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Making a Man’s Shirt – a la Coop

Once upon a time, I saw a PR photo of Gary Cooper (“Coop”) which struck me strongly in terms of how a) fashionable he was for the period and b) how soft the collar on his shirt looked in comparison to what we are used to today. Now, for the time, unless an actor was being photographed in movie costume as a ‘movie still’ shot for magazines, newspapers and advertising or for the movie posters, that actor was being photographed in street or evening clothing as part of the studio PR campaigns (as you recall, they were under contract to movie studios and were seen as assets to be used to promote the studio itself as well as promote themselves to build a fan base). As a matter of fact, many actors (Cooper included) were used in magazine editorial and in photo advertisements (I think Cooper did advertising not only for Knox Hats but also for a high end men’s shirt company as well). So, the ‘formality’ of the dress (which as I recall was a tweed sport coat, gingham shirt and knit tie, an outfit that would have been seen as ‘high end country house’ clothing at the time. He was probably also wearing wool flannel slacks and suede shoes as well) was really part and parcel of the shot. (more…)

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