Study Guide

Goodfellas Clothes

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The Clothes Make the Man

"My god, you look like a gangster," Henry's mother gasps when her boy comes home in his first suit. She's right: he does look like a gangster. That's the point, ma.

While the mob wives' fashion sense would send the style wonks at US Weekly spinning, their husbands dress to impress—and intimidate. Just like their old ladies, their flashy suits symbolize their membership in a very exclusive club, but more than that, they're a display of power. They don't just say, "I've got enough cash to buy this dope suit," but also, "I'm not afraid to get your blood on it, sucker. I'll just buy another one."

Of course, bespoke suits aren't the only way the men of the family flash their cash. They drive Cadillacs, fill their houses with pricey furniture, wear pinkie rings, bribe the cops, and never meet a pocket or sweaty palm they couldn't press a $20 into. But, the expensive suit is the gangster's uniform and his most consistent, tailored display of power.

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