The Hot Rock: George Segal’s Seersucker Suit
George Segal as Andy Kelp, jewel thief and locksmith
New York City, Summer 1971
Film: The Hot Rock
Release Date: January 26, 1972
Director: Peter Yates
Costume Designer: Ruth Morley
WARNING! Spoilers ahead!
The start of spring this week means warmer weather ahead, with linen and seersucker replacing tweed and flannel at the front of my closet. One of my favorite cinematic seersucker suits is the colorfully appointed two-piece suit worn in The Hot Rock by George Segal, the prolific and versatile actor who died two years ago today on March 23, 2021.
The Hot Rock begins with jewel thief John Dortmunder (Robert Redford) paroled from prison, greeted by his larcenous brother-in-law Andy Kelp (Segal) at the wheel of a stolen black Cadillac. Kelp immediately recruits Dortmunder into their next heist, stealing the prized Sahara Stone from the Brooklyn Museum with the backing of Dr. Amusa (Moses Gunn), a diplomat from the fictional African nation of Central Fatawi.
Now, listen, I didn’t tell the doctor about you being in prison. I figure, why undermine his confidence? He wants the best for his money. Not that you’re not the best, but a layman might wonder why you’re all the time in jail.
What’d He Wear?
As The Hot Rock is set through the sweltering summer of 1971, Kelp dresses appropriately for the season in a stylish and well-cut seersucker suit, its lightweight and light-wearing puckered cotton fabric patterned in the classic blue-and-white “railroad stripe” traditionally associated with seersucker tailoring.
The single-breasted suit jacket is sportily detailed with swelled edges along the notch lapels and a flap covering the set-in breast pocket. The inverted box-pleated patch pockets over the hips are also each covered with a flap. The jacket features natural shoulders with roped sleeveheads, a then-fashionably long single vent, and front darts that shape the jacket to flatter Segal’s lean silhouette. The three buttons on each cuff are a flat mixed blue plastic that matches the two positioned on the front of the jacket.
For Kelp’s first appearance, greeting Dortmunder outside of prison and taking him to meet Dr. Amusa, he’s brightly dressed in a rose-pink shirt with a long point collar, front placket, breast pocket, and two-button rounded cuffs. His tie is tonally coordinated in a paisley silk in tones of pink, purple, lilac, and lavender.
Kelp pulls on a more somber shirt and tie when uniting their four-man group to talk through the plan, now dressed in a tan shirt with a long semi-spread collar. Like the pink shirt, this tan shirt has a front placket, breast pocket, and two-button barrel cuffs, though these cuffs are squared rather than rounded. His tie is dark navy with low-contrast, “downhill”-directional dark brown stripes—each bordered in a narrow gray stripe.
Finally, Kelp wears a navy short-sleeved polo shirt with a structured collar, a very long four-button placket, and a flapped breast pocket that echoes the suit jacket he wears over it. He wears the polo with both the complete two-piece suit and with the jacket orphaned over a pair of white flat-front slacks, detailed with frogmouth-style front pockets and plain-hemmed bottoms.
The matching suit trousers are flat-front with a beltless waistband that closes with an extended hook-closure tab—there may be tabs on the side to adjust the fit, but we never see Kelp with the jacket removed. The trousers have straight pockets along the side seams and the plain-hemmed bottoms are slightly flared in keeping with trends of the early ’70s.
His shoes are always dark brown, typically wearing classic brown leather lace-ups though the dressed-down look with the orphaned white trousers calls for less-formal brown suede “playboy boots”, as famously worn by Steve McQueen and characterized by their suede uppers and thick charcoal crepe soles.
While at the controls of his stolen black 1970 Cadillac, he wears a pair of brown basket-woven leather driving gloves with exposed backs and a single-snap wrist closure.
Kelp’s steel-cased wristwatch boasts a round white dial and is secured to his left wrist via a black leather strap that closes through a gold-toned single-prong buckle.
He often wears gold-framed aviator sunglasses, a now-iconic style pioneered forty years earlier for military pilots that was revived through the ’70s.
How to Get the Look
Jewel thief Andy Kelp dresses colorfully cool for a New York summer, clad in a sporty seersucker suit with colorful shirts and ties.
- Blue-and-white railroad-striped puckered seersucker cotton suit:
- Single-breasted 2-button suit jacket with notch lapels, flapped set-in breast pocket, flapped inverted box-pleated hip pockets, 3-button cuffs, and long single vent
- Flat-front trousers with beltless waistband, straight/on-seam side pockets, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
- Rose-pink shirt with long point collar, front placket, breast pocket, and 2-button rounded cuffs
- Pink-and-purple paisley silk tie
- Brown leather lace-up dress shoes
- Gold-framed aviator sunglasses
- Steel wristwatch with round white case on black leather strap with gold-toned single-prong buckle
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
You take failure too hard. I don’t mind it so much anymore.