The bell-bottoms of the 60s hippie may toll for today’s granola-chompers while club kids itch for the polyester leisure suits of the discofied 70s, but the lounge lizard’s antennae zero in on 50s sharkskin jackets, “hawaiian” shirts and stingy brim hats. You are what you wear, and 40 years of hindsight makes it easier to coordinate an “authentic” outfit.
“Qiana is bachelor pad through-and through,” enthuses Ricky Ritzel — whose own Lounge-OLeer-wear includes the white dinner jacket and cross tie. “Also, the tuxedo,” he continues, “because it’s very swinger, very Rat Pack.” The smoking jacket is an easily obtained icon. Velvet ones are usually available in solids — more exotic paisley or diamond patterns are generally cut from satin, acetate or other Space Age polymers. Try on a zoot suit of ultra-chic sharkskin — that duo-tone, iridescent fabric. Animal prints such as leopard, lion or tiger are the cat’s meow, but don’t rule out the less common Dalmatian or zebra patterns.
En route to a more casual affair? “Hawaiian” shirts sporting palm trees and sun-drenched beaches in splashy, colorful tropical island motifs are cool, but something with a boomerang pattern or an atom-in-a-tailspin print is better. “So long as it’s on polyester or cotton,” reminds Ricky. The shirtjack (worn as a shirt or a jacket) was resurrected with the character of Kramer on TV’s Seinfeld in the early 90s.
For that finishing touch, skinny neckties or ties embroidered with geometric, Art Deco shapes are choice — as are ascots. The Lounge-O-Leers prefer the cross tie — a hybrid of the bow-tie and necktie. A stingy-brim hat — Sinatra’s trademark — lets everyone know you’re ready to swing. Whether you’re looking to shield those orbs from UV damage or just create mystique, seek out Ray Ban’s Wayfarer frames or — if you prefer Spanish wraps — the Baloramas. For smokers, a monogrammed silver cigarette case is de rigeur, as are celluloid cigarette holders.
With footwear, tying shoelaces is hard to deal with when you’re seeing double, baby. Slip into a pair of zippered, ankle-high boots. (hipsters used to call them “continentals” until they caught on as “Beatle Boots.”) any self-respecting lounge lizard worth his weight in fluid ounces of bourbon will make the scene in a pair of black-and-white patent leather wingtips polished to a lustrous sheen. His shoe sensibilities should guide him to anything but lizard skin — that would border on the cannibalistic. —RT