When Mr. Peacock was in 7th grade he stumbled upon the book, Looking Good (1977), at the public library. It seemed very chic to me, and a little bit naughty too. The book was authored by Charles Hix, a columnist for Gentleman’s Quarterly (GQ), and was on the bestseller list for weeks. The book seemed very preppy to me, and even at 12 years old, I knew the book was heavy on the beefcake shots. And all of the photos were shot by Bruce Weber.
Above: "The American Style" from start to finish, in Dressing Right.
Several publications including the New York Times, and V Magazine, have lauded the influence of the Charles Hix’s books, specifically Looking Good and Dressing Right, on current menswear trends and styles. Looking Good focused on male grooming from head to toe—from hair care to genital odor. While the follow-up book, Dressing Right, focused on appearance, and was like a manual to help you finesse your style step-by-step. Right: Mr. Charles Hix photographed by Bruce Weber, circa 1977.
Dressing Right...I guess "analyzing yourself" could be the first step for many ventures in life.
Both books recommend fitness and exercise. Dressing Right has a spread with men wearing nylon shorts. Buy a pair of similar nylon shorts here.
Looking Good utilizes Bruce Weber’s keen ability to capture the essence of masculinity when photographing men.
Looking Good also sprinkles plenty of beefcake shots throughout the book. They almost look like “headshots” from model's portfolios.
Over thirty years later, hipsters have appropriated this sporty and preppy look shown in Looking Good: rolled up slim jeans, athletic tube socks, and some sort of deck shoes.
I’m not sure if hipsters will appropriate this look—an espadrille, with a stacked heel.
Mr. Peacock loves any type of stylized tuxedo shirt. Remember A Conference of Birds tuxedo inspired shirt? Click here.
Charles Hix recommends, “shifting and rearranging all of your clothing” and not to be afraid of mixing and layering everything you have in your wardrobe.
He also discusses how “individualistic, even idiosyncratic” scarves and neckwear can be worn. Mr. Peacock loves how the bow tie is casually tied and worn as a cravat (see the upper right shot).
I like the tie worn as a belt too (very Ralph Lauren too), which I wear sometimes myself—but with the tie ends tucked in a bit more than above. The look on the right is very modern too—a casually draped scarf and a boutonnière.
"Neutrals calm," is one of Mr. Peacock’s favorite photos in the book, Dressing Right.
After the success of Looking Good, Mr. Hix went on to author many more books: Male Model: The World behind the camera (1979), How To Dress Your Man (1981), and Man Alive: Dressing the Free Way (1984). A friend brought me the Charles Hix book, Working Out: The Total Shape-Up Guide for Men (1983), while I was recuperating in the hospital after a tonsillectomy in my late teens. At the time, the Workout Book seemed like a Playgirl magazine, and I was a little embarrassed having it displayed on my nightstand during my hospital stay.
One of Mr. Peacock’s favorite menswear designers, Michael Bastian, said in the New York Times, “I have all those Charles Hix books…something from them has made it into every single collection. It’s not just the clothes, it’s the vibe, which was kind of super masculine. It was one of the first times guys were culling elements from tailored clothing, sportswear and work wear and mixing them together. That’s something we just take for granted now.”
If you want to add some Charles Hix titles to your library, you can still find inexpensive copies here, and sometimes on eBay. A set of these nostalgic books would make a great gift for any gentleman peacock!