My Car Quest

January 19, 2022

Style: Right and Proper Gentleman’s Attire

by Wallace Wyss –

At one time I was an ad copywriter. We copywriters labored to give cars an image so that you could buy the car and get the image along with it. But I was, at the time, oblivious to the attire.

Now flash forward, oh, half a century, I don’t have the cars (gone are the Gullwings, the 356D, the GTC/4) but I can still entertain sporting the clothing of a sports car aficionado. I have one particular image in mind as a “model”–from an ad naturally, even though when I think about it, the car being advertised wasn’t really a car you associate with sports cars. No, it was some Detroit behemoth, an early ’70s Pontiac Grand Prix, but certainly John Z. DeLorean, head of Pontiac during its muscle car era, cut the image of the gentleman racer.

autoartreview-van-fritz-grand-prix-02

I even think the guy in the Pontiac ad, portrayed in a painting by the famed duo of illustrators, Van & Fitz, looks a little suspect like he’s thinking: “Can I get out of town before they find out there’s no cash to back that check I wrote?”

Scottish Harris tweed hat

But never mind, it is fall once again (at least in Los Angeles) and I have assembled a sort of ersatz British gentleman’s wardrobe for those wintertime car shows. I’d like to hear comments on what folks think is appropriate. I would prefer the items be from The Olde Sode but, hey, the price difference between being of that origin and China is enormous. Here’s what I deem a minimum for exercising the ol’ steed “at full chat in top cog.:

— The Poor Boy Hat. Sometimes called “the puffer,” and sometimes the “flat cap.” I prefer a tweed but not a pattern screaming for attention compared to the sports jacket. It is an accessory to the jacket, not the other way around.

— A turtleneck. Or if it looks like it’ll warm up, a faux turtleneck that can be removed to reveal a Polo shirt underneath.

— String back driving gloves. The brand to buy is Dents but be sure the leather matches your shoes.

— A tweed sport jacket. The most British style I’ve seen have slanted pockets, not sure why. Some have a tab to fold jacket lapels over and secure them in cold weather but I find those superfluous.

dents--Kelly-Crochet-Back-Driving-Gloves

— Half boots, not full ones. Full ones imply at some point you will be walking quite a ways. Half ones give you the ankle support on rough ground but are not as obvious.

I have only met one Royal who epitomizes the proper selection of gentleman’s sport car attire, Prince Michael of Kent. He has been attending sport car events for 60 plus years so knows what’s right and proper. Tally ho, or something like that….

 
 
 
 

Let us know what you think in the Comments.

Wallace Wyss

THE AUTHOR: Wallace Wyss has worked on automotive marketing for Chevrolet, Oldsmobile, Mazda, Toyota and Ford.

 
 
 

Wallace Wyss

The author feeling oh-so-British at 66 deg. F, Claremont, Ca in a Polo tweed.

Summary
Style: Right and Proper Gentleman's Attire
Article Name
Style: Right and Proper Gentleman's Attire
Description
I have only met one Royal who epitomizes the proper selection of gentleman's sport car attire, Prince Michael of Kent.
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Comments

  1. This is a DELIGHTFUL piece, Wallace! I remember the attire, and the chaps wearing it as they waved communally to one another from their MG TDs and Triumphs TR3s. Many, of course, also sported briar pipes, clenched at jaunty angles, as they swept bravely along in edgy temperatures. It was quaint!

    But eventually, I moved to England and found myself surrounded with the caps, tweeds, etc., worn by my Brit colleagues. In fact, they gave me a fair amount of heat about my “Colonial” Yank outfits, so the worm turned!

    Thanks as always for your reminiscences,
    Larry

  2. Glenn Krasner says

    Great article, Wallace!!! I love watching vintage footage of old car races in England, and besides the aforementioned attire on the spectators, you’ll also see the pit mechanics wearing the required flat cap, but more amazingly a button-down shirt complete with tie visible underneath their coveralls. Glenn in Brooklyn, NY.

  3. wallace wyss says

    Lord March who owns Goodwood, the estate AND the events even issues clothing guides to at least one of his events requesting participants dress in period appropriate clothing and I thank him for it because if I go there I won’t have to worry about some guy in a political T shirt, flip flops, and Bermudas being photographed alongside the ’60 Morgan. Where I live in Calif. you can never quite get the casual dress mode banished…It’s a pity because when I am so attired at a car event in the fall or winter I feel like I’m ready to decide between the Jag, the Aston, or maybe the Bentley S2 Continental drophead…..hey nobody’s suggested pants or shoes…

  4. Lennox McNeely says

    I’ll vote for Piero Taruffi. as the best dressed race car driver- of all time -on page 116 of the book Carrera Panamerica -byDaryl Murphy – he is dressed like a Gucci ad in Vanity Fair–perfect jacket, tie, shirt and handkerchief puff –this in the most gruelling race of it’s time. Other drivers in appropriate gear to work under their cars. With perfect hair no need for flat cap.for Piero His cars also interesting –he had a patent on a race car of 3 separate tubes–worth the goggle

  5. Robb Northrup says

    Wallace, I agree with everything you said. I think the clothing helps to complete the “feel ” we get as being different and driving something out of the norm. BTW, you may want to include the Suixtil brand for gloves and accessories. They’re the ones Fangio. Moss, Collins and others used when racing in the 50s. Apparently made from original patterns, too. I am very pleased with my gloves and cap, and the prices are quite reasonable.

  6. wallace wyss says

    Done a bit more visual research for you chaps. Turns out there is a hunting jacket style in England that has lower pockets that have sides so you can actually carry something useful. Then too there is the leather shoulder patch which I thought was on hunting jackets, maybe to take up the shock of the weapon stock when firing. And then there’s the Norfolk jacket, I personally don’t like the belt at the waist, this is one style that is truly out-dated. I found a painting of gentlemen attired with trousers that only go 3/4 way down–don’t know what those are called (not jodhpurs?) and hunting boots seem inappropriate for sports car use, could be a bit difficult in 3 pedal cars to fit. Any opinions? Maybe I’ll wear those just at the horse track.

  7. wallace wyss says

    More art

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