Top Gun: Maverick — CWU Flight Jacket and Jeans

Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)


Tom Cruise as CAPT Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, experienced U.S. Navy test pilot-turned-instructor

NAS North Island near San Diego, Fall 2019

Film: Top Gun: Maverick
Release Date: May 27, 2022
Director: Joseph Kosinski
Costume Designer: Marlene Stewart


It’s been a minute, huh Mav?

To commemorate August 19 being National Aviation Day, today’s post celebrates one of the most famous fictional naval aviators in movie history.

Thirty-six years to the month after its predecessor flew into theaters, Top Gun: Maverick returned Tom Cruise to the flight deck as Pete “Maverick” Mitchell, a virtuoso Naval Aviator who still lives up to his nickname more than three decades since he was a swaggering but skilled lieutenant in the U.S. Navy’s prestigious “Top Gun” training program.

“Captain? Still?” he’s asked, prompting Maverick to clarify that he’s “a highly decorated Captain.” His insubordination repeatedly preventing promotion to flag officer like his pal and one-time rival Tom “Iceman” Kazansky (Val Kilmer), CAPT Pete Mitchell is still “the fastest man alive”, now a Navy test pilot living in a hangar in the Mojave Desert, fighting the good fight for practical flight vs. the unmanned preferences of bureaucrats like RADM Chester Cain (Ed Harris), aka “The Drone Ranger”.

Despite Maverick falling out of favor among Navy brass, Iceman still looks out for his pal and—when Maverick is in danger of being grounded—has the distinguished aviator recalled to Top Gun at NAS North Island, where the stern, by-the-book commander VADM Beau “Cyclone” Simpson (Jon Hamm) briefs him on a dangerous mission, tasked to destroy an unsanctioned underground uranium enrichment plant… clarifying “we don’t want you to fly it, we want you to teach it.”

While at “Fightertown U.S.A.”, Maverick reconnects with former fling Penny Benjamin (Jennifer Connelly), who now runs The Hard Deck, a local bar frequented by fliers like the recent graduates that Maverick will be training for the mission. Among these aviators—played by a cast of rising stars like Monica Barbaro, Manny Jacinto, and Glen Powell—is Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), son of Maverick’s late friend and RIO Goose, who resents Mav for having blocked his Naval Academy application. Over the course of the accelerated training, a mutual respect grows between the confident young lieutenants and the experienced veteran.

The production paralleled the plot as Cruise, whose dedicated enthusiasm for his roles often manifests in learning the stunts and skills of his characters, personally designed a three-month aviation training course to familiarize the new actors with riding in the famous F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets featured on screen.

Fast-paced and furiously entertaining, Top Gun: Maverick was exactly the shot of adrenaline that the movie industry needed after declining ticket sales during COVID-19. The movie recouped its budget nearly nine times over, grossing nearly $1.5 billion in the worldwide box office to date, and won a much-deserved Academy Award for Best Sound from among its six Oscar nominations, including Best Picture.

What’d He Wear?

Since even the flight jackets like Maverick wears are available to the public, you can steal his style without stealing valor: click here to skip ahead to a “Shop the Look” section at the bottom of this page, researched specifically to help you find a jacket and civvies like those worn by “the fastest man alive”.

Return of the G-1 Jacket

Tom Cruise bookends Top Gun: Maverick by wearing the prolifically patched leather G-1 jacket that he had famously worn for much of the original Top Gun.  Costume designer Marlene Stewart and her team painstakingly built a new jacket, naturally styled to look like the original but cut to flatter Cruise and look consistent with contemporary fashion trends. “It had to look amazing but not noticeably different from the first one,” she explained to Gold Derby.

Cruise still owns a screen-worn jacket from the 1986 movie, but Stewart explained in conversation with From Tailors With Love that decades of wear-and-tear resulted in the jacket “more or less falling apart.” Observing what she described as “’80s interpretation” of the jacket with its padded shoulders and blousy fit, Stewart knew she would have to go back to the drawing board… and back to the late 1940s, when the G-1 was originally issued, having evolved from the earlier M-442A jacket. Having studied the original design and the Top Gun-worn jacket (which came with its own bodyguard), Stewart’s team worked through a selection of approximately 40 jackets to build what she calls the “Franken-jacket” to be consistent with G-1 design and flattering to Cruise’s physique.

