Friday, August 19, 2016


Thinking I was ever so clever, I thought I would write a post about Tom Selleck’s wardrobe.  What I had in mind was his cowboy getup, which is rather different than anyone else's and a composite of gear from the past.  For instance, his Tom Mix hat, which as someone remarked, takes a very large man to carry off.  What I found instead of the cowboy roles or even the detectives (which are sort of L.L. Bean) is a whole raft of material about wardrobe and grooming.  I’ll help you out by surveying.

So here we have the basic Selleck cowboy complete with great big hat and often a goatee.  There’s a string on his hat in case of needing to tie it down.  He wears a yard-square scarf, a pretty print like paisley that’s toned down with dust, and he ties it at the back of the neck with just corners.  Sometimes he wears two scarves, one of them narrow, higher on the neck, and red for emphasis.  He likes layers so sometimes he’s wearing two or three shirts plus a vest and even a jacket over that.  Maybe it’s cold on set.

He wears two holsters, one a cross-draw, and leather roping cuffs.  He generally shoots now and then, but I don’t remember seeing him rope.  His pistols have pearl handles.  He carries a rifle — something historically outstanding like a Hawken or a Winchester 66 or even a Sharp and may use a Vernier  (calibrated) sight for long distance accuracy.  to see what that looks like.  Selleck is a spokesperson for the NRA, they say the new Charlton Heston since Heston is now afficted with Alzheimers.

When doing the outlaw gig with Sam Elliott, they coordinate and may add suspenders.  The mustache is a given, partly because Sam has a funny upper lip.  Nothing is wrong with Selleck’s upper lip, but a sort-of-grin pushing up the corners of the mustache is his shtick.  Elliot goes gray sometimes, but not Selleck.  A blue jaw sometimes joins the mustache.  Both actors like the little chains of pocket watches or dangles from Bull Durham sacks and Selleck tucks his gloves into his belt.  Selleck wears chaps, sometimes half-chaps, always smooth, no fringe.  Knee-high boots with pull-tabs, not cowboy boots.  Double-breasted shirts with brass buttons, never cowboy shirts with fancy yokes.

Of course, in the Hawaii years, Selleck wore Hawaiian shirts and billed caps, or maybe just boxer style shorts.  Or not. He has the finest chest this side of Cheyenne.  (Clint Walker, my high school crush)  As a sex object, he’s a winner.  When he’s in military mode, he’s always impeccable, and when he’s a police commissioner or just a street cop, he’s rather military.

He can talk about what he wears on “Blue Bloods”.  (He once worked in clothing stores.)  “The look is ‘very traditional,’ he says.  ‘When acting, half of it is in close-ups.  Natural shoulder clothing is very important.’

His costumer says, ‘The commissioner dresses very differently at home . . corduroys and a black sweater.  But they are all Ralph Lauren and all custom-made Polo label. . . His shirts are custom-made by Anton Custom Shirts in Beverly Hills.  The overcoat is Ralph Lauren and his trench is Burberry.  The shoes are from Allen Edmonds.’  

The writer of the article, Jacqueline Cutler, remarks “Let’s not be disingenous and say that just any schlump can look like Selleck.  They can’t.”   So to look like that in the clothes, one must be built like that underneath.  And part of it is attitude, movement, stance.  He’s ACTING.

In fact, in all his roles he’s acting out images of men we admire.  Here’s an interesting collection of examples.    The main idea is that these are rough, strong, competent guys who clean up well and turn out to have the fine manners and social standards of British aristocracy.  He doesn’t do “characters”, esp. not degenerates or criminals.

I watch cop shows a lot, mostly because there are no decent Westerns anymore.  “Blue Bloods” is one I like the least because it is the most obviously an American cliché.  The one I like the most is “Saving Grace,” where the central character is female, modern, American, but backed up by three hunks of different types.

“Blue Bloods” is strictly Norman Rockwell.  It’s kitsch, right down to cute kids who say clever things, Art Linkletter style.  (Forget Bill Cosby — if you can.)  There’s the over-idealistic young cop, the semi-brutal older cop, the mom/nurse, and the whip-thin smartie who can’t keep her mouth from hanging open.  Selleck is the linch-pen of the ensemble and he knows it.  His best film roles are the ones where he’s a little wry and funny, which probably fits with the Jesse Stone role the best.  

“Blue Bloods” is full of corny wisdom, but it’s base is male control and hierarchy.  Catholic Christianity.  Backstage as well, evidently.  Jennifer Esposito got targeted because — she claims— of gluten intolerance and was first written out of the scripts and now is written out of Google accounts of the show.  In my opinion. she was the most interesting character, the least representative of the “America is wonderful and always right” theme, and probably in the wrong show from the beginning.  

Sex is not emphasized in “Blue Bloods,” but it is pivotal in “Saving Grace” because the latter is contemporary and young.  It’s impossible to imagine Selleck playing the part of “Ham,” “Grace’s” lover, even when he was younger.  I’ll come back to “Grace” in another post.  “Blue Bloods” is for old men, Republicans and the NRA.

They say that when women watch handsome men, they imagine themselves interacting with them and being admired by them.  When they watch beautiful women acting, they imagine themselves being that woman.  Something like that seems to happen with Selleck — men imagine themselves that handsome, powerful and well-dressed.  Is that true?  I’ll have to do some interviewing.

Maybe his biggest fans are gay men.  Who needs clothes?

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