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. Now a Popeyes fast food restaurant on Google Maps.

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Entry from March 27, 2005
Full Cleveland (clothing term)
The "full Cleveland" is a dress suit that's very 1970s. The tacky term is sometimes applied to the city itself.

full cleveland
Any male outfit that includes both a white patent leather (or plastic) belt, and matching white shoes.

The Full Cleveland is found many places, not just Cleveland. It is particularly common at American Legion dances.

by CongressmanBillybob Jan 7, 2005

The Full Cleveland
Coined as a fashion term, the Full Cleveland is a leisure suit (preferably powder blue) accessorized by a white patent leather (or plastic) belt and matching shoes. It's commonly found at senior center dances. While this blog is about the Full Cleveland, it isn't about fashion. It's about whether the glass is half full or half empty in Cleveland. It's about Cleveland reaching its full potential. Hope you enjoy the discussion.

11 August 1977, San Mateo (CA) Times, pg. 47:
Judes Witcover, the Washington Post political correspondent, describes something called the "full Cleveland" in "Marathon," his book on the 1976 presidential campaign. The full Cleveland was the informal uniform worn by a labor delegation from Ohio -- baby blue polyester leisure suit, white open collar shirt, white belt, white socks and white patent leather shoes.

16 March 1981, San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen column, pg. 25, col. 1:
SARTORIAL STUFF: It occurred to me a few days ago that I may have been guilty of overkill in my long and sometimes vicious campaign against polyester leisure suits and shiny white shoes. (...) Since I am feeling a slight nostalgia for the leisure suit, I was delighted to learn from George Barbour that this article of clothing is making a strong comeback up in Portland. There, a courageous chap named David Bantz has organized the National Institute for the Preservation of Leisure Suits, or, in Loose Latin, _appareli obnoxious polyestri_. (...)

Bantz and friends launched the NIPLS with an inaugural ball at which everyone wore the true polyester and dined on Velveeta, canned luncheon meats and packaged cupcakes. Bantz himself was the cynosure of all eyes in purple and green leisure suit, flowered shirt open far enough to reveal a rather grimy crewneck T-shirt, white patent leather belt and shoes, fake gold chains, and, around his neck, plastic puka shells. This look is known, says Bentz, as "The Full Cleveland."

23 March 1981, San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen column, pg. 19, col. 1:
Also, I may have been remiss in crediting a Portland chap with the term, "The Full Cleveland," to describe a really awful polyester leisure suit plus white patent leather belt and shoes. This phrase, insists Editor David Burgin of the Penins. Times-Trib., was invented by his man Chris Reidy, who wrote last year that "Full Clevelands come in a wonderful rainbow of pastels. Off-brand lime, Ramada orange, neon plum." Who wears them? "Filling station owners from Dayton, guys who make second trips to the salad bar, a man who takes rumba lessons at Arthur Murray's"...Several ex-Clevelanders now living here want to know why that city has become a synonym for tacky. Didn't it hire Dick Honigsto as Police Chief? Doesn't it have a river so polluted it was declared a fire hazard? Well?

30 March 1981, San Francisco Chronicle, Herb Caen column, pg. 21, col. 1:
WHADDYAKNOW: A lot of ex-Clevelanders live in the Bay Area. Many of them are sore because I made light of their home town in writing about "The Full CLeveland"--polyester leisure suits with white patent leather belt and shoes (plus, I am told, a necktie that starts out to be a four-in hand but stops short of the knot, thus flowing straight down). The best of the heated responses came from June Marik of Walnut Creek, who writes:

"True, Cleveland may be one of the last breeding grounds of a species close to extinction -- the wild North American Polyester -- but it possesses a quality not easily found in terminally chic San Francisco..."

Posted by Barry Popik
Big Plum, Mistake On The Lake (Cleveland nicknames) • Sunday, March 27, 2005 • Permalink

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