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11 Comfy Facts About Keds

Keds have been alive longer than Betty White, Dick van Dyke, and Marshmallow Fluff. The brand turns 100 years old this year, and it’s already celebrating with Ciara-endorsed blowouts. But if the brand was being historically accurate, they probably should have invited some tennis stars and clowns to the party. On the occasion of Keds’s centennial, here’s how the brand got involved with a Beatles wedding and taught teenage girls to be popular back in the 1930s.

1. THEY WERE CREATED BY THE UNITED STATES RUBBER COMPANY.

Keds didn’t originate in the brain of a 1910s sneakerhead; they were created by a rubber corporation. United States Rubber Company created the shoes during its reign as the largest rubber manufacturer in America. The group was formed in 1892 after nine companies based in Naugatuck, Connecticut, decided to merge. It dominated the industry for several decades, until it lost power and was eventually bought by Michelin in 1989. By that point it was going by its new name, Uniroyal.

2. THEY WERE SUPPOSED TO BE CALLED PEDS.

The name Keds was actually a compromise. The company initially planned to call the shoes Peds, after the Latin word for foot, but another firm held the trademark. So Keds and Veds were proposed as alternatives; Keds won out because it had a stronger sound.

3. WOMEN WERE INSTRUMENTAL IN THEIR MARKETING.

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When Keds arrived in 1916, the women’s athletic shoe market was nonexistent. So ladies quickly flocked to these new “outing shoes” with flat rubber soles. But even after Keds were no longer considered revolutionary, women continued to fuel their popularity. In the 1940s through the 1960s, actresses like Katharine Hepburn, Marilyn Monroe, and Audrey Hepburn gave the shoes free publicity by wearing them. Years later, Jennifer Grey would revive them again with Dirty Dancing. No wonder Keds chose “Ladies first since 1916” as its centennial ad campaign.

4. CECIL B. DEMILLE’S BROTHER APPEARED IN EARLY ADS.

Director Cecil B. DeMille is still remembered today for his old Hollywood epics and help with the famous line, “I’m ready for my close-up, Mr. DeMille.” But he wasn’t the only DeMille in town. His older brother William was also a director, and apparently a big fan of athletic shoes. He endorsed Keds in a 1924 newspaper advertisement where he extolled their virtues on the tennis court. “I’ve worn these for 101 sets on my own cement court—and they’re easily good for 50 more,” he said in the ad. “That’s three times the amount of wear I generally get. I thought you would like to know about it.”

5. FEMALE TENNIS STARS GAVE THE SIGNATURE SHOE ITS NAME.

By Bundesarchiv, Bild 102-07879 / CC-BY-SA 3.0, CC BY-SA 3.0 de, Wikimedia Commons

The “classic” Keds shoe is now called the Champion, and you can thank 1920s tennis players for that. (Meaning the pros, not William C. DeMille.) After the company noticed lady tennis stars like Helen Wills wearing the sneakers on the court, Keds advertised the footwear as the shoe of champions. Apparently, that word had a nice ring to it and the signature sneaks were rebranded.

6. “KEDETTES” DEBUTED BY 1930.

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The fact that Keds did not have heels was a big part of their early draw. But eager to expand its offerings, the company unveiled a new line of “Kedettes” around 1930 that incorporated heels and wedges. As this vintage ad illustrates, Kedettes featured many spins on the oxford style—think moccasin oxfords, open-toed oxfords, and blucher oxfords. But they also had flats by 1959. While it’s unclear when exactly the line folded, the ads seem to have vanished around the 1960s.

7. KEDS STARTED AN ADVICE COLUMN FOR “GIRLS WHO WANT TO BE POPULAR.”

Also in the 1930s, Keds decided to get in on the advice column game. The company sponsored Nancy Dell’s Corner "for girls who want to be popular,” in which the titular Miss Dell answered letters from inquiring teenagers. Although the Keds ad copy didn’t appear until the bottom, Dell clearly promoted the shoes with her emphasis on “naturalness” and interest in sports. But this was mostly spun as a way to meet boys, and sometimes Dell got embarrassingly antiquated. In one of her queasier bits of advice, she cautioned, “Books are interesting but they don’t afford half the chance for laughing, noisy argument that a ‘net ball’ or a tricky basket shot does.”

