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Fred Astaire Style Hardcover – April 1, 2005

4.5 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 79 pages
  • Publisher: Assouline Publishing (April 1, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 2843236770
  • ISBN-13: 978-2843236778
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 6.4 x 0.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #876,993 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Paul Kellogg on May 22, 2006
Fred Astaire was a marvelous dancer - he made dancing look easy. He was graceful and elegant. With Ginger Rogers, he made a bunch of screwball movies that were short on plot, but musically wonderful and with dancing that was something special.
Astaire was also an elegant dresser and that is what this very short book is all about. The essay explains Astaire's very special elegance and how he worked terribly hard to make things look very easy. It's nice, but at 15 pages or so, doesn't cover a whole lot of new ground. The pictures - many of them from Astaire's Hollywood days - are, of course, quite beautiful, but for all their charm - there's something missing.
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Last night I had the chance to see the magnificent Andrea Marcovicci in her "Andrea Sings Astaire" show (she complimented my "haberdashery" *sigh*). It was a great reminder, if such were necessary, of the profound influence Fred Astaire had on American popular music. Similarly, "Fred Astaire Style" is an excellent reminder of the man's influence on the evolution of a distinctly American approach to male dress. In an age when it's a tough decision which is worse -- contemporary music or contemporary haberdashery -- G. Bruce Boyer has given us a handy guide to what it means for a man to be well put-together.

"Fred Astaire Style" begins with a brief essay tracing the subject's biography and career, with an emphasis, as you'd expect, on his distinctive approach to style. Boyer also places Astaire's dress sense within a larger historical context of America's rejection of European style cues, the influence of the Depression, and the rise of a casual approach to men's style ("the small-shouldered, soft-chested, international sartorial look that's worn today"). After this comes many pages of great photos of Astaire young and old, in a wide assortment of dress, sporting, and casual clothes. I would have preferred that the captions accompanied each photo, instead of being banished to a few pages at the back of the book, but that's not a major complaint.

More than that, I wished this book was longer. While Boyer has done an excellent job assembling photos and providing a general overview, I'd point the reader to, for example, several books by Alan Flusser that break down Fred Astaire's style in more detail. Nevertheless, this book is both a respectful look back and a useful guide today. Fred Astaire still has a lot to offer as a modern icon. Here's to more people paying attention.
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Great book for the fashion minded man with ideas and inspiration form one of the greats of all time.
Many photos shoe the various stitches and styles for the man who is looking for ideas on what makes a great wardrobe.
Very pleased, thank you.
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There should have been more pictures, and Boyer could have been a little more penetrating in his analysis rather than simply stating the obvious. There is nothing of fashion in this book, it's all about style (which isn't the same thing by a long shot).
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By RMB on July 15, 2015
This is not a biography of Fred Astaire but it does examine his influence on film and men's fashion during his adult life. Bruce Boyer cleverly compares Astaire's acting/dancing methods with his clothes sense. Astaire came to prominence at a time when life itself, and attitudes towards it, were changing rapidly. New technology (such as films, music recordings) and the aftermath of the First World War swept away old class distinctions and overblown posturing in culture and dress. In their place came a new wave of music - swing/jazz and a new fashion style, which Astaire both epitomised and helped to promote.

The first part of the book gives a brief overview of the effect Astaire had both on filmed dancing and on men's fashion, while the second part is given over to photos of Astaire, from his twenties into his eighties. Some of these photos are not readily available in other books.

In his dancing, Fred Astaire managed to combine formal styles such as ballet and ballroom with the fresher rhythms of tap and jazz. Boyer postulates that he did the same with his dress sense. The actor whose name became synonymous with the image of top hat, white tie and tails was the foremost proponent of soft, button-down shirts, casual yet stylish tweed jackets and loose, easy-fitting trousers. The phrase "smart casual" could have been invented specifically for Fred Astaire. Here was a man whose outward appearance seemed both carefree and comfortable, yet which was actually very carefully considered - what Boyer describes as: "a spontaneous exuberance in which the hard work was well hidden within the detail and the subtlety". And as Boyer says, the same was true of Astaire's dancing.
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I really enjoyed this little book, so much so that I added it to my library. It is a quick read with a lot of gorgeous pictures of the stylish & charismatic Astaire. A nice light read of a tribute to a man obviously held in high esteem by the author whose other books are great treatises on how to dress well.

By no means an exhaustive biography on Fred Astaire, but a great afternoon read and a visit to a time long since gone.
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