Elvis: Innovator and Icon of Fashion

Stunning. Just one word sums up how Elvis Presley looked, and it was more than just his chiseled facial features. His charisma and voice are what helped catapult the boy from Tupelo to super-stardom, but you can bet  his personal style is one of the things that set him apart from other acts found on stage at the time, keeping him in the spotlight and in the hearts and minds of many. He will forever be known as an icon of music, film and fashion.

As New York City kicks into high gear for Fashion Week, we revisit some of the King’s signature looks, some of them found on display here at Graceland in Memphis.

One of the earliest fashions that made him the talk of any town he was in while on tour was his gold outfit originally designed for his manager Colonel Parker, but later altered to fit Elvis. The influential suit featured pants and the sparkly coat, Elvis felt restricted in the pants that also shed gold flakes when moving as he did on stage. Eventually he traded the gold pants for black ones wearing just the coat that alone still caused a stir in every city. The suit was almost as famous as Elvis, a marketing ploy by Colonel Parker involved having the suit brought into a performance venue the day prior by armored vehicle, ensuring press coverage of the delivery and pre-promotion for Elvis’ concert the following day. The jacket is presently on display in Elvis’ Hawaii: Music, Movies and More exhibit at the Graceland Crossing which through February of 2016, displayed the way he wore it when making his first appearance in the Aloha State in 1957.

Viva Las Vegas jacket

Elvis’ Red Jacket from “Viva Las Vegas”

It is virtually impossible to forget Elvis’ steamy performance in Viva Las Vegas with co-star Ann Margaret, the signature tune has become the official anthem of Sin City. As Elvis crooned this classic tune in the finale of what would be his highest grossing film ever, he was wearing a custom red shirt with zipper that is now featured in the 60 Years of Elvis Exhibit at Graceland. The swivel of Elvis’ hips while dancing was known to make his shirts come un-tucked at times, and this particular piece of wardrobe is more of a costume piece comes with straps sewn to the bottom of the shirt that buttoned into the lining of his pants, ensuring his shirt being out of place was never the reason for a re-shoot.

Elvis TCB Ring

Elvis’ famous TCB ring

He is known around the world as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, Graceland is his castle, so naturally there must be some crown jewels lying around the place – or on display. Perhaps the most famous piece of bling in all of Elvis fashion is his signature TCB ring found in the 60 Years of Elvis exhibit. Don’t let your jaws drop on these astonishing stats, this signature ring custom designed for the King by Memphis jeweler Lowell Hayes features 52 diamonds that create two lightning bolts and the letters TCB, along with an 11.5 carat diamond in the center of the piece. WOWZERS! That is quite a rock.

Whether it was the ring on his finger or the shirt on his back, Elvis’ fashion was always setting style trends rather than adapting to them.


1 Comment

  1. Letitia Ryan

    Elvis had it all – no one compares to his individuality. He had style. Love that TCB ring.

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