Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan, affable gardener and widowed father
Suburban Connecticut, Fall 1957 into Winter 1958
Film: Far From Heaven
Release Date: November 8, 2002
Director: Todd Haynes
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
Todd Haynes’ 1950s-set Far From Heaven paid homage to Douglas Sirk’s visually stunning mid-century melodramas like All That Heaven Allows, Imitation of Life, Magnificent Obsession, and Written on the Wind, addressing themes of love, class, and race, often against stunningly idyllic autumnal backdrops that belie the intense personal dramas beyond those white picket fences and manicured lawns.
After years of semi-satisfied suburban life, well-to-do housewife Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore) finds herself in a maelstrom of conflict after discovering her husband’s homosexuality as well as her own feelings for Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), the son of her family’s late gardener whose race has her “friends” and neighbors clutching their proverbial pearls in reaction to the developing relationship between the two.
What’d He Wear?
The 1950s saw an increase in men dressed “down” in sportswear and workwear, even when not actively engaged in either. As a gardener, Raymond has reason to be frequently clad in his rugged work clothes, though his plaid zip-up jacket, flannel shirt, and coordinated trousers would be a relatively dressy casual outfit for many today.
Cathy’s friends’ whisperings have led to her insisting that they end their association despite the fact that he’s “been so very kind” to her; they may be passing under a marquee for the World War II drama The Bold and the Brave playing at the local theater, but she doesn’t have the fortitude to be either bold or brave against the town’s bigoted reaction. Earlier in the fall, Raymond had dressed in colorful primary colors that echoed the bright leaves around them but now—with their attempted relationship falling apart and the leaves having fallen from the trees—much of the color has been sapped from his clothing as he pulls together an outfit consisting mostly of earthy shades from olive to ochre.
Though not as vivid as his earlier outerwear like that mustard plaid coat, Raymond’s hunting jacket through these scenes is still an attractive example of where form effectively met function in mid-century workwear, driven by the quality garments produced by outdoor outfitters companies like Pendleton Woolen Mills, Hall American, Woolrich, and even Abercrombie & Fitch.
Raymond’s woolen twill work coat is patterned in a large-scaled bronze and olive plaid, detailed with tonally coordinated double-overchecks in olive and triple-overchecks in brown and black. The brass zipper begins a few inches above the hem, creating a squared skirt that allows greater range of movement when Raymond has the coat zipped. The zipper extends up to the shirt-style collar.
The ventless jacket has set-in pockets over the hips, each covered with a flap. The set-in sleeves are finished with a pointed semi-tab over the cuff that fastens through a single brown plastic two-hole sew-through button.
Raymond wears an olive-green woolen flannel long-sleeved shirt that coordinates with the rest of the outfit. (He had worn a similarly colored work shirt with the aforementioned mustard plaid coat, though that shirt was flecked and differently styled with a roomier fit and open chest pockets.)
This shirt’s point collar echoes the convertible collars of the U.S. Army’s woolen service shirts from this era, which could be effectively worn open-neck or buttoned up to fit a necktie, as it isn’t a flat camp collar like some of Raymond’s other work shirts. He wears the top button undone, showing the crew-neck of the light heathered gray cotton T-shirt he wears as an undershirt.
The structure of the shirt also suggests a service shirt, as do the two patch pockets over the chest with mitred-corner flaps that fasten through a single button. The shirt has button cuffs and a front placket.
A few weeks into the new year, Cathy comes to visit Raymond after she learns that his daughter Sarah (Jordan Puryear) had a rock thrown at her head by son’s friends. He pulls on this coat to go talk with her outside, wearing a pair of brown wool flat front trousers that better contrast with his shirt than the olive trousers he had worn for the outfit’s first appearance in the fall of 1957.
These trousers have slanted side pockets and belt loops, where he wears a wide dark brown leather belt that closes through a dulled brass square single-prong buckle.
Seen sparingly in the earlier sequence, Raymond had worn a pair of dark olive trousers that, while a shade darker than his shirt, still seem like they would have created too much of a “uniform” effect if worn without the jacket. His footwear appear to be his usual sturdy brown leather moc-toe derby-laced work boots.
Though not seen under the full sleeves of his jacket or buttoned shirt cuffs, Raymond likely wears his usual gold-cased wristwatch with its round white dial on a tan leather strap.
How to Get the Look
Reflecting the increasing popularity of outdoor-oriented clothing in non-work settings, Raymond Deagan dresses for these chilly interactions in layered flannel that would be a stylish casual look even more than 60 years after Far From Heaven is set.
- Bronze-and-olive plaid (with tonally coordinated double- and triple-overcheck) woolen twill hunting jacket with shirt-style collar, brass zip-up front, flapped hip pockets, and pointed semi-tab cuffs
- Olive-green woolen flannel work shirt with point collar, front placket, two chest pockets (with mitred button-down flaps), and button cuffs
- Light heathered gray cotton crew-neck short-sleeve T-shirt/undershirt
- Brown wool flat front trousers with belt loops and side pockets
- Thick brown leather belt with squared brass single-prong buckle
- Tan leather moc-toe derby-laced work boots
- Gold wristwatch with round white dial on tan leather strap (with gold single-prong buckle)
Some modern retailers and retro-minded brands cycle through coats like this in their lineups, but I think the best examples could be found by searching for ’50s-era wool hunting jackets from genuine vintage sellers or even eBay.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
Have a proud life. Have a splendid life. Will you do that?