|Washington ‘Cats’ Dress Fit to Kill,
Manage Only to Stun Their Elders
Schools Curb Garb, But After Classes – Crazy Man, Crazy
The Star, prompted by queries from puzzled adults on recent
aberrations in the dress of younger contemporaries, highlighted by
addiction to blue jeans, sent a reporter and a photographer to
investigate the situation.
They found that –individual idiosyncrasies aside-a real canon of style
for young people exist only among those known as “cats”. A “Cat” is
a boy or girl of high school age who knows and cares a great deal
about Jazz music, dancing, cloths and the society of other “cats”. This
is a look at the high points of their style.
By Harry Bacas
What clothes does a good cat ware?
When a pair of cats goes out to a “semi-formal” dance the boy will
probably climb into a pink shirt, black knit tie and a charcoal flannel
suit so narrow and tailored he looks like a student at an Ivy ledge
college. And his date may be gowned like Rosemary Clooney
making a Las Vegas nightclub appearance.
In school the students are hardly distinguishable one from another.
School restrictions against certain garments, such as blue jeans, plus
a desire to keep the finery in good shape for evening, leads most
cats to ware a sort of uniform during school hours.
The boys ware sports shirts, sweaters and slacks of some kind to
school. The girls ware sweaters, skirts, bobby sox and loafer shoes.
Almost nobody wears a hat.
But it’s between these extremes of school and dances that
Washington’s cats really blossom into a style of dress all their own.
Jackets are Popular.
For example the girls may discard their usual long, droopy coats,
which sweep to within 6 to 8 inches of the ground, in favor of shiny
white zipper jackets, made not of leather but of soft plastic.
The boys may counter with their own black Horsehide “motorcycle”
Jackets, tight at the waist and cuffs, studded with silver or nickel
Either may wear at the neck a floppy string tie, usually black, which
goes by the name of “Senator Bow”, “Kentucky Colonel” or just
For boys only are cut-down black jackboots, called “Engineer Boots”.
These come just above the ankle: have a buckle at the top and
across the instep and are often decorated with ornate metal studs.
No legitimate “engineer” would be caught dead in them.
Also for boys are “Peg Pants”, which in one version or another have
survived through generations of style changes. A typical peg is
formed by cutting down a regular 18-inch trouser cuff to 15 inches
and sharply tapering the pants leg to fit into it. A good peg is so tight
the pants cannot be pulled on over the shoes.
Dirty Buck in Vogue.
Girl’s shoes are usually low-cut, lace less moccasins, worn over thick
white bobby sox. Recent entries in the footwear field, however,
include dirty white buckskins and knee-high woolen stockings.
Boys and girls both ware “Team Jackets”. These are made of either
satin or wool, have stripes down the sleeves and knit cuffs and
waists. They are derived from a garment originally designed for
The T-shirt is a male garment. Boys ware it under a V-necked
sweater in place of a shirt. A new model, the turtleneck T-shirt, is
sometimes seen rising high inside the collar of a sports shirt.
The most popular theme of all – on which boys and girls alike play
many variations. – Are blue jeans?
Blue jeans are either of conventional cut or of the Western style,
which is short in the seat, narrow in the legs, tight around the hips and
generally gives the effect of a cowpuncher whose pants are falling
Fought By Schools.
Modifications of the basic blue jeans include plaid cuffs, leather
edged pockets, copper riveting, red glass reflectors, silver studs and
a fit so tight that no belt is needed. Blue Jeans are not quite comme il
faut for formal occasions and have been banned by many area high
schools, but anywhere else both girls and boys love to ware them.
They are so popular with the high school set that principals of some
schools had trouble at first making their prohibition against them
stick. At Wheaton High School one day last October, 51 students
were sent home to change their tight blue jeans. They had insisted on
wearing them even though a school wide ban had been previously
A principle, which almost all good cats follow in choosing their
costumes, is to be colorful with out being extravagant.
For example, a very few indeed would wear what one boy was seen
in a few days ago on a Washington street – black shirt, bright orange
corduroy trousers, pink belt tucked into hideaway pleats, black and
pink argyle socks and blue suede moccasins with pink soles.
That would be “Too Much”.