8. THERE WAS A CLOWN MASCOT NAMED KEDSO.

In order to reach the 1950s kids glued to their new television sets, Keds created Kedso the animated clown. He appeared in commercials with a tiny top hat and sneakers, encouraging children to join him in singing the “Keds song.” He also hung out with a pair of live-action kids, as you’ll see in the clip above.

9. PRO KEDS DOMINATED THE EARLY 1970S BASKETBALL SCENE.

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Keds tried to position itself as the basketball shoe of choice just as the NBA was taking off in the late 1960s and early 1970s. Its line of Pro Keds (which had been around since 1949) landed serious attention after crucial endorsements from basketball icons like Kareem Abdul-Jabbar. He appeared in ads for the shoes alongside Jo Jo White, Nate Archibald, Bob Love, and Lou Hudson. The campaign turned the shoes into a hit, but the success didn’t last. Heavyweights like Nike and Adidas soon muscled Keds out of the basketball scene. Yet the shoes still maintained retro cred with people like Damon Dash, who rebooted the brand in 2005.

10. THE RAMONES WORE KEDS BEFORE THEY BECAME THE POSTER BOYS FOR CHUCK TAYLORS.

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Google “Ramones + Chuck Taylors” and you’ll find picture after picture of the punk band sporting those sneakers. The link is so strong that Converse execs keep framed photos of The Ramones in their offices. But the musicians actually wore Keds first. As Tommy Ramone told Spin, “Mostly, we wore Keds. It’s basically an urban legend that the Ramones always wore Chuck Taylors. On the cover of the first Ramones album from 1976 we’re all wearing a kind of Keds that’s almost like a woman’s shoe. On the cover of Punk magazine No. 3, there’s a John Holmstrom illustration of Joey wearing what look like Chuck Taylors. We got caricatured early on as wearing them. Later on, Dee Dee and Marky, who replaced me, they wore Chuck Taylors.”

11. YOKO ONO GOT MARRIED IN KEDS.

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Yoko Ono has always been an unconventional lady, and that’s reflected in the outfit she chose for her 1969 wedding to John Lennon. Instead of a puffy ball gown, she selected a wide-brimmed hat, mini skirt, shirt, knee socks, and classic Keds. But she made at least one nod to tradition: It was all white.

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Learn to Tie a Tie in Less Than 2 Minutes
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For most men—and Avril Lavigne-imitators—learning to tie a tie is an essential sartorial skill. Digg spotted this video showing how you can tie one the simple way, with a tabletop method that works just as well if you’re going to wear the tie yourself or if you're tying it together for someone else who doesn't share your skills.

The whole technique is definitely easier to master while watching the video below, but here's a short rundown: As laid out by the lifehack YouTube channel DaveHax, the method requires you to lay the tie out on a table, folded in half as if you're about to loop it around your neck.

With the back of the tie facing up, you loop over each end, then twist the thinner of the two loops around itself so it ends up looking like a mini-tie knot itself. You'll end up nestling the two loops together and snaking the thin tail of the tie through the whole thing. Then, essentially all you have to do is pull, and you can adjust the tie as you otherwise would to put it over your head.

Unfortunately, this won't teach you how to master the art of more complicated neckwear styles like the fancier Balthus knot or even a bow tie, but it's a pretty good start for those who have yet to figure out even the simplest tie fashions.

[h/t Digg]

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20 Old Hat Styles Due for a Comeback
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One thing that illustrated and photographic archives have taught us is that people have always known how to rock a stylish piece of headwear. From squat caps to towering toppers, history has produced a hat for every occasion. Here are 20 old styles that, with a healthy dose of fashion and confidence, could still look just as fabulous today.

1. THE CLOCHE

A woman wearing a cloche hat decorated with flowers.
Sasha, Getty Images

The sleek, head-hugging cloche was the perfect companion to the bobbed hairstyle worn by flappers in the 1920s. The hats were typically left plain to emphasize their bell-shaped silhouette, though they also offered a blank canvas for embellishment. The cloche was most popular during the Jazz Age but it’s occasionally incorporated into retro fashion styles today.

