Dennis Haysbert as Raymond Deagan, affable gardener and widowed father
Suburban Connecticut, Fall 1957
Film: Far From Heaven
Release Date: November 8, 2002
Director: Todd Haynes
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell
Far From Heaven premiered twenty years ago this week, a smart, sincere, and stylish drama that stands alone as a thoughtful story beyond its oft-discussed intentional parallels to the Douglas Sirk melodramas of a half-century prior.
The Sirk homages are evident not just in the autumnal photography but also the plot, recalling the romance between a woman and her gardener in All That Heaven Allows (1955) as well as the racial themes driving Imitation of Life (1959). In this case, the woman is housewife Cathy Whitaker (Julianne Moore), who raises her friends’ eyebrows through her growing bond with Raymond Deagan (Dennis Haysbert), a kind gardener taking over his late father’s accounts.
Far From Heaven pushes through the storytelling boundaries that restricted even Sirk in the 1950s to present a stunningly photographed story of the autumnal attraction between Cathy and Raymond), while Cathy’s “man in the gray flannel suit”-type husband Frank (Dennis Quaid) comes to terms with his sexual orientation.
What’d He Wear?
There’s dressing for fall, and then there’s Dennis Haysbert in Far From Heaven, whom costume designer Sandy Powell dressed in vivid shades of red, green, and gold that reflects the lush foliage surrounding them, signaling his connection to the flora that he now cares for following the death of his father.
Under his jacket, Raymond’s red plaid shirt and tan chinos could have been cribbed from Rock Hudson’s wardrobe in All That Heaven Allows, particularly his introductory scene where he introduces himself to the widowed housewife he eventually romances. The woolen flannel shirt has a bright red body with a black triple check, framed by a narrow gold windowpane check. The style echoes popular work shirt design of the era, with a convertible camp collar, button cuffs, and two non-matched chest pockets. Large red buttons matching the body of the shirt fasten up a plain (non-placket) front. He wears a light heathered-gray cotton crew-neck short-sleeve undershirt that serves as both as “decency layer” should he need to remove his shirt due to the rigors of his work as well as also protecting his skin from the potentially itchy wool over-shirt.
- Filson Vintage Flannel Work Shirt in red/black/gold brushed cotton twill (Backcountry, $87)
- J. Crew Plaid Slim Flannel Shirt in "ridge red chocolate" cotton/poly blend (J. Crew Factory, $34.95)
- L.L. Bean Men's Signature 1933 Chamois Cloth Shirt, Slim Fit, Plaid in "fiery red" cotton flannel (L.L. Bean, $89)
- L.L.Bean x Todd Snyder Organic Stretch Flannel Shirt in "desert rose" cotton/spandex blend (Todd Snyder, $94)
- The North Face Men’s Arroyo Flannel Shirt in "rage red medium icon plaid" cotton (Backcountry, $84.95)
Raymond’s olive-green jacket also follows a pattern typical of 1950s work jackets, cut like a waist-length windbreaker with two flapped hip pockets and a zip-closed breast pocket. (For example, check out these true vintage whipcord jackets from Day’s, Penney’s, and Titan.) The two patch-style pockets over the hips each have a pointed flap that closes with a brass-finished snap, matching the brass zipper up the front and on the breast pocket.
The set-in sleeves are finished with cuffs that close with a single snap, with “bi-swing” pleats behind each shoulder to allow a greater range of movement that would aid a manual laborer like Raymond. The waistband has a short angled tab on each side that tapers down to a brass snap that closes on one of two studs.
Raymond wears flat front trousers in a rich golden shade of tan chino cotton, continuing a decade-long workwear trend that had been popularized after people took notice of the practical khaki trousers worn by returning servicemen after World War II. The trousers have an era-correct long rise to Dennis Haysbert’s natural waistline, where he holds them up with a worn-in brown leather belt that closes through a squared brass single-prong buckle. An English tan leather studded sheath rigged to the left side of his belt holsters a gardening tool.
The trousers have slanted side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups (cuffs) on the bottoms with a full break enveloping the tops of his tan leather moc-toe derby-laced work boots.
Not clearly visible in these scenes but evident in others, Raymond wears a gold-toned wristwatch with a round white dial on a tan leather strap.
How to Get the Look
The adage says to dress for the job you want, so Raymond Deagan’s workwear reflecting the green, red, and gold of the changing leaves around him suggests that he’s certainly found his calling in the world of floriculture. The fit and details are true to Far From Heaven‘s 1950s setting but could be effectively and comfortably translated to a modern fall day.
- Olive-green gabardine waist-length work jacket with shirt-style collar, zip-up front, horizontal zip-fastened breast pocket, snap-flapped patch hip pockets, single-snap cuffs, bi-swing back shoulder pleats, and snap waist adjuster-tabs
- Red black-checked woolen flannel work shirt with convertible collar, plain front, two non-matched chest pockets, and button cuffs
- Tan chino cotton flat-front trousers with belt loops, slanted side pockets, jetted back pockets, and turn-ups/cuffs
- 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)
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.