Of the 86 Sopranos episodes, there’s one that will always be held in high regard by fanatics of Tony and co. The acting, script and overall levity evidenced in season 3, episode 11 mark it out as a contender to be crowned the best of the lot.
Whether it’s Paulie’s disgust at Chrissy urinating right next to the window of an abandoned truck they’ve sought refuge in, to Valery cracking a shovel across Christopher’s face, to that immortal line about interior decorators, it’s a 60 minute feast of classic television.
Though it first aired in May 2001, it’s set at a time when snow stands heavy on the ground in New Jersey, so when the hapless duo of Paulie Walnuts and Christopher Moltisanti lose their way having chased down their intended victim, the conditions are harsh. They’re not equipped for a night in the cold, especially Paulie, who loses his shoe in pursuit of vanishing Valery.
Perhaps the classic moment though, is when Tony meets Bobby Bacala at Uncle Junior’s house. Tony is similarly attired to his two crew members, not exactly equipped for a late-night hunting expedition. Bobby though, has given the task a lot more thought. This, remember, is a man who not only indulges in his passion of model railways, but he wears a little train driver hat while doing it. It should be no surprise then that he turns up, rigged out head to toe in classic American hunting gear, with camo and hi-viz in equal measure. His deadpan expression and characteristic whinging, allied to his deerhunting cosplay outfit set Tony off in stitches. He’s unable to speak, so amused is he at the sight before him. Rumour has it, this was all genuine and James Gandolfini is actually laughing for real. Watch it again and it looks like it. It’s stuff like this that makes the Sopranos such an enduring series.
That look though. Bobby isn’t someone Filson or Carhartt would choose to rep their garms (or whatever the kids call it these days) but he could be a low-key icon for that look.
Doing the rounds of retailers and brands recently, we noticed that the whole Realtree camo style is prevalent, and it did put us in mind of Tony’s eventual brother-in-law. More so, when we saw this, it cemented the idea of writing this article even more so.
Nobody is suggesting you throw on a sumo suit and don 6XL outfits inspired by a very niche moment in a popular TV series. You can if you want, like. But what we’re doing here is drawing attention to an archetypal heritage look, an appreciation of which is shared by a fictional mobster who likes dressing up. Well, unless you ask him to be Santa.
This is just a handy way for us to indulge a couple of our obsessions. Big coats and the Sopranos. It also shows the need to be appropriately attired. If the lost pair had been wearing this gear maybe they’d have been able to avoid a patchy SOS call to Tony.
We could extend this out and start writing about velour tracksuits, Furio and Christopher’s Napoli gear or John Sacrimoni’s bloodstained Burberry. Watch this space, I guess.
For now though, allow us a tenuous link. Here are some items we liked that put us in mind of one of the best hours of televisual history.
Gramicci Softshell EQT Padding Vest
A custom-designed pattern for Gramicci’s autumn range, this is one of a nice collection of gear to feature the same look. It comes in various garments, whether trousers or torso, fleece or padded. It’s something for everyone, as long as they like that realtree look.
Get it here
Elmer Primaloft Gloves – Khaki
Any winter expedition requires attention to the extremities, and in Elmer we’ve found a favourite brand to favour in this regard. They were formed in a town called Gloversville in Upstate New York, which puts them not too far from where the episode was set.
Get a pair here
Filson 3-Layer Field Jacket
If there’s one item that perfectly embodies that entire heritage hunting look employed by Steve Schirripa’s character, it’s this, from Filson. A brand with serious stateside history, Filson have been around since the era when Italians made up almost a quarter of New York’s population, having been formed in 1897. More than 4m fled poverty in rural Southern Italy and tipped up in places like Brooklyn, The Bronx, New Jersey and perhaps most famously Manhattan. Not sure what that has to do with big coats, but it’s interesting isn’t it?
It’s difficult to really establish which brands Bobby wears in the scene, but there’s a good bet Filson features.
See more of this beauty at Terraces, here
Fjallraven Varmland Wool Jacket Dark Olive / Dark Olive Camo
If you’re slightly undecided about the orangeness of the Filson example, this Fjallraven effort achieves a similar look in a slightly more stealthy manner. To our knowledge, none of the DiMeo crime family ever wore Fjallraven. Their interests in European brands was confined mainly to the likes of Fila. But this sort of gear did appear in another HBO drama of serious repute, Succession. Look here.
Get this jacket here, btw.
Gramicci Inner Down Vest – Gold
Another vote for the American-founded, Japanese owned, Italian-sounding Gramicci. This link up of theirs with Taion continues to catch our eye, both for its lovely shapes, light weight and genuine warmth. Doesn’t break the bank either.
Get it here
Anonymous Ism Camo Crew Army Socks
Anyone used to subzero temperatures will tell you how important a good sock is. You’ve got to look after your feet. You might be tempted to get yourself a couple of pairs of these gorgeous camo Anonymous Ism socks, just to add an extra layer of warmth. We’ve had a few pairs of these now, here at Proper, between us. Few other socks can compete, to be frank.
Get them here
Palace Hardware Vest
Another gilet option comes from an unlikely source. But the hi-viz is covered off alongside that hunting camo effect via Palace’s Hardware line. Nice isn’t it?
Get it here
Stance Complex Anorak
This affordable effort from sock experts Stance shows they’ve got several strings to their bow these days. It’s not just hosiery they specialise in.
Get it here
When it comes to footwear for this purpose, there can only be one – Danner. Within that though, it’s easy to become spoilt for choice. Their Mountain Lite is the classic but alongside it there are other models such as the Cascade Crest. Whatever you choose, you’re making an investment for the future. They’re not cheap but nothing that lasts as long and does as good a job is cheap.
Get some here
Carhartt WIP Relaxed Fit Double Knee Pants
This list wouldn’t be complete without a bit of Carhartt in it. These double knee trousers are made for hard wearing activities, or at least pretending you’re off to indulge in hard wearing activities.
See all Carhartt here