A uniform needn't be ugly polyester; it can be elegant, woven of fine material and what we wear simply because it's right.
Such is the case with Tom Selleck's character, Commissioner Francis "Frank" Reagan, on CBS' "Blue Bloods."
At work, Reagan wears a crisp, white shirt under a dark three-piece suit with a striped tie. Selleck, between takes, talks about clothes with the knowledge of a person who once worked in clothing stores.
The look is "very traditional," he says. "When acting, half of it is in close-ups. Natural-shoulder clothing is very important."
"He dresses very differently at home," Selleck says on a day they're shooting the weekly family dinner scene, in which he's wearing corduroys and a black sweater.
His work clothes reflect who he is in the city's hierarchy.
"He travels in very elite circles," Selleck says of Reagan, who, though, at his essence, "is a blue-collar cop."
Reagan wears a lapel pin former NYPD Commission William Bratton gave Selleck.
All of the characters' clothes are meticulously cataloged in the show's wardrobe department under Wallace G. Lane Jr., the costume designer. Tags from pretty much every store line the racks, and he has had costumes made for waitresses, doormen, utility workers - all the characters police would encounter in New York. Of course, many different ranks of police officers uniforms hang from the racks.
For Selleck's character, though, Lane shops only at Ralph Lauren, and it is all custom-made Polo label.
"I had to weigh that," Selleck says. "If you look at the police commissioner, he's making money, and they do dress well, and should."
"We use a blue suit an awful lot," Lane says. "He started out as a uniform (officer), so it was that blue. He wanted to create this iconic look."
"I want an audience to be able to see him and automatically know who this character is," Selleck says. "He has a look and is distinctive."
Despite the fact that pure white can come off as too bright for television cameras, Selleck insisted on white shirts. He relies on Reagan's back story, which includes his stint as a Marine, to inform his choices.
His shirts are custom-made by Anton Custom Shirts in Beverly Hills. The overcoat is Ralph Lauren, and his trench is Burberry. The shoes are from Allen Edmonds.
"I wanted him to wear rep ties with red and blue and preferably white," Selleck says.
Though the look is not hard to replicate, let's not be disingenuous and say that just any schlump can look like Selleck. They can't. Just mentioning his name still makes many women sigh.
"There are a lot of three-piece suits on the market," Lane says. "You can always find a vested suit. It may not be the same fabric."