Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Nazis Had the Best Uniforms, Part II

And the awards for the saddest (haute couture term) uniforms of WWII go to:

The United States

Unlike the Germans, the Americans had a certain casual elegance (perhaps a little ahead of its time), though much of their equipment was too homely and improvised-looking for my taste. The Euclidean rigor just wasn't there. But, hey, it got the job done, right? Yowza!

Still, while the Nazis were purists with the golden mean and other artfully appropriated elements of the finely-turned ankle of the Greco-Roman aesthetic, the Yanks' earlier take on classicism (during the Gilded Age) was a more sentimental late-Victorian version. I guess because they were homesick for the "old country" or something.

But "home" had moved on. And, to be fair, so did the US, proceeding to do Art Deco rather well. And gangsters. The Thompson submachine gun and Colt automatic pistol are handsome, original, boxy-looking small arms. Guns we can really do.

And Britain

For their part, the Brits had gone a bit soft, aesthetically, since the Neoclassical rigor of the Georgian period. They never quite recovered from the frilly Victorian era and the influence of the lovely but limp-wristed Pre-Raphaelites; they never quite recovered from WWI; and they never quite recovered from having their asses kicked by the Americans ...and, well, everyone other than the Germans.

But, with a bit of help from their friends (all of whom had either kicked their butts or had their butts kicked by them at some point), the efficacious use of chewing gum and rubber bands, and a little man at the bottom of every garden to fix the oil leaks, the Brits did win the war. Such a shame about the baggy, olive drab fatigues and wok-like helmets.

I will say the British sailors looked quite dapper, particularly the submariners and merchant marine in their thick wool sweaters. Come to think of it, the excessive glamor of the Royal Navy may account for Britannia no longer ruling the waves after WWII.

British submariners photograph by "Tubby" Abrahams.

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