Esquire, 1968: The Deplorables

February 2, 2017

Esquire, 1968: The Deplorables

Hillary Clinton wasn’t the first to use the word deplorable as a noun. Back in 1968, the editors at Esquire put together a list of twenty-nine items they considered tasteless and awful, which they grouped together under the banner “The Deplorables.” The article was accompanied by an illustration from Bill Charmatz, showing a goofy looking fellow wearing said items.

The editors wrote: “Perhaps we would be performing more of a service in our fashion coverage were we to deplore as often as we predict. Certainly it would seem to be Esquire’s function to point out, from time to time, that there are things that simply are not worn by well-turned-out men. Here are some of them, a list of authentic deplorables –- in some cases, the wrong, the awful way of wearing a garment or accessory; in other cases, garments or accessories that are themselves kind of hideous. What they have in common is an emanation of ignorance and tastelessness –- to be detected not only among the naive, but in the paneled premises of presumably irreproachable Brooks Brothers.”

The list in full, with occasional comments from yours truly:

  1. A short-sleeved shirt worn with a business suit.
  2. A white dinner jacket in town – unless one has a napkin over his arm or a saxaphone up to his lips.
  3. A diamond ring.
  4. A boutonniere and a breast-pocket handkerchief worn at the same time.
  5. Ankle-length hosiery.
  6. An enameled manicure.
  7. Tan (not cordovan) shoes with a dark suit. (Derek: Oh God yes, please make this end)
  8. Shoes with run-down heels.
  9. A square-shaped breast-pocket handkerchief. (Derek: I don’t get this either)
  10. A belt and suspenders at the same time.
  11. An ornate belt buckle. (Derek: Sure, but with casualwear? Why not?)
  12. A formal bow tie tucked under the collar points.
  13. A shirt-jac. (Derek: Boo. They’re not always the most flattering, but when worn well, they can be great layering pieces). 
  14. A belt-buckle showing below the vest.
  15. Pens, pencils, or anything else except a handkerchief in the outside breast pocket of a jacket. (Derek: I don’t mind sunglasses). 
  16. What Murray Kempton called, and properly, “those obscene ventilated shoes.”
  17. Perceptibly dry hair.
  18. White-on-white shirts. (Derek: Did they mean jacquards?)
  19. Ties displaying the manufacturer’s trademark.
  20. A key chain attached to a belt loop. (Derek: guilty!)
  21. Silvery or white neckties – unless you’re Liberace.
  22. Any exact match of anything. Too much coordination.
  23. Pointed-toe shoes in any case where one isn’t playing Peter Pan.
  24. An identification bracelet.
  25. A sports-shirt collar worn outside a jacket. (Derek: Not for me, but some guys these days do it well). 
  26. Iridescent suits – unless, of course, you’re directing traffic in a blackout.
  27. White socks in any case where one cannot present a doctor’s certificate for athlete’s foot.
  28. A string tie – unless you’re doing a television commercial for fried chicken. (Derek: Agree. Don’t buy this)
  29. A plastic hat cover in the rain.

You can find an original print of the article here.