Tuesday, October 20, 2009

WIW Sunday

Went late '40s/early '50s again. The air was cool again but the sky was blue.

I wore a show-stealing "leisure coat" from the mid- to late 1950s. Unfortunately the 1970s pretty much ruined that name so whenever 'leisure' is used we most often picture this polyester abomination:

click to enlarge

Fortunately my jacket is 100% wool.
The leisure jacket shown is a later 'backwoods' cousin of the two-tone Hollywood Jacket of the late 1930s-early 1950s.

And my use of green was purposeful since it is a much under appreciated color when it comes to men's style.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Back to the Basics: Fit and Silhouette

If Fabric is the soul of the suit, then Fit and Silhouette are most assuredly a suit's mind and body, respectively. For without a mind a body is useless and without a body the mind is unable to express itself.

What does all that mumbo jumbo mean?
Fit and silhouette, while seemingly the same thing are two completely different ideas.

Fit describes the way a suit (or any garment for that matter) has been tailored, molded to the wearer's body. Simply put, Fit is the way a suit fits. A suit should ideally fit or wear like a second skin; if it doesn't then the suit has a poor Fit. One major thing that affects Fit are those pesky armholes, for if the armholes are not shaped and sized correctly to the specific customer then no amount of tailoring will help the rest of the suit fit right. A suit should fit the wearer in the shoulders, armholes, waist and hips.

Below is an example of a poorly fitted suit, courtesy of Thom Browne:

click to enlarge

Silhouette describes the outward appearance of a suit. This, unlike Fit, can vary from suit to suit according to the wearer's preferences. We see great variance of Silhouette throughout the Golden Era: from the slim and trim of the 1920s, the natural and trim of the 1930s and the big and bulky of the 1940s and early 1950s to the slim and trim of the 1960s, full circle.

Silhouette is affected by the amount of padding in the shoulders, the amount of waist suppression (or lack thereof) and the length of the jacket just to name a few. And, while a suit can be made to fit nearly any body shape, certain silhouettes can only go with certain body shapes.

For example, a heavy man cannot have a well fitted suit with the same amount of waist suppression as a skinny tall man can. The physics of it just will not allow it to happen.

click to enlarge

So, which is more important? Fit or Silhouette? I would have to say Fit. A well fitted suit with poor silhouette is still well fitted and will be comfortable for the owner to wear, even if it makes him look like a blimp. A poorly fitted suit with great silhouette will be too uncomfortable for a man to wear and it will become a hated thing, a uniform. That is the problem with suits today: they are poorly fitted and so uncomfortable that most men hate them and wear them only when they must.

Suits shouldn't be uniforms. They should have both Fit and Silhouette.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

WIW: Iconic '50s

It's getting cold out there! Way too early...

I went for the iconic 1950s look Sunday by combining three '50s items that more or less were only popular during the 1950s.

-Early '50s "Bailey of Hollywood" fedora with a pugree and brim stitching (interestingly, Bailey is still around though, like most mainstream hat companies today, their quality has suffered since the 1950s).
-Mid-'50s Pleated tie (pleated ties became popular in the late 1940s and died off before the 1960s as ties became too narrow to hold the pleats).
-1950s 'Ricky' jacket made of long-hair wool.

click to enlarge
This fedora is fairly rare and has that casual Hollywood/western look about it.
It has a 5" crown and a 2 3/4" brim. Pretty large diameters, though common during the early 1950s.
These pleated ties are also fairly rare. This is my only one.

Monday, October 5, 2009

WIW: From the Grave

The suit below was shown several posts ago in What Suits You. It's a great, high quality suit from the late 1930s but had been retired to a vintage shop where it collected dust for who knows how long, maybe a decade, perhaps longer. I first saw it 2 years ago but, like everyone else, passed it by because of a long series of holes on its right arm. Unrepairable, no doubt. Or was it?

It would be a good fit for me with a few alterations. And with a reweave, those holes would pretty much disappear. So, this last summer I took a chance and woke it from its slumber.

My alterations lady let down the arms and also told me she could do a reweaving job on the sleeve holes, so I gave her a chance. It's far from perfect but I can't complain now that the holes are darn hard to spot and she threw in the reweave for free.

I sacrificed the cuffs on the trousers and added faux cuffs, 2" deep like the originals. I squeezed all the length I could out of those trousers and they're still about 1"-2" short for proper wear with the vest (no shirt showing between vest and trousers).

Don't know if I'll wear the vest underneath the jacket again since it's rarely seen. Though even if I do, I never open the jacket so the shirt poking out will never be seen. Win/win either way.

I'm very happy with this suit, the silhouette is perfection to my eye. The broad shoulders and nipped waist of the jacket along with the full cut of the trousers really balance out well.

click photos to enlarge

Saturday, October 3, 2009

About Those Gloves...

...that I showcased in the collage from my last post.

They are deadstock vintage deerskin dress gloves in a relatively large size. Never been worn, found in the original box.

They have wonderful texture to them and the leather is just the way it was the day these were made. And who really knows when that day was; could be anywhere from the 1920s through the 1940s, most likely somewhere in the middle as glove wearing eventually tapered off as the decades clicked by.

click photos to enlarge

Vintage gloves like these are quite rare nowadays and these examples let's us see something that few have a chance to savor anymore, for times have changed and quality leather dress gloves are no longer in vogue. But they have permanent style.


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