How to Dress like Al Pacino
Al Pacino. This man is someone we at OTAA will consider to be among the top dressers of the acting community - a true style icon. His dress styles in his decades long film career danced from the likes of the calculating and nuanced Michael Corleone, to the hotheaded and luridly violent Tony Montana. Nevertheless he eptomises one of the sage advices of styling: if a person puts work and effort with their clothes, their clothes will help them in return. Indeed, we can see as Al Pacino does his legendary acting to work, he puts gravitos into his outfits and in turn his outfits help his acting come alive, and what better way to show off such synergy by showcasing his most iconic stylings across his acting career. Here are a few examples during his acting career that shows his style during the course of his best known films.
The Godfather 1 & 2
Francis Ford Coppola's classic trilogy chronicles the raise of the Corleone crime family and the prices Al Pacino's character Michael Corleone must pay and the responsibilities and burdens he must take. With Michael's progression in the film, his style changes with him to reflect this.
Starting from the beginning, Michael's style could be described as "Ivy League Prep", with many earthy browns and most noticeably his dress shirts are made from oxford cloth, which has extremely fine pinstripes and is often associated with the Ivy League style. This outfit will be topped off with grey flannel slacks and a jaunty tousled sideswept hairdo. Michael's dress style up to the point when his father was sent to the hospital drew both admiration and derision from his older brother Sonny "Bada-bing! – you blow their brains all over your nice Ivy League suit"
Later as Michael involves himself further to his mob family's cause, he would wear more stark and formal attire while carrying some remnants of his past Ivy League style. For example when he confronts Sollozzo and McCluskey in a so called truce meeting, he would wear a charcoal gray flannel three-piece suit and a diagonally stripped maroon and white tie that may be understated but still distinctly Ivy League prep style. Escaping the shootout, he discards the vestiges of his old lifestyle by ditching his brown overcoat to make his getaway.
Scene in Godfather, when Michael first meets Apollonia
Scene from Godfather, when Michael marries Apollonia
The subsequent move to Sicily to escape the heat from the other crime families did little to change Michael's style even though his wardrobe called for countryside wear, as evidenced by his grey stripped waistcoat when he first meet Apollonia. He would also wear a surprisingly stark black but rustic suit with a double-breasted jacket and black skinny tie with red polka dots when he gets married to Apollonia.
After the death of his older brother, when Michael had to return back to the USA to take over the reins as head of the Corleone family, he now takes to a grey wardrobe. Starting with the suit he wore to his nephew's baptism, in which he will regularly wear towards the end of the film, he wears a medium-dark gray three-piece suit with a gray tonal stripe, with a wide-lapeled suit jacket cut generously by the costume department to make Al Pacino look more intimidating. Of note is the habit of using high buttoned waistcoats that draws more attention to Michael's height. Also, the fabric has a sheen which looks either like silk, mohair, or a combination of the two. The grey sheen coupled with the stark and sharp angles of the suit makes Al Pacino seem like he's wearing darkened steel.
In Godfather 2, the film starts with Michael wearing a similar suit, this time the suit is made from dupioni silk, which is a slub silk fabric having black and white flecks as well as slubbing (uneven weaving). The use of this fabric gives his suit more form and texture not unlike brushed and pitted steel.
Example of Dupioni Silk
As the film progresses, we will start to have a sense that Michael's wardrobe is simplistic and limited. This stark elegant look serves to show Michael is cold, severe and methodical while looking elegant, knowing how appearance can work to affect his image and in turn command respect and power.
Another example is during his foray into Havana in his venture to expand his business. When he visits Hyman Roth, Michael will wear a tan and cream coloured suit. The fabric of the suit has a fine tan and cream plain weave glen check with teal blue on the outer check, and the single-breasted jacket is notch-lapelled with a welted breast pocket and straight flapped hip pockets. He wears a gold, bronze and brown cravat tie underneath a white polo shirt, and brown leather penny loafers with matching brown belt. The look serves to at least temper his usually cold look as he explores the possibilities of pre-Castro Cuba
Another signature look Michael will wear in the film would be his black suit, which is made from black shantung silk to give the suit a sheen like his previous grey suits. Shantung silk is similar to the aforementioned dupioni silk in that it is a slub silk fabric but the weave is more even and the fabric is slightly thinner and lighter
Example of Shamtung Silk
In the film chronicling the meteorical rise and spectacular fall of Al Pacino's character Tony Montana, a Cuban immigrant who, with some blood soaked violence, made himself a drug kingpin. With his sudden streak to riches and power, Tony is sure to flaunt his ill gotten (or "richly deserved" in his view) gains.
