A plaque remaining from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem.

Above, a 1934 plaque from the Big Apple Night Club at West 135th Street and Seventh Avenue in Harlem. Discarded as trash in 2006.

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Entry from March 09, 2009
“Dress British, Think Yiddish” ("Dress British, Look Irish, Think Yiddish")

"Dress British, Think Yiddish” is cited from at least 1962 and means to look conventional, but to think unconventionally. The phrase (also given as “Look British, Think Yiddish” and “Speak British, Think Yiddish") was printed on buttons in the 1960s. Saint Laurie Ltd., a men’s clothier in New York, used “Dress British, Think Yiddish” in a 1980s advertising campaign.

Two former New York City firms are often given credit for the phrase. The law firm of Finley Kumble supposedly had this policy for its lawyers; the financial firm of Salomon Brothers supposedly had this policy for its stockbrokers. Michael Bloomberg (who worked at Salomon Brothers in the 1960s, before he began his own company and became New York’s mayor) was said to have dressed British and thought Yiddish at that time.

“Look Italian” was added to the phrase in 1968 and “Look Irish” was added by at least 1987.


Google Books
Jewish Spectator
By School of the Jewish Woman (New York, N.Y.)
Published by , 1962
Pg. 31:
There is that new saying: “Dress British and think Yiddish.” With the Englewood Rabbis, it is “Talk British and think Madison Avenue.”

Google Books
Commentary
By American Jewish Committee, American Jewish Committee
Published by American Jewish Committee, 1962
Pg. 375:
Yet however melancholy the outlook for Yiddish today, its presitge in America has never been higher. Madison Avenue dictates: “Dress British; think Yiddish.”

Google Books
You’re Entitle’
By Harry Golden
New York, NY: Fawcett
1963
Pg. 179:
...THINK sign invented by Thomas Watson of IBM. Only the agency sign should read:

DRESS BRITISH
THINK YIDDISH

26 July 1967, New York (NY) Times, pg. 39:
Emanuel Ress Dies Here at 59;
“Button King”, Political Slogans

Composed “Win With Willkie”
and “We Need Adlai Badly”
in Nonpartisan Career

(...)
Mr. Ress capitalized on the recent fad for whacky, irreverent buttons. Some of his “hippy-snippy-saying” buttons, as he called them, read: “Speak British—Think Yiddish,” “Sex Is a Means of Communication” and, with a picture of man with an ax, “Support Mental Health Or—I’ll Kill You.”

Google Books
October 1968, Popular Mechanics, pg. 41 ad:
Dress British, look Italian— think Yiddish.

Google Books
My rabbi doesn’t make house calls
By Albert Vorspan
Garden City, NY: Doubleday
1969
Pg. 145:
A device to help you to think Yiddish and dress British.

Google Books
The Golden Book of Jewish Humor
By Harry Golden
New York, NY: Putnam
1972
Pg. 20:
...THINK sign invented by Thomas Watson of IBM. Only the agency sign should read:

DRESS BRITISH
THINK YIDDISH

Google Books
The Complete Book of Ethnic Humor
By Larry Wilde
Published by Corwin Books
1978
Pg. 50:
SIGN IN HARLEM HABERDASHERY
THINK YIDDISH DRESS BRITISH

26 July 1980, Winnipeg (Manitoba) Free Press, “Hebraic motto, ‘Think Yiddish, look British’” by Larry Zolf, pg. 17, col. 1:
When I was a little tad, the Wisest Saying of Our Hebraic Western Forefathers was: “Think Yiddish (i.e. Jewish), look British (i.e. WASP).” That meant the road to success for the Prairie Hebrew is paved by a mixture of crafty Jewish wisdom and British stiff upper lip. The ideal Jew, according to this Forefather, is as smart as Fagin, Shylock or Einstein but looks rather more like Laurance Olivier or Gary Cooper than, say, Metro Toronto chairman Paul Godfrey or Larry Zolf, for that matter.

17 November 1981, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “The NBA: Right Now, Owner Is Show in San Diego” by Randy Harvey, pg. SD B3:
Former Celtic K.C. Jones says he learned two things from Red Auerbach. “Dress British and think Yiddish.”

Harvard Crimson
Immigrants’ View of Harvard
Published On Thursday, July 03, 1986 12:00 AM
By JONATHAN M. MOSES
(...)
Perhaps my father’s words of advice to me before I left for college seem to be the best solution to the dilemma Harvard presents. “You’ll do well,” he said, “If you dress British but always think Yiddish.”

