Magic City: Ben the Butcher’s Yellow Shirt
Danny Huston as Ben “the Butcher” Diamond, sadistic and volatile Miami gangster
Miami Beach, Summer 1959
Series: Magic City
– “Crossroads” (Episode 2.04, dir: Ed Bianchi, aired July 12, 2013)
– “Sitting on Top of the World” (Episode 2.06, dir: David Petarca, aired July 26, 2013)
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
Easing into the end of July, I’m taking a look at the sunny summer style of Ben “the Butcher” Diamond, the ruthless gangster played to brutal perfection by Danny Huston on Starz’s Magic City.
Light up a cigar – one of Ben’s preferred Partagas, if you’ve got ’em – and read on.
What’d He Wear?
Danny Huston’s menacingly smooth performance as Ben Diamond means playing a badass who can pull off less intimidating colors like baby blue, rose pink, and – as seen here – bright yellow. In fact, Ben the Butcher strolls through the sidewalks of Miami Beach like a walking ray of sunshine in his yellow guayabera and cream trousers… despite bringing darkness everywhere he goes.
Ben the Butcher’s yellow long-sleeve shirt was made for the production by Anto Beverly Hills, the legendary California shirtmaker who created shirts for Magic City‘s male leads. The 100% linen shirting would be quite comfortable during the heat of a Miami summer.
Rather than the traditional alforza pleats of a guayabera, Ben’s shirt has a fancy yellow stitch pattern up the sides of the front and the center of his back; Anto would create a similar burgundy shirt with the same stitch pattern that Danny Huston would wear in “World in Changes” (episode 2.05). Although it shares many style points with the classic Caribbean guayabera and its Mexican variants, the lack of pockets on Ben’s yellow shirt makes the description of “pocketless guayabera” more apt.
The traditional guayabera dress shirt has a straight bottom hem meant to be worn untucked, as Ben wears his, but also has patch pockets and two vertical rows of alforzas along the front and back. On Ben’s shirt, the front and back yokes have a button at the top and bottom of each fancy stitched strip where the alforzas would be on a typical guayabera.
Ben’s shirt has a narrow point collar and the yellow plastic buttons are concealed on the fly placket.
The split vent on each side has a short three-button placket that Ben wears totally fastened. The sleeves have double (French) cuffs that he wears with yellow gold rectangular cuff links with a diamond-mounted center.
Ben’s cream flat front trousers add an additional degree of softness, creating the image of a man enjoying his summer holiday rather than a ruthless, bloodthirsty gangster. He typically wears his trousers with a belt; unseen in this sequence, his belt is likely black to coordinate with his shoes.
The current owner of a pair of Danny Huston’s screen-worn trousers, Eric J. Tidd, confirms that they were made by Brooks Brothers and are 100% linen. Ben’s trousers have side pockets, jetted back pockets, and straight legs with plain-hemmed bottoms.
“Sitting on Top of the World” (episode 2.06) features one of the rare occasions of Ben Diamond actually wearing visible socks with his loafers. In this case, the combination of his black socks and black shoes creates a somewhat jarring contrast to the bright, neutral tones of the rest of his clothing.
Ben’s shoes appear to be the same black leather bicycle-toe loafers that he’s worn since the beginning of the show with a black leather strap across the vamp that tightens through a silver-toned buckle on the outside, though it’s not the belt-style pronged buckle of the traditional monk shoe.
Eric, who also owns a pair of Ben’s shoes, has confirmed that they’re a pair of ALDO M-19261 loafers in size 44. If you’re interested in co-opting some Ben Diamond style, you can still find these shoes on Amazon as of July 2017 for less than $25, although sizes are increasingly limited.
Ben Diamond wouldn’t be much of a Miami gangster without the sweet vintage specs to shield his eyes from the sun. His black-framed wayfarers are the appropriately named Victory Suntimer “Palm Beach” VCS 752 with dark gray lenses. You can still buy the same model from the Victory Optical Collection site for $210.
Through the second season of Magic City, Ben Diamond wears a yellow gold Hamilton Electric wristwatch on a dark brown alligator strap. The round silver dial has gold numeric markers.
Ben nods to gangsters of the era, particularly Bugsy Siegel, with his gold-toned ring with a large diamond, worn on his right pinky. Eric, who owns several of Ben’s accessories in addition to his clothing, has confirmed that the show-used ring in his collection has found some of the “gold” rubbing off from extended wear to reveal copper underneath.
How to Get the Look
Don’t let the bright colors fool you; underneath all that yellow and cream is a dangerous man who just happens to know a thing or two about stylish comfort in warm weather.
- Yellow linen “pocketless guayabera” shirt with spread collar, covered front fly placket, 3-button side vents, double/French cuffs, and fancy-stitched strips down each front panel and center back with decorative buttons
- Cream linen flat front trousers with belt loops, side pockets, jetted button-through back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather bicycle-toe loafers with silver-toned buckle straps
- Gold rectangular cuff links with a center diamond
- Gold pinky ring with set-in diamond
- Hamilton Electric yellow gold wristwatch with a silver dial and dark brown alligator leather strap
- Victory Optical Collection Suntimer “Palm Beach” VCS 752 black-framed wayfarer-style sunglasses with dark gray lenses
Ben “the Butcher” Diamond has a number of firearms at his disposal as a Miami mob kingpin, but it’s a shining nickel M1911 pistol that he keeps in an ornately carved wooden box that gets plenty of screen time in “Sitting on Top of the World” (episode 2.06). It’s this pistol that Ben’s wife Lily (Jessica Marais) handles when she decides to prematurely end Ben’s questioning of Nicky Grillo (Jamie Harris).
Ben: You just silenced a man I was interrogating.
Ben: Tell it to the Geneva Convention.
The M1911 semi-automatic pistol, designed by John Browning, changed the firearms landscape after it was introduced in Colt’s lineup in 1911. Chambered for the powerful .45 ACP with a seven-round magazine capacity and impressive single-action trigger, the M1911’s reliability, power, and ease of use set the gold standard for service pistols to follow.
Though the manufacturer is unconfirmed, Ben’s pistol clearly has the long hammer spur, long trigger, and flat spring housing characteristic of the early M1911 series before Colt developed the 1911A1 variant with its curved spring housing in the mid-1920s. Based on its condition and more prominent front sight, it’s likely a more recent variant of the venerated pistol with original M1911 details incorporated into the design.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series and particularly the second season to see both episodes that feature this outfit.
I have remarkably steady hands… I would have been a glorious surgeon had the educational opportunities afforded me. I can, with one single cut, remove a man’s entire face.
Thanks, as always, to Eric J. Tidd, the owner of a vast collection of Magic City memorabilia, who provides one-of-a-kind images and insight as I write about Ike, Stevie, and Ben’s style in “the year of the fin”. Among the items in Eric’s Miramar Playa closet is Ike’s cream dinner jacket, which is featured in a BAMF Style post from April 2016.
Thanks also to you for welcoming W.T. Hatch’s submission of Monday’s post, an exploration of L.Q. Jones’ Western-influenced clothing in Casino. I’m back for now, but I certainly hope that there will be more great guest submissions featured on BAMF Style in the future. – Nick
That’s a damn good looking shirt! With and without the blood… another awesome article. Glad to have the info about the Butcher’s pistol; need to add that to my collection.
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