I Long For a Return of the 'Cary Grant Style’
Bring Back Classy Suits and Fedoras for Men
Unless you’ve watched the TV Series “Mad Men”, you may not realize men used to dress so much more stylishly (and in my opinion, more attractively). The last time I was out about town, the only man I saw wearing a hat was a yellow baseball hat, turned the wrong way. Instead of being dressed up, he had a t-shirt with large letters that said, “Got Milk?” His look was completed with a gaudy chain and sloppy jeans that were three sizes too big; along with high-top tennis shoes in multiple colors. Both his hat and his sneakers looked like they would glow in the dark. Sexy? NOT! Oh, how I long for the day before t-shirts that are walking billboards; when men had class and style! If I could have one fashion wish, iit would be to bring back classy suits and Fedoras for men.
One of the best-dressed men I’ve ever seen, was Cary Grant. I grew up watching him in the movies; and when someone says the words “gentleman, sexy, or classy”, a picture of Cary Grant flashes into my mind. Despite a very rough childhood (see video further down for details), he became a movie star—and a fashion icon.
At a young age, Cary Grant admired the way soldiers always looked sharp in their uniforms, and decided when he was a young adult, to make an effort himself to always look sharp. He discovered a well-fitting tailored suit over a crisp white shirt was all it took. He didn’t even wear a belt with most of his suits, but preferred side-tabs! A watch was usually his only jewelry. The other necessary accessory was neckwear. He almost always wore some sort of neck covering—a nice-looking tie, scarf, or neckerchief because he was self-conscious about his large neck size (although I certainly never noticed). He preferred shirts with very white collars, in hope it would make his neck look smaller.
What is the Cary Grant Style?
Sure, Cary Grant had a natural charm and a certain grace; but what made him such a fashion icon, was the way he dressed. Cary Grant was known for having a stylish demeanor. His hair was always coiffed, his shoes were always impeccably polished. and his attire could only be described as flawlessly tailored and fit for a gentleman. Yet, they were tasteful… His clothes never overshadowed him. He wore the clothes, the clothes never wore him, if you know what I mean.
Most often you would find Cary Grant in a dark wool suit. Extra long vents were a necessity for him, to allow maximum movement. Although he didn’t ALWAYS wear hats in his movies or private life, I feel he was the most attractive, when he did.
Four Style Tips for Men, from Cary Grant:
1) Wear a Confident Attitude: “Wear, not only your clothes, but yourself, well, with confidence,” Cary Grant wrote.
2) Keep it simple: Dark solid suits with white shirts and dark ties are the way to go. Cary Grant’s favorite was a dark blue suit, but he also occasionally wore gray. Impeccably polished dark shoes were the finishing touch.
3) Buy the best quality you can afford: Quality shows.
4) Look for higher armholes: A deep armhole is popular with many manufacturers because each coat fits a wider range of customers. So, you might have to get the armholes tailored, for your suit to look best on you.
Besides suits, I really miss the day when men never went anywhere without first grabbing their hat; it was a manly heritage. The way they would cock their Fedora was so sexy! As Frank Sinatra said it: “Cock your hat angles are attitudes!” You could usually tell a man’s mood and demeanor by the way he tilted his hat. For instance:
--Accessible/Open—Hat worn pushed back
--Mysterious/Intimidating—Hat worn tilted over eyes
--All-Business—Hat tilted up 1 inch from completely straight
From the 1940s to the early 1960s, hardly any men would leave their homes without wearing a suit and a hat, no matter where they were headed. So, why, by the early 1970s, did men’s suits with hats go away in every-day life—and by the 1990s in most businesses? There were really four different reasons:
1) Vehicles—eventually with less head-room: We have to remember that as well as looking good, hats used to serve a practical purpose—to keep your head warm and keep the rain and snow off. People in town used to either walk or ride in open carriages when they wanted to get anywhere. When cars were invented, they eventually became enclosed with less and less headroom. So, men had to take off their hats when they entered a vehicle. Perhaps that caused them to ultimately quit wearing their hats altogether. While it’s true Fedoras serve more of a decorative function today, rather than a practical usage, what is wrong with that? After all, collars and ties are purely decorative… we don’t really NEED them on men’s shirts—but they sure do look good! Did you know that cabs in the United Kingdom were built higher, to accommodate hats?
2) Influence of Celebrities/Politicians: Although President John F. Kennedy wore a hat to his inauguration, he took it off. It influenced the nation when they saw photos of him in the newspaper or clips of him on TV at various outdoor functions, without a hat. Despite being shocking at first, it soon started a more casual fashion trend. Why do we put celebrities and politicians up on such pedestals?
3) The Spread of "Casual Fridays" at Work: "Casual Fridays: were a curse for a classy, well-dressed workplace. It all started from a guy in Hawaii, Bill Foster, who wanted to sell more of his "Aloha Shirts”. So, he gave away two shirts to every politicians, encouraging them to let their workers wear them on “Aloha Fridays”. Hewlitt-Packard spread it to the San Francisco, California area, calling it “Blue Sky Days”. Casual wear on Fridays soon spread to the entire Silicon Valley businesses—and all the mainland states. To sell more khaki pants, Rick Miller of Dockers even came up with a “Guide To Casual Business Wear” instructional pamphlet. It wasn’t long until the casual work-wear trend spread across the globe. Unfortunately, it didn’t take long for it to go beyond just Friday. Businesses everywhere were dressing down for the entire work-week, rather than dressing up. Eventually, it spread outside of work. Is that why we ended up with t-shirts that are walking billboards rather than sexy style and class?
4) Less Emphasis on Manners: Manners used to be stressed and taught at home and in school, and expected in the workplace. After the dress code went casual, isn’t it sad that the emphasis on manners went downhill, too? Here are some of the “Hat Manners” that we never see anymore:
--It was good manners for a man to remove his hat upon entering an elevator, restaurant, or someone’s home. And you never EVER wore your hat during a meal.
--When running into a friend or acquaintance, it was customary for a man to touch the brim of his hat.
--However, if a man was meeting a female friend or acquaintance, it was good manners to honor her by raising his hat by the crown. (Another time they would raise their hat was for the National Anthem or a funeral procession. In those cases, a man would not only raise his hats, but also place it over his heart.)
But, back to my fashion comeback desires… Hats and suits can give men a feeling of effortless cool and manly confidence. I hope the Fedoras and classy suits make a comeback. Wouldn't the young men of today have fun learning to angle and tilt their hat to convey different attitudes? As for the women of today, once we got used to seeing our guys all sexy and impeccably dressed, I’m sure most of us would appreciate it, too. Please bring back classy suits and Fedoras for men… I long for a return of the ‘Cary Grant style’!
(All photos were thankfully obtained from the Associated Press aka AP and the video is from The Gentleman's Gazette, with appreciation.)