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I realize that we’re officially in the dog days of summer right now and a blog about velour tracksuits isn’t exactly timely. I also realize that this is a little bit of a niche topic, especially if you haven’t seen The Sopranos. Although, if you haven’t seen it by now, I need you to stop reading and get to it.
It sits at the top of television rankings as one of the greatest shows ever made for a reason. There are also a couple of spoilers mixed into this thing but the show has been out for like twenty years now. I’m not sorry if I ruin anything for you.
Now – having said all of that, I have just finished re-watching The Sopranos (the original prestige drama from Home Box Office) and I feel it would be a disservice to the show to not at least acknowledge the greatness that was every single tracksuit donned by the cast.
As an Italian myself (I’ve been in Positano for an entire day so I can say that now) I really identify with the discrimination against Italian-Americans that is depicted in The Sopranos, but beyond that this show has made me realize that I need to get a stable full of Fila tracksuits before it gets cold out again.
A tracksuit can be found in just about every episode of the series, whether it’s being worn by a no name or by Big T himself, there is something quintessentially Italian about the velour tracksuit. I’m not really sure why that is but I feel like it all started with Goodfellas back in the 90s.
Ray Liotta’s character sports a classic Adidas jumper and matching pants when he’s in prison, and writers for The Sopranos really took that image and ran with it. I went through six seasons (seven if you count 6A and 6B as two separate seasons) in about three months.
In that time, I’ve decided that little A.J. Soprano is by far the worst character in the show, Jamie-Lynn Sigler is an absolute rocket, and most importantly, that wardrobe is a very essential and under-appreciated part television. Let’s dive in.
Sidenote: Before you ask, I loved the finale. I thought the open-ended nature of the final scene was perfect, but you are living in fantasy land if you think Tony Soprano didn’t get popped right after the screen goes black.
Exhibit A: Carmela Soprano
As with every character in The Sopranos, Carm was a complicated woman. She put up with Tony’s infidelity, a shithead kid (I’m talking about you, AJ), and yet through all of this, she always came through with some really fire tracksuits. The one pictured above is 90s AS FUCK, and it doesn’t exactly look warm but I could absolutely see some hipster chick in Brooklyn wearing this today and pulling it off with ease.
Exhibit B: Christopher Moltisanti
Other than the crippling heroin addiction which eventually led to his demise (at the hands of Tony Soprano, no less) Christopher was a likeable guy. He certainly had some issues, but the man could rock a suit and then turn around and pull off a sick track jacket and matchings pants at the drop of a hat.
The beauty. The grace. The monotone character of this little brown number Chris has on in the above. If that picture doesn’t make you want to go out and buy a tracksuit then I don’t know what will.
Exhibit C: Paulie Gualtieri
Oh. My. God. Arguably the best character in the show outside of Tony, Paulie rocks a jumpsuit like no other. He doesn’t wear Fila like most of the others in his crew and that’s why, in my opinion, he wears them the best.
The gold chain, the white beater, and the gut combines with the tracksuits he wears and really gives them an extra pop. Take a look. The wingtip hair isn’t a bad look either.
Exhibit D: Tony Soprano
The man. The myth. The legend himself – Mr. Tony Soprano. I’ve been through a lot with Tone since I started my rewatch and I can say definitively that some of my favorite scenes from the show come when T is just ripping a fine cigar on his patio in a full velour Fila track suit.
I don’t know if HBO and Fila teamed up during the six season run, but if not Fila owes the costume designer a debt of gratitude. You can’t watch an episode of The Sopranos without seeing some New Jersey goomba donning a Fila tracksuit and complaining to Tony about how their “cut” simply wasn’t enough.
The tracksuit demands respect whenever it’s put on. Add in the fact that they are extremely comfortable (most are made of velour or windbreaker material) and you’ve got yourself an outfit which is appropriate for the bar or for whacking an underling who fucked up your order at Satriale’s..
Images via HBO