What? Headline makes perfect sense to me. What did you think it was referring to? Honi soit qui mal y pense.
The shagging in question is of the dancing kind, to that delightful mishmash musical genre known as “Beach Music,” the subject of a lengthy article in the latest issue of O. Henry, a magazine that bills itself “the art and soul of Greensboro.”
The story centers on a legendary nightspot in ’60s called the Castaways. Writes author Stephen E. Smith:
When I asked a commuter student about the Castaways, he explained that it catered to college kids, all of them white, and featured local bands, also white, and the occasional Motown, Atlantic, Stax or other R&B acts, most of them black, performing popular music for dancing the shag, or as it was called in those days and in that place, the basic. “If you’re going to the Castaways,” my informant cautioned, “you better know how to dance the basic.”
But knowing how to shag wasn’t all; you also had to look the part. Explains Smith:
A male who danced at the Castaways wore a sports jacket and tie… over a starched white Oxford-cloth button-down shirt cursively monogrammed at the collar and cuff. Trousers were usually high-waisted, with a shiny alligator belt transvexing the dancer like a sack of meal. It was obvious that footwear was of the utmost importance… and highly-buffed alligator wingtipped tasseled loafers were the shoe of choice. I possessed none of the appropriate accouterments, but hoped to skate by with my khaki trousers, a blue dress shirt sans monogram, my new Harris Tweed sport coat, and Weejuns.
The article is viewable online by heading over to the O’Henry home page. Enter 59 in the page window located above the current issue, and print or zoom to read.
Also check out our previous Ivy Style story on “Shag The Movie.” — c C m
Ivy Style continues its tribute to Squaresville Appreciation Month with a tribute to hipster Lenny Bruce’s nemesis, Bob Newhart, who, despite having a button-down mind, wore mostly tab-collared shirts.
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Sometime in the early ’80s I was visiting my great grandfather’s third wife, who was living in the Dell Webb retirement golf community of Sun City, Arizona. When my father announced we were going to see Bob Newhart, I did not give it much thought, since he was a regular guest in our home Saturday nights via his sitcom “The Bob Newhart Show.”
Newhart was on a standup tour. “The Bob Newhart Show” had concluded in 1978 and he had not yet pick up “Newhart,” which debuted in 1982. We went to the theatre on the appointed day. I looked at the crowd of sportswear-clad seniors, their skin the color and texture of vintage saddle bags, their ages ranging from Jurassic to the living dead, and realized I was the youngest person in the audience by decades.
Newhart went through his personal canon with acts like the “Driving Instructor” and “Introducing Tobacco to Civilization.” It can safely be said the material was new to me and yet I had the awareness that the audience knew the material by heart. There were elements of the act that were 20 years old, longer then my life time and yet merely yesterday to the nostalgia-hungry audience.
I couldn’t fathom at the time how large Bob Newhart figured in the popular culture of the early 1960s. Newhart’s first album, “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart,” was recorded at the Tidelands Club in Houston, Texas and released in 1960. The album climbed to number one on the Billboard chart, beating out Elvis. The album would hold number one with its follow-up, “The Button -Down Mind Strikes Back!” anchoring the number two position. They would then switch positions, with both Newhart albums holding the top two slots for 35 weeks, a feat not replicated again for 30 years, while “The Button-Down Mind of Bob Newhart” remains the to- selling comedy album of the 20th century. (Continue)
W. David Marx, who recently gave us his interview with “Take Ivy” author Toshiyuki Kuroso, today shared on Ivy Style’s Facebook page his Pinterest devoted to Japanese Ivy books he’s discovered. It’s another fascinating glimpse into Japan’s longstanding reverence for American natural-shouldered clothing. (Continue)
Earlier this month the Dallas Morning News did a style tribute to JFK. There’s plenty to nitpick in the story, including the awkwardly oxymoronic line that Kennedy’s style influence is “arguably eternal,” but there were a few parts I thought interesting.
First off is this 1958 quote referring to “Brooks Brothers couture”:
“This night, Jack Kennedy — the young Eastern millionaire with the Harvard accent, the Brooks Brothers couture and the egghead ideas — had them standing on their chairs, whistling and shouting.” — Cabell Phillips, The New York Times, July 13, 1958
Later, the author paints this terse picture of Kennedy’s off-duty style:
Off-duty, Kennedy’s style was as refreshing. His upper-class, Ivy League life before Washington meant growing up wearing that echelon’s staples: tweed sports coats, Shetland wool crew neck sweaters, brightly colored polo shirts, khakis and loafers.
Then we get this quote:
“He never looked shabby. It was his culture to dress better than he had to.”
But the next part is most interesting as it reflects Main Street clothiers’ appropriating of the Ivy League Look during the heyday:
Said Derrill Osborn, the former vice president of men’s tailored clothing for Neiman Marcus: “Being a student of the Ivy League period, which took hold during John Kennedy’s three years as president, I can attest [it] was a great moment in clothes.”
“We copied him,” said Osborn, then a menswear buyer in New York for Saks Fifth Avenue stores. “I sold Ivy League by the carloads. It was really about the adoration the youth had with Kennedy and the Beatles. It was the early ’60s.”
Saks had long catered to the student population in college towns, but surely never sold Ivy by the carloads except during the heyday, which, like JFK’s Camelot, was fleeting. — CC
As a follow-up to our interview with “Take Ivy” author Toshiyuki Kurosu, here’s a post we discovered recently on a blog called Wax Wane. It features some photos we hadn’t seen before of Japanese Ivy enthusiasts in the ’60s, as well as some magazine covers such as the one above, and some of those cute little Japanese cartoon characters. (Continue)