Clothes from 1837-1919,  News

Sherlock Holmes: Downey Jr. & Law New Poster Clothes

Not sure if these new posters for Guy Ritchie’s Sherlock Holmes are Photoshopped portraits or paintings, but either way they give further insight into the costume style adopted by the movie, which is proving unusual to say the least. See them HERE.

Ritchie has been adamant for a while now that Holmes would not wear a deerstalker cap or MacFarlane coat, so no surprises there. Watson however is a bit of a shock. With his sharp, forward-thinking tailoring he makes Holmes seem a bit of a scruff.

Just analysing the poster images alone, dating the fashion seems to come in somewhere between early-mid 1800s – 1910 or thereabouts. The books are set in the latter half of the nineteenth century and just into the twentieth. Though even with creative licence there is some seriously fanciful styling going on here:

Jude Law as Dr. John Watson

The mark of a Victorian gentleman was to be discreet. This was the era of scientific and industrial innovation; of working for a living. The feminine-esque dandy was dead.

Law wears his grey suit jacket with only the top button fastened and pulled open to expose his matching waistcoat. This is called the ‘Richmond style’ and was very popular around the mid-1800s. That the trousers also match the jacket forms the origin of the lounge suit, which began to replace the frock coat from the last quarter of the nineteenth century onwards.

As men grew more physical in daily life and took better care of their bodies, tailoring (including overcoats) became tighter and tighter – as can clearly be seen on the poster shot. Trousers remained tight until the twentieth century, relaxing again considerably after the First World War.

The detachable stiff round collar is possibly a tad low for the end of the 1800s; though the decorative shirt front is a nice touch. This marked the wearer out as not buying their clothing ready made. The long necktie (with finger-thick gap to show top button) was also fashionable during this time.

Robert Downey Jr. as Sherlock Holmes

Robert Downey Jr. flaunts an entirely different style to Jude Law; his new breed Sherlock Holmes wears a creative mix of trends, some oddly outdated, others entirely fashionable for Victorian London. His trousers are striped and clearly roomier than Law’s. Also the waistcoat is patterned and its revers folded upwards.

These are characteristics of the relaxed ‘Romantic’ (not to be confused with the dandy; dandies were neat and stiff). It’s a look similar to Oscar Wilde’s, especially worn with the older, flowing style embroidered frock coat. These looser fitting frocks were fashionable until about 1830 when hardier overcoats eventually replaced them.

It is not possible to tell for sure from the poster, but Downey Jr. could be wearing a greatcoat. These long wool overlays first surfaced in the 1700s and were common in the military. They tended to have a cape collar, though not always, and sometimes loop fastenings instead of buttons, a fur collar and braid adornment.

More modern is the upright spread collar on his shirt, which was common around 1900. The belt is a bizarre addition; these were not worn to hold trousers up until the 1920s. This could be a costume blunder or a sly way of implying Holmes’ extreme individuality. The four-in-hand cravat however was perfectly acceptable into the early twentieth century.

It’s Watson who gets the walking cane now, not Holmes. By the looks of things Holmes doesn’t even get an umbrella, which tended to replace the cane in the early twentieth. Goodness knows what he does if it rains. Besides get wet of course.

Watch the trailer for Sherlock Holmes HERE.

© 2009 – 2018, Lord Christopher Laverty.


  • Jennifer Hoornstra

    Hey I was wondering what kind of jacket Sherlock Holmes wears in the cover poster or ad where sherlock is standing with his hands crossed and watson’s standing in the back. The jacket has a design in the front midsection. The shirt has a flower like pattern on it with a striped tie. My fiancee loves the jacket and would love to own one like it. If you know, please let me know. Thanks!

    • Chris Laverty

      To me the coat in the poster looks like a dark grey, single breasted frock, probably knee-length, with cord frogging just below the lapel line (the midsection you indicate). It has what appears to be a fine, wide plaid, though unusually with no further embellishments (no velvet collar, cuffs, etc).

      Such a coat was relatively common around 1830 as daywear. Personally, if pushed, I might even call it a ‘greatcoat’, though some maintain a greatcoat must have a hood; I disagree, I see it as a tough, all-weather coat from military origin. Truthfully though, with so many different styles of overcoat around in the 19th/early 20th century it is difficult to make an accurate distinction.

      For the time Sherlock Holmes is set, Downey Jr. as Holmes is actually less fashionable than Jude Law’s Watson. When the film hits DVD I’ll have a proper look at the costumes.

