Clyde Barrow’s Outrageous Flannel Shirt: a blog about flannel shirts.
When Bonnie and Clyde robbed banks in the 1930s, they did not wear masks. This is what you would expect of criminals, who tend to be vain. But perhaps Bonnie and Clyde were also ahead of their time.
I had expected the first person in history to wear a mask would be Guy Fawkes. But when I went to see V for Vendetta this weekend, I learned from the opening credits that it was someone named Wirt Dexter, who had been a bank robber in Texas during the 1920s.
Anyway, I thought it was interesting that Bonnie and Clyde never wore masks, but instead wore flannel shirts.
As you can see, the flannel shirt was a remarkable garment. It’s got the kind of character that makes you want to read an entire blog about it. And in fact you can. Our friends at Clyde Barrow’s Outrageous Flannel Shirt (do not miss their Facebook page) have written an inspiring post, “Bonnie and Clyde Costume: Flannel Shirt History,” which we’re pleased to reprint here with permission.
Bonnie and Clyde were two of the most infamous criminals in American history. Though their crime spree only lasted two years they were known for their daring escapes, gun battles with police and robbing banks and small businesses along the way. In 1934 they were both killed during a police ambush in Bienville Parish, Louisiana.
Their story has been immortalized by Hollywood and is one of the most popular costume ideas for couples. Bonnie’s costume is easily recognizable as she often wore a light colored blouse or dress with a beret hat and glasses; but what did Clyde wear? Well, his outfit is almost always portrayed as a striped prison uniform but in reality he favored a more casual look consisting of jeans, t-shirts and flannel shirts. He was photographed wearing a red and black buffalo plaid flannel shirt on several occasions including
One of the most famous flannel shirts in movie history belongs to Clyde Barrow, played by Warren Beatty, in Bonnie and Clyde (1967). The shirt comes up a lot in this blog, so I decided it was time to give it its own page.
The shirt is two tone plaid, with black and a very dark green. It has a buttoned front opening and cuffs, and appears to have a breast pocket on the left side. The collar looks like a standard flat collar with rounded corners. It is worn tucked out over the trouser waistband.**
If you know anything about Bonnie and Clyde, you know that the picture of Clyde Barrow in the white flannel shirt is iconic. I have a copy of this photograph on my wall. It’s not just an icon for the Depression-era crime spree that made these two outlaws famous. It’s also an icon for flannel shirts.
In fact, I think it’s safe to say that flannel shirts are synonymous with Clyde Barrow. It’s hard to imagine him without that white flannel shirt! Many people consider it his trademark look.
In this post, I’ll explore where he got the shirt, what kind of flannel shirt it was, and how you can get your own version of it today!
Where Did Clyde Barrow Get His White Flannel Shirt?
We don’t know exactly when or where Clyde got his white flannel shirt. But we do know a few things about when it was made and where he wore it! The fedora he’s wearing was made by Knox Hats of New York City and sold by J.B Stetson Company of Philadelphia. It’s a felt hat with a brand called “Knox Tudor.” The shirt itself was probably made between 1920 and 1932 at the earliest, and between 1932 and
The central shirt of this blog is the flannel shirt worn by Clyde Barrow in the movie Bonnie and Clyde (Warren Beatty, 1967).
I’m not sure how much you can say about a shirt. It was gray, with red and black tartan, short sleeves, pointed collar, and two patch pockets at the chest. The label is missing.
Bonnie and Clyde was directed by Arthur Penn and starred Warren Beatty as Clyde Barrow and Faye Dunaway as Bonnie Parker. The film was shot in black and white by cinematographer Burnett Guffey. It is based on a screenplay by David Newman and Robert Benton. It’s available on DVD from Warner Brothers.
Clyde: Warren Beatty wore a lot of hats in this movie, but I am speaking here only of his acting skills. In particular I want to call attention to his ability to convey what it is like for a man to be trapped in an era when he doesn’t belong. We see him striving to meet the impossible standards set for men by the movies of John Wayne, while at the same time we see that these were never standards he could have met even if he had lived at the right time. That
I’ve been asked by the publisher to write an introduction to this new edition of the definitive account of Bonnie and Clyde–John Toland’s The Dillinger Days. I was reluctant to do so, but it was explained to me that my name on the cover was more important than any words I could add inside. So I’m just going to ramble about whatever pops into my head, which is what I do in my blog anyway.
I’ve always thought the flannel shirt Clyde Barrow wore in the photo above was one of the coolest shirts ever made. There’s a story behind it, and it may be true, but we’ll never know for sure.
The story is that Clyde’s mother bought him some shirts made out of fabric she found at a discount store. It had been sold as shirting material, but she recognized it right away–it was identical to the upholstery fabric on some furniture they had at home. The price difference was considerable, and so she bought enough yardage to make several shirts for her son, who liked them so much he wore them all over town when he went out with Bonnie.
I think this story has been repeated by so many people that they believe it’s true now, even though there’s no evidence
Fashion historians can’t say for sure when Bonnie and Clyde got married. Maybe it was in the fall of 1932, or maybe it was the following spring. The consensus seems to be that they wed sometime around New Year’s Eve of 1933, in a Joplin, Missouri hotel room.
Either way, a wedding photo survives. It shows Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow dressed in their Sunday best—Bonnie in a white dress with a shawl collar and ruffles, Clyde in a pinstriped suit and tie. They are standing next to each other, looking directly at the camera.
What we notice first is how young they look—Clyde is just 22 years old—and how attractive: Bonnie has a shapely figure and a soft face, Clyde’s eyes are bright with intelligence and mischief. They look like kids playing make-believe grown-ups.
But if we look closer, we can see something else about the picture: both are wearing plaid shirts underneath their jackets. When he gets hot, Clyde unbuttons his suit coat to reveal a flannel shirt with red-and-black plaid checks; Bonnie wears an orange-and-blue tartan blouse under her dress.