In the scenes after he finishes his first big job, Tony would buy and flaunt his riches to his sister and mother. The suit Tony wears distinctly looks like the disco suit Travolta's character wore in Saturday Night Fever and we suspect this is in fact an homage and serves to set the tone for Tony's lurid taste in loud clothes later on
The suit in this scene, however, differs from Travolta's disco suit in numerous ways. First off, the jacket of Tony's suit has notch lapels and are not actually side, letting the lapels of Tony's black silk point collared dress shirt do the talking. Also, although Tony looks like he's wearing a black and white dress shirt, he actually is wearing a high buttoned white waist coat, and he wears a black pocket square to match his black dress shirt.
Later on, as he rises within the ranks and gets to meet another kingpin Alejandro Sosa on his boss's behalf, he would wear a cream stripped suit that is cut similarly to the previous white suit and pairs it with a maroon point collared dress shirt whose lapels again does the talking for his outfit alongside a silk white polka dotted red pocket square. And to complete his upstart gangster look, he liberally accessorised his outfit with gold jewellery
Breaking from his penchant for white suits, we see Tony in another scene where he wears a sky blue gabardine suit in a club scene where hitmen made an attempt on Tony's life. Early in the scene before the bloody mayhem went down, Tony's outfit would start out as a three piece suit with a peak lapeled jacket this time, the high buttoned waist coat again, and his white stripped dress shirt whose lapels again does the talking with the silk white pocket square. In the aftermath of the assassination attempt, the waist coat is completely unbuttoned and pushed out of the way for Tony's arm sling - note that the prop department made sure the red blood is visible to contrast with tony's sky blue suit as much as possible
During his triumphant wedding with the widow of his now deceased ex boss, Tony still does not let up with his penchant for white suits - going with a three-piece ivory colored tuxedo in a near monochrome outfit only offset with a dark red silk bow tie. Normally a dark coloured suit would be more appropriate for day weddings, whereas wearing a white tuxedo would be as loud a statement as
someone like Tony Montana could make.
In the infamous last scene we see a startling change in Tony Montana's garb. Freshly returned from New York where he had to blend in with 80s Manhattan to carry out an assassination plot, he dresses in a dark navy, chalkstripped wool suit with a peak lapelled suit jacket bearing jetted rear-slanting hip pockets and double side vents, waist coat to match, white pocket square, and red patterned silk tie.
Where the New York plot served to give Tony a jarring reality check, Tony's return home served as the point where everything he had built over the years unravelled blindingly fast - and his downward spiral ending in a bloody demise. He discards his tie and unbuttons his white dress shirt with slim collar, front placket, and double/French cuffs in a no bars held rampage against the intruders of his mansion home.
Scent of a Woman (1992)
Here, Al Pacino plays a coarse, near blind, medically retired Army colonel named Frank Slade who had his protagonist nephew take him on a joy ride to fulfil his bucket list before he commits suicide. At the start of his stay at the Waldorf-Astoria, he hired his tailor to make him a suit that he'll wear for the better part of the film, and was also generous enough to also have her make one for his nephew too.
Here, he could see the fabric of his suit is patterned in a sharp black-and-white Glenurquhart pattern with a pink overcheck to give the fabric some colour. His three piece suit includes a peak lapelled single breasted three buttoned jacket along with a low buttoned waist coat and a double forward-pleated trousers with cuffed hems.
Here you can see a clearer view of the Glenurquhart pattern on Frank's suit
This suit was carefully crafted to flatter Al Pacino's stature of 5'7" (around 170 cm) and at the same time allow him to do the famous tango with the random bystander Donna who was waiting for her date in the Pierre Hotel. He completes his outfit with khaki button suspenders, a burgundy tie with white polka dots, and a white pocket square
On another day of his sojourn, Frank will switch his burgundy tie for a blue patterned one, though he wears a burgundy scarf to give the outfit some colour. He also wears a fawn coloured overcoat to complement his suit's colours, a blue and white stripped dress shirt, and black leather gloves.
