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Dressed to impress.

Posted by Big John on March 7, 2007

As a young man I was very fashion conscious and like many of my contemporaries with our working-class traditions of competitive dressing, I mostly copied what the ‘stars’ of the time were wearing. m-r-1958.jpgIf Frank Sinatra wore a suit with narrow lapels and three buttons, I had to have one. If Perry Como sported a handkerchief in his breast pocket folded in a certain way, so did I, and if Dean Martin’s shirt had a button down collar, so did mine.

At a time when a number of local lads favoured the ‘Teddy Boy’ look, I preferred the ‘sharp’ Italian and transatlantic styles not normally available at your traditional British ‘gent’s outfitters’. This meant that I used to spend much of my time and hard earned wages in the West End stores were I could buy such items as ‘Arrow’ shirts from the USA and uncomfortable shoes imported from Milan. I even had suits ‘made to measure’ so that the smallest detail was just right.

Although I was dressed in the latest ‘gear’ from shops which were all the rage with young Londoners at the time and which, I guess, where the nearest thing to ‘designer’ outlets back then: unlike today, the one thing that I never did was ..  

…     to wear the labels on the outside !

… and speaking of designer labels, I saw a picture in the paper this week of a very ordinary looking handbag covered in logos and priced at £14,000 ($24,000).

How the hell can a bloody handbag cost more than three times the basic annual state pension for a single person in this country ?

…    I wonder if Cherie Blair has one ?


10 Responses to “Dressed to impress.”

  1. Jackshian said

    I bought my wedding suit from a tailor called ‘Sunshine’ in Peckham Rye circa 1971 .. it cost me 40 guineas and was a nice three piece in dark blue mohair.
    It looked very smart but the photos have always given my sons a good laugh.

    They go out wearing jeans and other designer tat, looking like a load of scruffs, and it only costs them about £500 a time to look like they do.

    “Its called style Dad, you wouldn’t understand” they tell me .. they’re right, I don’t.

  2. Betty said

    Woo-Woo, John! I wouldn’t have taken you for a clothes horse. Lookin’ mighty spiffy, there.

  3. Ginnie said

    You were pretty “spiffy” John. A large percentage of the world just seems to gobble up whatever the advertisers tell them to buy. I’m proud of my two sons who wouldn’t be caught dead in labeled clothes…they are snobs on the flip side (maybe not too stylish, but at least not freely advertising wherever they go.)

  4. ron lyre said

    Ah…those were the days. Slightly later than you I think, I used to pay £1 a week for the priv of owning three made to measure suits, 1 black mohair, 1 herringbone, a 1 I can’t remember. I also had four pairs of different coloured Levis (white, sky blue, red, blue) and numerous Ben Shermans (button down)

  5. Harry (a friend of Jackshian - he hasn't got many) said

    My daughter once paid £80 for a light blue sweatshirt with the large letters YSL in yellow on the front. The letters were the initials of the designer Yves Saint Laurent. When I asked her if she really wanted, or liked, a light blue sweatshirt with yellow letters on the front she defended her choice by saying “you don’t understand fashion dad”.
    The ‘fashion’ seems to be “Look, I’m wearing a sweater that cost £80, aren’t I clever”.
    The fact that to get this message across means she has to wear something so crappy seems lost on her.”Look, I’m wearing a sweater that cost £80, because I’m stupid and gullible”. seems much more apt

    Like the blog Big John – I’ve been reading some of your other posts and I see we are kindred spirits as I was born in Acre Lane Brixton in 1946 when it was still good to live there (before the invasion).

  6. Adam said

    That’s wonderful. I can’t get enough old pics.

  7. Red Baron said

    Right, new to this WordPress game and haven’t figured it out yet. Haven’t figured out how to get the blogroll, and links etc. etc. to appear in the sidebar.

    Anyway I will be porting everything I can across in due course.

  8. Terri said

    Well, aren’t you the Dapper Dan….very stylish.
    I agree on the insane prices of women’s handbags. And for what? Simply to sport a designer name? Never made sense to me. I can think of a million other things “I” would rather spend my money on!

  9. Big John said

    Welcome Ron and Harry, and not so much of the ‘old’ Adam 🙂
    I had a good mate who lived in Acre Lane Harry. I was last there during the Brixton riots. I didn’t hang around.

  10. Libertine said

    I have to admit I don’t even OWN a suit, off the rack or custom tailored. I’m not at all a clothes horse…I’m happy in a tshirt, blue jeans, black leather jacket and sneakers. Well, the jacket and the shoes have to be real leather….none of this fakey “pleather” crap.

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