PAINLESS PANACHE: A Tribute To Unlikely Style Heroes added this blog post on March 9, 2012. David’s March 13 reply appears at the end. Enjoy!
In 1979, I had two unrelenting crushes on grown-ups: Randolph Mantooth from Emergency! and David Soul from Starsky and Hutch. Both played loyal public servants on their respective TV shows, but they didn’t look at all alike — Randy had dark hair and olive skin and David had the typical All-American blonde-haired, blue-eyed palette — but for some reason they both spoke to my prepubescent senses. I used my allotted one hour of TV per night to watch my imaginary boyfriends catch the bad guys and save lives, marveling at their perfect balance of manliness and compassion.
The 70s represent my least favorite decade for fashion, despite the fact that I spent the first seven years of my life surrounded by it. When I think of clothing from the 70s, I think of really good Halloween costumes. However, David Soul managed to take all the components I detested most from that decade — namely polyester, big collars and turtlenecks — and assemble a rather handsome look out of them. Maybe it was his baby blues or his pleas to “don’t give up on us, baby,” but something about David encouraged me to embrace those previously-derided style elements.
And the leather jackets! I see truckloads of these squeaky brown leather numbers with giant lapels at Goodwill and think, “These things have officially entered the ranks of the fashion obsolete.” But no! Throw that sucker on over a black turtleneck and some snug broken-in bellbottoms, and — voilà! You, too, can rock The Hutch.
And then there were the turtlenecks. Sometimes he donned them under his trademark letterman’s jacket and other times under his aforementioned squeaky outerwear. I’ve never been a fan of turtlenecks on men, but David’s got me rethinking my rash judgement about this marriage of practicality and comfort. Not to mention, a turtleneck looks a lot sexier when there’s a gun strapped to it.
I’m also an undying lover of what I like to call “ranch wear”: broken-in plaid wool shirts, chore coats, tooled leather belts, soft work denim and beaten-up leather boots. Perhaps this gentleman is part of the reason?
Update: David Soul Responds
Imagine my surprise when I received an email from the one and only DAVID SOUL this morning thanking me for my blog post. Of course, he also wanted to set the record straight that he did NOT wear polyester on Starsky & Hutch. (Duly noted!) I begged him to let me post his response here because it gives us a glimpse into how he and Paul Michael Glaser decided (i.e., fought over) what to wear on the show. Enjoy!
Your dress shop sounds delightful … as do you! A couple of comments about your opinion of S&H and 70s styles:
Of course, we were never aware that we were setting any “style” back then. Basically, we were like two brothers going at each other over “who gets to wear what”… That’s what set the style. “He’s got a blue shirt … I wanna blue shirt!”; “Whadya mean, I can’t wear jeans! Oh, I see, (with as much cynicism as you can wring out of these words) only Starsky can wear jeans!” “OK, have it your way … I’m gonna wear turtlenecks … like Steve McQueen did in Bullet (or did he?).” And I never wore polyester. My jackets were all REAL leather, albeit with big collars & lapels. Anyway, it was only after the fact that we were made aware that S&H were at the center of 70s fashion.
Aside from all that, thanks for a lovely write-up. Enjoyed it in spite of myself.
Warm regards from London,