It’s been some time since the last ElvisBlog post on items of Elvis’ wardrobe. Not that much has been offered for sale at auction recently, but by combining those at the last three Auctions at Graceland we get a nice selection.
Blue Suede Jacket:
The first picture above shows the coat, and the second one is a long shot of Elvis wearing it over his shoulders. It’s too bad there isn’t a close-up picture of Elvis with it on, because it would made an excellent addition to the portfolio of Elvis as a fashion icon. This luxurious blue-suede jacket was custom made for him at a Hollywood shop called Hell Bent for Leather. It features zipper pocket and a front tie through two grommets. It sold for $4,750 including the 25% auction premium.
Rainfall” Pattern, Button-Down, Dress Shirt:
Elvis gave many items of his personal wardrobe to his hair stylist Homer “Gill” Gilleland, and most of these have now found their way to auction. The website said this about shirts like this with polyester fabric and bold patterns utilizing abstract themes. “They were all the rage from the late 1960s through the mid-1970s as styles moved from psychedelic and bled into disco. The offered garment most likely emanates from the latter end of that period, with its burgeoning collar and cuffs, use of earth tones and kickin’ rainfall pattern.”
The website also says, “few have the strongly distinct look of “Elvis” that this shirt does.” Bidders agreed and someone shelled out $5,250 to buy it.
Brown-and-White Diamond Pattern Shirt:
We’ll look at several shirts in this post, but this one has an especially interesting. Remember how it was difficult to get Elvis into the recording studio in 1976, so they finally set up a session in the Jungle Room at Graceland. After a day of recording, Charlie Hodge told the assembled musicians and back-up singers that Elvis was redoing his entire wardrobe and wanted the guys to come upstairs and pick what they wanted.
This shirt was one of several items Elvis offered to Larry Strickland, a member of the Stamps gospel group. In his accompanying letter, Larry recalls the “pretty surreal” experience of standing in Elvis’ bedroom closet with him having Elvis hold his own clothes up to Larry as if to see if they were a good fit.
This brown-and-white diamond patterned shirt features a high Napoleonic collar and the elastic bicep band that cinched to create a flounced effect to the sleeve. In the ’70s Elvis had several of the same style custom made in varying patterned fabrics. It sold for $4,000.
Blue Munsingwear Pajama Top:
Sometimes, interesting items are included with Elvis’ clothes offered at auction. Elvis gave this pajama top to Sheila Ryan, whom Elvis dated for a while in 1975 after Linda Thompson. Sheila was an October 1973 Playboy cover girl, and was introduced to him by Joe Esposito in Las Vegas.
After her time with Elvis, Sheila Ryan dated actor James Caan and later married him. So this issue of Movie Mirror was included for some reason. Don’t you like the subtitle: Elvis Wins in Hollywood Love Swap. The pajama top attracted 17 bids and went for $3,125
White Factor/Rothschild Pajama Top:
This is another pajama top that Elvis gave to Sheila Ryan. I wonder what happened to the bottoms. They probably stayed in Elvis’ bureau drawers. He would certainly have preferred his ladies to wear just the tops.
This one just doesn’t have the Elvis cool factor of the previous blue one, and it brought only $2,375 at auction.
White Button-Down Shirt with Blue Circles Pattern:
This white shirt with blue concentric circle pattern was custom designed by Bill Belew, known for creating Elvis’ famous jumpsuits. But he also designed both performance and personal wardrobes for Elvis. This shirt was made in the summer of 1968 after the production of seven or eight outfits for Elvis’ TV Special, the most famous being the black leather outfit.
This shirt has the high Napoleonic collar Elvis favored in his jumpsuits and elastic at the biceps and wrists. Like almost all Elvis clothing that comes up for sale, it is one he gave away. The lucky recipient was uncle Vester Presley. Bidding on it topped out at $3,375.
Zig-Zag Design Shirt:
The auction website states, “Men’s fashion trends of the 1970s included glam rock and disco styles, with Elvis always being at the forefront as this groovy shirt exemplifies.” The black, brown, yellow and white patterned shirt has the high Napoleonic collar that Elvis favored and the flounced puff sleeves with elastic at the bicep like we have seen before. This was the second Elvis shirt in the auction that he gave to Stamps member Larry Strickland.
He never wore it and kept it in storage for years until his wife, Naomi Judd, was selling her stage clothes for charity. Larry decided to include the shirts in the benefit auction. I don’t know what it sold for then, but in 2017, it brought $4,400.
