Continuing on the collar-pin theme, back in February I came across an image that I’m guessing was posted to Ivy’s Facebook group by Marc Chevalier, menswear omnivore and collector of vintage images. It showed Fred Astaire simultaneously wearing a collar pin and buttondown, not with the collar hanging straight and the buttons unused, as in RL images, but with the buttons actually fastened.
I’d heard of the practice, but thought it just a sartorial rumor. Well here it is in all it’s gaudy glory, and on non other than legendary dresser Fred Astaire, who was fond of both collar pins and Brooks Brothers buttondowns, and in the 1935 photo above can be seen combining the two. If he looks a bit sheepish, maybe that’s because he’s wondering if perhaps he’s gone too far. A necktie worn as a belt is one thing, but this?
I also remember a conversation with Tom Davis, legendary head of Brooks Brothers’ custom shirt program who’s been with the company for half a century. Our chat invariably turned to buttondown collars, and Mr. Davis said he recalled guys wearing collar pins with fastened buttondowns. He seemed to characterize it not as gauche, but as a particularly GTH gesture by guys who knew better but did it anyway. That was the whole point.
And now yesterday another Facebook group image collector, Carmelo, posts the image at top from a 1950 issue of Esquire (head over here for access to its archives) showing that this is not merely a case of Astaire and one of his sprezzy little tricks. Here’s a depiction of college men doing it, just as Tom Davis had said.
There’s a menswear event tomorrow called The Proper Kit and I’m very tempted to do this, simply because it would be so unabashedly improper.
Here’s the full page from Esquire, which says “Note the pin on the button down collar; keeps the tie neatly in place.” Indeed, the very purpose of a pin, but rather at odds with the point of a buttondown. — CC