WILCO & The Nudie Suit

ashes-of-american-flagsMonday night, alongside Mr. Capps of D&D, I had the opportunity to see the latest in a series of excellent documentaries featuring the band, WILCO. Ashes of American Flags, the band’s first concert film, follows them as they trounce their way around the southeastern United States on tour in 2008. Among the many moments that stood out were drummer Glenn Kotche and guitarist Nels Cline icing themselves after a gig, multi-instrumentalist Pat Sansone’s spot-on South-side Chicago accent introducing backing band “The Total Pros,” and bandleader Jeff Tweedy’s Nudie suits.

nud_titlewilco-1Nudie Cohn, a Ukrainian-American tailor in North Hollywood who came to prominence in the fifties and sixties, is – without question – the most famous tailor in rock and country music.


Mr. Cohn, on the left, made this gold lamé suit for Elvis Presley’s LP 50,000,000 Elvis Fans Can’t Be Wrong.

nudiepepper1While working for Mr. Cohn, his protégé Manuel Cuevas designed the suits for The Beatles’ Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Johnny Cash’s black suits, the roses and skeletons logo for The Grateful Dead, and Mick Jagger’s inflated lips pillows which inspired John Pasche’s tongue and lips design for The Rolling Stones.



nudiegram3Arguably the most famous Nudie suit, Gram Parsons wore this on the cover of The Flying Burrito Brothers’ Gilded Palace of Sin. This is the suit most-often referenced as quintessentially Nudie: high on pyrotechnics and a big ol’ middle finger, but crafted with a beautiful drape and the sharpest lines, not a stitch was out of place.nudietweedy2The fundamentals of Mr. Tweedy’s suit, while more PC and more classically tailored, reference those of Mr. Parsons’.


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At minute 1:53 in this video of WILCO singing “Take Me Out to the Ball Game” at Wrigley Field, Mr. Tweedy talks about the Nudie suit, and at minute 4:20 he explains why he’s a fan of The St. Louis Cardinals.

See the movie. It’s screening in several North American cities over the next few weeks. In celebration of Record Store Day, they’re releasing the DVD on Saturday the 18th at independent stores nationwide, and it will be available everywhere on the 28th.

“They sound really good live. I was shocked,” a friend less familiar with the band said as we were leaving. As a fan of hyperbole, I reminded him, “Yeah, they’re the best band in America.”

Hands down.


  1. More about Nudie Cohn can be found in The Fairchild Encyclopedia of Menswear.

  2. I always wondered why they were called Nudie suits. Thanks for the lesson.

  3. You ever seen Nudie’s car?

  4. James, thanks for linking to that article. Everyone should check out Nudie’s pimped rides.

    Dude, really? I figured you already knew that.

    Syd, do you work for Fairchild or something?

  5. I love Wilco, but MAN do I love Gram Parsons.

  6. Yeah, I would have figured that too…

    I should kill myself.

  7. Great one, brother.


  8. this film was fantastic.

    and i got to catch the Nudie suit live at lollapalooza last year. good stuff.

  9. Desmond Pethig says:

    I am headed to City Hall to change my name to Nudie. Nudie Pethig. Swindon.

  10. Pink Cloud says:

    Anyone know where I might pick up an original Nudie shirt?? Help me. My husbands birthday is coming up. Reply to ruaf...@aol.com

  11. Thanks for the links and info. (I’ve been transferring some old FBB, Gram and Chris videos to DVD when someone asked if they were wearing “Porter Wagoner suits” and when I stated they were ‘Nudie Suits’, they did not believe me. So, to back up my explanation, I showed them this and other ‘Nudie’ reference archives.

  12. Darlatheterrible says:

    Did you know that the man behind Nudie is a designer named Manuel?
    He was his head designer and was the actual force behind EVERY single garment pictured here.



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