Once the jacket was complete, Stewart explained that an additional challenge remained in crafting its 16 individual patches, which would need to be hand-loomed to differentiate the quality from modern machine-embroidered alternatives.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

The instantly recognizable G-1 jackets as introduced in 1947 were originally made of a dark seal-brown goatskin leather, with a mouton fur collar and ribbed-knit cuffs and hem. These waist-length flight jackets have a straight front zip, “bi-swing” back pleated behind the shoulders, and a half-belt across the back of the waist—a few inches above the hem. The two patch-style pockets positioned low on the front of the jacket each close with a button-down flap. Essentially replaced in service by nylon and Nomex jackets, the G-1 had been originally discontinued in 1979. The massive success of Top Gun in 1986 boosted sales of the G-1 among civilians and resulted in the U.S. military officially readopting the jacket two years later for qualified air crews.

The CWU Flight Jacket

After Maverick is called back to instruct at Top Gun, he begins wearing the Navy’s current official sage-green Nomex® bomber jacket. Nomex is a flame-resistant compound developed by DuPont in the 1960s, authorized for American military aviators after it was discovered that the nylon shells of then-issued MA-1 bomber jackets were prone to burning.

Made from this innovative material that proved resistant to flames, chemicals, and certain degrees of radiation, the new design provided the foundation for two Cold Weather Uniform (CWU) jackets: the lighter-weight CWU-36/P and the more insulated CWU-45/P. The design would be colloquialized as the “MA-2” by the late 1980s when the Cobles Clothing Company reportedly introduced it to market their civilian streetwear variations of these jackets. Nearly a half-century after their introduction, the Nomex-shell CWU-36/P and CWU-45/P remain the primary active duty flight jackets for both USAF pilots and U.S. Navy aviators.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Maverick feels the need… the need for Nomex.

The design evolved from the earlier MA-1 blouson, retaining the ribbed-knit cuffs and hem but replacing the collar with a rounded, shirt-style collar. The zip-entry utility pocket and pen lots on the left sleeve also remained from the MA-1, but the two front pockets were designed as larger cargo pockets with angled seams over the edges of each patch, covered by a substantial flap. The lighter-weight construction and lack of a storm flap behind the straight-zip front indicate that Mav wears the summer-weight CWU-36/P.

“We custom made those as well because they were general issue,” Marlene Stewart explained of Maverick’s new CWU-style jacket, tailored to flatter the actor without some of the “puffiness” that some can experience with these synthetic mil-spec bomber jackets.

Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Chapter 6, section 8, article 6803.2b(1) of the U.S. Navy uniform regulations code specifies that these jackets “may be worn with flight suits, but are not authorized for wear off base…” and that “the jacket will be worn with the zipper zipped at least 3/4 of the way.” Combined with chapter 7, section 2, article 7203 that states “military personnel may wear military uniform articles with civilian clothing when the item cannot be identified as a navy uniform component,” Maverick seems to be frequently violating Navy regulations by often wearing his badged CWU/36-P unzipped with civvies, but that’s why he’s Pete “Maverick” Mitchell and not Pete “Loves to Follow Rules” Mitchell.

Maverick’s CWU jacket was personalized for the production with an array of patches, though he only wears four (1/4 as many as on the G-1), more consistent with Navy standards than his heavily patched personal G-1. At the top of his right sleeve, he wears the USN Fighter Weapons School patch, a VX-31 patch over his right breast, and a yellow-bordered American flag patch on his left shoulder. Presumably velcro-mounted over his left breast, he wears his leather identification badge with gold-embossed aviation wings, “TOPGUN” in scripted font, and “CAPT PETE MITCHELL”.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Complete with Maverick’s array of patches, Cockpit USA currently offers a nylon-shell “Movie Hero” CWU-36/P in addition to a standard CWU-36/P in 4.5-oz. Nomex and devoid of patches.

