Marlboro Plaidorama - Manlygirl, girlyman.

Hey, you know how the stereotype of The Fifties is that they loved themselves some plaid? Well, Marlboro Sportswear was getting cranked up for The Fifties in 1949 with their Plaidorama ad campaign. What's the secret ingredient? Extra plaid!

For me, the corniness of The Fifties and Sixitied ruined plaid for me. My childhood was spent seeing reruns of Leave it to Beaver, Brady Bunch and Father Knows best - shows populated with apple-cheeked lads in requisite plaid shirts. At the same time, there was a cedar chest upstairs full of hand-me-down shirts from my brothers just waiting to plaid me up as soon as I fit into them. Bad luck for me that there wasn't a collection of Evel Knievel t-shirts ready to be worn, which is what I would have preferred.

Plaid existed before 1950, of course. It's super old, and in case you've spent your life up to this point with your head stuck in a barrel, it's generally associated with Scotland, where it could be generally used to distinguish one clan from another - or at least what region you were from. However, the earliest known tartan fabric was found in western Austria, Scandanavia, and even... China? Whatever.

So, as a kid, my understanding of plaid was that you wore it because it was there, and that "aw-shucks" dorks on TV wore it. Guess what? To this day I don't like plaid. I have a few plaid shirts, but they're of the ironic "Hey! I'm a rock-a-billy cowboy!" variety. I still feel like Eddie Haskell when I wear plaid. My girlfriend reminds me that plaid is very "in" right now, but I don't care. It was "in" before. It will go OUT again soon. In 1822, there was a "tartan craze" when George IV visited Scotland and brought Tartan popularity home with him. So you see, this bandwagon has been through town before.

In The Seventies, plaid was the livery of used car salesmen and wieners like Herb Tarlek, which did nothing to improve it's coolness. So, to this day, I prefer stripes. For a while, Braveheart brought tartan close to coolness again, but Mel Gibson's "personal interestingness" has put it back cultural short bus, I think.

Plaid cannot be taken seriously. To this end, I have painted two bike helmets in a plaid pattern, which I can tell you, isn't easy. Plaid doesn't want to work on a spherical surface. But, if you want it badly enough, it can be done. Hint: 90% masking time, 10% spraying time. It's possible  to finish a bike race in "dead middle" and still be treated like a hero by your competitors, and that's with a DIY plaid helmet.

Plaid definitely prefers to be applied to square surfaces, like the geek in this Marlboro ad. He's about as square as it gets.

"Hey Tad, your assless dockers really accentuate your ass!"


Steve Miller said...

Dave Barry once wrote that "Dockers are the pants for the big-butted man." Something like that, anyway. Still more complimentary than Herb Tarleck's jacket!

Jim D. said...

. . . set up a quick score?

Anonymous said...

The best thing about plaid:


Ludicrous Speed!!!


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