Here’s Every Suit Worn by Robert De Niro in Casino

Here’s Every Suit Worn by Robert De Niro in Casino

Robert De Niro and Joe Pesci in Casino

The Martin Scorsese classic, Casino, is memorable for two reasons: one of the greatest mob stories of all time and Robert De Niro’s suits. His legacy-shaping performance as Ace Rothstein was on the back of 70 different costumes, most of which were suits drenched in a color palette. Each suit helped tell the tale of Ace’s journey from a lowly mob-affiliated street bookie to casino boss. It’s the kind of layered storytelling the world has come to enjoy from the legendary director.

Another reason is Scorsese is the son of a garment presser and seamstress. For him, clothes aren’t an afterthought. He pays a lot of attention to the attire his characters wear. In Casino, he created a story about a world defined by violence and a flashy sartorial aesthetic. Set in the 70s and 80s, each character’s item of clothing was a hyperspecific relic of the era, with Robert De Niro’s suits being the standout piece.

Every Suit Worn by Robert De Niro in Casino

All Robert De Niro's suits in Casino

We get our first taste of Martin Scorsese’s version of the Milan Fashion Week in the film’s opening scene. Spoiler alert: it involves bright colors and the mob. So, the same. Ace steps into the camera in a coral suit jacket loud enough to turn the car bomb into a symphony. When we connect the dots later, we see this was when Rothstein had gotten too bright and ambitious for the mob. It’s a narrative style woven into the film’s transparent moments and subtle ones.

Take the scene when Ace Rothstein was waiting to meet county commissioner, Pat Webb, played by the late Western icon L.Q Jones. He’s in a neat, luxurious sky-blue shirt and a matching tie. When his secretary announces Pat has arrived, Ace gets up in response, revealing he’s not wearing pants. In one of Casino’s many quiet but poignant moments, Robert De Niro calmly grabs a glen paid business suit with trousers, completing his look for his guest. It’s a brief scene, but another instance of Scorsese using clothing to give depth to his characters. We learn that Ace is so obsessed with precision, he’s willing to sit butt-naked to prevent wrinkles in his suit.

When they finally meet, Scorsese lets the camera linger at their feet. Ace, the Chicago transplant, is wearing a powder blue patent leather loafer, and Webb, Nevada born-and-bred, is wearing snakeskin cowboy boots. It’s a clever contrast between the times’ dominant dress styles and each man’s philosophy. Most significantly, it’s another example of Scorsese using the language of clothing to tell a deeper story. This time: the takeover of a land historically considered the birthright of cowboys by silk-suited interlopers.

All 44 suits Robert De Niro wore in Casino are like this, woven into his story. And despite what your hazy memory of Casino might suggest, not all of them were flamboyant. Yes, Ace Rothstein’s ostentatious turn saw red, pink, yellow, and mint-green jackets lining his closet. But he still had a few understated suits reserved for important business. The kind you would expect an analytical guy like him to wear if he wasn’t in the mob.

John Dunn and Rita Ryack Made Robert De Niro’s Casino Suits

Robert De Niro in a brown plaid suit in Casino

If you are impressed by Robert De Niro’s Casino suit styles, you have John Dunn and Rita Ryack to thank. John and Rita were responsible for crafting and designing Robert’s suits and other costumes, 70 in total. They also outfitted Joe PesciAlan KingDon RicklesJames Woods, and Kevin Pollack. And the 7,000 extras that helped make the film. It was a herculean task that required working round the clock during the first three weeks of filming. Luckily, their experience helped.

Before working on the iconic film, Ryack and Dunn worked together on Broadway musicals. Navigating the chaotic behind-the-scenes of putting up live productions came in handy in clothing the biggest non-actors Scorsese had ever had in a film at the time. So did traveling to Florida with Martin to meet the real-life ex-mobster who inspired the story. The team combed through his closet, photo albums, and tailors to get an accurate sense of his style.

Another person who had significant input in Robert De Niro’s suits in Casino was Robert De Niro. As is now apparent on a now infamous Twitter debate, young De Niro was a hunk. He knew how to wear a dress and understood the importance of portraying his character’s personality and stage of mind through the choice of clothing. One moment captures it best. After Ryack and Dunn presented him with two neckwear options, the latter recommended one, De Niro looked him sternly in the eye and said, “You know, this is very important. You’d better be right.”

The Suits and the Entire Costume were 2% of the Movie’s Budget

Robert De Niro wearing a suit and Sharon Stone in Casino

Robert De Niro’s suits in Casino took a lot of time, effort, and money to put together. There’s no information on how much each suit cost. But we know the total budget for Casino costumes was $1 million, 2% of the reported $50 million budget for the film. The clothing for each 7,000 extra cost $150 – $200 each, more than the industry standard at the time.

So $1 million might be a lower estimate. While Ryack and Dunn did manage to design and provide everyone with an era-appropriate costume, according to them, they did so by going violently over budget. Nevertheless, it was money well invested. Not only is Casino a Hollywood classic, but it was also a box office hit too. The film made 20% of its budget on opening weekend for a $116 million global total.

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