10 July 1987, Chicago (IL) Tribune, “Odds & Ins” by Skip Mylenski & Linda Kay, Sports, pg. 2:
Dress British, Live Irish, Think Yiddish. That’s GM for short.

Google Books
Just a Simple Pharmacist:
The Story of Murray Koffler, Builder of the Shoppers Drug Mart Empire

By Frank Rasky
Published by McClelland and Stewart
1988
Pg. 10:
Somebody took him up on that statement and remarked jocularly—and simplistically—during the evening that the reason for Koffler’s success could be summed up in six simple words: “Dress British, look Irish, think Yiddish.”

New York (NY) Times
THE LAW; At the Bar
By David Margolick
Published: Friday, October 28, 1988
There has been a brisk trade in Finley Kumble desks and chairs, although Finley Kumble matchbooks and Finley Kumble neckties aren’t in such demand. As for the Finley Kumble art collection, the results are mixed. The bucolic English sporting scenes have sold well; not so the portraits of Hugh L. Carey, Robert F. Wagner and other former partners that once graced its halls.

Finley, Kumble, Wagner, Heine, Underberg, Manley, Myerson & Casey, once the nation’s fourth-largest law firm, went up in the flames of bankruptcy last January, but the ritualistic scattering of its ashes goes on - and on and on
(...)
At first blush, the Anglophilic flavor of the artwork may seem odd, given the provenance of Finley Kumble’s founders. Both Leon Finley, ne Finkelstein, and Mr. Kumble hail from the New York area. But former partners say the selection typified an enterprise that craved not only cash but also cachet. One sensed it in the firm cafeteria, where bagels were briefly banned. It was apparent, too, in the formal attire favored by some Finley Kumble lawyers. As Mr. Kumble once put it, ‘’Think Yiddish, Dress British.’’

New York (NY) Times
THE MEDIA BUSINESS: Advertising; Outgrowing A Need to Be Outrageous
By RANDALL ROTHENBERG
Published: Tuesday, September 26, 1989
(...)
But Kirshenbaum & Bond still has the capacity to outrage. Take its current ad for Saint Laurie Ltd., a men’s clothier in New York. The headline -’’Dress British. Think Yiddish.’’ -prompted Hannah S. Janovsky, a Manhattan resident, to write Saint Laurie’s president and angrily charge that the ad furthered anti-Semitic stereotypes.

Google Books
The complete idiot’s guide to learning Yiddish
By Benjamin Blech
Published by Alpha Books
2000
Pg. xv:
To learn Yiddish, in short, is to become familiar with a very special outlook on life. “Dress British, think Yiddish” was a Madison Avenue slogan some years back. The way you dress will only change you on the outside. THe way you think, however, can turn you into a different persons. Think Yiddish, and you’ll be wiser. You’ll be happier. And, yes, of course, you’ll be funnier.

22 April 2002, The New Yorker, “The mogul mayor: Mike Bloomberg adds it all up” by Elizabeth Kolbert:
(One of Salomon’s unofficial mottoes was “Dress British, think Yiddish.")

New York (NY) Times
London, What’s Not to Like?
By Jonathan Wilson
Published: Sunday, June 2, 2002
A DOUBLE THREAD
Growing Up English and Jewish in London.
By John Gross.
190 pp. Chicago:
Ivan R. Dee. $23.50.
(...)
My brother, a Londoner born in the same year as Gross, once owned a button, purchased in New York City, that read ‘’Dress British Think Yiddish.’’ I would hazard that this has secretly been the way of British Jews down the generations, and it’s certainly edifying to see Jewish thinking unveiled here so intelligently. John Gross’s memoir is of a lucky, happy childhood and adolescence. What is one to do with such a rare beast except praise it?

CBS News
Mike Bloomberg 101: What All Political Reporters Should Know
Commentary: Let Me Explain A Few Things About New York’s Mayor

Jul 3, 2007
(...)
The endearing joke about Bloomberg at one time was that he’d “think Yiddish and dress British.” He was regarded as such an Anglophile that people thought his chief goal was someday to be named U.S. ambassador to the United Kingdom (or the Court of St. James, as it was once known). 

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityBanking/Finance/Insurance • (1) Comments • Monday, March 09, 2009 • Permalink


’Dress British, Think Yiddish’ seems to be a perfect advertising campaign word !!

Posted by cufflink  on  09/11  at  10:36 PM

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