Robert Shaw as Romer Treece, adventurous treasure hunter and lighthouse-keeper
Off the Bermuda coast, Summer 1976
Film: The Deep
Release Date: June 17, 1977
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Ron Talsky
Following the record-setting blockbuster success of Jaws, adapted from Peter Benchley’s debut novel of the same name, Columbia Pictures quickly purchased the rights to Benchley’s next novel before it was even published. The Deep proved to be another box-office hit, if not as critically acclaimed as its predecessor, with much of its success attributed to an effective marketing campaign centered around Jacqueline Bisset’s white T-shirt.
Another casting decision that worked in The Deep‘s favor was Robert Shaw, born 95 years ago today on August 9, 1927. After portraying the grizzled shark-hunter Quint to perfection in Jaws, Shaw had been again cast as a salty seafarer, if more affable and better-fated as the hardy deep-sea adventurer Romer Treece.
The Deep would be one of Robert Shaw’s final roles after a prolific career not only as a stage and screen actor but also a writer who penned novels, plays, and screenplays. Shaw died of a heart attack while driving to his County Mayo home on August 28, 1978, less than three weeks after his 51st birthday.
What’d He Wear?
I know little about diving, but I was surprised when I first watched The Deep and noticed that Romer Treece never changed out of his everyday clothes when diving, merely adding a mask and oxygen tank over his cotton button-up shirts and khakis.
When David Sanders (Nick Nolte) and Gail Berke (Jacqueline Bisset) meet Romer, he’s posted up in his lighthouse dressed comfortably casual in a striped shirt with a straight hem and side vents that allow it to be effectively untucked.
Romer’s cotton shirt is patterned in alternating sets of narrow pink and slate-gray stripes against a white ground. The shirt has a point collar, six-button plain (French) front, two chest pockets, and button-fastened cuffs that Romer wears undone and rolled up his forearms.
Romer’s khaki chino cotton trousers have an additional flapped utility pocket over the left thigh, qualifying them as cargo pants. This style had originated for British military battle dress and American paratrooper fatigues during World War II, with the civilian evolution emerging by the late 1970s when they were marketed toward sportsmen, outdoorsmen, and workers who would benefit from extra pockets to carry tools and equipment.
By the time I reached adolescence in the early 2000s, cargo pants and their abbreviated but still baggy cousin—cargo shorts—were en vogue for teens of my ilk, and considerable photographic evidence exists of yours truly with overloaded cargo pockets bulging from my thighs. The “fashion” had subsided for years, though cargo pants are again trending thanks to Y2K nostalgia, though at least the modern revival embraces a slimmer silhouette than the looser cargo pants of the early-oughts.
As a treasure-hunter, Romer Treece would have benefited from the practical purposes of cargo trousers, which provided him the ability to swiftly pocket his deep-sea finds without the need for additional baggage. In addition to the left-thigh cargo pocket, Romer’s flat front trousers have on-seam side pockets, patch-style back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms.
Romer wears low shoes with blue canvas uppers and tan rubber outsoles, a deck-friendly evolution of both the classic warm-weather espadrille and the marine-minded Sperry Top-Sider boat shoe.
The only piece of Romer’s wardrobe that suggests an interest in dressing beyond practical purposes is his ivory cotton newsboy cap, a retro style that had returned to popularity in the 1970s after their appearance in period movies like The Great Gatsby and The Sting, the latter of which starred Paul Newman, Robert Redford, and Shaw himself. Romer’s cap consists of a stiff visor and a soft, round eight-panel crown with a covered button at the center of the top where the tip of each panel meets.
It makes sense that a movie about diving would feature dive watches, and Nick Nolte’s David Sanders wears perhaps the most iconic diver of all-time—a Rolex Submariner—strapped to his wrist. Romer Treece also dresses for the job in a stainless steel dive watch, which @lukelesko identified in my Instagram comments as a SEIKO 62MAS, which was the first Japanese diving watch upon its introduction in the summer of 1965.
Romer’s watch has a narrow black bezel encircling a round black dial that’s detailed with luminous non-numeric hour markers and a date window at 3 o’clock, strapped to a micro-perforated black “tropic rubber” strap.
How to Get the Look
While you may prefer more underwater-oriented clothing when actually diving, Romer Treece’s everyday style of semi-buttoned cotton shirts, cargo pants, dive watch, and newsboy cap inspire a comfortably effective seaside look during these long late summer days.
- White (with narrow pink and gray stripe sets) cotton long-sleeved shirt with point collar, plain/French front, two chest pockets, button cuffs, and straight hem with side vents
- Khaki cotton flat front “cargo trousers” with straight/on-seam side pockets, flapped left-thigh pocket, patch-style back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Blue canvas slip-on shoes with tan outsoles
- Ivory cotton newsboy cap
- SEIKO 62MAS stainless steel automatic dive watch with black bezel, round black dial with luminous non-numeric hour markers and 3:00 date window, and micro-perforated black textured “tropic rubber” strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.