Friday, July 15, 2011
BAD FASHION OF THE PAST: Maize/Gold Men's Dress Shirts
There is one fashion trend of the past that I hope doesn't return. Nothing major, just a color of mens shirts. I feel it was something that just snuck in and had the staying power to become a major part of my childhood. It is a sometimes referred to as "maize" or "gold." They were at their peek of popularity from 1967 - 1976. They were a staple of most men's wardrobes, usually worn with a brown double-knit suit. My father had one of these shirts, my uncles had them, the men at church had them and KYTV's Bill Williams, Fred Miller and Ned Reynolds wore them under there KY3 blazers.
This was not just an Ozarks thing. You could find these on the newsmen on all three of the major networks. You saw them on the middle-age husband nervously laughing in the Smothers Brothers audience. You saw them on men in the audience of Ed Sullivan, Johnny Cash, Tom Jones and Carol Burnett. They were worn by old men dancing with their wives on the Lawrence Welk Show. They were worn by Karen & Richard Carpenter's Sunday school teacher on This Is You Life. They were worn by Buck Owens on Hee Haw and Bill Gaither on a Sunday morning religious program. They were worn by both Johnny Carson and Ed McMahon on the Tonight Show and Flip Wilson wore them on his show. They were worn by Mike Brady in his pre-permed hair days. They were worn by everyone on My Three Sons except Uncle Charley. They were worn by Mannix under his plad jackets. They were worn by that chain-smoking, Humphrey Bogart-dopalganger, lawyer on Dark Shadows (Can't remember that character's name-it is the same actor played the witch hunter Reverend Trask in the 1700-1800 story lines). They were worn by male contestants on Match Game, the Price is Right and other game shows of the day. They were worn by crooks on Ironside and The Mod Squad.
It was international too. Both Stuart Sullivan and Jason King on Department S wore maize-gold shits them, as did the poor, unfortunate London residents attacked by aliens on Doctor Who wore the maize-gold shirt. This trend even defied the Iron Curtain as evidenced by the famous You Tube clip of Russian crooner Edward Khil, the Trololo Guy. I mentioned many TV reference for one simple reason. It was through these old TV shows, especially the video tapped programs, and old photographs that we can see that THESE SHIRTS ARE BUTT UGLY!!!
Photographs, film and video have not been kind to the memory of this Vietnam era fashion statement of the Silent Generation. Thanks to DVD and various cable outlets showing these various programs, we can see this. The color can best be described as an old expired jar of mustard or the bowel movement of seven month old baby. Granted, this color did not look as bad as house paint or on household appliances, but it is rather jarring in the clothing world. Part of the problem could be it is a garish pastel yet it is drab and dull. As I mentioned they seem to look even worse in photographs and on video. They make the person wearing it (usually a balding man in horn-rimmed eyeglasses) stick out like a sore thumb. They could be standing next to an early 70s TV babe like Karen Valentine, Peggy Lipton or Maureen McCormick, yet the first thing you think when you see the photo is, "Where did that guy get that ugly shirt?"
Sometime in the mid-70s, this color left the fashion world to stay in the real of house paint, appliance colors and school buses. Maybe men began to see what these shirts looked like on them, especially when they were stupid enough to wear them with a green sport coat. The maize-gold shirt makes the wearer look hopelessly nerdy. Here is hope that the maize-gold shirt never comes back in style.