Saturday, 18 December 2010

Fred Astaire and the scarf around his waistband

Fred Astaire is in the top picture (with Bing Crosby). Astaire is wearing a scarf around his waistband and is often suggested as having introduced this jaunty touch.

But the second picture puts paid to that idea: it is an 1889 Spy cartoon of Hylton 'Punch' Philipson (1866-1935), a renowned sportsman of the time, wearing his Oxford 'Blue' as a scarf around his waist. University, school and club 'colours', especially 'Blues' and their equivalents (London University awards 'Purples')as awards for sporting prowess were once much more sported on the field than they are now and would often be worn as Philipson is wearing his.

Part of the reason for the current absence of 'colours' from the sporting field is that sport has ceased to be played, for the honour of representing an institution or country and for the love of the game and has become Big Business, so that we are forced to watch professional players wearing the logos of the corporations to whom they have sold their souls.


  1. Fred Astaire said in his autobiography, 'Steps in Time,' that he got the idea for the use of a tie/scarf in place of a belt from his friend, Douglas Fairbanks, Sr., who used to sport wearing them during his more athletic days. Fred & his famous dancing partner of 29 years, Adele Astaire(Fred's sister), used to wait in the theatre wings watching Fairbanks, Sr., headline whilst the junior dancers in their youth had yet to hit it big in the entertainment world. Dancers have emulated Fred Astaire ever since with a ribbon, tie, scarf, or other material around the waist in dancing classes/rehearsals throughout the world.