      Tracking down a good quality version of the coat today would likely take some serious scouring and perhaps deep pockets too.

      Hope this helps though. Best of luck with it.

  • Charles

    I was particularly taken by the stiff collars worn byJude Law’s Character (watson) in the movie, any advise as to where one could get such in London?
    I was met with blank stares when i walked into a few menswear shops


  • Gareth Whitley

    I would like to know if anyone has knowledge as to what the type/name of the black jacket that Jude Law (as Watson) wears during the dinner scene? It appears to be one of military value, however, I have also seen photos of Victorian chief constables wearing such a jacket.

  • Rob

    I’d love to find out where I could find a jacket similar to the one in the dinner scene.

    Get on it Chris 😉

    • Chris Laverty

      I could rush to the cinema, Rob, but to see the jacket in any great detail I need to use DVD. I’ll get onto the film as soon as it comes out.

      …unless anyone from Warner Bros reading this wants to send me a screener and speed up the process somewhat?

  • Charles

    thanks for the tip, I had a look and yes, Oliver Brown does have some very nice items, very quintessential english mens-wear 🙂

    Yes, the rounded collar with stud just above the tie makes quite and impact doesn’t it. I did a little more research and it seems Watson is wearing a detachable collar, with a collar stud. Now more common with evening or legal dress. It’s definitely on my wish-list now 🙂


  • craig

    downey’s patterned vest in the movie posters. What’s the pattern/style called ( and if possible, where can you get one?)

    • Chris Laverty

      Looks to be silk in a small floral pattern. Waistcoats tended to be luxurious and bright around this time – probably even more so than Holmes’ on the poster. Unlike Watson, Holmes’ waistcoat is not intended to form part of the emerging ‘lounge suit’. Note too that it has a stand collar and no lapels.

      Best place to get one? In all honesty, probably a wedding hire shop.

  • Gareth Whitley

    ROB! You are amazing, that is exactly it! I’m researching into the history of Welsh constabularies and that jacket is being worn by just about every chief constable at the time, but no-one that I’ve contacted knows the style, its origins etc. Chris…..?

    • Chris Laverty

      Honestly I’m not sure. I would definitely say it is military in origin. It has probably been adapted somehow.

      I’m not certain, but in a law enforcement context, as you say the Victorian chief constables wore Gareth, wouldn’t the front flaps be folded out instead of hanging down like that? I assume there must have been bars on the coat to indicate rank as well. The high collar looks right. Obviously I cannot see the length though.

      Now if we could just figure out why Watson is wearing such a uniform that would be a start. This was not a fashion item for Victorian gentleman that I have ever come across, and I’ve done a fair amount of research in the area.

      Frogging (clothing fastening, button through loop) on men’s coats was seen around 1835, especially in France, and this could be a form of that. Like I said though, just not one I have come across.

      Upon seeing the film I will certainly get in contact with the costume designer, Jenny Beavan, and see if she can’t shed some light on this mystery.

  • Gareth Whitley

    Hey Chris, I agree with you in regards to that is it most likely military in origin. As far as Watson goes, he was a surgeon attached to an infantry regiment during one of the Victorian Afghan campaigns (most likely 2nd). As with regards to the law enforcement context, during the Victorian era chief constables were allowed to chose their own uniform in whatever context they so desired. Most having come from an army background decided to keep their own regiment’s uniform. However, most civilian chief constables also chose to adopt a similar style of uniform-quite different from the regular constable’s uniform-right up until the 1950s; some even adopted a uniform with naval origins. You ask whether or not the front flaps be folded out instead of hanging down? In all the photos that I have of chief constables wearing this jacket-it appears not-they all wear it exactly the same as Jude Law.

    I am assuming that the film makers chose this jacket as a dinner jacket to match Watson’s army background-perhaps this was a mess dress for surgeons back in the times surround the Crimean wars.

  • Gareth Whitley

    Also, a quick note relating to rank. Rank distinction for officers would be on the shoulders in the form of “pips” and crowns. However, in some cases of officers that were deemed to be “professionally qualified” i.e. Watson being a surgeon, these were small in number and essentially be slightly removed from the chain of command therefore, distinction of rank could be associated by the jacket/suit/headress that the officer would wear.

    • Chris Laverty

      Really fascinating stuff, Gareth, especially about the rank distinction. Thanks for that.

