Rodney Dangerfield used his tremendous personality to create unforgettable characters and become one of the greatest comedians of his time. His self-deprecating style continuously kept audiences laughing both with him and at him. Dangerfield’s ability to poke fun at himself for the betterment of his performances lead him to portray the most ridiculous of characters. His madcap style of acting often had Dangerfield not only behaving outlandishly but dressing in ways that clearly upstaged any one else that was on screen with him. During Dangerfield’s 1980′s heyday films such as Caddyshack, Easy Money, and Back to School cemented his status as not only a significant comedian, but an ostentatious actor as well. Dangerfield’s madras blazers, pastel shirts, and neckerchiefs matched his radical comedy to create on screen characters that audiences were instantly drawn too. Dangerfield’s humor is what brought him to the movies, but it was his onscreen personas, complete with unforgettable outfits that made him so famous.
During the 1970′s Brooks Brothers was in their prime, producing oxfords of all different colors and patterns at an incredibly rapid rate. With such a wide variety of textiles flowing through their factory everyday, the company was left with random scraps of various lengths and designs. To help teach employees how to sew the company would give these scraps to their new hires, and they would turn them into unique patchwork versions of the iconic Brooks Brothers oxford. The shirts were simply intended for practice, and were never meant to be sold or even shown to anyone outside the company. That is until one day when Ash Wall, the Vice President (and descendent of the founder of Brooks Brothers) saw a pile of these patchwork shirts during one of his visits to the factory. Wall looked at the stack and remarked, “those are some fun shirts,” promptly trading the shirt he was wearing for one of the blended shirts. Wall liked the shirts so much that the company began producing them, experimenting with stripes, plaid, madras, colors, etc. to create a series of fun shirts that quickly became popular among the younger generation of Brooks Brothers customers. Their college aged clientele liked how the shirts were loud and flashy, yet still maintained the familiar design of an oxford. Brooks Brothers and other companies still produce fun shirts today as a break from the typical oxford that adds a bit more personality.
Few things capture the brash and bold spirit of East Coast trad more than a pair of go-to-hell pants. Born in New England vacation communities such as Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket during the 1950′s, go-to-hell pants exemplified the WASPy attitude of being well dressed and making sure that everyone else knew it. Wearing bright pants at the golf course had been common within these elite communities for decades, a practice that was made popular by pro-golfers who could afford to show off a little. Eventually the competitive nature of the game transferred over into rivalries about who could wear the most flashly pants. The pants also acted as a way for the wealthy upper class to distinguish themselves by wearing colors and patterns that no working class man would ever even consider wearing in the city. Pretty soon the pants spread throughout New England, with local stores constantly experimenting with increasingly more extreme fabrics to meet the demands of the trad community.
In 1976, prominent author and dandy Tom Wolfe coined the term “go-to-hell” in an Esquire article about country club communities and the preps that inhabit them. Wolfe explained that the pants were prevalent throughout these regions, as men paired them with their traditional navy blazers and OCBD’s making the pants nearly impossible to miss. Around the same time that Wolfe came out with his article larger menswear companies such as Brooks Brothers, J. Press, and Ralph Lauren began producing their versions of the pants, making the pants a cornerstone in any traddy summer wardrobe. Nowadays, go-to-hell pants are available in everything from Nantucket Red to Forest Green as well as patterns such as floral and embroidered critters.
With warmer weather comes the constant temptation to skip town and get away for a bit. While spring is generally a pleasant season, the occasional frigid day or sweltering night can arise and complicate things. Here are two kits to help simplify packing for a quick spring trip – one kit for the daytime and one for the night.
Boglioli Unstructured Cotton Canvas Blazer - Gitman Brothers Vintage Oxford Shirt - Epaulet Irish Linen Walt Trousers - Stubbs & Wootton Nautigram Navy Slippers - Ovadia & Sons Vintage Pocket Square - Vintage Omega Stainless Steel Seamaster Watch
Long before their association to popped collars and giant horses, the polo shirt was created to solve a problem on the tennis court. The traditional tennis outfit of the nineteenth century included a button up long sleeve shirt, flannel trousers, and a tie. While this outfit embodied the sophistication of tennis it was also far too rigid for the players and consistently hindered their abilities. Frenchman Rene Lacoste, one of the finest players of the 1920′s recognized the pitfalls of this outfit and set out to produce a shirt that was more tailored toward the player. What Lacoste came up with was the tennis shirt, a short sleeve shirt that meet the needs of the player – high cuffed sleeves kept the shirt from interfering with play, a loose pique cotton weave and multibutton placket kept the shirt breathable, and an elongated tail prevented it from coming untucked during play. Lacoste debuted the tennis shirt at the 1926 U.S. Open, a tournament he subsequently went on to win, and from then on both the shirt and Lacoste continued to gain notoriety. When Lacoste retired in 1933 he partnered with his friend Andre Gillier, to found the Lacoste brand and mass produce the tennis shirt.
Simultaneously, polo players were faced with a similar problem, as their uniforms included a heavy long sleeve oxford that was far too uncomfortable to play in. Polo players soon took note of the advantages of Lacoste’s shirts on the tennis court and started to adopt the shirts for their own game. As tennis shirts became popular amongst polo players they began to sew emblems of a man playing polo onto the new shirts, which became dubbed the “polo shirt.” The name and the shirts disseminated rapidly and before too long polo shirts found a place off the field as a comfortable yet refined shirt, thanks largely to their origins in such high society sports.
