Knowledgeable Elvis fans are aware that he had a penchant for flashy, unconventional clothing. In the 50s, this inclination was frequently expressed in pink wardrobe items, especially shirts. On December 13, Heritage Auctions held another of their Music and Entertainment Auctions, and two pink Elvis shirts went to new owners for healthy prices. We have seen these shirts in iconic photos for years, and now the story behind them has been told in the auction catalog.
Remember this picture? Elvis is in front of his Caddy on the street in downtown Memphis. The pink short-sleeve shirt he is wearing sold for $14,340, including the auction house buyer’s premium of 19.5%.
The most distinctive feature of the shirt is the black band woven in-and-out of the collar. This makes it easy to identify the shirt in other photographs of Elvis.
Elvis bought the shirt in 1956 from his favorite clothing store in Memphis, Lansky Brothers.
Lansky Brothers Label in Pink and Black Shirt
Elvis wore the shirt for a year or two, and then put it into storage. During the 70’s, Elvis’ dad, Vernon gave a donation to the Salvation Army each year. He gave them some of Elvis’ old, no-longer-worn wardrobe. In 1974, this shirt was the gift, and Vernon accompanied it with a letter on TCB stationary.
Here is another famous photo of Elvis on September 8, 1954. Like he did in the first photo, Elvis posed with his foot on the bumper of a car. This time, the car is not his, but the 1953 Chevy Bel Air owned by Scotty Moore’s wife. When Elvis, Scotty, and Bill first started touring, this is the car they used to get to the venues. You can see that the shot was taken in front of Sam Phillips’ Memphis Recording Studio, the forerunner of Sun Records.
This pink shirt was not sold alone, but as part of a combination lot. The black pants, the pink shirt, and the black-and-white shoes were offered as a set, and it proved to be in high demand. The final bid was $19,717. In this case, the black pants with the pink piping down the side seam and the pink back pocket tabs may have been the biggest draw.
Elvis purchased both the shirt and pants at Lansky Brothers, and both have the famous Lansky label sewn in.
The shoes offered in this set are not the one in the first picture, but they definitely belonged to Elvis.
This is documented by a separate photo of the band performing at the Sportatorium in Dallas in May, 1955.
Two things are important in maximizing the bids for Elvis clothing: pictures of him wearing it, and letters certifying that Elvis did own the items. For this set, the auction provided a letter from Elvis’ Aunt Delta.
I love her honesty. She had possession of the clothing because Elvis gave them to her to tighten some buttons. Obviously, she never did his request.
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