Mahershala Ali as Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes, mob boss and nightclub owner
Harlem, November 2015
Series: Luke Cage
Episode: “Moment of Truth” (Episode 1.01)
Streaming Date: September 30, 2016
Director: Paul McGuigan
Creator: Cheo Hodari Coker
Costume Designer: Stephanie Maslansky
Key Tailor: Cherie Cunningham
BAMF Style’s focus on first episodes during this first week of fall continues with a look at the well-suited villain Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes on Netflix’s Luke Cage, played to charismatic perfection by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali.
What’d He Wear?
“Cornell Stokes needs to present himself as a wealthy, successful businessman, and, of course, he wants to wear bespoke suits and tailored suits,” explained costume designer Stephanie Maslansky in an interview with Esquire on the day the show premiered on Netflix. “Most of his clothing came from Dolce & Gabbana and Zegna, and we did have one suit custom made for him.”
Cornell Stokes dresses for a day that takes him from the office out onto the street in a sharp gray plaid wool-and-viscose two-piece suit with pick stitching. The suiting consists of a dark plaid with a pink overcheck on a mid-gray ground.
Cornell’s single-breasted suit jacket has slim notch lapels that roll to two black buttons that match the “kissing” four buttons on each cuff. The jacket has double vents, straight flapped hip pockets, and a welted breast pocket where he wears a purple silk pocket square folded neatly and just barely visible over the top of the pocket.
Cornell Stokes owns a few sharp three-piece suits, but he also utilizes an odd waistcoat (vest) to add an extra layer to his two-piece suit. In this context, “odd” refers only to the fact that the vest is non-matching; a plain black waistcoat like Cornell’s is as far from the other definition of “odd” as it gets!
An odd vest is an easy and stylish way to diversify a wardrobe. (One rule of caution when wearing an odd vest with a two-piece suit: be sure that the waistcoat contrasts enough with the suit that people won’t think you’re trying to make it look like a three-piece suit!)
Cornell wears a black waistcoat made from a twill blend of polyester, viscose, and elastane with five black buttons, correctly leaving the bottom button undone over the notched bottom. The vest has three welted pockets: one on the left breast and two lower pockets. The shiny dark emerald green printed back lining slightly tapers toward the bottom and has an adjustable fabric strap across the lower back.
Cornell’s flat front suit trousers have a low rise that contrasts against the better-fitting jacket, though this lower rise trouser is consistent with trendy men’s fashion of the mid-2010s.
The waistband is fitted with buckle-tab adjusters on the right and left sides. The trousers have slightly slanted side pockets and two button-through back pockets. The bottoms are plain-hemmed.
Unfortunately for Cornell (but more unfortunate for Shameek), his gray plaid suit and his black odd vest are ruined when they are covered with blood that evening in his office, making “Moment of Truth” the sole episode to feature this outfit.
Cornell wears a distinctive pair of burgundy cordovan derby shoes with black-stained plain toes, sported with a pair of black cotton lisle socks.
I had some trouble tracking down a pair of quality shoes similar to the ones worn by Cornell with this suit:
- A fine pair of burgundy three-eyelet plain-toe derbies by British luxury shoemaker George Cleverley popped up for $1,425 but without the blackened toe box.
- On the other end of the price spectrum, I found a similar-looking pair of burgundy derbies at ZLAY for $98, but I can’t speak to the quality… particularly when compared against Cleverley.
The burgundy shoes coordinate well with the pinkish tones of the outfit, particularly the light pink herringbone cotton dress shirt.
Cornell’s pink shirt has a large collar with considerable spread, a plain front with no placket, and mitred cuffs that he unbuttons when he rolls up his sleeves to play his Rhodes piano.
Cornell’s silk tie is a field of large purple dots on a field of black, tied with a Windsor knot and fastened into place with a gleaming stickpin. Based on Maslansky’s comments to Esquire, the tie is likely from Dolce & Gabbana or Ermenegildo Zegna.
Cornell wears a polished steel wristwatch on his left wrist with a stainless case and a black leather strap. The dark blue dial has a white outer ring that may help identification. On the opposing hand, he wears a silver ring with a set-in round blue stone on his right pinky.
He also wears small silver emerald-set earrings, adding the small touch of green that Maslansky likes to incorporate into Cottonmouth’s wardrobe per her interview with Forbes.
Interestingly, a flashback to Cornell’s youth in “Manifest” (episode 1.07) reveals his abusive uncle “Pistol Pete” Stokes (Curtiss Cook) in a similar outfit consisting of a loudly checked gray jacket with a black odd vest, light pink shirt, and tie.
How to Get the Look
- Gray plaid wool-and-viscose tailored suit, consisting of:
- Single-breasted 2-button jacket with slim notch lapels, welted breast pocket, straight flapped hip pockets, “kissing” 4-button cuffs, and long double vents
- Flat front straight-leg trousers with buckle side-tab adjusters, slanted side pockets, button-through back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black polyester, viscose, and elastane twill single-breasted 5-button vest with three welted pockets, notched bottom, and adjustable back strap
- Light pink herringbone cotton dress shirt with spread collar, plain front, and 1-button mitred cuffs
- Purple dots-on-black silk tie
- Silver crest-shaped tie pin
- Burgundy cordovan leather three-eyelet derby shoes with black-stained plain toes
- Black dress socks
- Polished stainless steel wristwatch with round blue-and-white dial on black leather strap
- Silver pinky ring with round blue set-in stone
- Emerald-set silver earrings
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out Luke Cage on Netflix!