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The Dark Side of Dapper (1950s)
Unmasking the subliminal schemes of 1950s menswear ads
No, this isn’t a vintage ad for racial profiling - it’s part of a campaign designed to get men to “Dress Right.”
“Sure its unfair, but it’s a fact: people today judge a youngster by appearance,” the copy in the ad warns. “And once they’ve tabbed a boy, its tough to change their minds about him, their attitude toward him. Could the way he looks give the wrong impressionism?”
In the 1950s, the American Institute of Men's and Boys' Wear launched a campaign aimed to boost the sales of men's clothing after World War II.
Many men had worn uniforms or casual clothes for a long time. The end of wartime rationing and fabric restrictions allowed men to wear more varied and colorful clothes.
The campaign aimed its appeal to the growing middle class and suburban lifestyle of the postwar era - and the campaign was #SoWhite.
The ads fell into three categories. First the “negative appeals”
Many were designed to make men fear what others thought of them and their clothing. Especially the women in their lives - “his outfit spelled loser.”