Stylin' Summer Guys
When Ohio Knitting Mills started out in the late 1920's, the mill made menswear exclusively. Wool sweaters originally, and soon after that, summer weight knit tops for the warmer seasons: what today we would simply call tees and polo shirts. Back then-the 1930's- a colorful, stylish knit top for a gent was somewhat the provenance of the 'sporting class', and associated with the leisure lifestyles of the elite and wealthy, and their high-end recreational sports; hence the term 'polo shirts'. This sportswear style was also referred to as 'tennis' or 'golf' shirts.
The Duke of Windsor, c. 1938. His lavish and elegant, as well as scandalous, lifestyle was a source of endless fascination and envy for the middle class on both sides of the Atlantic. Due to his celebrity, he was often thought of as prototypical of royal life, and the pinnacle of sophisticated style
After World War II, the middle class in America expanded rapidly, and this upwardly mobile population sought apparel that signaled their new affluence and admittance into the leisure class- albeit for part of a weekend. Sportswear modeled on the attire of the Royals and their realm were widely adopted, and Ohio Knitting Mills gladly met this demand.
Knit sportswear was now a common item for a broad cross-section of American men. Sometimes referred to as "poorboy shirts", the patterns and colors were almost endless. Frequently worn with high-waisted pants, generally tucked in, the poorboy was short in the torso with a banded waist. As a salute to this rapidly waning summer, here's some of our favorites, along with a few tennis shirts from the OKM archives; all are circa 1946-52.