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How to dress like Elvis Presley

Updated on March 15, 2011

Elvis Presley - Groundbreaking Style?

A lot of people might not realize it, but Elvis Presley's stylish clothing was considered very daring during his early years. The sharp suits and hairstyles were very uncommon among young white men, especially those from Mississippi. He was dressing in a style that was more reminiscent of his musical roots than his cultural heritage.

For decades before Elvis became popular black musicians in the United States had been on the forefront of men's fashion. Their clothing was impeccably tailored and never seemed old fashioned. Elvis took many cues from those black musicians, including in the style department. Bernard Lansky picked out many of Elvis' outfits in the early years, and he described the Elvis look as "clean as Ajax". Although Elvis would later stray from his sartorially gifted roots during his whole Vegas phase with the sequined leisure suits, Lansky was there at the end to dress Elvis' body for his burial. He went back to the look Elvis started in -- just a man in a sharp-looking suit trying to impress a country.

Let's take a look at some of the basics of the Elvis Presley look: 

The two-piece suit

In his early years of performing, Elvis almost always wore a two piece suit. The suit included pegged pants and I believe he wore several different colors, but never strayed too far from the simple navy to black tone. When he appeared on the Ed Sullivan Show, he wore a plaid jacket chosen and tailored by Bernard Lansky. That was about as risky as the suits got in terms of color.

I think an important thing to learn from Elvis' style is that you can be on the cutting edge without being a clown. I just wish he had learned this before he got all blinged out during his final years. 

The dress shirt

Unlike hipsters today, Elvis didn't wear a t-shirt under his suit jacket. Always the proper southern gentleman (when he wasn't dancing), he wore a tailored dress shirt. The collar he preferred is sometimes called a hi-boy. Since he often played concerts in the south during the summer, his dress shirts were often made of linen or other light materials.  

The knit tie

Don't hate on the knit tie. Make it your friend. Elvis wore one, often in lighter colors like beige or white or even a sky blue, and The Beatles wore black knit ties with square bottoms when they got off the plane at JFK Airport on their first trip to the United States. There's really no reason a couple knit ties should not be part of your tie collection, and yes, you should have a tie collection. A gentleman should have about one tie for every day of the month.

The great thing about the knit tie is the casualness of it. It's a tie, which indicates a degree of formality, but because it's knit it adds texture to an outfit and doesn't look too stodgy. It allows you to be cool and proper at the same time, which is really what the Elvis look is all about: appearing to be square to appeal to parents while actually being bold to appeal to the younger generation. 

Dress shoes

Find me a picture of Elvis where he isn't wearing a pair of polished dress shoes or saddle shoes. There's something inherently edgy about someone wearing a pair of clean shoes while performing dance moves that make grandmothers scowl with anger.  


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  • DIYweddingplanner profile image

    DIYweddingplanner 6 years ago from South Carolina, USA

    The Elvis impersonators will be all over this... great hub!