With these connotations in mind, in the 1970′s Ralph Lauren decided to incorporate the shirts into his early Polo collections, which helped to establish the polo as everyday attire. Throughout the years the elite aesthetic that polo shirts once had has all but worn away entirely. Modernly, most polo shirts appeal to a less subtle audience and are often produced in various absurd pastel colors with distastefully large emblems. Yet, this should not detract from the advantages that polo shirts provide during warmer situations. The key to picking the right polo is to stay true to the original design and just keep it simple. Toned down colors and little to no emblem make for a reserved and practical look that could replace an oxford during spring.
The Ancient Egyptians lived and died in linen. In the intense heat of the Sahara desert, linen was the only material that could provide some relief from the staggering temperatures, leading the ancient Egyptians to wear strictly garments made from white linen. The Egyptians also used linen for mummification as the fabric provided protection from outside elements, helping to preserve the body.
It is these same characteristics of linen that made it such an important fabric to the Egyptians that also make it so desirable during warmer months. Linen is produced through a rigorous process that begins by harvesting raw flax, which then goes through several laborious steps that break the flax down to it’s fibers, from which linen is created. The resulting textile is a material that is unique in it’s durability and it’s breathability. When woven together the natural fibers of flax produce a sturdy fabric with a smooth texture. The feel of linen is what makes it such a vital warm weather fabric as linen actually has a cooling effect on the wearer caused by it’s relaxed weave and the material’s resilience against perspiration. Here are some linen based garments for the coming months:
As a strictly English speaker, trying to decipher international menswear magazines can be next to impossible, requiring me to rely heavily on the images for interpretation. Monsieur Magazine takes this to another level with their hand drawn cover artwork. The covers reflect whatever the magazine is covering in that issue, from French Dandyism, to American prep, to English tailoring. Through their details and colors, Monsieur’s covers articulate scenes and stories in and of themselves, captivating any audience regardless if they speak French or not. The magazine itself is actually the oldest menswear magazine still in circulation today, predating both GQ and Esquire by over a decade. Jacques Hébertot and Paul Poiret first published Monsieur in 1920 as a guide for men on everything from menswear, to travel, to food. Today, Monsieur adheres to the same idea it was founded upon, keeping up with trends and covering them through their words and artistic covers.
French director Jean-Luc Godard’s 1960 film Breathless tells the simple tale of Michel (played by Jean-Paul Belmondo) a fugitive from the law, trying to convince Patricia (played by Jean Seberg) to run away with him. With such a straight forward plot, the other elements of the film take on great importance. Breathless is widely known as a groundbreaking technical film because of the way it was shot and Godard’s editing style, but the film is also equally as remarkable from a stylistic standpoint. Michel’s wardrobe is far from polished, with loose fitting suits and white athletic socks, his outfits indicate that Michel is not the high class man that he attempts to masquerade as. The clothes also provide a nice glimpse into French style from that period, including high button stances, broad shouldered sportcoats and short ties. Most interestingly, while Michel’s clothes are imperfect in so many ways, it is the way in which he wears them that makes his character. Belmondo has admitted that he modeled the character of Michel after Humphrey Bogart and it is this collected and poised attitude that makes Michel look so cool. His suit might be too large, his hat may look beat up and crooked, but Michel carries himself in a way that makes everything work. No matter how his clothes look throughout the film, behind his black sunglasses, ever present cigarette and composed demeanor Michel always appears as if everything is exactly how he meant it to be.
In a country not usually known for it’s footwear, Paraboot stands out as one of the finest French shoe manufacturers. Remy-Alexis Richard, the founder of Paraboot, began creating footwear in 1908 with the intention of developing an “indestructible shoe.” In 1926 Richard came to America and realized that American’s had begun to wear shoes made from a material that Richard had never seen before, rubber. Richard traced the material back to the Amazon, where he then brought it through the Para sea port (the source of the brand’s name, Para-Boot) before arriving in France. The merits of rubber were instantly recognized by Richard and Paraboot began producing handcrafted shoes in nearly every style on top of a durable rubber sole. For over a century, Paraboot has remained a family owned business (Remy-Alexis’ grandson Michael still runs the company today) and has adhered to the same goal of producing sturdy, quality footwear.
I purchased my pair of Paraboot beef rolled penny loafers from C.H.C.M. right around the start of this year, and after wearing them nearly every other day for the past few months I can definitely say that Richard’s aim of producing an indestructible shoe has been accomplished. The rubber sole is still as complete as the day I bought the shoes without any real signs of wear. The balance between the rubber sole and the leather upper give the loafers a unique aesthetic as a formal shoe with the durability of a sneaker. As we enter into warmer months an everyday slip on that can be worn both casually and dressed up becomes an essential, and Paraboot’s loafer certainly lives up to that.
Despite spending most of his time behind the camera capturing other people, Gordon Parks’ personal style is certainly worth remembering. Parks was a true renaissance man of the mid twentieth century, working as a photographer, director, writer, and musician. During this period Parks traveled throughout the country photographing everyone from the rural poor to celebrities, documenting the many different stories and faces of American life. Later in his career Parks began directing films, most notably Shaft, the 1971 blaxploitation film that embodied urban cool. Through his work, Parks captured how an individual’s appearance can tell so much about them. Parks’ personal style conveyed a sense of relaxed complexity that reflected his own personality. Parks often wore thick turtlenecks with houndstooth blazers and faded button downs with golden button double breasted blazers, embodying his comfortably formal style. Parks’ trademark pipe, distinct patterns, and well worn pieces expressed his distinct personality through his wardrobe.