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How style commentary used to be

15 October 2010

It may look pink but it’s actually red

Esquire, August 1935: “We mean, of course, the shirt, which is of very light-weight batiste, with a tab collar to match. Oh, you want us to continue the success story from the previous page? How do we get these fashions? We have observers, trained almost from birth, who practically commute to England where they haunt the very best places and ignore all but the very best people, slyly keeping statistics on their cuffs, and when something happens, like a red shirt, they tell us about it, briefly and archly by cable, and then we make it sound convincing.

Then there is laughter everywhere west of Pocatello. Then for a while nothing happens. Then, after the incident has had time to be forgotten, people in, say, Pocatello, buy new fashions and wonder why.

The tie is black foulard with white polka dots. The suit is grey flannel. The hat band is black. The shoes are plain black calf. There is no news at all – except the red shirt.”

This is such a wonderful example of the tone Esquire used to reach with its commentaries on current fashions. Few journalists today would have such confidence in colour combinations, unless they had been shoved at them off a catwalk. Not sure I’ll be wearing a red shirt, but it reminds me to get a batiste in blue.