Playboy in its early years has always struck me as the ultimate men’s magazine. The emphasis on jazz and literature gave it a highbrow edge not found in today’s magazines, in which articles on socially relevant topics, rather than aesthetic matters, provide the weight and seriousness.
Moreover, Playboy‘s editorial vision really did encapsulate a lifestyle, whereas today a “lifestyle” magazine is not one guided by philosophy, but by consumer choices. Of course, Playboy is in fact largely credited with creating the modern urban male consumer.
Like bohemian writers in tweed jackets or jazz musicians playing avant-garde music in gray suits, Hefner wore conservative clothing while radically changing America’s views on sex. Recently I discovered a tattered paperback called “Big Bunny,” written by Joe Goldberg in 1967. The book chronicles Hefner and his empire and includes the following passages:
Black-haired, instense, slightly under six feet, he looks, in his often-photographed costume of white button-down shirt, orange cardigan sweater, slacks, loafers and pipe, like a college senior on his way to class.
[Hefner’s] dress is conservative-casual. His suits are custom-made Continental or Ivy League — he has two complete wardrobes. But he says, “Taste isn’t something you’re born with, it’s something you develop. When I came out of the war, I was wearing the broad shoulders, wide lapels like everybody else. But when I went to work [as a copywriter] for Carson’s [a Chicago department store], I discovered Ivy and Brooks Brothers and wore it consistently thereafter.”
That is, until he started wearing pajamas all the time.
Lastly, let this be a lesson to our younger readers: There was a time when it was possible to wear conservative clothes unironically, keep your hair neat and smoke a pipe, and still be a Casanova. — CC
Photo from the Chicago Tribune.