November 5, 2011

Uptown Friday Night — Dressing for a Night at the Uptown Theatre

Bill Matteson
Uptown Chicago History Correspondent

We couldn't wait for Friday night to roll around. The Uptown Theater was the place for picking up girls, the balcony and the mezzanine. Some times we would dress up for the occasion. The clothes we wore all had special names: One button roll, Drapes, Pegs, Slim Jim, Drop Loops, Outer Seams, Mr. B. and Box Cars. This was in the early 50's and reminiscent of the Zoot suits of the 40's.

The suit jacket, one button roll was a longer jacket; it came down close to the knees and had only one button that buttoned just below the belt. Prior to that all suits were either double breasted or single breasted with three buttons.

The pants, called drapes or pegs, had the cuffs way narrower than normal, allowing them to blouse out over the shoes, sort of a reverse bell bottom.

Drop loops were the belt loops and were two inches down from the waist edge of the pants, the outer seam had about a half inch flap of material running down the side.

The shirt Mr B was named for Billy Eckstine, a singer. The collar on the shirt flared out like butterfly wings.

Slim Jims were the narrow tie and belt we wore, the belt being about a half inch wide and the tie being about one inch wide.

Box cars were the square-toed shoes that looked like they belonged in a Frankenstein movie.

We bought the shoes from Flagg Bros on Broadway. My one-button powder blue suit came from Leland and Sheridan. Now I am all dressed up with only one place to go: the Uptown mezzazine.

Now I don't care how dressed up you were, if your wardrobe didn't contain an article from "Smokey Joes," you just weren't dressed properly. Smokey Joes was on Halsted just north of Maxwell .


bill Matteson said...

From a reader

Oh that brings back memories. Met a lot of guys at the Uptown. Think I dated almost all of the ushers. Of course since I lived next door to the Uptown all the big shots at the Uptown knew who I was. The engineer would walk by (in the mezanine(?), and say Good evening . But it was the place to be on Friday nights. Sunday afternoon was the Rivera. Keep up the good work. It's fun reading about "the old days". Can you imagine that our teen years were the old days? .

bill Matteson said...

Wonder if anyone remembers the Candy Drum right next door to the Uptown. It was the teen hangout for the immediate neighborhood (and of course the ushers). There were two Greek owners and they kind of watched out for everyone.

Anonymous said...

Very interesting! I'm really into vintage clothing so your descriptions fed my imagination. Too bad you don't have photos, too. BTW, your writing is getting better all of the time-keep posting, plz.


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