Icons Of Classic American Style II
This article continues my earlier collection of American men of style by adding a few who weren’t quite so famous or prominent, but who still embodied great American style in the twentieth century (and beyond). Enjoy! [photos from CORBIS]
Fred MacMurray – As good as any leading man in Hollywood, MacMurray always seemed to be the first choice for supporting actor. It was Billy Wilder who gave him the chance to be as good as anyone in the biz; and it was playing the father of three sons on television that made him a household name. In many ways his sense of style resembled Jimmy Stewart’s, but unlike Stewart he seemed to adapt better with the times and never looked dated in his later years.
Angier Biddle Duke – His name doesn’t stick in the public’s memory, but check out what he did: Ambassador to El Salvador, Denmark, Spain and Morocco; chief of protocol under Truman, Kennedy, and Johnson; head of several civilian organizations and charities. Despite choosing his parents well, he started along a rough road (suspended prison sentence and driving license revoked in New York state) but the war gave him the opportunity to serve his country and he took it. Red sailing pants and single-breasted blazers are extremely American.
Ahmet Ertegun – He didn’t start out American, but he came to personify the American Dream and all its opportunities for achievement. By the end of his life, he had accumulated probably the largest and most sophisticated wardrobe in the United States—this man loved clothing and shoes, and he had the money to indulge himself. Fortunately for the rest of us, he also had the taste to do it in a classic, timeless way.
Paul Bremer – Put aside his messy and controversial year as the point man in Iraq (Children Playing Adults?), and you have a man who introduced Baghdad to Brooks Brothers—with style. Too safe? Maybe. But you wouldn’t go wrong if you dressed like him wherever you go. Just leave the silly boots at home.
Alan Flusser – Flusser is a man whose shadow looms large over the world of American men’s style, but whose contribution is hard to pin down. Did he make his mark as a designer? or as a retailer? or as an historian? He’s certainly a minor celebrity among American men who care about looking good, but his greatest influence may be as the man who single-handedly revived interest in the “drape suit” in the late twentieth century. The jury’s still out on that one, but no one questions the depth of his knowledge, the sharpness of his eye, and the success of his books.