On Brad Pitt’s 58th birthday, I’m pleased to present another guest post contributed by my friend Ken Stauffer, who had also covered George Clooney’s fashionable suit in Out of Sight. You can learn more from Ken about the style of the Ocean’s film series on his Instagram account, @oceansographer.
Brad Pitt as Robert “Rusty” Ryan, poker pro and casino heister
Los Angeles and Las Vegas, Spring 2001
Film: Ocean’s Eleven
Release Date: December 7, 2001
Director: Steven Soderbergh
Costume Designer: Jeffrey Kurland
Tailor: Dominic Gherardi
Happy Birthday, Brad Pitt! The Academy Award-winning actor and producer turns 58 today, and to celebrate, we’re taking a look back at one of his most fashionable roles, Rusty Ryan, in Ocean’s Eleven. Believe it or not, Steven Soderbergh’s reimagining of the Rat Pack caper, which resuscitated the heist film genre in 2001, celebrated its 20th anniversary this month. I think we can all agree that both actor and film have aged well.
Though the movie opens following Danny Ocean (George Clooney) on his first day being released from prison in New Jersey, we’re introduced to Rusty at the five-minute mark via a split-screen wipe that zips us from Atlantic City to Hollywood. Pitt’s character is first glimpsed munching on some cheesy nachos in a red and white checked paper basket, the first of many meals he’ll scarf down over the course of the film’s runtime. Leaning on his 1963 Ford Falcon Futura convertible in a parking lot facing the Capital Records building, Rusty tosses the remainder of his snack away as he’s greeted by up-and-coming teen idol, Topher Grace (playing himself). The two then casually make their way through the backdoor and service hallways of the then-hot Hollywood club, Deep.
Walking straight through the club’s dance floor to a private room, it’s quickly revealed that Rusty ekes out a living as a poker pro, coaching the likes of WB show headliners Barry Watson, Joshua Jackson, Shane West, and Holly Marie Combs (all also playing themselves). In a scripted line cut from the film, Rusty laments to Danny, “I’m so bored. That kind of thing is just… unprofessional. Kid actors. They pay someone to exercise with ’em. They pay someone to tell ’em what to eat. They pay me to play cards with ’em.”
After one particularly eyeroll-inducing play by Topher, Rusty takes a break to watch some dancers and gulp down a couple neat bourbons. It’s a rough middle act for one of the brightest con artists in the world, but thankfully an old friend—recently paroled—will soon make a surprise appearance at his card table.
What’d He Wear?
The First Suit
Despite his plan to spend the night suffering fools, Rusty Ryan is dressed beautifully in a very unique suit. It’s essentially double-breasted, but with an asymmetrical front where the wrap overlaps most at the chest and then slants down to a wide opening below the waist.
The jacket has a single diagonal row of four exposed buttons, set close together, descending from the top right to bottom left, along with a hidden jigger button sewn onto the edge of the interior flap. This button acts like an anchor to keep the interior layer of fabric from bunching up, in this case attaching to a loop sewn into the jacket’s lining.
The suit was made by L.A.-based custom tailor, Dominic Gherardi, in a plain chocolate brown wool. It features medium peak lapels with a straight boutonniere hole on the left. Each cuff has four working buttonholes, all of which Rusty leaves unbuttoned. The ventless jacket is fitted with curved darts on the front to contour it to Pitt’s frame, establishing a “racer”-like look that Kurland envisioned for the quick-thinking, fast-acting character.
The straight, padded shoulders slightly extend off each shoulder, and the jacket length comes down to Pitt’s fingertips, traits seldom seen today. There’s a slanted flap pocket on each hip of the jacket, but no chest pocket; on any other suit, this would arguably be the most unique detail!
The matching brown flat-front trousers have a medium rise, cut straight and full from thigh to ankle, with a large break at the plain hem. There is a button-through pointed tab to close the waist, along with sliding metal side adjusters. The pants have angled frogmouth pockets in front but no rear pockets.
Rusty pairs the suit with a shiny silver shirt made from light and dark gray threads woven into a textured box-pattern dobby weave. As were nearly all of Pitt’s shirts in the film, it was made by long-standing film industry staple, Anto of Beverly Hills. It has a wide 3.5″ point collar sitting atop a tall 1.5″-wide collar band, a placket-less “French” front, and side pleats in the rear. The interior of the collar band is made from a similarly colored dark-on-light gray paisley pattern, while the six buttons are a medium gray mother-of-pearl.
