December 1988 | Volume 39, Issue 8
Marlon Brando in A Streetcar Named Desire gave sexual and moral scope to the humble T-shirt and thus unleashed the romance of all neglected plebeian garments. From this moment in the early fifties, the look of the desirable American male was changed forever. The savvy trench coat, the insouciant white tie, and the ingenuous lounge suit were rejected, replaced by the garb of the hip and the beat. Migrant workers, miners, and longshoremen added their components to assorted forms of sports gear and work clothes to forge the new romantic style in men’s dress, one that has held sway for more than a generation.