Hamptons Style, 1959

banker & bulh

Our last post was on the fondness of rich WASPs for junk food, which leaves crumbs on their frayed pink buttondowns. This post is on how rich WASPs dressed in Southampton in 1959. Pictured are Vincent Banker and C. Henry Buhl III going Ivy chic in blazer with sockless bit loafers and madras jacket with espadrilles.

I love the mixing of dressy items (the blazer could be worn with a shirt and tie), while the shirt and trousers on Buhl could be plucked straight from his business wardrobe) with the sockless footwear and open necks. They’re here to have fun, but are still showing obedience to convention and correctness. — CC

vincent banker and henry bulh in southampton, 1959

41 Comments on "Hamptons Style, 1959"

  1. Chewco L.P. (Offshore) | June 16, 2016 at 12:45 pm |

    Oh how I wish it was in color. Would have been interesting to see how he paired the colors of the madras to the color pants/espadrilles.

  2. Where’s Makaga? He might have fun coloring it.

  3. Hmmm, that would be interesting to try and colorize it. I should give that a shot over the weekend.

  4. A bit loafer in 1959? …just asking.

  5. Introduced in ’53. We’ve found a few early images of them.

  6. And on the right the shoes are hemp-soled Spanish espadrilles!

  7. Fowler Mosley | June 16, 2016 at 2:06 pm |

    “convention and correctness”
    That sums things up nicely.

  8. @Christian

    You once gave me grief about my writing about wearing espadrilles and a rep tie as a belt back in the eighties…….yeah, not a good idea. The fellow on the right certainly does pull off espadrilles with a madras jacket though.


  9. Whoa, just noticed the bottom button on the blazer. I suppose this fellow pulls it off alright.


  10. @Sacksuit
    As did JFK (bottom buttoned occasionally). He pulled it off too!

  11. Sorry, but today espadrilles are for girls. Have been for a long time.

  12. Today that outfit would have Belgian Shoes. Very manly!

  13. I quite like espadrilles but I’ve yet to purchase a pair. They seem very comfortable.

  14. @Christian

    I read on Gentleman’s Gazette that while the Gucci Loafer was introduced in 1953, the horse/snaffle bit was only added in 1968. Yet this picture is from 1959, can you explain this?

  15. @Christian I see thank you, and that’s even more confusing. I assumed that when the shoes were introduced in 1953 (which is the well known year of the Gucci loafer’s creation) they were only made for men. Maybe a similar shoe was made by another brand at that time?

  16. @sacksuit, the blazer buttoning is called “paddock style”, and you’ll notice both are a bit higher than on a standard 2B as we know it.

  17. Bags' Groove | June 17, 2016 at 3:51 am |

    Oh to be a dashing Ivy blade in 1959! And long live the Gucci loafer…especially in black suede with silver snaffles, eh CC?

  18. I don’t know what provenance you might have for this photo, but based upon the autos in the background, I agree it couldn’t be before 1958 and nothing indicates it’s from the 1960’s. So, 1959 is likely correct. However, I find the bit (Gucci?) loafer here a bit of a head scratcher. That shoe would have been a unique accessory at that time with a distinctly European flavor. A decade later, the Gucci loafer would be a staple “GTH” shoe in Ivy circles, but not in 1959. I wonder to what extent we today don’t appreciate how much these two gentlemen would have been seen as being somewhat in contrived costume in 1959 even in the Hamptons. The fact that this photo was taken at all seems to support that theory. The photographer seems to be saying, “Hey, look at the weird get-up on these two guys” rather than “Hey, here comes Vince and Hank.” I think these two gentlemen were ahead of their time, not indicative of something common in 1959.

  19. I don’t know if the current “version” of the espadrille would be Belgians, or those Prince Albert slippers which have been trending lately. All three, in my opinion, are very feminine looking. But I can also give a little break to historical reality here too: ever seen pictures of a young John Wayne in huarache sandals and short-shorts? Oy.

    As for the bit loafers, I’ve gotten in trouble here before by expressing my personal opinion that, provenance and decades of acceptance by Trads aside, to me they just scream “Jersey”.

  20. Slightly off topic, on the Esquire.com website, there is a funny mockumentary about the Pitti Peacocks, guys in Italy showing off for the streetstyle cameras. Not Ivy in the least, but very colorful anyways !

  21. No suede for me.

    Paul’s remark shows just how hard it is to change a man’s mind, and how divided our nation is!

  22. GS writes: …while the Gucci Loafer was introduced in 1953, the horse/snaffle bit was only added in 1968. Yet this picture is from 1959, can you explain this?”

    Elementary. This photo inadvertently proves the existence of both UFO abductions and time travel. The logical explanation is that Vincent Banker (is that his real name?) was abducted by a UFO, traveled to the future, was smitten by bit loafers and (breaking all the rules for time travelers (yeah, he’s a banker for sure)) returned wearing then-non-existent Gucci bit loafers.