      Would still love to know for sure why Watson is wearing this coat. Mess jackets always finish sharply at the waist; but this coat must have been chosen for Jude Law for more than purely aesthetic reasons. For dinner it would of course be acceptable for Watson to wear military dress, but I have yet to come across a uniform exactly like it – except, as you point out, for some Victorian chief constables (who were likely wearing their military uniform anyway).

      I will definitely get some hard answers from those involved in due course.

  • Gareth Whitley

    Okeydoke. I will scan in some of the images that I have and try and get them posted online with links here for you later this evening.

  • Thomas

    Hi Chris! I was wondering what kind of belt Holmes wears in the movie? I love that one! Do you have any idea where can I get something like that?

  • Naith

    I see I’m not the only one who got all het up about Watson’s Dinner Scene Jacket.

    Jenny Beavan was the real star of Sherlock Holmes, but I feel like a fraud tracking her contact details down just to say so, followed up by “…by the way, where did you get Jude’s military jacket from?”

    If any of you guys rumble the mystery, I would be SO grateful!

  • walt thompson

    If anybody interested old-town do some great outfits that would fit in with the ‘look’ I am a big fan

  • Andy

    I really, really like the style presented in this film. It looked nice, but at the same time COMFORTABLE (key for me). I like the way Downey Jr.’s pants were loose fitting, but looked as though they could be dressed up. Chris, do you know where I could get some pants like sherlock wore in the film, particularly the black and white checked trousers?
    I would like for it to be comfortable, like Holme’s appears to be.
    Thanks much.

  • Gareth Whitley

    Hi Chris and all!

    It’s been a while since I posted in this lovely topic. I’ve uploaded one of the images I talked about previously. It can be found, here:

    • Chris Laverty

      Afraid that link doesn’t work, Gareth. If you email it to me I will happily add it though.

      I just recently watched the film and have to say that dress coat intrigues me more than ever. The dialogue in the scene hints that it is likely connected to Watson’s military stint in the Northumberland Fusiliers, though I am almost certain it does not belong to that regiment.

      When I hopefully get to speak with Jenny Beaven it’ll be the first thing I ask her.

  • Stacey

    I’ve come across your article while searching for information regarding Sherlock Holmes’ wardrobe on several occasions. In 2009 before the film’s release, I was striving to recreate one of Holmes’ costumes for Halloween/Cosplay purposes. Your analysis was helpful in understanding the mix of historical and bohemian style utilized by the character.

    However I found it a bit amusing that while discussing the overcoat from the poster, the images used in the article show a different one: the black wide wale corduroy version that Holmes wears beginning in the Graveyard sequence. For some strange reason in the promotional pics, they used the overcoat from the Sewers Under Parliament/Tower Bridge finale sequence rather than the one which actually goes with the underlying outfit. Both are equally lovely. I’m just a stickler for correct details though. 🙂

    • Chris Laverty

      I am afraid I’m just a stickler for copyright, Stacey.

      Images of the posters are rights protected so I cannot use them without permission. Screen caps however, my own, are acceptable. As Sherlock Holmes is not yet out on DVD I had to make do with capping the trailer to give a general impression at the style of clothing. If you would like to see the posters I am referring to, please follow the link in the first paragraph of the article.

      With regards to the disparity between outfits in promotional material, costumes are often tweaked, changed around, and sometimes even dropped entirely from films after poster shots are taken. This is why I only use caps for in-depth articles pertaining to action happening on-screen (see HERE for example).

      Glad you enjoyed the analysis though. There are some interesting comments here too, worth sifting through.

  • Kris

    Where can I find the corduroy jacket the Robert Downey wore in the jail scene?

  • Verena


    I just found this homepage and thought you’d like to know this site as well…
    here is the link (hope it’s working…. ^^):

    They have shirts, collars, braces, hats,trousers and so on. I am so happy I found this site…

  • Trent Lawson

    Hi guys,

    interesting to read everything that you have posted about the origins of the dinner scene jacket. Has anyone managed to find this jacket or something similar that you could use as a basis for a costume designer/dress maker to work off of? I currently have my friend (who is studying costume design at university) sourcing materials to make me one – she claims “she can make that easy” – we’ll see 🙂 ill upload photos when shes done.

  • S.S.

    Maybe if there was someone who had an association with Jenny Beaven, they could get in touch with her. Would be a direct way of finding out. I’d love to find Jude Law’s jacket from the dinner scene. Even something similar would be acceptable.

