“What I think was we tried to focus on or I tried to focus on is to make sure the fit for Tom is very exacting, there isn’t anything that that he misses at all”. – Marlene Stewart 

Maverick Marlene Stewart talks YouTube Thumbnail

On the show

I talk to Marlene Stewart about making the costumes for Top Gun Maverick. Her filmography also includes The Saint, Oblivion, and True Lies. I’m joined also by Nick Guzan or Nick ‘Danguzan’ (Dangerzone) from Bamf Style and Jon Shanahan from The Kavalier.

The below is a loose transcription from the interview we did with costume designer Marlene Stewart. I will edit these over time. The podcast is available to listen on iTunes, Stitcher or Spotify or in the player below.

Marlene how you were enlisted for Top Gun Maverick?

Well, I had worked with Joe on Oblivion. So we had a very good working relationship, I really appreciated the fact that his background is in architecture. And so every time you work with a different director you get the opportunity to learn a new visual language. A different way of interpreting storytelling.

Since Oblivion was extremely stylized, and we created worlds, a bit of a superhero movie in a sense where Tom’s characters really AI and there’s lots of different generations, he was very specific about kind of look that he wanted. Everything was very minimalist. He’s a modernist. Very pared down. Joe has a very precise, kind of aesthetic.

I’d worked with Tom before, and was kind of like the perfect marriage. Joe approached me on Top Gun Maverick but since I’d already worked with Tom it was … and also I had for many years worked with Jerry Bruckheimer. And going back even even though I did not do the first Top Gun, I had worked with Tony Scott. So, you know, it’s sort of a small world. So it was great to get the call.

What the process was to recreate that G-1 jacket for Maverick and the decision to really give it more of a cameo than the starring role?

I guess when to kind of broaden that conversation a little bit and then maybe hone in on the G-1. I thought it was really important to maintain a classic interpretation. To make it a little bit timeless and to include the items that were,  the key elements so that it really could stand alone. I think the thing about the original jacket, which Tom has from the first movie, is more or less falling apart. It just had a lot of wear and tear and that was you the G-1 jacket from 1947 to 1949, manufactured from several different factories, for the Korean War era era. Of course, it had been reinterpreted from 1930s versions and changed in terms of the length of the jacket, and the type of the banding at the bottom, this kind of thing.

I wanted to keep the elements of the movie, so that it almost looked seamless in terms of time, but to change the shape of the jacket. We all change through time, our bodies, of course, Tom is not exactly the same person he was, you know, in that movie (Top Gun). It was an 80s interpretation. They had bigger shoulder pads, a little bit wider at the top of the jacket, and a little bit more blousy.

Maverick Tom Cruise by a plane

What brand of G-1 jacket was used in Top Gun Maverick?

What I wanted to do is really bring it into today in terms of the visuals that worked with him [Tom] and his silhouette. So we had no less than 40 jackets that we got from dealers from all over the world. And we basically made a “Franken-jacket. We got a sleeve from here, we got a collar from there we had to get the cuffs, because they’re all specially knit in a certain way with a colour and that had to match the original jacket, which I had. Which by the way had its own body guard.

We used over 40 different jackets to get the right centre front pocket with the stamps, because every jacket had part parts of it. It had to be the colour of leather. The right thickness, the aging, and we managed to put together different pieces from all these jackets, and recreate almost the same jacket. The shoulders were pared down.

We smoothed out the shoulder pads, that was the hardest thing to do on the whole movie. I mean the space suit with when he goes up in the SR 72. That was easy in comparison, the helmets, all this kind of thing.

Were all the costumes custom made?

Of course, all of his clothes were custom made all of his uniforms. His shoes, the jeans, they were custom made. His other Green Flight jackets, his flight suits were cashmere lined, everything was custom made. But this particular jacket was the most difficult. And of course, we also had to hand loom the patches. These days they are imported and they have machine embroidery. It’s very different animal. So we really needed to recreate in the same with the same craftsmanship that the original was made. Especially the patches and whatnot. So it was definitely a process it took us probably three, almost four months to really nail it.

Was it a big deal to work on such an iconic jacket?

And the answer, of course, is yes. But I came up in the business at a time where you can still go see Natalie Wood’s dresses. It was quite a few years ago. I have the privilege of seeing quite a few interesting pieces. And I tried to go to museum exhibits, whether its Balenciaga, Alexander McQueen etc. I’m very interested in looking at the techniques and the fabrics and seeing original pieces.

