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Gangsters of the decade: 8 movies that gave us major sartorial envy

While the world on the edge of 2019 is drooling over young fashion icons like Timothée Chalamet and Cole Sprouse for their experimental and androgynous sartorial choices, we decided to take a road down memory lane to ogle at the real OGs. The superstars of the underworld, the dashing anti-heroes, and the handsome antagonists with gangster style that took our screens hostage and gave us some pretty memorable looks. We round up 8 movies of the decade that gave us serious sartorial envy. Suffice to say, between the good and the bad, individual style won.

The Irishman

gangster style

Almost 20 years after Martin Scorsese’s gangster flick Goodfellas that ruled the mean streets of New York in the 50s, Scorsese made a comeback with 2019’s most-awaited epic drama, The Irishman. Set in the 50s Philadelphia, it underlines the badassery of an Italian mafia family. Besides its brilliant yet hefty 3.5 hours-long cinematography, the low-key gangster style incorporated by costume designers Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson is a winner. From muted Pucci-style polyester pantsuit and oversized vintage glasses to spear-point collar shirts, sharp dress shirts, and leather jackets of a toxic-free masculinity era – it brings out the best of wax-faced stars of the movie. Adding more panache to the screens of glory days were classic Ray-Ban aviators and clubmasters, plaid jammies, camp shirts, and a pool of ties.

The Wolf of Wall Street

gangster style

Unlike your classic mafia period dramas, this 2013 outrageous black comedy by Martin Scorsese unleashed the story of Jordan Belfort, a New York-based stockbroker. In a whirlpool of drugs, sex, and financial drama – The Wolf of Wall Street is cinema at its most unrestrained, not to mention setting a Guinness World Record for “most swearing” in a film. And if the movie is this excessive in all its elements, then how could it leave fashion. Under the guidance of costume designer Sandy Powell, the movie runs parallel to Italian fashion of the 90s that was brought to life in the form of power-suits by Giorgio Armani. Left in awe by Belfort’s Ferrari Testa Rossa, we couldn’t help but notice the Polo shirts by Ralph Lauren, a stream of Versace sunglasses, Chanel cuff bracelets, and the Nike Classic Cortez.

Black Mass

gangster style

This 2015 mobster movie starring Johnny Depp might not be his most favourable flick as per his die-hard fans, but when it comes to the classic Depp style – we’d happily add it to our list. Directed by Scott Cooper, Black Mass painted the autobiography of Boston-based gangster James ‘’Whitney’’ Burgler. Besides Depp’s electrifying machismo and receding hairline, two things that stayed with us and somehow made it to our wardrobes are the Porsche design vintage sunglasses and the Whitney Burgler leather jacket.

Once Upon a Time in Hollywood

gangster style

Made in classic Quentin Tarantino style, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood (2019) took the audience on a vintage roller-coaster ride to the late 60s Hollywood. While Tarantino played out his fantasy version of vengeance with the real Manson family story, he justified his take on fashion. With most of the costumes designed by Arianne Phillips, the movie left no stone unturned in achieving sartorial perfection. From charismatic Harrington jackets and suave tailored leather to funky Hawaiian shirts, luxe lounge-wear, and pleated pants – these are the style staples that were also followed by Presley and Dean back in the day.

Django Unchained

It lies in Tarantino’s unmatched talent to turn a violent piece of vendetta into something visually appealing, and it is his art to turn a story about slavery set on a Southern plantation into a fashion fiesta. Packed with a powerful cast, Django Unchained (2012) pays homage to the Spaghetti Western, a genre that laid grounds for the wild, wild west theme. Costume designer Sharen Davis brought this to life via buttoned weskits, lace-up belted vests, bright cobalt shirts, European-styled overcoats with capelet, high-waisted wool trousers, suspenders, and brocade vests – all taking you back to the era of Clint Eastwood.

The Hateful Eight

After Taratino’s effortless yet painstakingly meticulous attempt at Spaghetti Western, he tried his perfection at American Western movie The Hateful Eight in 2015. While the strong clout of brilliant actors was enough to lend him accolades, the costumes weren’t off the radar. Costume designer Courtney Hoffman did her legwork of the civil war with the auteur to make the characters realistic. From cavalry coats with marigold lining, buffalo-hide coats to leather jackets with bear-skin collar, and badger hats – each costume supported the storyline.

T2: Trainspotting

King of kinetic filmmaking Danny Boyle released Trainspotting in 1996. The movie was as British (read, super pop and punk) as it could get, which spun around four heroin addicts in an economically-parched Edinburgh. This hit heroin-chic gave us its sequel in 2017. Still, you wouldn’t relate a movie about heroin-addicts to inspiration style, but this is where costume designers Rachael Fleming and Steven Noble proved us wrong. T2 featured Burberry coats, Versace shirts, Armani tracksuits, and Gucci loafers with the same high as the characters in the story.

American Hustle

This feisty heist 2013 movie, inspired by the FBI Abscam operation of the 70s and 80s, looked like a high-end fashion shoot set in the sultry 70s. And so, it worked. Director David O. Russell bagged an Oscar for costumes that year. Costume designer Michael Wilkinson unveiled slinky Diane von Furstenberg wrap dresses, oversized vintage Christian Dior sunglasses, and Gucci horse-bit jewellery on the big screen. This attention-to-detail, leave-no-room-for-imagination sartorial style is enough to be on this list.

Harleen Kalsi
Senior Editor
Harleen feeds off her nomadic spirit and incessant shenanigans on the road to stay alive. When not writing, she is busy searching for a good read/art/act.