    • Chris Laverty

      I’ve interviewed Jenny Beavan for this site and, yes, we discussed that jacket. I’ll be running the article on here soon. Keep popping back…

    • Nigel Christian

      With reference to the question about the Jude Law Jacket from the Dinner scene. I don’t know if the question has already been answered but it is based on a 4th & 7th Hussars Officers Frock Coat from the Crimean/Boer War Era. I own one. Judes is a very simplified version and missing a awful lot of detail compared to my Original.

  • Tina

    Just wondering where I may find the round black spectacles worn by Downey? Thank you

  • Mar

    I know I’m a little late adding a comment but now that the movie has come out I’d really appreciate it if anyone could help me find the hat and jacket holmes wears in the scene before adler is on the pig conveyor belt. (The scene where he picks up the barrel and watson walks behind him with a clipboard) if anyone can find these especially affordably I’d really really really appreciate it.



  • Mar


    I have three pairs of these john lennon-esque glasses I found the first pair at a dollar tree for a dollar, duh , and the second at a good will. However the third pair are a lot nicer and have slightly bigger lenses, these I bought at dollar general for six bucks hope that helps.


  • Naith

    Chris, any news on when you’ll be posting that interview with Jenny Beavan up?


    • Chris Laverty

      Just a couple of weeks, Naith. It’s not really a straight interview, though I did interview Jenny for the piece. It’s kind of a costume guide. Hopefully you’ll all like it (feel free not to tell me if you don’t!).

  • joe

    i have been searching for a while for a scarf similar to the one robert is wearing in the second to last picture. i was wondering if you had any idea where i could find one?

  • Connor

    The picture at the top of the page, I’m curious as to what he is wearing in that scene. I seriously love the outfit and was actually hoping I might be able to grope around for one, if it’s not an arm and leg of course!

  • Javier Vano

    Dear sir, would you mind to tell me how to find a similar Jude Law’s square bowler hats.

    Thank you


  • Mark R Henry

    The Police uniforms weren’t too bad…but the “VR” on the helmet badges were horrible! The use of Army Helmets for police ones is also noted. The costumer did the 90% accurate…close enough…as his/her guide. I do wish They’d paid more attention, considering all the thought they gave to other costuming. The small Victorian crown on the top of the Helmet badge gets an A+. As I recall, the collar numbers/letters were also flaky. Details details details. 🙂

  • Marc

    Does anyone know where I can find a stand collar waistcoat similar to the one Holmes is wearing throughout the film?

  • Mayank Teria

    you are just outright awesome and awe-inspiring!
    by the way all I could find out was that it(Watson’s dinner jacket) is a ceremonial version of blues patrol uniform!
    and they prefer to also wear them apart from their jobs!
    here’s a link:

    P.S. i found the link in your blog and simple and trustworthy google search…:P

    • Nigel Christian

      @ Mayank, that’s not strictly true, as the “Blues Patrol Uniform” is a short variation of Watson’s jacket, and is used for a very different role. The one Jude wears is a three quarter length Officers Mess frock coat, which was very rarely worn on horseback, or on duty. It was however often worn to dinner in the mess, and dress occasions at public ceremonies.

  • Mayank Teria

    @Nigel uh…yeah!
    i said the same thing..
    apart from job or duty!
    and i said ceremonial version, Since it is a version it is bound to be different it is a version of it not the same thing…

  • dustin

    i want to know where i can get or the name of the jacket that Robert Downey jr. wears near the start of the film when he is testing out the “silencer” (its the shaggy looking jacket)

  • Jacob Simmons

    Hey, I was wondering what the tattered jacket that Holmes wears at the end of the show, and in the beginning during the silenced gun scene. Would you know where one might find a jacket like it?

  • Garry Holtom

    Hi Chris,

    I was wondering where I could get a cravat like the one Holmes wears in the dinner scene before being doused with wine?

    I want to get one for a wedding I’m attending in a few weeks.

    Kind regards.

  • Jay

    “The belt is a bizarre addition; these were not worn to hold trousers up until the 1920s. This could be a costume blunder or a sly way of implying Holmes’ extreme individuality. The four-in-hand cravat however was perfectly acceptable into the early twentieth century. ”

    Actually, belts were worn then by various people,… ther have been both photos and illustrations showing men holding their trousers up with belts that were utilized with trousers that had no belt loops, thus sitting the belt just under the buttons that were sewn on to be used with braces (ie. suspenders). Commonplace,,…did it exist and was it seen?… indeed it was. No blunder there.

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