Wednesday, February 25, 2009

1940 Mont. Ward Spring Summer Suits, Part 1

Oh yes, suit fans, you read correctly. 1940: the last hurrah of the belted back and when green was the color.
Such unusual treatments as the belted back, the bi-swing back, pinch pleated front, the beltless pleated back, patch pockets, etc. will make their appearances throughout this series, so be on the lookout for those.

And, with nothing better to do, here is the first post of the "1940 Mont. Ward catalog suits" series. More to follow in due time.

Be sure to click on the photos to enlarge.

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Style on the Cheap

If you're like me, you have very little expendable income that can be spent on looking nice. This factor makes for some innovative solutions when it comes to being stylish. Here are some tips for the vintage style afficionado for looking good while living within your means.

First and foremost is the thrift shop.

While often dirty, loaded with polyester junk and usually low class, the thrift shop will yield some excellent finds every once in a while for good prices. Just be sure you know what you're looking for and carefully examine the entire garment for damage; after all, it is pre-worn clothing. Just a warning, with this bad economy thrift shops are becoming very busy places so deals and steals are becoming few and far between.


Before you start the anti-Wally World hate fest, know that Wal-Mart is a successful store because it is what the customer wants: decent products for cheap prices. Remember that if Wal-Mart did not exist another similar business would fill the void. That's business.

But not everything about the Mart is cheap quality. George Brand, for instance. George trousers are great quality vintage-styling for a good price (originally $25). In the photo below a pair of vintage trou are on the left, George Brand trousers are on the right.Certain Wal-Marts, most often the "Super" ones, also carry classic looking George Brand sweater vests.

Also take a look at their $10-$15 Hawaiian shirts. They are made of rayon (like the old ones) and have pretty classic and attractive fabric patterns. Pair them with gray slacks, brown/white spectators, a Panama hat and some vintage sunglasses for a vintage look.

Don't shun Wal-Mart until you've tried these products.


Still not a fan of Wally World? Try the higher class Target (if there were such a thing as a 'high class' nationwide department store). Target's selection of men's clothing has greatly increased in recent years and has provided the buyer with some rather vintage styled clothing for relatively cheap. Such products include short four-pocket vests in wool and corduroy, classic 100% silk regimental ties (though in the modern too-long length), green velvet smoking jackets, plaid peacoats, classic looking leather jackets and more.

Many of these items are now on sale for very cheap so be sure to check it out.


Selling slightly outdated fashionable clothing to the masses at exorbitant rates, Gap might be the last place you'd think about when searching for vintage style. But while pre-worn jeans and cheaply made shirts and jackets are the main draw for most young folks, GAP socks are indeed quite classic.

Each pair of argyle or striped socks cost a mere $6.50 or get three pairs for $15. Their selection changes regularly with the seasons, as these Spring/Easter socks can attest to.

Younkers and Pennys
These department stores carry a wide variety of clothing, from the hip to the classic.
Pennys, within the last two years, has adopted "American Living" as its in-store brand.
"American Living" is owned and operated by Ralph Lauren so be on the lookout for good quality and classic albeit often expensive styling. Fortunately Pennys has sales regularly.

Another good product sold by Pennys is Van Heusen shirts. Van Heusen is one of the top shirt sellers in the U.S. and it's easy to tell why, particularly when it comes down to their "fitted" shirts. The Van Heusen fitted shirts wear closer to the body and poof out less than their regular-fit counterparts. Van Heusen fitted shirts are often on sale for $25 or less.

Like Pennys, Younkers offers a variety of styles in an attempt to reach a wider demographic. And Younkers has sales almost constantly.

The two jackets/shirts below were obtained at a local Younkers during a 'sidewalk sale'.
Originally $70 each, they were one sale for $10 each. They have great 1950s styling to them.

Lyle and Scott jacket. The gray is actually white houndstooth on a black background. Constructed of combed cotton.

Perry Ellis jacket. Beautiful argyle pattern; constructed of cotton and acrylic blend for easier care.
So, while the economy is in the dumps it's not difficult to look nice and vintage-inspired. You just have to look in the right places.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Flannel Trousers

With the onset of warmer weather close at hand, it will soon be time to put away the heavy weight wool garments and pull the cotton, linen and Palm Beach fabric from the closet.

That is, except for the flannel trousers. Preferably in cream.

The contrasting jacket (most often blue, though brown was seen as the Esquire illustration shows above) and trousers was a popular look during the summer in the 1930s and 1940s. And wool flannel trousers were the mainstay of any respectible man's summer wardrobe.

Why flannel?
The loosely woven flannel allows the wearer to remain cool in all but the most extreme heat by wicking away sweat and letting air flow around the wearer's body. Not only that, but it drapes better than many lighter fabrics.

I was lucky enough to find a pair of vintage cream flannel trousers in excellent shape for a good price.
After a cleaning and an alteration they are in wearable condition and should serve me well in the coming months. Check out those nifty waist adjustment tabs, too! These will work well with a navy blue belted back sportscoat, a panama hat and brown and white spectator shoes.

Bring on the warm weather.

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Tucker Blair Special Offer

The Tucker Blair company, seller of "classically casual" products such as needlepoint headbands and belts, has given The Houndstooth Kid and its readers a special free shipping offer.

This free shipping offer is only for the readers of this website and will run until February 15th. Think of it as a Valentine gift from us.

All you have to do to receive this free shipping offer is just enter the free shipping code “mrlapel” during checkout.

Don't miss out on this great deal.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Different Place, Different Time

Time is a human idea and the argument can be made that it does not exist in nature, only in the human mind. What is time but the ever changing present? What is the past but human memories and accounts of events, people and places long gone? What is the future but our intentions and imagination of what events, people and places will be?

This is a photo of a hair tonic salesman in New York City, 1936. Examine it well.

click to enlarge
Never again will this scene or ones like it be seen, especially today. It's like a completely different place, a different world. Why? Some might say that time has changed the way we live and think, but it's not time at all since time does not exist outside the human condition. Things would change even if time did not exist.

So, the question is, what factor changes human society (among other things) if that factor is not time?

Sunday, February 8, 2009


Spring: time for tennis. What better to wear for watching a tennis match than a light-weight worsted wool jacket with linen trousers, a Panama hat and brown suede shoes?

Though, the collegiate look is quite smashing, what with the black and white saddle shoes, light flannel trousers, colorful argyle socks and houndstooth ascot.

It's easy looking cool on a warm day.

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

WIW: That Suit

Sunday was warmer than normal so I pulled my late 1920s 3-piece DB suit from the closet. It's more of a light weight wool Spring/Autumn suit but the weather was too good to pass up. Also wore an early 1930s Portis fedora.

For some reason this suit elicits more positive comments than most others.

click to enlarge photos

The red tie and pocket square as well as the reddish-brown shoes were worn to bring out the red pinstripe that is difficult to see in the photos.

Sunday, February 1, 2009


Here are the answers to the little game in my previous post.







I hope this game helped demonstrate that the modern perception of 'Atomic Fleck' is inaccurate.

While certain flecky fabrics were popular during the 1950s, those and similar fabrics predate the 'atomic' era. Actually, very few if any primary sources from the 1950s actually call 'Atomic Fleck' by that name.

Even so, the name and category of Atomic Fleck is in common usage today and can be very useful in defining and expressing a particular fabric pattern from a specific time period. Unfortunately it is often unknowningly misused to describe pre-Atomic Fleck fabric patterns.


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