Stylish Television: Boardwalk Empire

Words by: Andrew Hodges


Boardwalk Empire is an original television series that premiered this fall on HBO. The show follows Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (played by Steve Buscemi) who is a powerful politician and gangster in control of Atlantic City at the dawn of Prohibition.  The show was created by Terence Winter, the Emmy Award-winning writer of The Sopranos. The first episode was directed by Academy Award Winning Director Martin Scorsese.

The shows producers have done an incredible job of recreating 1920 Atlantic City, including an elaborate wardrobe from this Golden Age of Style. Most of us are accustomed to seeing this clothing in black and white photographs from the era. Boardwalk Empire brings the era to life in full, accurate color. Through extensive research of period fabrics and colored catalogs, the program’s costume designer, John Dunn, discovered a surprisingly vibrant palate of color.

While much of the production has relied heavily on vintage clothing, period clothing was made for most of the principal cast. Martin Greenfield Clothiers, a New York tailoring institution that manufactures high-quality garments for stores like Brooks Brothers, was selected to make costumes based on Dunn’s investigations. New York Daily News reported that a team of 120 tailors worked for almost a year to turn period tweeds and heavy worsteds into at least 200 costumes for about 68 different characters.

For an epic, full-color perspective on the Golden Age of Style, check out HBO’s Boardwalk Empire.