    See how easy it is to figure out mysteries when you become a crazy old geezer in a bunker?

  23. @Mazama thank you so much for clarifying, it makes perfect sense now.

  24. And speaking of geezers, it turns out that wearing espadrilles might lead to… er, unusual behavior 65 years later. Turns out “General Motors heir” C. Henry Buhl III is alive and well – well, at least alive – in Southhampton as of July 2015 when this (NOT from the Onion) NYC newspaper column appeared:

    “(Donald Trump) has a friend in General Motors heir Henry Buhl.

    “I support Donald Trump. He’s speaking out on a controversial issue,” Buhl, 84, said at the Southampton Animal Shelter gala …

    Buhl, who has been helping the homeless for decades, has a new cause — helping willing people who are living in the country illegally to go back to where they came from. He founded the Coalition to Protect American Workers & Returning Servicemen & Women four years ago when he found 80 people who were illegally in the US living in a sunflower field behind his Southampton house.

    “They all wanted to go home. None were Mexicans. They were all from countries like Honduras and Guatemala,” Buhl told me.

    The philanthropist chartered a bus that would take 55 passengers, and went to the Mexican consulate to arrange passage. “Mexico wouldn’t let me over the border. They said, ‘What if the bus breaks down? How are we going to feed them?’ That’s their attitude toward immigration.”

    Instead, he used his own money — and contributions, mainly from unions — to send more than 400 back by plane…

    Buhl, who also has a big loft in Soho, had trouble getting federal 501(c)(3) certification as a charity, which allows contributors to get tax write-offs.

    “It took four years to get our 501(c)(3),” Buhl said. “It’s against Obama policy.”


  25. Bags' Groove | June 17, 2016 at 1:06 pm |

    Now hang on, CC, I seem to remember you saying that black suede with silver snaffles was a new one on you, but not an unacceptable one, or something to that effect. You must have changed your mind. I trust it had nothing to do with all the opprobrium Gucci loafers brought forth from the uninitiated.

  26. If it was, I have since edited out that decision.

    But I recently got two new pairs of bits, for a total of three.

  27. I believe I see the fins of a “57 Chevy in the background

  28. Charlottesville | June 17, 2016 at 3:20 pm |

    Whatever else may be said for these guys and their era, pro or con, I think it must have been a great deal of fun to be an heir to the GM fortune strolling through the Hamptons circa 1959. Money, madras and martinis accompanied by be-finned Cadillacs and the sounds of Sinatra, Brubeck and Ella.

  29. To me, snaffle-bit loafers are like yogurt … or the band ‘Wilco’: I know I’m supposed to like them, and every couple of years I give ’em another chance, but I just can’t seem to bring myself around. Call it early onset fuddy-duddy-ism, I suppose.

  30. Jerry is correct as to dating the photo. The earliest it could have been taken would be October of 1958. In the background to the right, the first car visible is a 1959 Ford Ranch Wagon; a model introduced that month.

    Next to it is a 1958 Cadillac Fleetwood 75 Limousine, likely the car in which the two gentlemen arrived.

  31. Thank you Mazama! What a great anecdote. What strikes me is the distinctiveness of their haircuts as well as the clothing. I suspect they were equally rakish for a time when crew cuts prevailed on most that age. Wonderful find.

  32. If one puts quarters, rather than pennies, in their penny loafers the penny loafers become two bit loafers and are then twice as good as bit loafers.

  33. @WFBjr: that’s the one; Duke at his most utterly cringe-worthy.

  34. Henry Contestwinner | June 21, 2016 at 2:39 pm |

    Either you have what it takes to wear espadrilles—a comfortable, casual, disposable summer shoe—or you don’t. White and navy are the classic options. If you find espadrilles in Apparel Arts illustrations, you’ll find some of them with laces tied halfway up the calf!

  35. @Henry

    Would you agree that there could hardly be a gentleman out there who has what it takes to wear the type of espadrilles with the long laces without looking overtly feminine?

    I am wearing shell cordovan long wings today which, unless your wearing a Thom Browne clown suit, cannot look feminine. What has happened to old Thom lately? I believe he was designing zoot suits or something.


  36. Can’t really tell but based on the chimneys it looks like they’re walking near Cooper’s Beach, which was our beach of choice this holiday weekend. No blazers to be seen but a nice looking crowd nonetheless, quite a few p3-looking sunglasses on guys.

    Montauk is dead. Avoid at all costs.

  37. Jeffrey Shawn Haber | July 25, 2016 at 10:34 am |

    This historic Southampton photo definitely depicts Ivy League Summer Casual Fashion at its best. The look is timeless. The photo in and of itself is clearly an All-American classic.

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