This is a reprinting of a post by Billax. Billax is not only one of my style role models, but a friend and a man that was Trad back when it was called Ivy League.
In 1958-9, when I first became interested in what guys were wearing, television was a source of both information and inspiration. There was no internet and I wasn’t aware of Esquire Magazine at the time. The Milwaukee Journal, the local rag, didn’t cover menswear. David Nelson of the – very popular – Ozzie and Harriet show was one of the guys I watched on TV and learned from.
At that time, he was attending the University of Southern California (USC) and was a member of the Kappa Sigma fraternity. He provided a window into campus fashion for me. My two cousins, about whom I’ve written before, made the look tangible but, as they were away at college, I didn’t see them all that often. David Nelson? I saw him once a week on the Ozzie and Harriet Show. It was a sitcom, I guess. Mostly, it was about what the Nelson family was doing. In that sense, it was the original Seinfeld – “a show about nothing.” David would often show up with some of his fraternity brothers and I’d get a weekly dose of What Are They Wearing Right Now!
The shirts were Button Downs, or tab collars, or forward point collars with a collar pin. Tweed and Corduroy sport coats, white socks with Venetian loafers. Skinny ties. Ricky became more famous, but David Nelson was the guy whose clothes I admired when I was seventeen.
In September of 1959, when I went to college, I pledged Kappa Sigma. As I was looking for these photos, I recalled that he, too, was a Kappa Sig. Interesting coincidence, I thought! Upon reflection, maybe it wasn’t coincidence at all.Here are some photographs of David Nelson at USC: