All the Old Knives: Chris Pine’s Peacoat
Chris Pine as Henry Pelham, CIA “clandestine case officer extraordinaire”
London, Winter 2020
Film: All the Old Knives
Release Date: April 8, 2022
Director: Janus Metz Pedersen
Costume Designer: Stephanie Collie
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
On one hand, I appreciated All the Old Knives‘ dedication to a le Carré-esque depiction of spywork as more of a subdued, slow-burning investigation rather than the action-packed world of James Bond and Ethan Hunt. On the other hand, does “subdued” necessarily have to feel so… subdued?
Nearly eight years after the disastrous terrorist attack of Turkish Airlines Flight 127, the CIA reopens its investigation with the secret information that the hijackers may have been assisted by a mole within its Vienna station. Agent Henry Pelham (Chris Pine) is assigned to the case by his chief Vick Wallinger (Laurence Fishburne), who advises him not to tread lightly even if the clues should point to Pelham’s former fellow agent and paramour Celia (Thandiwe Newton).
Two weeks before he reunites with Celia, who is now living an idyllic family life along the California coast, he’s in London tracking former agent Bill Compton (Jonathan Pryce), whose office phone had been linked to a suspicious call to Tehran on that fateful day eight years earlier.
What’d He Wear?
All the Old Knives intrigued the style blogger in me when a number of its publicity materials led to believe we’d be seeing plenty of Three Days of the Condor-style espionage featuring Chris Pine darting through side streets in a stylish peacoat, though the finished film only features this style for a few brief minutes of its run-time. Still, I love seeing the coat worn over a turtleneck, a particularly appropriate look on days like today where we’re forecasted to have a low temperature of 9° F and a high that remains below freezing.
The classic peacoat evolved from a design that’s now more than three centuries old, possibility originating from the Dutch, whose term pijjakker refers to a short coat (“jakker”) made from a heavy dark blue woolen twill called “pij” and later known as “pilot cloth” by the U.S. Navy, who followed the example set by navies across the Atlantic by issuing these double-breasted reefer jackets to its seafaring service members. Made famous by their military usage, pea jackets have been increasingly popular over the last half-century as a practical, durable, and stylish cold-weather coat.
Henry Pelham walks through London in a handsome dark-blue peacoat, visually identifiable as a commercially made jacket by a few differences in cut and styling, most noticeably the buttons. Unlike the four or five rows of large, anchor-motif buttons on a Navy peacoat, Pine’s coat has standard jacket buttons arranged in a relatively spacious 6×3-button formation, or rather a 6×2.5-button formation as the top row could technically button closed though the flared spacing and the neat roll of his ulster-style lapels down to the middle row suggests that it’s not meant to be worn with the top row closed.
The only pockets on a military peacoat have long been hand-warmer pockets positioned low on the chest with straight jetted entries, though newer commercial variants often added a set of flapped hip pockets. Pine’s jacket follows the traditional example with its pair of hand pockets only, though these are updated with a slightly slanted welted entry.
With his graying stubble and upturned peacoat collar, Henry completes his seafaring image with a light-gray cashmere turtleneck sweater that has a shaker-stitched body and a substantially ribbed roll-neck.
Henry wears very dark indigo denim jeans with a trim, straight fit through the legs with only the copper-toned contrast stitching around the hems to indicate that they’re jeans. Neither the jeans nor his brown leather derby-laced plain-toe hiking boots are seen on screen, only visible in behind-the-scenes location photos like those shared by the Daily Mail in January 2021.
Henry wears a Seiko Presage “Cocktail Time” SRPE43, distinctive for its uniquely textured and gradated dial that is a signature of the “Cocktail Time” series. Currently, Seiko offers three Cocktail Time watches, each named after a classic concoction: the red-dialed “Negroni” (SPRE41), the green-dialed “Mojito” (SPRE45), and the blue-dialed “Old Clock” as worn by Chris Pine in All the Old Knives.
The 23-jewel Presage has both automatic and manual winding capabilities, with a polished stainless steel 38.5mm case and a dark blue edge-stitched leather strap to match the dial. The hour indices alternate between odd numbers represented by plain silver-toned bars and the even numbers as Arabic numerals in a typeface reportedly inspired by old liquor bottles, with a black date window at the 3 o’clock position.
What to Imbibe
Henry catches Bill off-guard in a London pub to confront him with Vick’s suspicions about an insider during the hijacking. “It’s, uh, a single malt,” Bill explains of his whisky when Henry asks what he’s drinking. “I’ll join you!” Henry proffers, strolling up to the bar to order his own dram.
While I’ll always endorse enjoying a glass of Scotch, let’s have a little more fun and try to see what Seiko was getting at with that watch model name, “inspired by the classic Old Clock cocktail” according to their website. I’ve scoured all my bartending books and even Googling only shows results for the watch. A helpful Redditor cited WatchPatrol’s explanation that “the Old Clock focuses on the luxurious sky bar environment: unwinding while drinking a well-crafted cocktail and appreciating the bright Japanese skyline drift into dusk.”
That’s great… but I need a drink! Some additional Googling finally found a relatively simple recipe at Cocktail Log, dated October 22, 2022, perhaps not exactly “classic” a cocktail as the martini or Manhattan, but that is the day I got married, so I consider it a sign. Our anonymous mixologist proposes a combination of:
- 4 parts vodka
- 1 part blue curaçao
- 1 part maraschino liqueur
…all stirred in a mixing glass, then poured into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry dropped in the center. I suspect you may just be better off finding inspiration from Bill’s single malt whisky.
How to Get the Look
Henry Pelham presents a simple yet stylish solution for dressing warmly, layering staples like a dark peacoat over a turtleneck and jeans with boots worn to a comfortable patina completing this cold-weather confluence of form and function.
- Navy-blue wool peacoat with 6×2.5-button double-breasted front, ulster-style lapels, slanted welted hand pockets, single vent
- Light-gray cashmere turtleneck sweater with a heavy ribbed roll-neck
- Dark-indigo denim jeans
- Brown roughout leather derby-laced plain-toe work boots
- Seiko Presage “Cocktail Time” SPRE43 stainless steel 38.5mm-cased watch with gradated blue textured dial (with 3:00 date window) on dark blue edge-stitched leather strap
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie, streaming on Amazon Prime, as well as the source novel by Olen Steinhauer, who adapted his own work into the screenplay.
You do not want to end up on the wrong side of my investigation.
Love a peacoat with denim, another good look is in Land of the Dead although that is more of a workwear for early Spring/Autumn. I do also like those 70’s peacoats in Joe Kidd, the shawl collar just speaks to me for some reason.
“That’s great… but I need a drink!”
I quite literally spit out MY drink!
I’m looking forward to this series, but first I have to read the book, which I snagged a year or so ago.
That Seiko Presage model wouldn’t be my first choice for an intelligence officer. No lume on the dial or hands means that in pitch darkness, it would be unreadable.
Legibility is the first thing I look for in a watch.
Great, now all I need is a roll-neck to go with my peacoat.
Of course, a great head of hair like Chris Pine’s wouldn’t be bad either.
But for me, that train left the station a long time ago.
Hope you and yours are well, BAMF!