Editor’s Note: Happy Monday – back from a short staycation here on my side.
First, from our friend James Taylor at Waterhollow Tweed, a brief history of the classic LL. Bean Chamois Shirt.
Introduced by L.L. Bean in 1927 after L.L. Bean himself had worn the prototypes while hunting the Maine woods the Chamois shirt was originally called the “Leatherette” shirt to indicate that it was similar to chamois leather and would be a decent alternative to buckskin.
The term “chamois” was introduced in the 1933 catalogue, when the shirt acquired a slightly different collar and slightly more slanted pockets.
The shirt was designed to be wind-proof and extremely warm; both of these effects were achieved by multiple brushings of the cotton flannel from which the shirt was made to raise the nap and give it is distinctive peach “fuzz”–an effect that led to the shirt fabric resembling chamois leather.
Originally offered in tan only the shirt became available in Bright Red in the 1950s–a colour chosen because it was believed that red repelled flies. (L. L. Bean claimed that red was introduced in 1960s but this cannot be correct, as Rock Hudson was photographed in a bright red Bean chamois shirt in 1955.) Other color variations followed–forest green in 1971, navy in 1975, slate blue in 1978, and a wildly impractical ivory in 1982. (This did not last long.)
Warm, comfortable, and eminently practical, Bean’s chamois shirts are an iconic article of American clothing.
Editor’s Next Note: Marc Chevalier is a true gentleman, it is a privilege to add him and his content to our team.
So some really great news. Marc Chevalier has agreed to join us for a weekly Q & A. Marc’s expertise is in the history of Ivy and the rules of traditional men’s fashion. Email me, I will send to him, and we will get his first column up!
Also, Email me with nominations for profiles if you like. We have some great profiles coming up from the FB Group, but some of you all don’t do FB, so if you can think of someone who would make a good profile, AND YOU HAVE THEIR CONTACT INFO, let me know?
I have one Carhartt cotton flannel for roughing it. It does come in handy, but the tails are quite long, making it a chore to tuck into jeans. I bought my last pair of jeans one size larger in the waist and find this works much better all around.
Similarly, I have a couple of beautiful “vintage” Pendleton wool plaid shirts, with longer tails and button-down collars, which are too small for me now. They were uncomfortable to tuck into jeans, so I wore them with long-johns and grey, flat front flannels. My dad wore them with chinos and loafers. Father knows best.
I notice that Pendleton markets their shirts mostly untucked, shorter tails, nowhere near as handsome now, and likely assembled overseas. Too bad.
“was $20 a lot for a casual shirt in the early 70’s?” Yes, but like everything else, it would be marked down after Christmas.
The LL Bean catalogue pages in the above article are not from the early 1970s. An LL Bean advertisement in the March 10, 1973 edition of the New York Times stated that the men’s chamois cloth shirts were $8.35 (the women’s shirts were $8.25)……Reasonable prices for the time.
Worth noting that while $20 may have been a solid sum in the early 1970s, the shirts carried LL Bean’s guarantee/ return policy, which was the absolute best in the business then.
Regarding those Bean catalogue scans: they are most certainly from the nineteen-eighties and not the early 1970s! Charles Dana is correct.
80s era Bean catalogs. For sure.
Chamois, similar to moleskin, is good. Viyella, with the addition of wool, is better.
Facebook-avoidant, I am unable to see James Taylor’s Waterhollow Tweed posts, which is too bad but I’m glad to see this one here today. I have one of L.L. Bean’s newer chamois shirts. It’s incredibly soft and comfortable to wear, though I don’t often have occasion to wear it. They’re currently offering it in a number of plaid patterns in addition to the classic solid colors. Much has been made of L.L. Bean’s uneven quality in recent years, but in my view the chamois shirt remains a very worthy buy.
Great Art Deco vibes in the photo of Mr. Chevalier. Right out of an episode of Poirot. Looking forward to his contributions here.
…Wondering about what’s coming of the OCBD reviews and more from Z. Burnett, as well.
Your wish is my command, read today’s intro to Victor Besnard. JB
I have the Bean chamois shirt in Bright Red, Navy, Tan, and Green. If the post’s text is correct that Ivory was introduced in 1982, then clearly the lower catalogue image offering Ivory must be from 1982 or later. The upper catalogue image must be later still, given the price increase and the abundance of additional colors offered.
And true to “Herblock’s Law” (If you like it, they’ll quit making it), the chamois shirt is no longer offered in tan.
The LLB chamois, Orvis flannel and Filson Alaskan guide shirts are all American classics. I’m an Orvis guy, but the other two are just as good or better. It doesn’t really matter. Celebrate them all!
And otherwise hope the Ukranians make Putin pay! Oops, sorry.
I accidentally didn’t delete this. Because I am careless. – JB
Red chamois with khakis were a go-to standby throughout the 80s.
Of course Bean no longer carries it. Of course.
Johnson Woolen Mills:
Compliment with khakis and Gokey Classic pull-on boots. Hell Yes.