I recently encountered an old friend who lived in the neighborhood back in the day. He lived on 35th Street and I lived on 31st. We were from the same neighborhood and attended the same high school. He was the coolest guy in history. Not only was he fine, he could DANCE. His fashion identity was Gouster style. I can still smell the Jade East.
Time had done him wrong and it started me wondering what time had done to me. I thought back on those days when we were young and would go anywhere to attend a dance. If a guy could Bop, he was king of the night.
Whether he was your lover, your good friend, or kind of like a play brother, back in those days, boys had one of two popular fashion styles, Gouster or Ivy League. An Ivy Leaguer was a collegiate wannabe, a 60’s version of J. Crew with just a touch of swagger. His style was straight-legged pants, sometimes with a belt buckle in back; a buttoned-down collar shirt; and tinted glasses.
Ivy Leaguers shopped at Brooks Brothers where they specialized in starched, buttoned-down shirts with French cuffs and cufflinks. The Ivy Leaguer would complete the look with a V-Neck, wool blend sweater thrown over the shirt to give us girls a thrill.
A Gouster’s style was dress-casual. He wore lose fitting, almost baggy clothes. His fine wool, alpaca and mohair sweater had three buttons at the neck, with a lazy, turned down collar. Pants with two pleats at the waist left a little room in the leg so that a Gouster could pimp. He usually pimped on down to Smokey Joe’s Fashion House to buy more fabulous outfits. As I said earlier, Gousters favored Jade East,
while Ivy Leaguers spruced up with Aramis.
Girls were just beginning to wear pants, and many of us still wore mini-skirts and dresses to dances in order to show off our legs. Girls shopped at Brooks Brothers to show their allegiance to an Ivy Leaguer if that was who they were dating at the time. Sometimes we’d wear the sherbet colored, buttoned-down shirts, with plaid, pleated mini-skirts, matching knee socks, and suede, lace-up shoes called “Bucks”.
If we were dating a Gouster we’d wear cardigan sweaters that buttoned down the back and tight skirts. We’d accessorize with pearl earrings and pearl necklaces. Then, we’d finish that look with nylon stockings and Cha-cha boots.
Today, I couldn’t tell if my friend was Ivy League or Gouster. He just looked comfortable. But every once in a while, I see a brother my age with a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ and I know right away which one he is.