The Innumerable Styles of Serpico


Nearing the end of Serpico there’s a scene where the title character, played by Al Pacino, arrives at a park to confront the rest of his precinct, up the hill comes Serpico and all handful or so men in front of him all rise to meet him. The intensity of this scene is palpable, the blistering heat of summer in New York City matched only by the unwavering stares of Serpico’s colleagues. Right in the middle of it all, is the man himself, wearing a pulled down hat that’s closest relative would have to be a lampshade (a common motif throughout the film), a billowy tunic, a beard that could looks ripped from an Appalachian mugshot, and a soft but stoic expression. Serpico looks to be the anti-cop, and yet he’s simultaneously of far greater worth than the other badged men that stand before him. Serpico’s appearance runs parallel to the films storyline, pitting him as the sole undercover officer willing to go as far as his job necessitates. His style is an amalgam of his Italian upbringing, his military tenure, his Greenwich Village residence, and the badge that’s stowed in his pocket. As the scenes shift, so does Serpico’s attire, flowing between undercover costumes (including a blood stained butcher’s apron, and the full regalia of an orthodox Jew), a Navy issue peacoat and watch cap, and a campus ready polo shirt and matching coaches jacket. Beneath all those layers was just a man who knew he was doing the right thing, and so outwardly, no one could pull off a disguise like Serpico.


Overalls under two different work shirts


One of my favorite looks from the film, a military issue shirt (with the name tag peeking out the side no less), worn under a sport coat. Note the flapped breast pocket.


Opposite: Biff McGuire as Captain Inspector McClain in a prototypical East Coast trad outfit: Dark fedora, blue oxford, neatly tied bowtie, and a brown sportcoat, with slight piping around the substantial lapels.


More of the brown corduroy sportcoat, with a tunic worn underneath of course. Can’t be too professional now.


Note the sweat-stained Lee’s cap.


Chambray and seersucker, with the badge pinned


Hooded coaches jacket, standard police academy grey crew neck, gold chain, pilot’s glasses, and a mustache to match the bike.

An array of plaids

An array of plaids

Serpico on vacation in Tahiti

Serpico on vacation in Tahiti


Knit cap, original “blue collar” chambray, and a pea coat

Better shot of the Peacoat

Better shot of the peacoat


Painters cap, modified apron, with a chambray shirt underneath, and what I would assume to be a pair of Levis.

M-65 wore over a

M-65 wore over a ribbed mock neck zip-up


Note the boots in the back

Serpico is joined by the Bob Blair (played by Tony Roberts) a officer in the mayor's office, with a penchant for knit ties,

Serpico is joined by the Bob Blair (played by Tony Roberts) a officer in the mayor’s office, with a penchant for knit ties, button down oxfords with exemplary collar roll, slim straight trousers, and charcoal jackets. His more straight-laced sensibility is an apt compliment to Serpico’s more unorthodox choices.


Once again, pipping around the the rounded edges of the lapel, a nicely formed collar roll, and a fine knit tie.


Cuffed denim, chelsea boots, oversized military shirt, and a brilliant white cap, alongside plimsolls, slim khakis, and an unbuttoned heather grey polo, with a button down collar.

Crumpled hat,

Crumpled hat, and a beat up leather jacket alongside a Cronkite ready trench, a university stripe button-down, and a tie right off the rack at Brooks Brothers.

Couldn't resist posting this throat latch

Couldn’t resist posting this duffle closure throat latch

Nor this photo that we all know and love

Nor this one, classic Serpico

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  1. jonathanochart said:

    Ahh I love Serpico! Great post – I love all the pictures!


  2. Yemi said:

    This is the most stylish role i’ve ever seen so bloody funky….

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