The thrill of racing and love of style
Although the menswear community often prides itself in not participating in the fads of fashion and trends, the majority of us have to admit that this is not entirely correct and nor should it be. We all mirror our own (hopefully) interpretation of the things and inspiration picked up in everyday life. Trends influence us and we participate in that evolution. What is interesting is to trace the trend and try to understand who or what ignited the spark and how…
For a while we have seen many well-dressed people in social media sporting workwear together with tailoring, applauding its practicality and functionality together with its often vintage style and heritage. Field jackets, work boots and wider denim trousers are just some examples. It’s probably not wrong to assume that this also has had an influence on the adoration of photos of that time when both the threads and the wearer were somewhat original.
The workwear trend can surely be traced back to several different époques, yet for Baltzar, one stands out as perhaps the most exciting. From a time when sex was safe, racing was dangerous and looking good came naturally because racing drivers considered themselves immortal (although they were anything but). Whether it was at the Monaco post-race parties together with every known celebrity of the period or in the pits at Silverstone, the ’50s through to the ’70s maintain for Baltzar a thrilling and inspirational period for workwear and style in general seen through the lens of racing. This is a tribute to some of the legendary racing drivers who dressed, lived and raced with immaculate style.
Mike Hawthorn must be considered one of the most rakish racing drivers ever to enter the upper echelons of motorsport. He lived a wild and flamboyant life that extended to the race track where he was the only driver to race in a neck tie or bow tie since the 1930s, giving him his nickname “The Butterfly”. Hawthorn was the first British Formula One champion and won the prestigious Le Mans 24 hours in 1955.
He preferred white high-waisted racing trousers with an elevated double button waistband, a green blouson jacket with a flapping collar that he wore over a white soft-collared shirt and polka-dot bow tie. In the pits, he often opted for a heavy tweed jacket or navy blazer that he slipped over his racing gear together with a flat cap.
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Masten Gregory is right behind Hawthorn when it comes to clothing. He had a distinctive appearance and masterfully blended traditional Ivy League style in to his racing gear. Some of his noticeable drives were his third place in his first ever Formula One Grand Prix in Monaco, 1957, and he also had a class win and later an overall win in the Le Mans 24 hours in 1961 and 1965 respectively. Gregory was famous for bailing out of his race cars if he was about to have an accident – safety first, right?
He always preferred to go for a white polo shirt or T-shirt when racing, sometimes opting for a dark roll neck when the temperature required it, and was often seen with a field jacket in the pits. Gregory was also one of few drivers to race with his glasses on; apparently he was blind as a bat and wore spectacles thick as Coke bottles with typical 1960s frames.
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A gallery to inspire
Below are some of Mr Baltzar’s favourite racers and dressers. These include team captains, such as Colin Chapman and Enzo Ferrari, as well as movie stars like Steve McQueen and Paul Newman (who both adored the thrill of speed). Newman even had a class win and overall second at the Le Mans 24 hours, and McQueen had a class win in the Sebring 12 hours. No matter what, every one of them had their unique style and character – though most of all, they were just bloody fast in a race car! Look out for wide polo collars, iconic sunglasses, vintage watches and generally beautiful combinations of workwear and casualwear for their practicality.