The Sopranos (1999-2007)
Costume designer: Juliet Polcsa
(In the first season, Ane Crabtree and Kim Marie Druce also did a couple of episodes.)
The American crime drama The Sopranos has gone down as one of the greatest television shows of all time. It follows New Jersey Italian-American mobster Tony Soprano as he tries to manage family life with leading a criminal organization. It premiered at the tail end of the 90s in January 1999 and ran for 6 seasons. It was highly influential and helped to turn television into a legitimate art form on the same standing as feature film and theatre. It ushered in shows like Six Feet Under and Breaking Bad as well as influencing the in-depth writing of Mad Men.
According to the four time Emmy nominated Polcsa, James Gandolfini did not enjoy, or did not have time for, costume fittings and would often send his body double instead. For one scene, the designer deliberately put him in a costume she knew he wouldn’t like in order to help him get into an angry mode for his character. “I made that costume all the things Jim didn’t like because I figured it would make him mad.” She checked in with Gandolfini after the scene to see if her method worked and he was really appreciative of her efforts.
She wanted the wardrobe to be true to life and not based on stereotypes. So, even though Tony is a man of means, there is a subtlety to his style. His wardrobe consisted of short sleeve button downs, knit polo shirts, Nat Nast bowling shirts, Hawaiian and other patterned shirts, leather jackets, gold jewellery, pleat-front pants, slim leather belts and leather loafers.
In 2008, Gandolfini auctioned his personal collection of 25 of Tony’s costumes for charity, raising $187,750.
Gabriel Marfisi runs the instagram account @tonysopranostyle where he shares his collection of exact matches he has found to clothing items worn by Tony on the show and his thoughts on The Skip’s style.
Polcsa appeared on episode 15 of the Talking Sopranos podcast in 2020, which you can watch on YouTube.
These are a few looks we put together from our rentals collection of 90s menswear, taking inspiration from season 1 Tony.
Look 1: navy knit polo shirt, grey pleat front pants, black loafers, black belt
Look 2: navy pinstripe suit, grey shirt, grey patterned tie, lace up leather shoes
Look 3: brown pinstripe blazer, green knit shirt, grey pleat front pants, black loafers, brown belt
Look 4: grey blazer, blue patterned knit shirt, grey pleat front pants, black loafers, brown belt
Look 5: blue patterned button up shirt, grey pleat front pants, black belt, black loafers
Jewelry: wide gold watch, gold chain bracelet, signet ring and necklace chain
@therealprofessorx felt Tony’s style was overrated and surmised that he wore ‘a lot of goofy dad stuff but he wears them with gravitas so they look cooler than they are.” Do you agree?