The shirt has traditional, square-cut double (French) cuffs, but these are pressed with no fold like single cuffs and worn completely undone, without links. The sleeve plackets atop them are short, with no button to close them, contributing to a large opening over the actor’s forearm.
The coordinating silver tie, also made by Anto, is made in satin silk with repeating thin, tone-on-tone, diagonal stripes broken up by large plain sections. It is 58 inches long with a blade that measures 3.5” at its widest point. Rusty seemingly removes it and leaves it with his jacket in the Falcon after he and Danny leave the club to begin plotting… well, the rest of the film.
Throughout the film, Pitt wears a very thin, white faced silver-toned watch on a link bracelet, but it remains mostly hidden due to his prominent cuffs. His other jewelry consists of a pair of silver rings, one thicker with a blue set-in stone on his right ring finger, and a smaller, simpler one on his left pinky. The former was given to him by his then-wife, Jennifer Aniston, shortly before filming since he couldn’t wear his wedding ring on film. (Man, I guess this movie really did come out 20 years ago!)
The Second Suit
Having created such a one-of-a-kind suit for Hollywood’s biggest star, there was no reason to let the pattern go to waste. Jeffrey Kurland tapped Gherardi to make a second suit in the exact same diagonal, double-breasted cut, but in a wide navy herringbone wool. The suit appears as Linus (Matt Damon) delivers a verbal scouting report to Rusty on casino boss Terry Benedict (Andy Garcia).
Linus: He doesn’t just take out your knees. The guy goes after your livelihood and the livelihood of anybody you ever met.
Rusty: You scared?
Linus: You suicidal?
Rusty: Only in the mornings.
Once again, both the shirt and tie were made by Anto of Beverly Hills. The shirt is a minty blue-green cotton (some might say ocean blue) with matching mother-of-pearl buttons, cut much like the first, but with 4⅛” single cuffs. Though rarely seen outside of Pitt’s costumes in this film, this cuff is common amongst all of his other custom shirts here. They have slots for cufflinks that run parallel to the length of the sleeve, starting 1.5” back from the outer edge of the cuff, but—of course—Rusty always wears them wide open. His tie presents as a matte teal, made from interwoven green and blue silk fibers, again 3.5” wide and 58” long.
As Rusty goes to confront Danny at the gang’s warehouse HQ over what he’s seen with Linus, we get our only glimpse of his shoes with this outfit. They appear to be the same black square-toe derby shoes that he wears a little later in the film, and—though we can’t see them—we can safely assume he’s wearing dark socks as well.
How to Get the Look
Rusty Ryan does not compromise when it comes to his wardrobe! Even when he’s seemingly down-and-out, hustling the pocket money off gullible young actors, he still dresses in immaculate outfits that could only have been custom made by skilled tailors. He’s a quick-thinking, fast-acting facilitator who needs his clothes to move with him… and his hands free to quickly palm a card, cash, or shrimp cocktail!
- Chocolate-brown or navy herringbone wool two-piece suit:
- Diagonally cut 4-button jacket with medium peak lapels, flapped slanted pockets, functional 4-button cuffs, and ventless back
- Flat front mid-rise trousers with extended button-through waistband, slanted frogmouth pockets, no back pockets, metal side adjusters, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Silver textured or mint-colored dress shirt with 3.5″ point collar, plain front, and open squared cuffs
- Silver satin self-striped or dark matte teal silk 3.5″-wide tie
- Black leather square-toed derby shoes
- Dark dress socks
- Thick silver ring with blue stone on right ring finger
- Silver pinky ring on left hand
- Silver-toned wristwatch with white dial on link bracelet
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Grab some nachos and check out the movie.
If I’m reading this right—and I like to think I am—this is probably the least accessible vault ever designed. You’d need at least a dozen guys doing a combination of cons… off the top of my head, I’d say you’re looking at a Boesky, a Jim Brown, a Miss Daisy, two Jethros, and a Leon Spinks, not to mention the biggest Ella Fitzgerald ever!