I guess what takes over is like, oh my goodness, I have to remake something. It’s gonna fit perfectly that has to be seamless that that nobody really knows it’s not the exact same jacket. How are we gonna do this when we put a call out to all the dealers? I mean, you just never know what you have to deal with? So yes, it was definitely interesting process but I would think I was more concerned about how are we going to pull it off be honest.

Tom Cruise on a bike in Top Gun Maverick

And the the green flight jacket was custom made?

We custom made those as well because they were general issue. So regular uniforms are not terribly welcome, especially in this day and age. I mean, example, you look at some old American baseball teams, and you see their uniforms. And then you see, gosh, what happened to them? There’s these polyesters replaced by some crazy polyester version that is so ill fitting. It kind of changes through times. I mean, as much as Tom’s focused on doing incredible stunts, he’s a perfectionist. He’s that way, with fittings, that’s why I love to work with him is because out of all the actors I’ve ever worked with, he is giving 1,000% of his time and focus to fittings. In this day and age, some actors won’t even show up for fitting, they just say you got my measurements.

Any other custom made pieces?

I worked with a company called Vince and they custom made the jeans for us, for Tom. We had many, many multiples. There were pairs for the bootcut pants that were a little wider because he wears cowboy boots. Also jeans where the rise in the back was higher for the motorcycle, and the fact that there were some stretch in them. Versus maybe in the earlier version of the movie there probably wasn’t any stretch in those jeans. I did work with Vince quite a bit for Maverick and they were great and helped me out because they had the factories.

So that’s kind of what matters. And then I have the tailors that I work with, and I have another another company that I work with that built the spacesuits and we have our work room. So we have our own individual people that we work with that actually built all flight suits and all of that.

(With thanks to Marlene Stewart, her website can be found here).

Other useful information on the patches

Ward Carroll YouTube channel. He’s a retired F-14 pilot Ward Carroll comments on the patches on his channel as,

“The patches on the Top Gun jacket are just what happens when someone in the wardrobe department for a movie designs a military costume and just pieces things together that looks cool to them but has no experience in that field to get it right. The badges on the new Top Gun jacket are accurate this time around.”

Maybe we need to delve into a tiny bit of history first:

The original Top Gun jacket was made by Split-S Aviation under B.U.N. order number “43-1776”. I don’t know who made the Maverick jacket but it’s very much in the same ilk. Made with synthetic fur such as Dynel pile.

“The leather naval flying jacket with fur collar was issued during WW2. It was in 1947 following the war, that the USN gave the jacket the designation “G-1”. The G-1 is still current issue both for naval aviators and enlisted flight crew and the current manufacturer is Pharr.”

For a very long time there was no standard to the placement of the patches with the jacket or flight suit so finally the Navy addressed that issue as well and issued formal uniform directives for the flight gear which is considered organization clothing and not just regular uniform items. In 1988 the G-1 was reissued with goat skin and only given to those who had completed military tours. (Source anon, from YouTube. If you’re reading this please contact me and I’ll credit you, thanks). 


Maverick has also hung onto his 1980’s Rayban aviator sunglasses that don’t have the Ray Ban logo on the right lenses (Ray Ban only started doing this in the very early 1990’s). The teardrop style (D-1) is similar to the style worn by James Stewart in The Spirit of St Louis in 1956. The Aviator style was launched in 1929 after General Macready of the U.S military commissioned a manufacturer to assist air force pilots that would reduce glare form the sun that were giving the pilots headaches. The D-1 style was released in 1935, Ray Ban was launched the following year and started selling them in 1936.

Other info

In article from Daily Beast, Marlene Stewart talks further about the glasses.

“We had many, many fittings for the glasses. These are classic, Aviator Ray-Bans, and what I do and what costume designers do is you work with props, who is in charge of making the glasses. Altering them, customising them. I’m in charge of the look, which includes the glasses, but I work in tandem with props, so that when we had a fitting with Tom, we knew of course that the Aviators were going to be on board. That was never a question.”

Interesting article on the sunglasses and product placement can be found on Concave Brand Tracking.


The original film sees Maverick wear a Porsche Design Chronograph 1. This watch is valued at $10-12k but could go for more as it was also used in the sequel. What is interesting is that IWC are clearly paying for product placement in this film.

There is a wonderful still frame (4 seconds) moment where the pilots are timed with an IWC stopwatch. There is even an advert for IWC X Maverick before the film is shown in cinemas. More information can be found on Watch-ID.Com.