by Nicholas Roque; Fashion Models Sondra Roehr and Andrew Zambo; Clothing provided by the Attic Vintage Clothing Store; Photos by Dominique Clay-Brown and Eric Rodrick
ON OUR MODELS:
Andrew is wearing a brown,
double-breasted suit with jacket
and pants, and a black dress shirt.
He accessorizes with a matching
phedora hat and classic trench coat.
These large coats were used to hide
large weapons often carried my
members of organized crime.
Sondra is the perfect Mafia wife in
her elegant blue, pleated evening
dress, wedge dress shoes, and a real
mink stole. Her accessories include
pearl jewelry and a feathered hair
comb. The luxurious lifestyles
afforded to mob wives often
came along with the pain of their
husband’s infidelity and having to
provide a legitimate face for their
If you’re familiar with Las Vegas then you know that early Las Vegas was heavily influenced by organized crime figures. The Mafia (or “Mob”) politics largely decided which casinos and restaurants succeeded and which ones failed. In old Vegas, everybody who was anybody was almost sure to be connected with the mob. You couldn’t tell for certain, just by looking, who was or wasn’t involved with the mob. But one could make an educated guess by paying close attention to their clothes.
Before powerful Mafia Families began investing in Vegas, the town was pretty much a labor-driven place. Populated by cowboys and railroad workers who dressed appropriately to their professions – back then Las Vegas was not a fancy city. When the agents of organized crime syndicates arrived from large cities in the east like New York, Chicago, Cleveland, New Jersey and Boston they didn’t want to live in a dusty, unfashionable backwater.
The Mob literally changed the whole town. They built new casinos with fine carpeting, electricity, tile, glass windows, curtains, chandeliers, beautiful marble counter tops & staircases and last but not least, extravagant dining halls, theaters, and ballrooms. They brought in new employees and insisted that casino workers behave respectably, having them dress appropriate to the east coast cities standards, in clean, well-fitted suits and dresses. The mobsters themselves were fond of wearing high-quality, tailored suits, often with a hat to keep off the sun or keep them from being recognized. Suits and trench coats were very popular with mafia agents, since these made it easy to conceal the large weapons they liked to carry. In time, Las Vegas residents started to adopt these styles of clothing themselves, copying the rich and powerful newcomers.
Today, many in Vegas still mimic the style of the Las Vegas mafia elite, and their impact can also be seen in television or movies set in Las Vegas. However, Las Vegas is first and foremost a resort town where people come on holiday, so today many people ignore the stylish, mafia history of the town and simply wear jeans and a tee-shirt or even pajamas!