Gentlemen, look to your legs – fashion archive, 1960

Harrogate. Tuesday
In the curiously arch style of many such documents, the press handout at the National Association of Outfitters’ convention, which opened here today, asks: ”Have you studied the shape of your calf lately?”

“No, not now,” the handout twitters hastily, “but take a critical look next time you get a chance, just in case.”

The “just in case” refers to the probability (for men only, of course), that “once again in our history a shapely leg and thigh might become an asset.” Trouser legs, says the handout, are already so narrow “that the shape of the calf is commonly seen and used as part of the line of the suit – a thing which tailors tried to avoid for many, many years.”

Smitten calf and thigh by the trouser-makers, one turns to the jackets in the exhibition hall. And there, aglow with pride, stands Mr Herbert Fink beside his own design – a kid leather dinner jacket “sprayed all over with genuine 18 carat gold.” It is called “The Liberace.” “I don’t suppose,” said Mr Fink, “ that more than a dozen men in the world would wear it.” The retail price is expected to be about 34 guineas.

Tapering crowns

Mr Fink is fresh from his triumph at a show in Paris where his woman’s cocktail dress was voted the best dress in the show. It was made of white kid leather sprayed with real crushed mother of pearl. “Oh, it was glorious,” Mr Fink enthused. “When caught by the light it flashed in wonderful colours, green and so on.”

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To return to the handout. “Adventurous younger men, having extended their winkle-picker shoes as far as is safe or convenient, will now wear taller and tapering crowns to their hats.” The rest of us “will scoff in disbelief – only to find in a few months that most of us are wearing slightly more conservative versions showing the same influence.”

Mr Harry Ellis, a lively mind in the tailoring trade, is showing his invention of a dinner jacket which can be transformed in seconds from plain black to white tuxedo, just by turning it inside out. There is no danger here, apparently, of the wearer being regarded as a bit of a sartorial bounder, for the handout says comfortingly: “Tailoring craftsmanship ensures that there are no telltale rolling edges to reveal a man’s two-tone secret.”

Mr Percy Doughty, a director of a Manchester shirt company, has been a little bewildered by the success of one of his shirts bearing the name of Adam Faith, a teenagers’ singing idol. “Perhaps I’m too old,” he said (he is 72), “but I’d never heard of the fellow. They showed me a photograph of Adam Faith and told me that girls yelled when they saw him. I just opened the office door and showed his photograph to the girls. They cried: ‘Ooh! Can we have that photo, Mr Doughty?’”

Mr Percy Doughty has yet to attend a performance by Mr Adam Faith.

Gentlemen, look to your legs.

Gentlemen, look to your legs. Photograph: The Guardian, 28 September 1960.


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