It’s Jazz Part 4


Often the cats (men) and chicks (women) you heard speaking jazz lingo were wearing threads (clothes) that became highly fashionable. In the late 1920s, New York City’s cotton Club (now the subject of a movie) became one of the most Important places to be seen. And that’s one place where the general public saw how )jazz forced a change of dress and attitude.

Fashion historian Ernestine Carter writes:

“As jazz, particularly the Charleston, made its way downtown It commanded—and obtained — a change In fashion. Skirts lifted to the knees—and- above. Underwear was now reduced to a single garment—the ‘teddy, a combination of camisole and pantie.

“With nothing to hold them up, stockings were rolled or sup ported [by the) jazz garter Flaming youth was born … high speed footwork flashed the message round the .world.”

The flapper look Included short, sleek dresses, long costume beads, short “bob” hairdos with a headband, cupid-bow lipstick and rouge. But It was more than the flappers that) jazz influenced as time went on. Singer Billie Holiday popularized the white gardenia in a woman’s hair. Saxophonist Lester Young popularized the flat topped “porkpie hat.”

The baggy angular “zoot suit” was the male look of the l940s that many jazz performers pioneered.

By the mid 1940s, jazz boppers gave us shades (sunglasses) as the basic prop of the “cool” look. Goatee beards, thin ties and berets, though of French origin, were popularized here by these beboppers.

Other trappings of the 1950s beatnik or bohemian look were basic black skirts, pants and leotards for women,

Trumpeter Miles Davis had always been one of the most

fashionable of jazzmen, often making the 10-best-dressed-men lists. Whatever he wore people noticed and picked up on. That included high block heels for men (Davis Is very short), leather pants, coats and a stunning array of sunglasses.