The Departed: Jack Nicholson’s IRISH T-Shirt

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006)


Jack Nicholson as Francis “Frank” Costello, sadistic Irish-American mob boss

Boston, Spring 2007

Film: The Departed
Release Date: October 6, 2006
Director: Martin Scorsese
Costume Designer: Sandy Powell

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!


Happy St. Patrick’s Day, BAMF Style readers!

After decades of cinematic focus on Italian-American culture and its proximity to the Mafia, Martin Scorsese turned his directorial lens onto the Irish mob in The Departed, the film which finally earned the director an Academy Award for Best Director after five previous nominations.

Based on the 2002 Hong Kong action thriller Infernal Affairs, The Departed centers around two policemen—the corrupt Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon) and the deeply undercover Billy Costigan (Leonardo DiCaprio)—and their association to the ruthless criminal Francis Costello (Jack Nicholson), who may share a name with real-life Mafia figure Frank Costello but was closely based on Boston gangster Whitey Bulger.

Although Martin Sheen rolling through “microprocessors” in a Boston accent lives rent-free in my head, the details of Costello’s varying crimes hardly matter as much as the sadistic pleasure he takes from heists and homicide. The “cheese-eatin’, fuckin’ rat” in his organization gnaws at him as he grows increasingly unhinged until the double-dealing Sullivan utilizes Costigan as his own informant to bust one of Costello’s drug deals, resulting in an explosive shootout that leaves most of Costello’s mooks dead and pits Costello and Sullivan mano a mano.

What’d He Wear?

Unlike the flashy silk suits and spearpoint-collared shirts often associated with Scorsese’s cinematic criminals, Frank Costello meets his end while dressed like anyone’s paunchy middle-aged dad running some errands on the weekend… except that Costello’s errands consist of a coke deal instead of an afternoon at Home Depot. Given Costello’s increased recklessness by this point, I can’t be sure if he’s tactfully dressed to avoid detection (which shouldn’t matter, given the extensive police surveillance) or if he simply can’t be bothered to be dressing better anymore.

Costello wears the same black microfiber polyester waist-length, zip-up windbreaker that he had previously worn while dealing microprocessors to the Triad gangsters. The shirt-style collar is lined along the inside with a strip of khaki polyester that extends out to a pointed throat-latch tab on the left side that ostensibly connects to a single button under the right side of the collar. The jacket has hand pockets, an elasticized blouson-style hem, and raglan sleeves that have a squared single-snap closure at the end of each cuff, though Costello wears these undone and self-cuffed up his forearms for this sequence.

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006)

And what could be more appropriate on St. Patrick’s Day than a T-shirt that just says “IRISH” printed across the chest in dark green with a small shamrock positioned just below it. Made from a light-gray heathered cotton, the short-sleeved T-shirt is a likely reference to the Notre Dame Fighting Irish, which would be The Departed‘s second reference to the university as Captain Queenan (Martin Sheen) had earlier mentioned that his son attends the school.

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006)

The gunshot wound to Costello’s gut suggests that this is one Irishman whose luck is running out.

Costello wears medium-dark blue denim jeans which may be Lee, as suggested by the deep curvature of his front pockets. Nicholson had long been a fan of Lee jeans, wearing Riders in his early movies like Five Easy Pieces. His shoes are black leather sneakers.

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006)

More than a decade before the Roy family brought them back into vogue on Succession, Costello adds anonymity with a dark navy twill baseball cap, perhaps more forgiving headgear than the bucket hats he occasionally favors.

On his left hand, Costello wears his usual wristwatch and pair of twisted metal rings: a white-gold ring on his ring finger and a yellow-gold pinky ring. His sporty watch is a Nike Big Al “D-Line”, distinguished by a rectangular green-figured analog display that runs flush with the silver aluminum links on an expanding black urethane band.

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006)

Note the analog display of Costello’s Nike D-Line watch that distinguishes it from the digital models in the lineup.

The Gun

Frank Costello regularly carries an early model of the Beretta 84 Cheetah semi-automatic pistol, memorably drawn to intimidate Billy Costigan in a moment that Jack Nicholson reportedly improvised (much to the possible dismay of the on-set armorer.)

Beretta introduces its Series 81 pistols in 1976 with the .32-caliber Model 81, with the Model 84 to follow in 1977. Models 83, 84, and 85 are all chambered for .380 ACP (9x17mm Short), though the Model 84 is slightly wider to accommodate double-stacked magazines that carry 13 rounds, as opposed to the single-stack—and, thus, slimmer-gripped—Models 83 and 85.

Though blowback-operated rather than recoil-operated, the Series 81 pistols cosmetically and internally echoed the larger, full-sized Beretta 92 series that would ultimately be adapted as the U.S. military’s M9 service pistol. As the 92 was improved to the 92F and 92FS models, so too were the Series 81 pistols; Costello’s screen-carried Beretta 84 can be distinguished as an older model as it has a rounded trigger guard, as opposed to the squared trigger guard of the Beretta 84F and 84FS.

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006)

During the final confrontation, Costello kept his Beretta concealed under his jacket.

The Series 81 pistols would ultimately be marketed as the “Cheetah” series, in keeping with Beretta’s later habit of adopted big cat-inspired nomenclature as illustrated by their Bobcat, Cougar, Jaguar, and Minx pistols. Most of the Cheetah pistols were discontinued by the mid-2010s, though Beretta announced at the 2023 SHOT Show that the series would be revived with the reimagined 80X Cheetah that blends classic design with modern features.

How to Get the Look

Jack Nicholson as Frank Costello in The Departed (2006)

Martin Scorsese’s gangster kingpins are often associated with tailored suits, silk ties, and shirts with dangerously sharp spearpoint collars… subverted by the boorish Frank Costello, who indeed rotates through a few distinctive jackets and ties in The Departed but meets his gruesome end while dressed like an aging suburban dad running weekend errands. Trimmer fits could transform Costello’s baseball cap, college T-shirt, windbreaker, sneakers, and jeans into decent street style, but that ain’t Costello’s priority.

  • Black microfiber polyester zip-up windbreaker with shirt-style collar (with throat-latch tab), hand pockets, and raglan sleeves with squared single-snap cuffs
  • Light gray heathered cotton “IRISH” crew-neck short-sleeve T-shirt
  • Blue denim jeans
  • Black leather sneakers
  • Dark navy twill baseball cap
  • White gold twist ring
  • Yellow gold twisted knot ring
  • Nike Big Al “D-Line” aluminum sport watch on expanding link bracelet

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

Don’t laugh! This ain’t reality TV!

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