The Last of Sheila: James Coburn’s White Yachting Gear

James Coburn in The Last of Sheila (1973)


James Coburn as Clinton Greene, eccentric Hollywood producer

French Riviera, Late summer 1972

Film: The Last of Sheila
Release Date: June 14, 1973
Director: Herbert Ross
Costume Designer: Joel Schumacher

WARNING! Spoilers ahead!


If you’re the sort of person who follows such sartorial conventions, Labor Day on Monday makes this the last weekend where it’s “acceptable” to wear white. Of course, there are many who take umbrage to being told what’s acceptable to wear and when—such as Clinton Greene, the flamboyant film producer at the center of The Last of Sheila‘s sun-bleached mystery. Clinton was played by James Coburn, the versatile Nebraska-born actor born 95 years ago today on August 31, 1928.

Recently widowed after his wife Sheila was killed during a mysterious hit-and-run accident near their Hollywood home, Clinton commemorates the one-year anniversary of Sheila’s death by inviting his six closest frenemies—most of whom had been present during the party at their home the night Sheila was killed—to spend a week playing high-stakes puzzles on his luxury yacht off the coast of southern France. “Who did this room, Parker Brothers?” Clinton is asked of the yacht’s game-laden parlor, but his plans involve more than sitting around playing Clue and crossword puzzles.

Clinton assigns each friend a secret piece of gossip (which, unbeknownst to them, actually applies to someone else in the group) and shares that each night will be spent trying to figure out who holds which clue. Of course, a dedicated trickster like Clinton informs the assembled guests that, if they’re smart enough, they can solve the mystery without even leaving their seats.

Released 50 years ago this summer, The Last of Sheila was co-written by Anthony Perkins and Stephen Sondheim, partially inspired by the parlor games and scavenger hunts that the duo would organize for their famous friends. Among these friends were actors Phyllis Newman, Lee Remick, and George Segal, talent agent Sue Mengers, and director Herb Ross—who would eventually helm The Last of Sheila.

The witty mystery had all but fallen off the cinematic radar until Rian Johnson declared it among his inspiration for Glass Onion, the 2022 sequel to his blockbuster mystery Knives Out. Both films balance comedy and suspense in a Mediterranean Sea full of red herrings and famous friends invited by their eccentric and enigmatic host to solve a mystery… which becomes an actual murder.

What’d He Wear?

Nearly every male cast member in The Last of Sheila gets his moment dressed in almost all-white summer style from head to toe, beginning with Clinton as he greets the guests aboard Sheila in his white sweatshirt, slacks, and sneakers.

Leaning into the nautical setting, Clinton’s white long-sleeved sweatshirt has an anchor stitched in white at mid-chest, though the shape is barely discernible due to the lack of contrast—making it considerably more subdued than how the mayor of Amity Island chose to emblazon himself with anchors in Jaws. The soft cotton sweatshirt has a ribbed crew-neck, ribbed hem, and ribbed cuffs at the end of each set-in sleeve.

James Coburn, James Mason, and Richard Benjamin in The Last of Sheila (1973)

Clinton breaks up the monochromatically bleached outfit with a navy paisley cotton neckerchief knotted at his throat, adding a rakishly nautical dash that may also serve its purpose to protect his sweatshirt’s bright white neckline from being compromised by sweat.

A sunny day calls for sunglasses, and Clinton projects his successful—if somewhat aloof—image in a pair of silver-framed aviator sunglasses, with a trapezoidal bridge and mirrored lenses.

James Coburn in The Last of Sheila (1973)

When you’re wearing that much white, it’s smart to sport a pair of full-coverage sunglasses that protect your eyes.

White trousers are a seagoing staple for Clinton Greene’s friends, and the host sets an example on the first day. Clinton’s white cotton flat-front trousers have patch-style front pockets, similar to early 20th century U.S. Navy dungarees, and no back pockets. They’re held up by a wide black leather belt that closes through a hefty curved silver-toned single-prong buckle. The plain-hemmed bottoms are slightly flared, consistent with 1970s trends.

Most of the men also rotate through several pairs of Adidas sneakers. In this sequence, Clinton appears to wear the all-white Adidas Superstar model, characterized by its rubber “shell toe” cap. When introduced in 1969, the Superstar was the first low-top basketball shoe built with a leather upper. Though the siped rubber non-marking soles were intended for use on the basketball court, they would also provide excellent traction on the potentially wet decks of a yacht like Sheila.