Mav’s T-shirts

Under his flight jackets, Maverick continues wearing plain white T-shirts, which were also custom-made by costume designer Marlene Stewart’s team to perfectly flatter Tom Cruise’s physique and are consistent with Navy regs that authorize white cotton or cotton/poly undershirts for officers. His white tees in the 1986 Top Gun had breast pockets, but the updated shirts in 2022 lack this detail for a cleaner, more streamlined cut. The high-quality white cotton construction and smart cuts elevate Maverick’s fitted T-shirts beyond off-the-rack undershirts, even if they follow the same crew-neck, short-sleeved design.

Tom Cruise and Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Maverick and Rooster wear white T-shirts while fixing up Mav’s plane, though Rooster takes a sartorial page from his late dad’s closet by layering on an open aloha shirt.

Unlike the first Top Gun movie, Mav varies his T-shirts to include a dark navy tee that he wears when decidedly off-duty, specifically for a day of beach volleyball that becomes a night at Penny’s.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Mav gets caught by Penny’s daughter while wearing a non-reg undershirt.

The Jeans

Marlene Stewart worked with California-based outfitter Vince to craft Maverick’s jeans, taking into account that he’d often be wearing them while riding his Kawasaki motorcycle. A flexible cotton-and-elastane Italian denim blend provided just enough stretch for comfortable riding, dyed a vintage-inspired medium-blue wash and in a relaxed, straight cut.

“We had many, many multiples,” Stewart explained to From Tailors With Love of the jeans. “There were pairs for the bootcut pants that were a little wider because he wears cowboy boots. Also jeans where the rise in the back was higher for the motorcycle, and the fact that there were some stretch in them.”

The jeans follow the traditional five-pocket design with belt loops, though—unlike with his Levi’s in the original Top Gun, Mav doesn’t wear a belt in Top Gun: Maverick. Vince began marketing jeans inspired by those designed for Maverick with the exclusive DM 01 “The Straight” model in a 98% cotton-and-2% elastane blend.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Now you’re in the Navy,” Penny confirms to Maverick as he finally learns how to sail.

The Boots

Aside from his different jacket, the most notable element of Maverick’s wardrobe update are his cowboy boots. After wearing a pair of brashly colorful red, yellow, and green boots that Tom Cruise wore in the original Top Gun, the matured Maverick looks appropriately more subdued now in brown leather cowboy boots with rounded toes and decoratively stitched shafts. Like the rest of Cruise’s wardrobe, costume designer Marlene Stewart’s team custom-built Cruise’s boots rather than sourcing pre-made stock.

In addition to characterizing Maverick’s eponymous nature, the laceless and long-shafted design of cowboy boots serve to protect his feet when his primary mode of transport is on a motorcycle.

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

These boots appear to be Maverick’s everyday footwear when not in uniform, aside from black lace-up sneakers that he smartly wears instead while sailing on Penny’s yacht.

Aviators for an Aviator

There was never any question that Maverick would continue wearing the Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviator Classic sunglasses that he had popularized in the original Top Gun, though it wasn’t as simple as picking out a pair of glasses and calling it a day. The costume design and props departments collaborated through multiple fittings with Tom Cruise to make sure that his eyewear would be just right, ultimately retaining the same 1980s-era design—which lacks the scripted Ray-Ban logo printed in the upper right corner of the right lens—in the “D-1” teardrop style with gold frames and green lenses.

Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

The Watch

Unlike the young Top Gun graduates in their matching IWC watches, Maverick continues wearing the blacked-out Porsche Design Chronograph 1 by Orfina that dressed his wrist in Top Gun. Not only is it the same model… but the same watch, as Cruise confirmed to BBC Radio 1, though he had to request the original screen-worn watch back from Jerry Bruckheimer.

As the first-ever black-cased wristwatch, the Porsche Design Chronograph revolutionized the horological scene when it was introduced by Porsche 911 designer Ferdinand “Butzi” Porsche in 1972. The 40mm steel case and three-piece link bracelet were coated in a black PVD, the effect heightened by a black dial with the usual trio of sub-registers at the 12, 6, and 9 o’clock positions while the blacked-out 3 o’clock date window was flanked by the brand logo above and the words “Porsche Design” below.

