Elvis Presley’s Iconic Clothes


The land of Elvis Presley ephemera is vast, and seemingly never-ending. Over the course of a roughly 22-year career spanning music, film, and television, Presley accrued a mind-boggling assortment of “stuff”—everything from a Derringer gun holster and “Elvis” engraved gold ID bracelet to a 1963 red IBM typewriter. Each of these aforementioned items, and many, many more, will be up for auction on the erstwhile King’s birthday, January 8, beginning at 11:00 a.m. CET. Had he lived to see the sale, Presley would be doing so as an 85-year-old, ostensibly, but not assuredly, no longer in the limelight.

Though Presley’s clothing and jewelry only make up a small portion of the items for sale, it’s those pieces that remain especially salient in the minds of fans—particularly for anyone sartorially inclined. Something that the King sweated in, spilled on, or tore off inherently has more meaning, given its bodily proximity. Ditto a signet ring that encircled his pinkie finger, or a gold ID bracelet that snaked around his wrist. Presley’s penchant for such jewelry naturally dovetailed with his fabled final years in Las Vegas, where he routinely donned white bellbottomed jumpsuits punctuated with colorful embroidery and oversized, studded belts.

It was during this time that the myth of Elvis, formerly stylish, sexy, and devastatingly talented, bifurcated. The later Vegas years saw him overweight, addicted to pills, and arguably no longer in possession of his once vast vocal range. Thus Presley, at one time hip, devolved into caricature, his music and image no longer designed to appeal to popular youth-driven culture but to the primarily older crowds looking for a veritable show on the Strip.

Of course, this wasn’t always the case. Back in the mid-1950s, Presley quickly became known for his flashy, albeit supremely cool wardrobe, much of it supplied by Memphis clothiers Lansky Bros. Think Cuban collar button-ups, pegged trousers, and pops of pink—previously a fashion no-no for gents. In 1956, Levi’s famously named a pair of black denim for the singer; later that year, the success of the film Jailhouse Rock, in which Presley donned said denim, cemented both the King’s heartthrob status and the jeans purveyor’s reputation for cool. In truth, Presley despised denim. Like many who grew up poor, he associated it with hard labor and the wardrobe of the working class. That didn’t stop him or his management from capitalizing on a great marketing opportunity, though.

Flash forward to some of Spring/Summer 2019’s biggest menswear trends, and Presley’s wardrobe looks au courant: the full-leather look he wore for his ‘68 Comeback Special mirrors looks glimpsed on the Givenchy runway; double denim, seen in Jailhouse Rock and also at Sacai and Off-White; or elevated statement tailoring, which appeared at Thom Browne and Paul Smith and harkened to looks created for Presely by Lansky Bros. and Nudie’s Rodeo Tailors.

One auction item that might appeal to anyone trying to find something to pair with their blue suede shoes: a deep blue suede jacket purchased by Presley at Jackman Las Vegas. Timeless and utilitarian, yet on trend.


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