Richard Benjamin, Joan Hackett, Dyan Cannon, James Coburn, James Mason, Raquel Welch, and Ian McShane in The Last of Sheila (1973)

Clinton jokes that the garish double room he’s assigned to Anthony (Ian McShane) and Alice (Raquel Welch) is decorated in the non-existent “Louis the 34th” style.

Under his shirt, Clinton wears a heavy yellow-gold chain-link necklace with a pendant that hangs low on his chest. His other piece of jewelry is a gold signet ring on his left pinky.

Strapped to a black leather band on his left wrist, Clinton wears a stainless steel Omega Speedmaster Professional Mark II chronograph, ref. ST 145.014. Just months after the Speedmaster became famous as the “Moonwatch” worn by NASA astronauts during the Apollo 11 lunar landing in July 1969, Omega introduced the Mark II as the first substantive Speedmaster redesign. The Mark II would only remain in production for three years, ending in 1972.

Powered by Omega’s calibre 861 movement that had been introduced the year prior, the 17-jewel Mark II can be visually differentiated by its barrel-shaped 41mm case as opposed to the slimmer, round case of the classic Speedmaster. The dial is otherwise identical to the conventional Speedmaster, with white luminous baton hands navigating a black dial featuring 30-minute, 12-hour, and second-counting sub-registers at the 3, 6, and 9 o’clock positions, respectively, and the Speedmaster’s requisite tachymeter ring displayed beneath the flat mineral glass.

Raquel Welch, Joan Hackett, Dyan Cannon, and James Coburn in The Last of Sheila (1973)

We all have that friend who’s an absolute tyrant when it comes to getting the group pic just right. (It me, I’m that friend.)

After the guests have gotten situated and changed clothes, Clinton greets them on deck with champagne and their game assignments. He too has changed his top, now wearing a white uniform-style shirt with long sleeves rolled up his forearms.

With its structured cut, two box-pleated chest pockets (with button-down flaps), and shoulder epaulets, the shirt resembles a uniform, though this safari-influenced style was also popular through the ’70s. Buttoned down to the body of the shirt at the neck, these pointed, ribbon-style epaulets are uniquely striped in navy, red, yellow, and navy. The shirt also boasts a long point collar and front placket.

James Coburn and Dyan Cannon in The Last of Sheila (1973)

His white uniform-looking shirt with its martial-inspired epaulets suggests that Clinton is in command—at least party captain, if not at Sheila‘s actual helm.

What to Imbibe

Clinton happily pours from a bottle of Moët & Chandon champagne while explaining the game to his friends. Created in 1869, the iconic Moët Impérial is one of the most recognizable, best-selling, and prestigious champagnes in the world—perfectly suiting Clinton and his status-obsessed Hollywood pals.

James Coburn in The Last of Sheila (1973)

How to Get the Look

James Coburn in The Last of Sheila (1973)

Clinton Greene’s all-white nautical garb may not work for everyone, but it takes a colorful man to wear such a lack of color so boldly—complete with the ’70s panache of rakish neckerchief, flared trousers, and a retro-styled alternative to a classic sports watch.

  • White cotton crew-neck sweatshirt with white-embroidered anchor over mid-chest
  • White cotton flat-front trousers with belt loops, patch-style front pockets, and flared plain-hemmed bottoms
  • Black leather belt with curved silver-toned single-prong buckle
  • White leather Adidas Superstar low-top basketball sneakers with siped rubber outsoles
  • White socks
  • Navy paisley cotton neckerchief
  • Silver-framed aviator sunglasses with mirrored lenses
  • Gold pinky ring
  • Omega Speedmaster Professsional Mark II (ST 145.014) stainless steel chronograph with barrel-shaped 41mm case, black dial (with 3 sub-registers), and black leather strap

Do Yourself a Favor and…

Check out the movie.

The Quote

Alright, everybody! Down to the latrines for a shave, shower, or douche—depending on your hangup.

One comment

  1. rip wheeler black jacket

    In “The Last of Sheila,” James Coburn’s white yachting gear isn’t just clothing; it’s a symbol of elegance and luxury. Coburn’s impeccable style in the film reflects the high-society world of the characters, adding an extra layer of sophistication to the intriguing storyline. His attire serves as a visual cue to the audience, hinting at the glamour and intrigue that awaits on this cinematic voyage

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