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How to dress like Joe Pesci

Martin Scorsese's tour de force "The Irishman" released 2019 can be said to be a reunion of the director's long running and favorite actors Al Pacino, Robert De Niro, and Joe Pesci. While we covered the former two in previous articles, today we celebrate Joe Pesci's long and colourful career by also examining his dressing style, which we can thank for to make his legendary acting all the more compelling. The stocky, dimunitive but fiery tempered "wise guy" we've come to love and fear has a sharp wardrobe style that we at OTAA feel compelled to pick apart in the hopes that those who want to channel their inner Tommy Devito or Nicky Santoro can copy or draw inspiration from the wardrobe of Pesci's most famous roles.

Goodfellas (1990)

In this film that Pesci plays Tommy Devito who is a fellow gangster to the protagonist Henry Hill (played by Ray Liotta). In this role that earned Pesci the oscar for best supporting actor in 1990, his cutthroat, unhinged and manically violent performance was made all the more obvious by his curiously styled collar, which looked like two daggers jutting from the wearer's neck.

For reference, this is called a spear point collar and they have existed before in men's fashion during the first half of the 20th century. However, Scorsese directed the costume department to exaggerate the collar's proportions to the point where it hid the top part of tie and is so long that a tab needs to be added to the double-lock collar to line up the steep collar points.


Devito will go on to wear dress shirts with this type of collar throughout the film, paired with several sharp suits like the one in the promotional picture here, where he pairs it with a steel grey shatung suit jacket that brings to mind Michael Corleone's power suit in God father, making him look especially lethal


The infamous Funny Like How scene, Tommy wears a similar jacket but with peak lapels and switched his tie for an ivory and grey striped coloured one. 

The scene where Tommy offs Spider in a fit of rage sees him wear the same suit but with a black and white pin striped dress shirt - note the gold bar cufflinks


Here during his final moments in the film, Tommy wears a finely checkered black and white suit jacket with wide notch lapels, along with a black tie, matching pocket square, and the usual speak point collared dress shirt. It would be a shame if something were to happen to spoil the jacket.

This isn't the first time that Pesci wore a dress shirt with this kind of collar in a role though, as he wore it during Raging Bull (1980), his first role with Scorsese. 

Casino (1995)

Pesci's acting in Goodfellas was so memorable that Pesci went on to reuse his onscreen persona in other films, most notably the Home Alone series, the Lethal Weapon series, and My Cousin Vinny. In this film, Pesci reprises his short-tempered violent persona as Nicky Santoro, who is the enforcer of the mob boss owning the Tangiers casino run by the protagonist Ace Rothstein, played by Robert De Niro. As appropriate by the high rolling crowd, he wears a variety of flashy suits and colour patterns, and noticeably wears dress shirts with toned down long point collars or club collars


You can see him here wearing a mohair grey suit jacket with broad peak lapels and wearing an unbuttoned burgundy dress shirt and a patterned burgundy pocket square to match


Nicky wears a sky blue club collared dress shirt with the same mohair grey suit jacket with broad peak lapels paired with a silk gold tie with an interweave pattern


Here he is with Ace wearing a suit with a broad notch lapeled jacket but with a brown long point collared dress shirt along with a silk checkered black and gold tie along and a brown pocket square


Here he wears a club collar dress shirt paired with a burgundy silk suit jacket with broad peak lapels


While playing blackjack, Nicky wears an unusual broad horizontal striped suit with wide notch lapels and an untied cream checkered necktie and a white dress shirt with a point collar.  

Pesci with de Niro and Scorsese in the Mojave desert while filming the scene where Nicky scolds Ace. Here he wears a long point collared dress shirt, with a pinstriped dark brown suit jacket with notched lapels


The Irishman (2019)

After a sparse number of roles since Casino, with his last acting role in 2010, Joe Pesci went into a 10 year retirement but was convinced by Martin Scorsese to act in his adaption of the book I Heard You Paint Houses, this time discarding his psychopath persona for a more mellow and subdued but no less menacing role as Russell Bufalino, the mobster who takes Robert de Niro's character Frank Sheeran under his wing.

Though you can almost associate Russell's glasses with Carl Fredricksen's from the film Up, the rest of his wardrobe backs his non-chalance in a sinister world. This is a stark contrast to Scorsese's previous movies of swagger and bravado gangster style of loud silks and flashy clothes. In this film however, the costuming department opted more for historical accuracy, and they went out of their way to research the dressing styles of the people the cast members sought to portray. In real life, gangsters like them abide by the rule: Here you keep your head low if you want to play for keeps.


For example here, Russell wears an immaculate tan hopsack suit jacket as he’s leaving for his nephew’s wedding. Hopsack is a basket weave pattern resembling tiny squares and typically is used with worsted wool, and its porous nature gives it natural moisture-wicking and wrinkle-free properties



Pesci in real life, October 2019 promoting The Irishman

Pesci at another function, this time promoting alongside his co star Robert de Niro

Joe Pesci with Martin Scorsese and Spike Lee, Jan 2020

In the many memorable roles Joe Pesci plays throughout his career, he used styling to not only offset his diminutive stature, but to enhance his violent persona or tone it down. We at OTAA feel it is befitting someone who approaches styling in much the same manner learn from Joe Pesci on how to dress to not only just look good, but to look killer 




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