I was thumbing through Steps in Time…Fred Astaire’s rather bland autobiography and did run across a couple of sartorial nuggets. Fred and his sister Adele made their first trip to England in the early spring of 1923 aboard the Aquitania. Certainly, the performing duo was far from wealthy at this time and Fred would turn a youthful twenty-four in May. But youth and what must have been less than unlimited funds didn’t keep Astaire on the sartorial sidelines. I remember my first walk on Savile Row and Jermyn Street...but as I've shared before...and unlike Astaire...I was too intimidated to walk into A&S.
“I went on a clothes buying binge on Savile Row, mostly at Anderson and Sheppard’s. It was difficult not to buy one of every cloth that was shown me, especially the vicunas. They never wore out. I outgrew most of them.”
“It was Hawes and Curtis and Beale and Inman for shirts and such."
“I’d get lost for days in the Burlington Arcade.”
Astaire also mentions his admiration for a uniquely cut white waistcoat worn by his new acquaintance, the Prince of Wales. Upon learning that it was made by Hawes and Curtis, Astaire called on them to make an identical version for himself; whereupon he was told that “it won’t be possible Sir.”
And finally, Astaire recalls feeling quite complimented after actor Adolphe Menjou asked him who made the tails he performed in one evening. I reckon the young Astaire had no idea that in not too many years to come, he would run sartorial circles around the over studied, too well contrived, stiffly formal Menjou. Astaire was Menjou’s swathed antithesis.
And if you’d fancy a well curated source for sartorial Astaire, I’d recommend G. Bruce Boyer’s Fred Astaire Style.
Onward, ADG II