Summer Style Classics: Josh Grubb
Summer style is all about the classics. Well clothing in general is all about classics, but especially summer. For some reason, there are certain items that come to mind whenever the word “summer” is spoken. Wayfarers, Breton stripes, chinos, desert boots, Schwinn bicycles. I created this post with this idea in mind, trying to gather some of the most popular and timeless summer staples into one coherent outfit, with a brief look at the history of each piece. I hooked up with my friend Josh from the Out on an Adventure series to help me with the post. In many ways this is classic summer. I hope you’ll agree.
Ray-Ban has been producing sunglasses since 1936, but it wasn’t until 1952 that Wayfarers appeared on the market. They really hit their peak popularity in the 1960s, adorned by icons like John F. Kennedy, Bob Dylan, Andy Warhol, Audrey Hepburn, and others. Perhaps the reason why Wayfarers have become such a summer staple is because of JFK and the rest of his family. How many photos have you seen of Kennedy on a boat or on the beach somewhere sporting a polo and a pair of Wayfarers? Countless. Now imagine living in the 1960’s when he was the most beloved man in America. He and other countless icons helped pioneer the frames that would become an American staple.
Easily recognizable as a summer and sailing staple, Breton stripes have perhaps the most illustrious history of any item being featured in this post. The Breton stripe, or the nautical stripe, dates back to 1858. Declared into existence by the March 27, 1858 Act of France, the Breton stripe started off as a uniform for the French Navy. The stripes were said to be easily recognizable underwater, you know, for saving drowning sailors and such. Like many other fashion staples, it was quickly re-apportioned by non-military personnel for personal use. Famous seafarers and other icons have been captured sporting the Breton stripe over the years. Coco Chanel was inspired by it upon her visit to France. Andy Warhol, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Cobain, and Audrey Hepburn, are all among the names that have donned the famous stripes.
andy warhol knew how to do it. breton stripes AND wayfarers
The ultimate summer pants for those that want to take a break from jeans, chinos are made from 100% cotton, with a nice twill weaving.
They were originally military attire, until soldiers from the Spanish-American War brought back their khaki trousers. Slowly, they seeped into civilian wear. Now you’ll hardly find a stylish guy in the summer that doesn’t own a pair of chinos. The genius thing is that they’re pants that can be adorned in the summer without dying of a heat stroke. Denim, especially raw denim, can be quite burdensome in the warmer months. Perfect for the self-declared chicken-legged folks like Nico that seek to avoid shorts at any cost.
Clarks Desert Boots
Finally the desert boots. Although they were invented in 1947, it seems in recent years that desert boots have witnessed a bit of a resurgence in the fashion community. And of course, there is one name that is synonymous with desert boots, Clarks. And for good reason, for Clarks are the original desert boots. Many will tell you they still do it best.
Like both Breton stripes and chinos, desert boots have their origins in the military. (Starting to notice a trend here? So many fashion pieces have origins in the military. On top of all of the aforementioned, so do cargo, trench coats, aviators. The list goes on.) Desert boots were invented by shoe manufacturer Nathan Clark, the great-grandson of the founder of the British Clarks shoe company. Ask yourself. If the great-grandson of the founder of Clarks created this shoe in 1947, how old is the company? It was founded in 1825 apparently, nearly 200 years. After serving a few terms in the British Royal Army, Nathan Clark returned home with the inspiration for what would become perhaps the most famous boot of all time. Steve McQueen was a big fan of them. You should be too.
Nathan Clark actually passed away just a few weeks ago, at age 94. The Guardian ran a very informative tribute to him shortly after.
I realize that they’re not a fashion piece per se, but Schwinn bikes are definitely classic, and the Varsity Green is without doubt stylish.
Although Schwinn is a German company, they spent most of the latter half of the 20th century as the pre-eminent bicycle manufacturer in the U.S. It was their Stingray that originally made bicycles popular in the U.S. After they went on to produce the Varsity and other bicycles that were widely bought in the 60’s and 70’s. I found this really interesting Schwinn bicycle catalog from 1972. Notice many variations of the Varsity, including the Varsity Green, are featured in the catalog. This leads me to assume that the particular bike in this post was produced sometime in the 70’s. Pretty sick.
I always find it cool and interesting to find out the history behind popular and timeless fashion staples. One thing I notice quite often is the re-apportionment of style pieces from their original practical purposes. That’s the amazing thing though. Being able to take the aesthetic from a certain item, and just run with it, for beauty’s sake.