Magic City: Ben the Butcher’s White Linen Guayabera
Danny Huston as Ben “the Butcher” Diamond, sadistic and volatile Miami gangster
Miami Beach, spring 1959
Series: Magic City
– “Feeding Frenzy” (Episode 1.02, dir: Ed Bianchi, aired April 13, 2012)
– “The Harder They Fall” (Episode 1.06, dir: Ed Bianchi, aired May 11, 2012)
– “Crime and Punishment” (Episode 2.01, dir: Clark Johnson, aired June 14, 2013)
Creator: Mitch Glazer
Costume Designer: Carol Ramsey
Considering classic gangland style evokes images of pinstripe suits, flashy jewelry, and wide-brimmed fedoras… but what do gangsters wear when the sun’s at its brightest? On #MafiaMonday, let’s travel down to sunny Miami Beach where—even in the middle of January—mobster Ben “the Butcher” Diamond is dressed in lightweight linen for days by the swimming pool and nights at the cocktail lounge in Starz’s canceled-too-soon period drama Magic City.
What’d He Wear?
Ben the Butcher’s summer-friendly style includes a variety of colorful shirts from across the rainbow, from deep purple and seafoam green to bright yellow and baby blue. Villain that he is, he looks natural in his black linen shirt, but he also embraces the comfortably airy nature of white linen.
In the first season, Ben’s go-to white linen shirt is a classic guayabera, the Cuban dress shirt distinctive for its decorative alforzas and the four patch pockets—two on the chest, two on the hips—each decorated with a pointed yoke and decorative button. It is this full complement of four pockets that makes a true guayabera, as the Ramon Puig website writes:
History traces the roots of the guayabera back to the beginning of the 18th century to the province of Sancti Espiritus, Cuba where Ramon Puig was born. As legend has it, an Andalusian immigrant by the name of Jose Gonzalez asked his wife Encarnacion to make him a long-sleeve white linen shirt with four large pockets so that he could carry his cigars, writing instruments, handkerchief and “otras cositas” (other small things) during the course of his work day. The elegance and overall practicality of the shirt caught on with the local “guayaberos” (guava farmers) who then filled the lower pockets with guayabas (guava fruits) and baptized the shirt “guayabera.”
The second distinctive feature of a guayabera, the alforzas, are also present on Ben’s shirt. These vertical strips run from shoulder to hem, met at each end with a pointed yoke finished with a decorative button similar to the pocket detail. Ben’s white shirt has a single set of alforzas down each chest panel through the center of the pockets as well as three on the back.
Ben’s white guayabera appears to be a size too large for him, though this—as well as its lightweight linen shirting—would make it a very breezy garment for a warm day in Miami Beach.
Ben wears the shirt’s cuffs loosely rolled up in “Feeding Frenzy” (Episode 1.02), though he’s fastened them—either with buttons or cuff links—for his late meeting with Bel and Ike in “The Harder They Fall” (Episode 1.06).
For the shirt’s first appearance in “Feeding Frenzy”, worn with a pair of plain black trousers, Ben is taking a phone call in his living room when he grows annoyed with his girlfriend Lily’s dog and, swapping the phone in his hand for a .38-caliber revolver, marches outside to quell the dog’s barking before all-too-calmly resuming his call. As he’s relaxing at home, he wears a pair of elegant black velvet Prince Albert slippers with black leather trim and gold embroidering on the vamps.
Following that episode, Ben restricts his on-screen white shirts to evening visits to the Miramar Playa’s swanky Atlantis Lounge, first when accompanied by Del for a private meeting with Ike Evans in “The Harder They Fall” (Episode 1.06).
For this outing, he wears a pair of off-white trousers, possibly the same cream-colored Brooks Brothers trousers made from 100% Irish linen that he would also wear with many of his other shirts. If so, they have a zip fly, straight side pockets, and jetted back pockets that are all covered by the untucked shirt hem. The plain-hemmed bottoms break cleanly over his tan leather shoes.
The second season premiere, “Crime and Punishment” (Episode 2.01), is set in spring 1959, shortly after the first season ends. Again, Ben makes a grand entrance to the Atlantis Lounge, bedecked in a new white linen shirt but back to the plain black trousers, worn with black leather shoes that may possibly be his bicycle-toe buckle-strap ALDO loafers seen in other episodes.
The second season shirt could be accurately described as a “pocketless guayabera” as it retains the classic alforza pleats though they are unencumbered by pockets as they make their vertical journey down from shoulder to hem, met by a decorative button at each end, similar to the black Renato shirt he wears throughout the series. This white shirt also has a concealed fly front and double (French) cuffs, which he dresses with a set of gold cuff links that each consist of a rectangular frame with a horizontal gold bar across the center.
Ben wears jewelry apropos his name, notably the large diamond shining from the gold ring on his right pinky. On the opposing hand, he wears his classic gold wristwatch. In the first season, this timepiece has a round black dial with gold non-numeric markers on a gold case, strapped to his left wrist on a black leather band.
For Magic City‘s second season, Ben would swap out his gold watch for a Hamilton Electric with a light silver dial and gold numeric markers on a dark brown alligator strap. Given how many of these particular scenes are set inside, Ben has no need to wear his usual black Victory sunglasses, though they would be a natty touch to this summer-friendly ensemble.
The Smith & Wesson Model 10 with its four-inch barrel spent the better half of the 20th century as the sidearm of choice for most American police departments, apropos the revolver’s original designation as the Smith & Wesson “Military & Police Model” when it was introduced to the market in 1899.
While a professional killer like Ben Diamond would no doubt appreciate the reliability of this venerable weapon, there’s no way the unapologetic gangster would want to carry a blued steel model that could be mistaken for a police officer’s weapon, instead selecting his armament finished in a bright nickel that gleams when drawn under the shining Florida sun.
The selection seems to be in line with Ben Diamond’s firearm preferences as he also makes use of a M1911A1, the classic .45 pistol made famous by American GIs during World War II, though Ben the Butcher’s 1911 is nickel-plated unlike the military-issued models in their blued or “parkerized” finish.
How to Get the Look
Ben Diamond illustrates how to elevate a white shirt and black trousers into an interesting summer ensemble that transcends its own relative simplicity.
- White lightweight linen guayabera shirt with spread collar, four patch pockets (with pointed yokes and decorative buttons), and double-strip alforzas down each front panel with decorative buttons
- Black flat front trousers with belt loops, zip fly, straight/on-seam side pockets, button-through jetted back pockets, and plain-hemmed bottoms
- Black leather belt
- Black velvet Prince Albert slippers with gold-embroidered vamps
- Gold pinky ring with set-in diamond
- Gold wristwatch with a dark leather strap
If you’re more into the all-white look for summer, you can follow Ben’s example of swapping out the black trousers and slippers for cream linen slacks and tan derbies.
Ben’s only other white shirt makes a brief appearance in the penultimate episode when he accosts Lily in the pool while wearing a white linen Cubavera shirt with fancy taupe, brown, and black embroidered striping down each chest panel. This unique garment seen may possibly be the subject of its own BAMF Style post at a later date.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the series.
Abso-fucking-lutely I’m threatening you.
I swear they should put Ben Diamond/Danny Huston in the dictionary as a visual personification of malevolence. Probably one of the scariest characters ever on tv.