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Silk and cotton perhaps, rather than wool

23 July 2010
On the beach with the sons of riches

Esquire, June 1935: “When the gilded playboys turn to bronze under the winter sun, that’s when summer’s beach fashions are born.

For example, these things which were prime at Nassau are now par for Nantucket and points thereabout. The seated figure shows a silk and wool beach shirt, worn with a pair of blue sailcloth beach shorts, with a pair of knitted trunks underneath. Note the twine belt and the white canvas espadrilles.

The standing figure wears what is almost a resort uniform, consisting of the perennial navy blue polo shirt, grey flannel slacks and black and white sports shoes. A white silk handkerchief is worn loosely knotted at the neck. A blue beret completes the kit. In the foreground you will notice a light-weight wool beach shirt and a pair of twine beach sandals with leather soles and heels. These, of course, are shown as alternative choices.”

Impossible to imagine someone wearing a wool and silk T-shirt these days. But silk as an addition to linen or cotton should not be underestimated. It adds a nice handle and a coolness to the cloth.

Oh, and how does the narrator know the seated figure is wearing knitted trunks underneath his shorts? The tone of all the commentaries in Esquire implies that the narrator is seeing these images for the first time, without any extra information. Am I missing something in the texture of the guy’s rump?