2. THE OTTOMAN HEADDRESS

A drawing of a man wearing an Ottoman headdress.

In Ottoman ceremonial costumes, hats played a starring role. The headgear often featured bright colors, feathery ornamentations, and elaborate designs that signified status. The wearer’s class, religion, gender, and clan could all be gleaned from the way the fabric in their headdress was layered.

3. THE BOWLER HAT

Oscar Wilde wearing a bowler hat in 1885.
Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The top hat was popular in the 19th century but it wasn't always the most practical choice for outdoor activities. When looking for a way to protect the heads of horseback riders from branches, brothers Thomas and William Bowler came up with their namesake cap. The bowler hat was sturdy, compact, and appropriate for most any occasion. Though the bowler hat largely fizzled out by the 1980s, the item's original London manufacturers Lock & Co. still sell thousands each year.

4. THE PILLBOX HAT

Woman wearing a pillbox hat in the 1960s.
Chaloner Woods, Getty Images

Unlike some hats from history, this one was prized for its simplicity. It could be easily identified by its brimless, round shape evoking that of a pillbox. It began gaining steam in the 1930s before reaching peak popularity with First Lady Jackie Kennedy in the 1960s.

5. THE FASCINATOR

Victoria Beckham wearing a fascinator in 2007.
Mark Mainz, Getty Images

Depending on the look you’re going for, a fascinator can be worn as a subtle accent item or a show-stealing statement piece. The hat is defined as an ornamental headpiece that’s secured to the crown using a headband or comb. Once they fit that criteria, fascinators can take the form of flowers, feathers, fabric, or whatever else the wearer can engineer to stay on their head. And though they're still popular in the U.K., Americans don't tend to utilize fascinators outside of Derby Day attire.

6. THE TRI-CORNER HAT

A tri-cornered hat from Spain, circa 1780.
Gabriel Bouys, AFP/Getty Images

In 17th century Europe and America, tri-cornered hats, or tricornes, gave men the opportunity to show off their lustrous wigs poking out from beneath the upturned brim. It's no surprise then that the hat style died out with the powdered wig fad, but that doesn't mean it isn't fit for a comeback. Even if wearers don't have wigs to flaunt, they could take a page from our forefathers' book and upgrade the hat itself with feathers, brocades, and fabrics—or maybe just sports insignias.

7. THE DEERSTALKER HAT

British actor Peter Cushing wearing a deerstalker hat circa 1960.
Keystone/Getty Images

If you’ve seen this hat anywhere, it was most likely on the head of someone portraying Sherlock Holmes. The headpiece has been tied to the character since the books were published in the 19th century (it was the illustrations—not the story—that did it, as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle never mentions the cap in the text). It’s peculiar that an urban detective would be wearing a deerstalker hat in the first place, considering they were designed for hunting game and not tracking clues, but the smartly styled hat's comeback should be ... elementary.

8. THE HENNIN

Illustration of a French woman wearing a hennin in the 15th century.
plaisanter, Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

These striking hats were a clear sign of royalty in the medieval era. Reinforced with wire or padding and draped in fine fabric, the cone-shaped hennin is still synonymous with the stereotypical princess today. English hennins were fairly modest in height, but the French version reached up to to three feet and the hat's Mongolian predecessor towered five to seven feet high.

9. THE NEWSBOY CAP

Newsboys in St. Louis in 1910.
Lewis Hine, Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This hat goes by many names (the big apple, the eight panel, the Gatsby), but its strongest association is with newsboys at the turn of the 20th century. The floppy, brimmed cap wasn't just popular with the younger working class. It was worn by men across the social ladder and was a common sight on the golf course.

10. THE PEACH BASKET HAT

Actress Marion Davies in a peach basket hat.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

The origin of this hat name isn't too hard to figure out: It resembles a bulky, over-turned fruit basket. The peach basket hat first appeared at the start of the 20th century, but it was shunned by many for being an "unpatriotic" display of vanity during the first world war. It was revived in the 1930s and experienced a popularity streak until the 1950s.

