Last month we paid a style tribute to George HW Bush. But since then the preppiest prez has made news a couple more times, so we’ll give him an encore with a focus on one of his trademark style quirks.
No, we don’t mean his socks.
True, it was his hosiery that got mentioned in the media this week when President Obama toasted Bush for his charity work. Bush, who’s lately been known for his wacky socks, came bearing a sock gift for Obama. (President Clinton, you’ll recall, had a cat named Socks that roamed the White House, but no penchant for colorful hosiery.)
And previously, on the Fourth of July, GQ paid homage to Bush with a slideshow that included a couple of photos we hadn’t seen before. These photos included Bush’s preppy penchant before he turned to socks, namely striped watchbands. (Continue)
A new book on the relationship between clothing and power examines centuries-old European monarchs, maharajahs and tribal leaders, totalitarian dictators, and the Ivy League Look.
“Power & Style: A World History of Politics and Dress,” by Dominique and Francois Gaulme, presents JFK as the centerpiece of its chapter on post-World War II American style and global influence.
The authors write:
Kennedy’s personal style emerged from the Ivy League college tradition. In formal dress, Kennedy always wore a single-breasted, two-piece suit that gave him a young, athletic air. Like many East Coast Americans, JFK abhorred the double-breasted jackets associated with Roosevelt and Truman. His image was one of casualness and energy, unlike the fitted, deliberately elitist, English style of tailoring, Kennedy’s light, comfortable Brooks Brothers look was particularly striking when he met the likes of British Prime Minister McMillan and French President Charles de Gaulle, both stuck in garments of another age.
The chapter includes the photo at left, with the authors noting “… magazines showed JFK on the beach in a bathing suit and T-shirt smoking a cigar, in a sweater at the helm of his boat…”
While the authors note that off duty JFK “dressed like all American men in chinos and T-shirt,” I don’t think it’s quite that simple, for he was not just another American man. JFK embodies the contradictions of American democracy, in that everyone may cast a vote, but only an elite few are in the position to be voted for. Kennedy’s clothing items may have been common enough, but not their context. Not only did he choose a grey t-shirt, with its association of athletics, over white undershirt, which looks more like underwear, he allowed himself to be photographed in such garb in the context of sailing his boat off the coast of his family compound. One could say that it’s precisely because Kennedy wielded so much power, and was funnelled through the proper channels of Choate and Harvard, that he could afford to dress so casually.
There’s also something genuine about it. It’s hard to imagine a politician today allowing himself to be photographed on his sailboat, for fear of the elitist connotations. Likewise for a the t-shirt and chinos, which would come across as commonplace slovenliness compared to the mundane business casual garb worn by politicos courting the everyman vote. — c C m
Back in Ivy Style’s freshman year we did a post on Hugh Hefner’s Ivy phase called “Pipes And Cardigans Get The Chicks.”
Well Hef may have gotten Marilyn Monroe as the first Playboy Playmate, but Arthur Miller got her for a wife.
About a week ago Esquire’s website paid a little style tribute to Miller with a simultaneous lionizing of the sack jacket:
In this photo, taken in 1956 at the couple’s estate in Englefield Green, England, Miller is a paragon of East Coast style. A born-and-raised New Yorker, the playwright’s trad roots clearly run deep, from his dark-rimmed specs to his dotted silk tie to his oxford cloth button-down (with a pretty perfect collar roll, we might add.) But it’s that little buttonhole — right above his thumb; see it? — that holds the key to Miller’s superior style.
Basically a reworked three-button setup where the top button and buttonhole serve only as ornament so it fastens like a two-button, the three-roll-two is one of the most quintessentially American button stances. Closely associated with the “Ivy League” look that reigned during Miller’s mid-century career, it’s an enduring (and increasingly international) style to this day. Put simply: It’s a classic.
Esquire goes on to muse whether the sack jacket helped catch Marilyn’s eye. There was no mention of the pipe, alas. — c C m
The Finnish menswear site Keikari recently profiled David Mercer of Mercer & Sons, maker of traditional buttondown oxfords. David talks about life, the shirt business, and clothing that’s built to last:
I believe strongly that clothes you buy should last forever. I wear old Peal & Co. shoes I bought in the ’60s and ’70s, a Norman Hilton sport coat from the ’70s, the blue blazer from my wedding day almost 30 years ago, khakis, a belt from the ’60s, and a grey wool and nailhead suit from Brooks in the early ’80s. Good, well made classic clothing should last forever. Always easy to dandy up things up a bit with a new shirt, a colorful tie and some interesting socks.
Head over here for the full story. — c C m
On Wednesday George HW Bush celebrated his 89th birthday, and well-wishers were encouraged to honor the occasion by donning whimsical socks. Go-to-hell hosiery has become Bush’s trademark now that he’s at that age when dressing becomes something of a challenge.
Although JFK often gets credit for being America’s preppiest president, the honor really goes to Bush 41. A couple of months ago, BuzzFeed.com created a gallery tribute to the preppy gear the president wore throughout his life (thanks to Muffy Aldrich for the head’s up via Twitter). Here are some highlights: (Continue)
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)