Powered by Lemania’s 17-jewel Swiss automatic movement, this sporty, racing-oriented chronograph perfectly suits a maverick pilot with an insatiable need for speed.

Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Porsche Design celebrated the 50th anniversary of the blacked-out chronograph by reissuing it—now produced in black titanium, rather than PVD-coated steel—in 2022, the same year that Top Gun: Maverick was released.

What to Imbibe

Just as he still wears Ray-Bans and still wears his Porsche Design chronograph, Budweiser is still Maverick’s beer of choice, as Penny pours him draft after draft of this classic American lager at her bar, The Hard Deck.

Tom Cruise and Jennifer Connelly in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

In addition to being the beer he needed for liquid courage when singing to Charlie that she lost her lovin’ feeling in the 1986 Top Gun, Budweiser also has a unique naval connection—the hard-earned U.S. Navy SEALs Trident pin is also nicknamed the “Budweiser” for the Trident’s semblance to the familiar Budweiser logo.

While Mav may not share the same taste in watches with the recent Top Gun graduates, they all seem to enjoy the same brew, as they all invariably drink bottles of Bud whether playing pool or playing piano.

Danny Ramirez, Lewis Pullman, Jay Ellis, Monica Barbaro, and Miles Teller in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

Goodness gracious, great bottles of Bud!

How to Get the Look

Tom Cruise in Top Gun: Maverick (2022)

As in the original Top Gun, Maverick’s daily wear continues to be a bomber jacket, white T-shirt, jeans, and cowboy boots—accessorizing with gold aviator sunglasses and his blacked-out Porsche Design Chronograph—though the overall styled has matured with Mav, with his leather G-1 mostly retired into the closet as he carries out his duties in the practical and contemporary CWU-36/P jacket.

  • Sage-green Nomex CWU-36/P zip-up flight jacket with shirt-style collar, slanted-flap patch pockets, zip-up left-sleeve pocket, and ribbed-knit cuffs and hem
  • White cotton crew-neck short-sleeve T-shirt
  • Medium-blue stretch denim straight-cut designer jeans
  • Brown leather cowboy boots
  • Ray-Ban RB3025 Aviator Large (001/62) gold-framed sunglasses with green lenses
  • Orfina Porsche Design Chronograph 1 watch with gunmetal PVD-coated stainless steel case, black dial (with three sub-dials and day/date windows), and gunmetal PVD-coated stainless steel link bracelet

Price and availability current as of August 18, 2023.

If you liked the unbranded look of Mav's screen-worn Ray-Bans—or the idea of sunglasses that cost around the same as a decent lunch—there are a variety of tested-and-true low-budget aviators out there like this: Prices and availability current as of August 18, 2023.
  • New 2022 reissue: Porsche Design, $9,650
  • Secondhand models found on eBay (like this one!) may be the best option for many, both for affordability and getting a classic iteration not unlike Mav himself is implied to be wearing in Top Gun: Maverick
Price and availability current as of August 18, 2023.

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

You can also check out these great articles and interviews that were used to source some of the information:

  • The Daily Beast — “Will ‘Top Gun: Maverick’ Revive Our Lust for Aviator Shades?” by Helen Holmes
  • From Tailors With Love — “Marlene Stewart talks Top Gun Maverick | #159”
  • Gold Derby — “Tom Cruise is ‘very demanding’ but is ‘100 percent present’” by Ray Richmond and Rob Licuria
  • GQ UK — “Tom Cruise wore his original Top Gun watch in Top Gun: Maverick” by Jack King
  • Men’s Health — “Here’s How to Buy Tom Cruise’s Iconic Shades From “Top Gun: Maverick”” by John Thompson
  • Rolling Stone — “Flying by the Seat of Tom Cruise’s Pants: Where to Get Maverick’s Jeans from ‘Top Gun’” by Oscar Hartzog

The Quote

I’m not a teacher, I’m a fighter pilot. A Naval Aviator.

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