That's Alright Elvis, Any Way You Do

by Sheree Homer - - Posted January 6, 2003
           When it came to style, Elvis Presley was in a league all his own. He epitomized coolness with a dash of sex appeal from the way he moved to the way he dressed. Every part of his style was unique, especially when compared to the rigid conservativeness of the 1950s.
           A major part of his personality was his movements when singing. Some people considered them to be vulgar and a contributing factor to juvenile delinquency; however, he even said that his movements were just a part of who he was, and if he stopped that would be the end of his career: "Rock and roll music if you like it, you can't help but move to it." Scotty Moore, his guitarist, accentuated Presley's moves. They complemented one another. Moore's guitar licks and Presley's hip swiveling helped to define the true spirit of rock and roll.
           Presley had severe stage fright, so shaking his hips and twitching his legs acted out some of this anxiety. His gestures were actually involuntary and unthreatening; even though some people went so far as to say he did it purposely. Every time he moved, the girls would scream. Reporters got wind of the story and started nicknaming him "Elvis the Pelvis": "That is the most juvenile name I have ever heard, but if they want to call me that, then there's nothing I can do about it." It seems he had jumping beans in his jeans, which could not be controlled. Even Ed Sullivan could not keep him still. When he was shot from the waist up only, he improvised by moving his little finger.
           Another aspect of Presley's personality was the way he dressed. Even in high school, he stood out from the crowd by wearing pink and black and sporting a ducktail. Other teenage boys wore more demure colors and sported crew cuts. Due to his unprecedented fashion sense, he was often ridiculed.
           Presley bought his clothes from a Memphis men's shop named Lansky's and was one of their best customers. Bernard Lansky was his personal clothier. Hi boy collars, peg legged slacks, and bright colors became part of his trademark look. Presley's good friend, Carl Perkins, first wore the black slacks with the ribbon on the side. Perkins had admired tuxedo pants but was not able to afford them. Tuxedo pants are black with shiny black ribbon on the legs. Perkins' wife came up with the idea to take his newly bought pair of black pants from Lansky's and sew pink ribbon into each side. Presley saw a show of his and commented that he loved those pants. After discovering the secret, Presley had his tailor develop many pairs of those same kinds of pants with ribbon of every color. Hence, the hillbilly cat was born. His profound style and sex appeal had begun to reach the masses. Guys wanted to be like him, and girls wanted to be with him.
           From his first recording in 1954 to his first #1 in 1956, he had transformed himself from a shy country boy to a world famous icon. He had become a force to be reckoned with, and someone who would inspire people for ages to come. He continues to this day to be one hep cat.

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