Lucky Luciano would be rolling in his grave. Frank Costello would be appalled. Bugsy Siegel would be disgusted. John Gotti would be ready to kill somebody.
Last week’s FBI round-up of 127 alleged gangsters was a crime . . . against fashion.
When the Feds and the FBI did a huge bust of mafiosi in the New York-New Jersey area last week, they collected the most slovenly cache of wise guys ever seen, showing us exactly how low the Cosa Nostra has fallen. No pin-stripped or shark-skin suits, no pinkie rings, no manicured hands, no snap-brim fedoras, no “dapper dons” in this crowd. Clearly no one here got an offer he couldn’t refuse from a tailor.
Instead these hoods wore baggy sweat pants, Al Sharpton ala 1979 track suits, hoodies, T-shirts and high-top basketball sneakers. One hood, Edward Aulisi, was arrested wearing a camo hunting jacket when he wasn’t hunting. Aulisi, of the New Jersey DeCavalcante family, was hit with charges ranging from murder and racketeering to gambling, extortion and loan-sharking. No one accused him of being well dressed.
Mobsters used to understand that dressing well created a mystique in the old neighborhood. People looked at the local wise guys as folk heroes, made men who had made it. Al Capone wore well-cut three-piece suits, Luciano favored tailor-made silk monogrammed dress shirts. Bugsy Siegel was perfectly color-coordinated and wore hound’s-tooth sports jackets from the best Beverly Hills custom tailor. In the HBO series Boardwalk Empire, Atlantic City boss Enoch “Nucky” Thompson (Johnson, in reality) sends his gunsels out to a tailor and buys them suits. He understood that even your torpedoes are supposed to look smart.
Tailored suits were a must, as were monogrammed pocket squares, pinky rings and high-polished alligator shoes. The bosses were all extremely flamboyant. The whole presentation created an aura. Only Meyer Lansky ignored this dictum, and only because it drew unwanted attention. Lansky dressed conservatively, like a clerk, but he was never unkempt. Frank Costello, who dominated the families of New York, was gunned down while getting a manicure. Big Paul Castellano was whacked outside Sparks Steak House in a Brioni suit. These guys cared.
In later years, godfathers like Carlo Gambino and Paul Castellano (a.k.a. “The Howard Hughes of the Mob”) still dressed to impress. “Dapper Don” John Gotti spent a fortune on his hand-made Italian suits and sported a camel-hair Polo coat that cost $35,000. Gotti understood that at no time should a mob chieftain dress worse than his lawyer.
Roger Stone is a well known Republican political consultant and is a veteran of eight national Republican presidential campaigns. He’s also the men’s fashion correspondent for The Daily Caller and editor of Stonezone.com.