Elliott Gould’s Poolside Leisurewear in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Elliott Gould as Ted Henderson, married attorney with a wandering eye
Los Angeles, Summer 1969
Film: Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice
Release Date: September 17, 1969
Director: Paul Mazursky
Costume Designer: Moss Mabry
Every month, particularly when passing the time under lockdown this spring, I look forward to the Criterion Channel announcing its new releases which also making it a priority to watch any films leaving the service. When I saw that Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice would be leaving at the end of May 2020, I knew this was my opportunity to watch this influential film considered to be emblematic of the late ’60s zeitgeist. Groundbreaking for its time, Paul Mazurky’s sex comedy enjoyed a recent resurgence in interest as one of ten films Quentin Tarantino cited as a direct influence on his latest hit, Once Upon a Time in Hollywood.
The film presents what feels like a realistic depiction of how the burgeoning “free love” attitude was interpreted by a mature generation neither too young to openly embrace it nor too old to outright dismiss it, balancing both authentic affection and gentle parody for the Esalen-like philosophy that drove the open-minded couple Bob (Robert Culp) and Carol (Natalie Wood) to explore alternatives to their traditional marriage.
The other half of the film’s titular foursome are Ted (Elliott Gould) and Alice (Dyan Cannon), presenting a more conservative yin to Bob and Carol’s yang. Alice in particular is not enthused by her friends’ new attitude, but Ted admits some curiosity during a poolside chat with Bob about marital fidelity. Ted confides to an almost-effervescent Bob that he once kissed a secretary, Naomi, and he’s been feeling too guilty about that to even consider cheating on Alice down the road. Bob urges him to satisfy any future desire: “Well, look at you, man… you got the guilt anyway, don’t waste it!”
While the emphasis is meant to be on the context of their conversation, I was immediately intrigued by Ted’s summer-friendly leisurewear, which struck me as a cinematic example of the retro-driven offerings of Dandy Del Mar, a southern California-based outfitter that celebrates “reviving the art of leisure through timeless resortwear.”
I first came across Dandy Del Mar on Instagram (@eldandydelmar), where I was captivated by a festive parade of carefree carousing, cocktails, and Cadillacs. At the center of this laidback luxury was a mustached hero, straight out of the early ’70s golden age of leisure, constantly clad in comfortable terrycloth and never far from a beautiful woman or a refreshing drink.
Intrigued, I soon contacted the Dandy who was gracious enough to answer some of my questions:
Where and when does the Dandy’s story begin?
The Dandy story begins with a desire to create a contemporary version of a lifestyle that seems to have been lost in time. Influenced by yesteryear’s style, colors, and patterns from the most popular destinations near the equator, the brand is the manifestation of years of travel and subconscious inspirations and musings channeled into Leisurewear.
Did any movies, shows, ads, or other media particularly inspire the pieces you offer?
We are absolutely influenced by all these things and much more. Specifically though, we love Alain Delon’s Plein soleil, Pierrot le fou, old alcohol and cigarette magazine ads, travel campaigns, books, and even architecture. Our brand floral print, the Gardenia, is actually a reworking of Spanish tile work that we saw on a trip to Spain so we try to stay as open-minded as possible to where our ideas and inspiration come from.
Dandy Del Mar seems to follow a fixed color set of blue, orange, and white. What drove these specific choices?
A lot of that came out of necessity. Being a young brand, we were pretty limited in the depth of the range we could offer starting out. We’ve always loved the Burnt Sienna color and feel it’s very wearable. In addition to that, there’s something so classic about white terrycloth. However, as we grow, we’ve been super excited about expanding the color range in the line.
Is there a vision for expanding the brand, whether it’s new styles, colors, or pieces?
Absolutely! We have a lot of things currently in the works. New footwear styles, some linen pieces, and even women’s. Our goal is to become a resource for folks that are looking for “leisurewear”, which means broadening our line and what we offer. Something we’re really psyched about doing.
What is the Dandy lifestyle?