In this crime thriller Al Pacino plays Lt. Vincent Hanna, a LAPD robbery-homicide detective tracking down an expert robber Neil McCauley played by Robert De Niro.
He sticks to a wardrobe of mostly drab colour palette, in keeping with his role as an overworked, strung out police lieutenant.
Here Hanna meets with McCauley with a similar outfit as above but with a different tie
Just moments away from an outburst of exasperation with a suspect he is taking away, Hanna wears a near monochrome outfit only broken by his navy blue dress shirt
It's amazing what a FNC, a bulletproof vest, and a non-reg side arm can do to give your outfit a lot of gravity
Devil's Advocate (1997)
It stands to reason that since Al Pacino had acted in many anti-hero and thuggish roles, it is inevitable he will have his share of villain roles too. And it is so here in this supernatural horror film where Al Pacino takes on the role of John Milton, the head of a New York City law firm that hires the protagonist Kevin Lomax played by Keanu Reeves.
As his previous suits on screen are tailored to flatter his height, it is especially important here, as Al Pacino needs to command presence while acting opposite against Keanu Reeve's 6'1" (about 186 cm) height.
As one can see, he will wear the power suit so prevalent in the New York. Here he is wearing a wool black pinstripped suit with a peak lapelled suit jacket, a white pocket square, and a black and bronze patterned tie while he is quietly watching his potential new hire.
Though he might wear many ties in the film, one cannot help but notice he usually goes to a bronze or gold patterned on black tie
In the climatic where Milton finally reveals his true identity, he wears a peak lapelled black suit, but foregoes a tie altogether. His low buttoned black waist coat has a bronze paisley pattern that hints at his satanic nature
Al Pacino plays the movie's antagonist Willy Bank who is a devious wealthy investor who scams his way into building a casino and which Danny Ocean played by George Clooney sets out to exact revenge with. Although he was described as "a greedy man with no taste", he wears attire that is befitting of both a banker and a member of the high rolling crowd in Las Vegas.
Here Banks wear a black pinstriped suit with a blue and pink striped dress shirt and a pink paisley tie - the patterning still works even with a garish shade of pink for the tie
Same suit as above but with a different striped dress shirt along with a patterned pink tie with a matching pocket square
Here Banks wears a navy blue pinstriped suit with a similar blue pinstriped dress shirt, this time wearing a blue and neon green paisley tie with a blue pocket square, along with gold accessories.
The Irishman (2019)
In this Scorsese film, Al Pacino plays Jimmy Hoffa, a labour union head that the main protagonist Frank Sheeran played by Robert de Niro works for. Going for historical accuracy, the costume department dropped the flash and pomp of the romantic gangster era of the past and kept things more grounded, mundane, and low key. Of course, in keeping with Hoffa's outspokenness and brashness, Al Pacino's wardrobe stands out from the others
Hoffa when he meets Tony Pro, a rival union boss. Apart from his look of utter disdain at Pro's lack of punctuality, decorum and wearing shorts to a meeting, Hoffa wears a tan linen suit, white dress shirt and a patterned tie with yellow stripes upon black and white stripes. The outfit calls to mind his Havana suit from Godfather 2
Hoffa in a wool suit and red gold striped skinny tie during a union meeting
Hoffa in a suit of finer fabric, wearing a skinny blue and green striped skinny tie during a courtroom scene
Hoffa rebuffing Ruffalino during a union party. He wears a period style white and red zigzag and striped tie. With Scorsese's direction, if the jagged red lines on Hoffa's tie could mean anything, Hoffa could be facing something unfortunate pretty soon...
These iconic films will later serve to influence Al Pacino's personal style later in his life. So whether you look to adopt his style or looking to have some of his styling influence your wardrobe, you can look to his most famous and stylish characters. There, you can see the thought process and the effort put into Al Pacino's wardrobe on set, and the synergy between the actor and his clothes that make his roles all the more memorable and have lasting impact. And that's exactly how we at OTAA would like our customers and readers to do, to put thought and effort in your outfit to make sure that your outfit works for you just as much in turn.