A word in your ear with Jon Rhodes

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IT seems there is no excuse for being stylish – never more so than when in court accused of being a gangland killer.

This week, New York was abuzz with the kind of gangster trial that used to be all the rage in the Big Apple.

The accused is one Vincent Basciano, or “Vinny Gorgeous” to give him his full tabloid nickname.

Column inches of the American press have been filled, not so much with the allegations levelled against him – namely the murder and racketeering crimes he allegedly committed on behalf of the Bonanno crime family in 2004 – but his dress sense.

Basciano is famed for his sartorial style. Not since John Gotti – the infamous “Dapper Don” – has the media been so obsessed with the dress sense of an alleged gangster. Well, he became even more dapper on Tuesday when the judge in his murder trial lent him a tie after jailers had refused him one.

Basciano appeared in Brooklyn Federal Court for jury selection with an open collar.

His discomfort was quickly noted by Judge Nicholas Garaufis, who lent him his own tie.

A jail employee apparently read an in-cell dress code order too literally and refused to permit a tie while in court. The judge even suggested Basciano hold on to the garment until the end of the trial.

I hope it matched his suit.

Given the case is still active and the seriousness of the charges involved, I’m not about to extol the virtues either way of Basciano and his dress sense, but I’m impressed by one thing – style lives on, even in murder trials. One of my first jobs as a trainee reporter all those years ago was the daily mags court beat, or magistrates’ court to give it its correct title.

Now, I was always led to believe men wore ties at court, I really did. I was not prepared for the tie-dye shell-suit look, even though this was 1989.

Defendants’ attire has refined itself over the years through the full spectrum of sports casual, but no matter which court you go in, you can tell the defendants who are season ticket holders in dock and those on traffic matters.

They are the suited and booted ones looking terrified amid a sea of feral defendants who had not so much headed for Moss Bross for their court attire but a well-known sports retailer.

I get the argument not everyone has a suit, but, come on, how hard is it to find a tie?

But then again in offices up and down the land, the tie has been jettisoned in favour of the open collar look – how very London.

I make no apologies for being more of a traditionalist and I always think for something as important as work, or whether you maintain your freedom, you should take it seriously.

The tie is not so much a stylish accessory for me – believe I don’t own a stylish one – but a reminder to the fact I am in work. I take it off I am a free man.

Maybe that is Basciano’s thing, or maybe he just wants to stay “Gorgeous” for the press.

Either way, I have to applaud the judge and wish our own magistrate courts would follow a similar dress code.