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How to dress like Robert De Niro


Robert Di Niro. Iconic actor who's famous for his tough guy roles - his film career span decades and are perhaps best known for bucking the system and setting new standards with directors like Scorsese, Cimino and Coppola, earning 2 academy awards and snagged 6 nominations. In his long career of controversial gangster roles, he managed to also create new fashion styles that will resonate for years to come, showing that you too can be stylish while being a tough guy.


1 Godfather 2 (1974)
Di Niro plays a younger Vito Corleone, who is the father of Al Pacino's character Michael Corleone in Godfather 2. The narrative often switches between Michael and Vito's point of view and we see Vito's dealings in his rise to power, and the style in which he does so. In his humble beginnings, he would wear blue collar fare, but as he rose within the social circles of his community as an influential member, so too did his style and choice of clothes.

 

Here we can see one example when he tries to "convince" a landlord who was evicting a widow who asked Vito for help. As we can see, he wears a brown wool chesterfield overcoat with a black and white pinstripe waistcoat underneath buttoned high over a contrasting light and navy blue pointed collar & placket shirt, and a light gray silk cravat tie with a square printed pattern, which is the focus of the outfit - fairly understated but holding its own against the landlord he is with.


By the time he visits Sicily on that fateful day to meet with Don Ciccio, Vito was wearing a bespoke brown woolen suit with many custom features, showing that he had fully grown with money and power and he is in his full ability to exact revenge on his family's killer. The suit has been designed personally by Van Runkle, made by Western Costume Co, and tailored specifically for Robert De Niro, and featured various obscure vintage features not normally found on modern suits such as short, wide squat peak lapels which were typical of the 1920s, and welt breast pockets that slant towards the middle alongside his hip jacket pockets, also welted and slanting a lot more than usual. If anything, the woolen suit shows how foreign Vito is to the natural clime of Sicily and serves (figuratively and practically) to hide his true identity and his true intent to kill Don Ciccio.



2 Taxi Driver (1976)
Made with Scorsese, this visceral film is of a Vietnam veteran Travis Bickle and his descent into madness. The remarkable thing is that the changes of Bickle's
wardrobe style in the movie reflects how unhinged he is the further he devolves into the film.
First starting as a normal taxi driver whose insomnia had him take up cab driving in the first place, he wears a normal surplus khaki tanker jacket that is a versatile, functional jacket that is socially and stylistically acceptable in normal civilian life yet also a throw back to his days in the army. He would also wear flannel shirts but have a large cowboy style buckled belt to add some flair to his outfit, along with cowboy boots to match. (far left) .

However, he would rely on a red maroon blazer with notch lapels if he wants to step it up a notch, like going on a date with Betsy as in keeping somewhat with the style of the era (near left).

 

When he gets involved with unsavory plots and hears out a victim of one of them, he doffs his work jacket and unbuttons his flannels. This also foreshadows his tipping point to his next stylistic change

 

When he decides to go all out and cuts his hair into a mohawk, he switches his work jacket for an even more militaristic m-65 olive drab field jacket indicating him going past the point of no return into his spiral into madness and having nothing to loose from taking names as he careens haphazardly towards the end of the flim. It is this look that laid the foundations of the punk style that others will try to emulate, with the same nihilistic and visceral attitude that Di Niro brought to the look.


3. Casino (1995)

De Niro portrays the casino mogul Sam "Ace" Rothstein in Scorsese's crime epic set in the 70s. Tasked by the Chicago mob with running the Tangiers casino in Las Vegas, he definitely looked the part, being as flamboyant as expected of a casino mogul. With over 70 outfits in the film, Ace's style ranges from flat out flamboyant to deceivingly subtle.



A good example to start out with is this picture, where it isn't his boldest suit, but this single-breasted jacket in a grey, burgundy and green windowpane check with peaked lapels is finely fitted to De Niro's figure as opposed to his other suits that are more 70s styled, are looser, and are more flamboyant. Completed with a burgundy red tie and pocket square, this is most definitely one of his more elegant outfits.


Another example is this finely checked glen plaid suit in blue, light gray, and gold with a coral windowpane overcheck. Note the ludricously notched wide lapels to offset their width. Such an elaborate and densely patterned suit would however make it versatile with any of his loud but monochrome dress shirts and ties, like the sky blue shirt and matching tie and pocket square he is wearing here


And the best of the last, this is the first suit that we see Ace wear in the film, with an apricot colored linen suit jacket that has the same super wide, super notched lapels he so favors with his other suits, and worn with white slacks, matching pastel pink silk dress shirt and silk tie, and a champagne yellow pocket square.




4. The Irishman (2019)

In this extraordinary three-and-a-half hour long gangster epic, De Niro plays Frank Sheeran and the film chronicles his rise from a world war 2 veteran finding work as a truck driver to being a trusted mob enforcer. In this film however, director Scorsese wanted his wardrobe direction to move away from the flamboyant style he used in his previous crime films to a more understated style - since this movie is a biopic and the costume department researched the wardrobe of the real life characters in Sheeran's biography "I Heard You Paint Houses" written by Charles Brandt

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In the beginning, Sheeran can be seen wearing a fleece-lined leather bomber jacket he wears with a cloth peak cap to serve as his de facto "uniform" alongside flannel shirts of various checker patterns and grey flannel slacks. This look will sometimes change as the story progresses, veering from having a scarf to having a woolen beanie hat to having a fedora on jobs.
By the time he rose in the ranks, he switches from his usual work clothes in favour of suits, which is more befitting his status at this point in the film.

 

In this example, Sheeran is wearing a brown flecked suit when he received the fateful call, and will wear again through the rest of the film. The suit jacket has narrow notched lapels, welted breast pocket and low hip pockets with the flaps tucked in to just show the jetting. The sleeves are roped at the shoulders and finished with three buttons on each cuff. For pants, he wears double reverse-pleated trousers. He pairs this suit with various skinny ties, in this case a red and gold bicolored skinny tie. 

In another case, here you can see he wears a purple and gold paisley skinny tie with a gold tie bar and a gold lapel pin 
In another instance, during the trial, you can see he wears a three piece wool twill suit in charcoal grey in line with the sombre mood the trial is taking place. You can see that the suit jacket has wider notched lapels and the shoulders are now fully padded. He wears a diagonally stripped tie with blue, grey, white, and black colours. 
And there you have it - four instances during his illustrious (and infamous) acting career in which Robert De Niro's style can be examined and where you can emulate or modify to suit you best.