Aside from a short interview with Duke Ellington, the true curiosity of this program is that it sheds some light on Mens fashion during the Post War years of the 1940s. Listening to this from the aspect of 2019, 1947 sounds more than another time, it sounds from another galaxy.
Lest we think Mens fashion during this period of time was the stuff of myth, confined mostly to Hollywood – we dressed differently; a LOT differently. And even though there are aspects of this program that may seem quaint and extremely dated, not only in the presentation but also the portrayals, especially of women, which you just can’t get around when you’re talking about history, it represents an aspect of who we were – and that how we (both men and women) dress now is the complete opposite of how we dressed them.
But wasn’t it expensive to keep up the kind of wardrobe the “Well Dressed Man of Esquire” aspired to? Probably not, if you compare clothing prices of 1947 to those of the average chain clothing store of 2019 it’s about the same, believe it or not. Only dressing to the qualifications and styles of 1947 in 2019 would cost a bundle now – much of the clothing material simply doesn’t exist anymore, at least not on a mass ready-to-wear scale.
Also, Esquire was probably one of the most popular Men’s magazines since the 1930’s, surpassed in the strictly fashion department by Gentlemen’s Quarterly, which began life in 1931 where Esquire hit the stands in 1933. Unlike GQ, Esquire’s other big attraction was the Pinup, characterized by the artistic work of Alberto Vargas. Lots of suggestion, but no nudity – that was the norm at the time. Noting Gynecological; all allusion.
So about this show: It was, in essence a weekly fifteen minute advertisement for Esquire Magazine which featured notable personalities of the day and songs that were on the charts. The organ accompaniment is typical for radio at the time – musicians cost and organs cost very little. But the overall effect of organ interludes and introductions can be cringeworthy if you aren’t familiar with it.
But suffice to say, this is a slice of what our Popular Culture was like in the days after World War 2. It’s not meant to be viewed as a “good old days’ example, but rather a “this is who we were” slice of everyday life.
Fashions have certainly changed over the years – and this gives you an idea of what kind of clothing you might be wearing if you lived in 1947 and not in 2019.
Have a listen and see what you think. Esquire Fashion Parade, first broadcast on March 10, 1947.