White Munsingwear Pajamas:
Now we have a full set of pajamas. Elvis never gave the top away to a girlfriend, but there is a good story to tell, anyway. The pajamas were recovered from the Lisa Marie airplane, along with a number of other personal items, after he passed away in August 1977. The pajamas were offered with a letter from Richard Grob, one of Elvis’ bodyguards from 1967 through 1977, in which he details the circumstances surrounding acquiring the pajamas from the plane:
“This was owned and worn by Elvis Presley. Shortly after August 16, 1977, when Elvis Presley, passed away, Vernon Presley, Elvis father, asked me to go to the airport and check the Lisa Marie, Elvis’ airplane. Vernon asked me to remove any items on the aircraft that maybe were left by Elvis when the plane was last used. I went through everything in the main cabin as well as the cargo areas below, in the aircraft belly. The result of my search produced weapons, clothing, papers and other items. Some of these items I was very familiar with since I was present when Elvis acquired them and I knew he did not wish to take them to Graceland so his father would not know about them. (Editor’s note: what do you think they might have been?) Upon completing my search I informed Vernon of all the items I located, and he told me to keep them. These items have been in my possession.”
“Elvis would wear these pajamas on the aircraft while traveling after a concert. Elvis would be hot and sweaty from the show and would strip out of his jump suit he wore during the show and put the pajamas on to rest. When we were about to land he would change from the pajamas into other clothes to leave the aircraft. Elvis last wore these pajamas on the evening of June 26, 1977 when he left Indianapolis Indiana after doing his last show and was flying back to Memphis.”
Only two bids were received, but the pajamas brought in $4,200.
“EP” Monogrammed Dress Shirt:
This is another article of clothing that Elvis gave to hairstylist Homer Gilleland. This blow-up shows the EP monogram on the left breast pocket.
This is a rather plain shirt compared to most that we have seen, and the condition is questionable. The shirt has moderate wear and has one button missing from the back of the collar. There is some mild but extensive staining on several areas of the shirt. The collar tag has been removed, leaving a small tear in its place. In spite of this, it still sold for $4,000.
Blue Dress Shirt from The Trouble with Girls:
While the other shirts we looked all sold for $4-5,000, this one topped out at $13,750. The others were shirts Elvis actually owned, not part of a movie wardrobe. You would think his personal shirts would be the most sought after. So, why so much for this one. My guess is because there are numerous screen shots available of him wearing it in the movie.
It seems to me that the value of any Elvis shirt is greatly enhanced by a photograph of him wearing it. None of the other shirts had any collaborating photographs. They were accompanied by a letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated. There’s no way that’s as cool as a sharp color photo.
Black Shirt, Black Pants and Gold Metal Belt Ensemble:
I really like the description on the auction website: “Elvis owned a lot of clothing during his lifetime, but few outfits scream ELVIS like the offered trio of a jet-black shirt, pants and metallic gold belt.” It came with a number of photographs of him wearing the outfit, but they are long distance snapshots that don’t show Elvis or the clothes off to best advantage.
Elvis gave the outfit to Harold Loyd, his first cousin on his mother’s side. Loyd worked as a nightshift gate guard at Graceland until Elvis’ death.
In addition to the letter of authenticity from Graceland Authenticated, there was also a letter written by Loyd on TCB stationary. Unfortunately, it contained many spelling errors, including short words like about, his, the, and worst of all, shirt. He left out the R, resulting the funniest authenticating document I’ve ever read.
The good news is that the three-piece outfit sold for $37,500
Hawaiian-Style Sport Coat:
As much as the previous black pants and shirt outfit screamed ELVIS, this sport coat seems to scream NOT-ELVIS. He bought it off the rack in Honolulu in March 1961, when filming Blue Hawaii.
It is yet another item Elvis gave to his hairstylist Homer “Gil” Gilleland. Since it shows almost no wear, Elvis probably realized his mistake buying it when he got back to Memphis, and quickly gave it away. It went for $6,550 at auction, and I wonder what the price might have been if there had been a photo of him wearing it included. If there had been one, it definitely would not have made the portfolio of Elvis as a fashion icon.
© 2017 Philip R Arnold, Original Elvis Blogmeister All Rights Reserved www.ElvisBlog.net
Elvis, Elvis Presley, and Graceland are registered trademarks of Elvis Presley Enterprises, Inc.