Kicking off our new series Vintage Kings, featuring the best vintage-dressers and sartorially inspirational gentlemen from around the globe, is swing enthusiast Paul Crook. His Thirties and Forties-influenced, American style looks as sharp and cool as his coveted 1958 Ford Zodiac.

“I’ve always been interested in clothes and style and I enjoyed looking different as a teenager. I was into punk and dressed in Boy bondage trousers and had a peroxide Mohican; ultimately it was the music first that influenced my style.

My love of vintage began about 15 years ago when I discovered swing and Jazz music. Because I was in a band playing guitar, I fancied learning piano and a friend of mine who started to teach me piano was playing in a jump jive band. After going to see them I saw lots of people doing swing dancing and decided to try it for myself.  I have now been dancing for 16 years and teaching for 14. I won the UK lindyhop championship twice and teach lindyhop, shag and balboa.

I spend much of my time listening to music from the Thirties, Forties and Fifties and dancing the dances from that era so it seems only natural to dress in those styles too. I find that wearing the right vintage clothes can add to your movement and look as a dancer; I also feel like I dance better if I’m confidant in what I’m wearing.

My favourite style and era of dressing is mostly Thirties to Forties American and the styles that people would have worn in hot climates such as West coast America and Cuba.  I always wear open-neck shirts and rarely a tie, wide leg trousers (also known as Oxford Bags) and Hollywood jackets (a type of light-weight, soft, smart jacket – usually with very little or no lining). I am also obsessed with and collect Forties picture and cable-knit sweaters.  Normal cable-knits are patterned. Picture-knits are rarer and more valuable, they have a picture on the front and back, sometimes printed but usually a jacquard; these range from flying ducks to pin-ups to a sombrero – I even have one with a ram on the front and back! I have around 100 I think – I seem to have lost count!

Following on from the clothes came an interest in vintage homeware, my home is mostly Fifties style with a bamboo bar and Fifties dinette.  I have some lovely huge original Forties and Fifties posters in frames on the walls, and  I collect Crown Devon Stockholm porcelain, it’s a great dinnerware set with red edging and a red leaping stag; but I don’t just collect it and keep it in a cupboard, we use it every day.

I also love vintage cars and have a 1958 Ford Zodiac. It’s great to of drive an old car as I feel I’m more connected to the road whereas if I drive a modern car, it feels more like it’s driving itself. Another thing I enjoy is the engine sound, it has a deep growl!  It’s great fun getting comments from young people who may have no interest in vintage when they come up to me and say how great they think it is. Ultimately, I think it’s a beautiful car and I confess I love being a poser in it!

What I love about vintage is the nostalgia for times when, in my opinion, people were classier and more stylish in their dressing and they took more care over their appearance. Now I am unlikely to be seen in anything non-vintage even when I’m doing my day job as a dog walker.

The good thing about vintage clothes is you can look good and stylish at any age as the clothes are classic.”

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oxfords

 

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at home

picture sweater

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