter break over the backs of his burgundy leather loafers, which appear to be worn with darker burgundy socks.

Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

These two better not even consider apologizing to each other.

Months after their first major fight resolves with both agreeing to the futility of apologies, Oliver has taken side work to earn some extra winter bucks by selling Christmas trees while Jenny works with a local church youth choir, admonishing one of the kids “Paul, don’t bullshit me, you were showing off.”

Oliver presses his sheepskin flight jacket into service for his chilly outdoor work as well as dark brown knitted wool gloves and a knit beanie cap, horizontally block-striped in Harvard’s signature crimson-and-white palette and finished with a white pom atop the crown.

Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

Happy holidays, Oliver.

Oliver appears to be wearing the same dark blue dunagree-style jeans as earlier, but he’s appropriately swapped out his loafers for a pair of suede boots. With their snuff brown suede derby-laced uppers and dark crepe soles, the boots resemble the Hutton’s Original Playboy boots that Steve McQueen famously wore on- and off-screen throughout the ’60s.

Though likely chosen for its warmth for hours spent doling out pines during a New England winter, Oliver’s heavy red plaid flannel shirt reflects the spirit of the holiday season. The long-sleeved shirt is patterned in a black, white, and yellow tartan plaid with large white plastic four-hole buttons up the front and through the rounded flaps on the two chest pockets. He wears the point collar unbuttoned at the neck, showing the top of his white cotton crew-neck undershirt.

Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

How to Get the Look

Ryan O'Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

Ryan O’Neal as Oliver Barrett IV in Love Story (1970)

Oliver Barrett IV dresses down in hard-wearing Ivy staples, including his tried-and-true Shetland-over-OCBD combo and loafers, anchored here by military-influenced fashions like his sheepskin flight jacket and naval dungarees.

  • Seal brown sheepskin M-445A/ANJ-4 flight jacket with shearling fleece collar and lining, brass zip-front, flapped patch hip pockets, and silver buckle-tab side adjusters
  • Yellow oxford cotton button-down shirt
  • Mustard yellow Shetland wool crew-neck raglan-sleeve sweater
  • Dark indigo blue denim patch-pocket jeans
  • Burgundy leather loafers
  • Dark burgundy socks

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

Someday, we’re going to look back on these days…


  1. Jim Welty

    The jacket is actually an AN-J-4. Successor to the B3. This is a nice example. Pockets, side adjustment straps and hide reinforcements are all correct. (Also might be an M-445 Navy jacket. Almost identical to the AN-J-4.)

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