Walter Sobchak Costume Tutorial From The Big Lebowski


Since I already posted a costume tutorial for The Dude, I decided it was time to go for Walter Sobchak. For those who don’t know, Walter was based on John Milius, the writer/director of such box office hits as Conan the Barbarian (writer/director) and Apocalypse now (writing credit). He even wrote the famous USS Indianapolis speech for Steven Spielberg’s Jaws when the director needed a special moment that was missing from the screenplay. It’s one of the most chilling moments in the film, and Walter…er, I mean Milius…wrote it.

Walter wears a lot of different clothes over the course of the film, but one outfit stands out for most folks – the one from the “Mark it zero” scene. We know a good bit about a few of these costume pieces because they were auctioned off by Julien’s in 2011. This is the pic from their auction, followed by their info. You can find the original post on their site here.


FROM AUCTION: A four-piece costume made for Walter Sobchak, played by John Goodman in The Big Lebowski (Polygram/Working Title, 1998). The outfit consists of a brown Cotton Mist polo shirt, custom made multi-pocketed tan hunting vest, and a pair of distressed green canvas and black leather combat boots. These pieces were worn by Goodman in a number of scenes, including the “Over the line, Smokey!” gunpoint confrontation at the bowling alley and at the burial at sea of Donny, played by Steve Buscemi. Completing the costume is a pair of Canyon Ridge shorts of Goodman’s from the production.

We learn a lot from Julien’s, including brand names. Unfortunately, these brands aren’t exactly household words. Still, it gives us plenty of info for research. As always, my goal is to get you the most accurate costume you can assemble without taking out a second mortgage on your home.

We’ll work from the top of the head, down. Let’s get started! Click on the images to go to the places I could find the item for sale (mostly Amazon).


BANDANA – If you don’t share Walter’s love for the flat-top, you can cover your own hair by adding this little accessory. No, Walter doesn’t wear it in the “Mark it zero” scene, but he does wear it later in the film.


GLASSES – Walter wears Ray-Ban Kalichrome Shooters in the film. If you’ve got hundreds of dollars to burn, you can find a pair on Ebay. If not, these glasses are a decent enough stand-in.


POLO SHIRT – The original was a dark brown polo made by Cotton Mist. The brand is still around but I couldn’t find anything like Walter’s shirt in their current lineup. Pretty much any dark brown, lightweight polo will work. I found this little beauty at a good price on Amazon.

walter-poloVEST –  This is where the going gets tough. The vest Walter wears was custom made by the costume designer on the shoot. There is no existing vest exactly like it. For my money, the best alternative is a vintage Banana Republic Safari Vest. These are surprisingly common on Ebay and can be had for a fraction of their original purchase price. It’s an awesome garment and one of the very few options that’s as long as Walter’s vest. Click the image below to automatically search Ebay for one of these.


SHORTS – Walter wears basic khaki cargo shorts, so your best bet is Old Navy if it’s shorts season. If not, I have you covered with the Dickies option below. You can also go with something similar in olive drab.


BELT – You’ll need a web belt to go with those shorts. This is the best one I could find i the right color and at a good price.


BOOTS – Wallter’s boots are heavily distressed, Vietnam-era, jungle boots. These are fairly common online. They’re also the exact same boots Michael Myers wears in the original Halloween film. Walter wears a pair of black socks with his boots.


DOG TAGS – Walter wears a set of dog tags to which he’s added a gold wedding band and what appears to be a Mezuzah.  The dog tags can be customized by any number of online vendors, like this one.

 walter-dogtagsIf you don’t have a wedding band to use, you can use something like this, or you can just omit it. I expect many people never even noticed it.


If you want to add the Mezuzah, they can be had from many online sources. Here’s an inexpensive one that seems to be a similar size and shape.


WATCH – Walter wears an old Casio DW-5900. The closest thing available today is this G-Force watch. No one will ever know the difference. Even a cheapie from Target would do.


HANDGUN – Walter famously wields a Colt 1911 A1 handgun at the bowling alley. These days, you want to think long and hard about whether you want to include this particular accessory with your costume. Yes, it’s the sort of thing that really ties the costume together, but it can also get you shot if you go waving it around in the dark. If you want to add it, this airsoft version has the right price and it looks the part. Your call. Let the record show that I advise against it even though the supreme court has roundly rejected prior restraint.


That’s it, folks. Collect these items and level up to be the next head of Sobchak Security!

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