Flashback Friday: The Style Issue

This young man is featured in an ad for Louis Vuitton on the back cover of The New Yorker‘s recent “Style Issue”. He can scowl all he wants but I think he looks scared.

LV model

We can’t see what he’s scared of but I imagine that, having shown up for a sailing cruise with a pile of fancy matched luggage and stylish shoulder bag, he might not quite be up to the good-natured ribbing he’s taking from the crew. I know I’d be tempted to throw him overboard. Stylish or not, Thurston Howell VI there just doesn’t fit in, even if (or perhaps because) he has a silly gold anchor charm hanging off his pocket. Personally, I think he should ditch the tie and go with something a little more casual, like an ascot, but thank goodness fly fishers aren’t hung up on style, right?

Well, if The New Yorker can have a Style Issue so can The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond.

There are those who say golf was invented to keep a certain kind of person off the water. Of course, some also say fly fishing was invented to keep a certain kind of person off the links. These two are that kind of person, evidently kept off both water and links, forced to stand around by themselves, looking good.

hart shaffner and marx

Then, a random grab into a giant stack of old magazines reveals this guy. He not only looks the part, he also ain’t scared and he’s doing a bit more than just standing around.


He’s secure enough to wear a nice lavender shirt, but that’s about as fancy as this fellow gets. Denim dungarees and hip boots complete his ensemble, topped off by a sensible canvas cap. The bend in his rod tells you all you need to know about him, but what about more fashion-conscious anglers in 1956?

matched sets

No one’s going to make fun of your outfit when you’re carrying a shotgun. Sharply pressed and squared away, the only teasing you’ll get will be behind your back, but not everyone buys clothes just for fishing or shooting, especially when what’s already in their closet will do.

good fishing

That’s more like it! Pretty plaid flannel and a broken-in fedora still serve an angler well, even when kneeling in 18 inches of water, 10 feet from the base of an old mill dam. Fish on, pal!

Wright and McGill

No fancy clothes for that guy, even if he does have the most modern, up to date equipment. Fiberglass rods were the big thing in 1956 as manufacturers took advantage of new advances in materials and design and, at $24.99, a nice 8 1/2 foot fly rod from Wright & McGill cost less than a spinning rod!

It is no secret that outdoorsy folk run the risk of getting wet and rod manufacturers were not the only ones using modern materials to the benefit of anglers and others. In 1956, a spiffy vinyl rain suit could be had for less than five bucks!

Kover All

That guy’s head and his toes are clearly not protected by this suit, despite their claims and, being vinyl, I have a feeling the only way one would outlast that 30 day guarantee would be to not be used at all. Besides, everyone knows that rubber is the way to go.

US Rubber

Even before they came out with their signature Chuck Taylors (which at one time were Quill Gordon’s wading shoe of choice), Converse was on the ball, with sporting footwear for anglers who just couldn’t fish from a chair on shore.


Hip boots and other stylin’ gear is fine for some, but surely there was something available for anglers on a budget who might find themselves in danger of getting seriously wet, wasn’t there?

Why, yes. Yes there was.

rubber wading suits

Designed only for short, medium and tall men who are light or heavyweight, these 14 pound one-piece wonders were yours for under ten bucks. I can virtually guarantee that when you walked by wearing one of these babies the last thing anyone was thinking was that your butt looked big!

As Opening Day approaches, don’t be like the guy on the back of The New Yorker, standing to the side wearing a fancy suit and a worried look. Dive right in, wearing whatever you’ve got, and don’t worry about what anyone thinks! I’ve seen folks on Fish in a Barrel Pond wearing garbage bags as rain pants (think MC Hammer) and I’ve seen guys wearing freshly pressed jeans during their big weekends with the boys. Does anyone really believe I would even consider making fun of them?

With the big day just around the corner, more and more folks are calling to make arrangements for the season ahead. There is an image in my mind of them, sitting in the den after a highball or two, dressed for fishing (except for the slippers) and fondling their rods as we chat, just like this guy in a Bell System ad.

phone ahead

That’s right, telephone now, but be sure to call after 6:00 when the rates are cheaper. In fact, why not wait until 7:30 or even 8:00? Have dinner and a couple of drinks first. The mighty helpful folks at your favorite lodge, camp or resort are sure to like that a lot.

NY Sauternes 

Categories: Flashback Fridays, Humor | Tags: , , , , , , , , | 18 Comments

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18 thoughts on “Flashback Friday: The Style Issue

  1. Mary

    The important thing to remember is to not drink too much of the Sauternes before heading out with the rubber wading suit on.

  2. Ms. Hetty Mae

    Classic Quill Gordon! I have pointed The Rabid Outdoorsman and Backwoods Plaid to this post. The former has a big fat rant about LL Bean, which is similar to your opener and the latter is a blog entirely devoted to “outdoor gear and adventures” mostly in Maine (I used quotes because it is really mostly a clothes blog but a dude writes it, so it’s “gear”). On a tenuously-related note: I really enjoy listening to old time radio such as The Shadow and Sherlock Holmes Adventures. The Petry wine commercials are just as entertaining as the stories.

    • Thank you, Ms Hetty Mae. I’m going to track those two down and check them out. I can usually work up a good rant about LL Bean but then I remember I have a lot of socks and long underwear from them, as well as my favorite sweater. I think it’s the people in their ads that irk me, always running with snowshoes on or gazing pensively from the porch …

      Old time radio shows, eh?

  3. “There are those who say golf was invented to keep a certain kind of person off the water. Of course, some also say fly fishing was invented to keep a certain kind of person off the links.”

    Can’t keep me off either even with no trespassing signs. During a round I’ve been known to bring a fishing pole to the course with me and drop a line into some pretty amazing ponds and streams. Can’t bring golf clubs to the local wild trout stream though pisses the old timers off.

    Some pretty nice duds on those dudes though.

    • I’ve seen guys show up for a weekend of fishing with their golf bags. No clubs, though, just rod cases because I guess nine rods is not enough for two days of fishing.

  4. Woolybugah

    Nice job, Mr. Quill. Seeing those ads for Army kahkis brings back some not so fond memories in the days before BDU’s & Camo standing on the parade ground in TX & GA watching the sweat melt your starch. Amen for progress. Style is only for people who care!

  5. To get that look in the first shot, I bet they were making fun of his purse.

    When I was a kid, you had to go to Stark’s. They had moved from the Madison St. location by then, but wandering down the aisles was a treat. Definitely things there that could be got nowhere else.

    Now we have trout fishermen dressing like banditos and wearing those odd things on their hands to handle trout. Must not like fish slime and I’ll never understand the bandito look.

    The last ad gives me hope for my line of “Is Good With Beer” carp graphics.

  6. I love all the old time ads! You done good Quill.

  7. Nancy Spivey


  8. Wow- at least that rubberized suit would keep the bugs out!

  9. Pingback: Flashback Friday: Late, but with Appropriate Shoes | The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond

  10. Roger Locke

    There is just something about a work of art Bamboo fly rod and a 1940s Silver Belly Stetson Fedora…

  11. Pingback: Stepping Out in Style (plus a little music) | The View from Fish in a Barrel Pond

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