Blow: Johnny Depp’s Layered Denim on the Run
Johnny Depp as George Jung, fugitive pot dealer
Weymouth, Massachusetts, Fall 1973
Release Date: April 6, 2001
Director: Ted Demme
Costume Designer: Mark Bridges
Blow chronicles the chaotic career of real-life drug dealer George Jung, who evolved his marijuana-dealing enterprise into a dangerously successful cocaine-smuggling operation with the Medellín cartel until it all came crashing down around him.
The first act focuses on George’s halcyon days as a popular southern California pot dealer, living a dream life on the beach with a steady—if illegitimate—income and a beautiful stewardess girlfriend, Barbara (Franka Potente). Unfortunately, the end of the free-lovin’, swingin’ ’60s also marks the end of the relative innocence in George’s criminal ventures as everything changes in the wake of Barbara’s terminal illness and a bust in Chicago that has him looking at serious jail time.
Following Barbara’s death, the fugitive “Boston George” is left with little prospects and skips bail, retreating home to his parents’ home in Weymouth, just a twenty-minute drive south around the bay from Beantown. Despite the late hour and, uh, George’s growing criminal record, his father Frederick (Ray Liotta) warmly greets him… unlike his mother, Ermine (Rachel Griffiths), who covertly invites the FBI to crash the intimate welcome party.
The arrest lands George at the Federal Correctional Institution in Danbury, Connecticut, where he shares a cell with Colombian car thief Carlos Lehder—renamed Diego Delgado (Jordi Mollà) for the movie—who enlists George in his ambitions to corner the high-demand American nose candy market. Thus, federal prison becomes something of a crime school for George, who narrates that he “went in with a bachelor of marijuana… and came out with a doctorate of cocaine.”
What’d He Wear?
Between the bright hippie-influenced trends of the late ’60s and his safari-styled leisure suits of the ’70s, George retreats out of fashion and into more timeless workwear as he goes on the lam, serving the dual purpose of avoiding the eye-catching qualities of floral and paisley-printed garb while also relying on the durability of these time-tested cloths while running and hiding from law enforcement.
George steps through the shadows into the Jung family kitchen, layered in a fleece-lined jacket over his denim. Inspired by sheepskin outerwear that dates back to the Stone Age, “sherpa” jackets made with artificial fleece lining became popular through the 1960s as companies like Levi’s began adapting their casual jackets with denim, corduroy, and suede shells with an extra layer of pile-lined insulation. George’s jacket has a dark navy blue shell, likely constructed from a narrow “pinwale” corduroy or canvas. Many men’s outfitters have since warmed up to this classic style, including Gap, Levi’s (via Kohl’s), and Patagonia (via REI), as of January 2022.
Depp spends much of the sequence photographed in the shadows and primarily from the chest up, so we don’t see much of his jacket aside from the characteristic white piled fleece over the collar and lining. The silver-toned snaps along the left side and lack of button-threading on the right reinforces that the jacket has a snap-up front, a traditional style for sherpa jackets as it’s easier to fasten a snap than to try pushing a button through the thick fleece. Like a trucker jacket, the coat has horizontal chest yokes that align with the top of each chest pocket, which close with snap-down flaps.
George wears the fleece-lined coat over a standard blue denim trucker jacket, which resembles the contemporary Levi’s “Type III” trucker jacket… aside from the lack of the telltale branded red tab that would normally be sewn into the right-side seam of the left pocket flap. The tab may have been removed by the costume team, or it may have been the victim of the same abuse that cost the jacket its second rivet button. (Or it may be a non-Levi’s copycat!)
The waist-length jacket otherwise reflects all the hallmarks of the traditional Type III, with a horizontal chest yoke that aligns with the top of each pocket flap, from under which the “V”-shaped seams taper down over the pockets to the waistband. Each cuff closes through a copper rivet button echoing the five—er, four—up the front. It appears to be an era-correct jacket as it only has chest pockets and not the hand pockets that were added a decade later in the early 1980s.
George’s blue shirt has a denim-like texture echoing his jacket and jeans, suggesting the dense cambric cotton known as “chambray” that has been a fixture of American work shirts since they were standardized as part of a U.S. Navy working uniform in the early 20th century. George is no stranger to chambray shirting, as he’d already worn two by this point in Blow: one in 1968 when conceiving his idea to smuggle a Winnebago full of pot across the country, and again in 1970 when buying his and Barbara’s honeymoon home in Puerto Vallarta.
The collar shape and placket suggests that the shirt layered under his denim jacket is the former, which was styled with a long, flared point collar and a substantial front placket detailed with long vertical buttonholes threaded in the same white thread that provided a contrast stitch along the shirt’s edges, including the collar, placket, and pocket flaps. Both chest pockets have mitred lower corners and are each covered with a pointed flap that closes through a single white pearl button matching the seven buttons up the placket. Each cuff closes with two buttons.
George wears the top few buttons of the chambray shirt placket undone, showing the crew-neck top of his white cotton short-sleeved undershirt.
Since George gets arrested while wearing this outfit, he has the same clothes when he’s released from prison into his parents’ custody approximately three years later in 1976. By that point, he has seemingly abandoned the chambray shirt and now just wears the denim trucker jacket over his untucked white T-shirt.
The sun shining on George’s first day of freedom highlights the contrast between his medium-wash denim jacket and the darker indigo wash of his jeans, which are held up with a black leather belt and are finished on the bottoms with a then-fashionable flare suggesting a “boot cut”. The cut is an appropriate choice, as George’s mother does order him to “take off your boots,” only for an FBI agent to have to put them back on him when he’s arrested later that night.
“That’s where you belong, you son-of-a-bitch. Putting on Georgie’s boots,” George amusedly recalls his father having told the agent.
Not prominently seen on screen, the boots appear to be light brown suede two-eyelet desert boots with the distinctive crepe soles that were a distinguishing characteristic when the style was introduced by British footwear brand Clarks shortly after World War II.
How to Get the Look
George eschews his typically trendy wardrobe when he goes on the lam, favoring the relative anonymity of a timeless denim jacket and jeans, layered for his return to New England with a chambray shirt and sherpa jacket.
- Dark navy corduroy “sherpa” jacket with white piled fleece lining, snap-up front, and pointed-flap chest pockets
- Blue denim Levi’s Type III trucker jacket with button-down flap chest pockets
- Blue chambray cotton work shirt with long shaped point collar, pointed Western-style yokes, front placket, two chest pockets with pointed flaps, and two-button cuffs
- White cotton crew-neck short-sleeve undershirt
- Dark blue denim boot-cut jeans
- Black leather belt with silver-toned square single-prong buckle
- Light brown suede two-eyelet desert boots
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie and read the book too!
I’m great at what I do, Dad. I mean, I’m really great at what I do.
Those jeans look like bell bottoms to me, although boot cut Levi’s were around by then. But I’m old enough to remember that bell bottoms were very popular yet in 1976. Kind of wish I’d kept some of mine just to see now how bad they really were.