I would say the Dandy Lifestyle boils down to five key ingredients: sun, water, company, food, and drink. You get those in the right ratio and you’re well on your way to living the life of leisure.
Any tips for growing a Dandy-style mustache?
Still trying to figure out the science behind it but, so far, sipping tequila seems to show the most promising results.
What’d He Wear?
Ted enthusiastically jumps into the pool appropriately clad in his saturated dark blue swim trunks with substantial white vertical stripes. Unlike more modern trends in men’s swimwear, these trunks have a longer rise to Gould’s natural waist just above his navel, fitted through the hips with a short inseam that ends high on each thigh. Devoid of drawstrings, tabs, or any other visible waistband adjustment, the trunks fasten through just a single button on the center of the waist line.
For dryer chapters of the day spent reclining beside his pal in an Adirondack, Ted sports a burnt orange terrycloth cabana shirt, textured in a repeating zig-zag pattern like a large-scaled herringbone.
Perusing the Dandy Del Mar offerings, the Tropez Terry Cloth Shirt in burnt sienna French terry and the Mallorca Swim-Walk Short in “deep-sea” stripe polyester provide natty alternatives to Gould’s poolside garb.
Terrycloth was first mass-produced in England around 1850, when Christy standardized this water-absorbent piled fabric for bath towels. Towels and bathrobes remained the primary utility for terrycloth for the better part of a century, until the global embrace of leisure and decreased formality standards took terrycloth from bath to beach.
By the 1960s and ’70s, terry toweling shirts were an increasingly common item in a man’s holiday wardrobe, worn on screen by icons ranging from Alain Delon in Plein soleil (1960) to Sean Connery as James Bond in Diamonds are Forever (1971). Between he and Bob, Ted may be the more conservative of the two, but his choice in poolside leisurewear proves that he’s no slouch in keeping up with the latest fashion trends.
Though Gould insouciantly wears it open, almost like a robe, his orange terry shirt can be buttoned up a plain front with recessed metal sew-through buttons which match those that close each of the two flapped chest pockets. Seen most clearly when slung over a chair while Ted is in the pool talking to Bob, the shirt also has two open patch pockets on the hips.
Resting atop Ted’s head through his controversial conversation with Bob are a pair of dark tortoiseshell sunglasses with large round frames and elongated silver temple logos initially suggested the possibility of Persol, at the time an eyewear brand favored by “King of Cool” himself; indeed Steve McQueen can be seen wearing his own Persols while sporting an orange beach shirt of his own in similar repose in The Thomas Crown Affair (1968). However, the single pin rivet on each outer side of the frame
Ted also wears a ring on each hand, a plain gold wedding band (of course) on the third finger of his left hand and what appears to be a large gold class ring with a green stone on the third finger of his right hand.
Ted’s white slip-on shoes with their canvas uppers and rubber soles appear similar to the Vans that Robert Culp wears in other scenes not just in this movie but also the hit series I Spy, which had just completed its three-season run before Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice was produced.
How to Get the Look
From its burnt orange color to the exaggerated details and texture, Ted’s French terry cabana shirt in Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice sets a Gould standard for leisurewear in the decadent decade to follow.
- Burnt orange herringbone-textured terrycloth short-sleeve cabana shirt with notched camp collar, button-flap chest pockets, and patch hip pockets
- Navy white-striped short-inseam swim trunks
- White canvas slip-on shoes
- Dark tortoise round-framed sunglasses
- Gold class ring with green stone
- Gold wedding band
While some may argue the merits of terrycloth clothing, I find it uniquely suitable for a day at the beach or pool, the perfect layer intersection of form and function that dries its wearer and regulates temperature, providing warmth after emerging from the water but still wearing cool enough to be comfortable on a hot summer afternoon.
Do Yourself a Favor and…
Check out the movie.
If you’re interested in retro-minded summer comfort, whether relaxing on the Riviera or simply bringing the spirit of Saint-Tropez to your terrace, I recommend exploring the unique wares of Dandy Del Mar.