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. Syd
    April 16, 2009

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

  2. The Dude
    April 16, 2009

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

  3. james
    April 16, 2009

    You ever seen Nudie’s car?

  4. plaidout
    April 16, 2009

    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. east side bride
    April 16, 2009

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

  6. The Dude
    April 17, 2009

    Yeah, I would have figured that too…

    I should kill myself.

  7. JP
    April 19, 2009

    Great one, brother.


  8. erin
    May 2, 2009

    this film was fantastic.

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

  9. […] wouldn’t be the Nudie suits Tweedy & Co. wore on The Tonight Show last night. That said, as previously mentioned, I do love their suits, particularly Jeff’s red Sushi Bar jacket which features the Korean […]

  10. Desmond Pethig
    June 25, 2009

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

  11. Pink Cloud
    July 13, 2009

    Anyone know where I might pick up an original Nudie shirt?? Help me. My husbands birthday is coming up. Reply to ruafan2@aol.com

  12. […] Also, go check at Max’s excellent post over at all plaidout here […]

  13. Jim
    December 28, 2009

    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.

  14. Darlatheterrible
    January 21, 2010

    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.


  15. The Lone Ranger
    July 3, 2013

    […] of the Cowboy Couturiers and Dior of the Sagebrush, that Country & Western tailor to the stars, Nudie Cohn created the look of Mr. Moore’s Lone […]

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