11. THE PORK PIE HAT

Actor Buster Keaton wearing his signature pork pie hat in 1939.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

This hat is known for having a domed crown inside a pinched rim, creating a shape similar to that of a certain savory pastry. The style was originally worn by women in the 19th century and was later embraced by men’s fashion in the early 1900s (thanks in part to Buster Keaton). It’s not as popular as it was in the 1920s but it recently enjoyed a brief return to the spotlight by way of the Heisenberg character on Breaking Bad.

12. THE CARTWHEEL HAT

Actress Fanny Brice wearing a cartwheel hat circa 1910.
Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Out of context, a cartwheel hat could be mistaken for an hor d'oeuvres platter or a tiny landing pad. The hat was worn slightly askew for an eye-catching look and was often crafted from luxurious materials. But after catching on in the 1930s, the broad hats have since fallen out of fashion.

13. THE CHAPEAU BRAS

Bicorne hat.
Marie-Lan Nguyen, Wikimedia Commons // CC BY 2.5

With the chapeau bras, gentlemen in the 18th century proved you don't need to compromise style for convenience. The bicorne shape of the hat was designed to both sit comfortably on a head and fold flat when tucked beneath an arm. The French name roughly translates to "hat arm." It was a popular hat style among military men in the 1800s, including U.S. admiral George Dewey.

14. THE BOUDOIR CAP

Hat on mannequin.

For a brief period at the turn of the 19th century, hair nets were fashionable. Women used boudoir caps to protect their hair while getting dressed in the morning or at night, though more stylish designs also worked as statement-making loungewear. Typically made from silk, muslin, or other lingerie fabric, the cap was the perfect companion to the kimono negligee, which was just beginning to gain popularity in the West at the time.

15. THE EUGÉNIE HAT

Illustration of Victorian woman.

The Eugénie hat is named after Empress Eugénie de Montijo, one half of France’s last reigning royal couple. It’s traditionally made from felt or velvet and worn tilted forward slightly to cover the wearer's eye. The hat saw an initial popularity spike in the mid-19th century, then a second after Greta Garbo worse a version of it in the 1930 film Romance.

16. THE GAINSBOROUGH HAT

Portrait of woman wearing hat.

Gainsborough hats, or picture hats, were popularized by 18th-century artist Thomas Gainsborough, who often depicted the society women in his portraits beneath massive headwear. The hats are known for their wide brims and over-the-top embellishments. It wasn't uncommon to see women walking around with stuffed birds perched on their hats during the style's peak.

17. THE PAMELA BONNET

Woman wearing bonnet.

Named for the protagonist of Samuel Richardson's 1740 novel, the Pamela bonnet was an elegant hat option for women in the 19th century. It's crafted from straw and tied with a ribbon in such a way that folds the wide brims against the wearer's cheeks. The sides of the hat slope down and away from the head, allowing the woman’s fashionable ringlets to peek out.

18. THE HALF HAT

The Queen wearing a half hat and waving from a car.

The sleek, close hat trend reached its peak in the 1950s with the half hat. Part-hat, part-hair accessory, the half hat cups the back of the skull and curves across the crown, stopping just short of the ears. Milliner Lilly Daché received an American Designer award for the hat in 1941.

19. THE WHOOPEE CAP

Actor wearing a hat.

The whoopee cap is best known as the crown hat Jughead wears in the Archie comics. Instead of buying a professionally-made version from a hat shop, wearers fashioned caps of their own by tattering the brims of old fedoras and turning them inside-out. The style appeared recently on Riverdale, the gritty Archie reboot, so a comeback may be on the way.

20. THE HOMBURG

British Foreign Secretary Sir Anthony Eden (right) with Neville Chamberlain, Leader of the Conservative Party, wearing Homburg hats while walking in London in 1937.
Central Press/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

The Homburg isn't a household name like the top hat or the fedora, but the men’s hat is still a classic. The style is distinguished by a curled brim and a dent depressing the center of the crown. King Edward VII launched the trend in the late 19th century. When he brought a hat back with him following a visit to Bad Homburg, Germany, the rest of the world noticed his new look and started wearing Homburg hats of their own.

A shorter version of this story originally ran in 2017.

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