Sunday, October 28, 2012

WIW: Hollywood Wants its Jacket Back

The Hollywood jacket: the epitome of the 1940s/1950s 'in crowd'.  Movie stars and hipsters alike wore them.  They were the casual wear item for a generation of cool kids.

Heck, Elvis wore a very cool two-tone mint green and black belted Hollywood jacket (along with co-star Judy Tyler) in "Jailhouse Rock".

click image to enlarge

Like young Elvis, I was a "cool kid" today.

Recently I ran into a near-perfect condition belted Hollywood jacket in my size.  Unlike Elvis' jacket, mine is made of very fine suede leather with matching leather buttons.

Today it was paired with Ralph Lauren 'Chaps' trousers and a blue herringbone shirt to give the kit an extra pop of color.

It has the typical  style of lapel found on Hollywood jackets, just with subtle stylistic differences.  The front actually reminds me of pre-WW2 casual German jackets with the slanted yokes, slanted breast pocket flaps, and gusseted breast patch pockets (the Germans did some very interesting and eccentric sartorial things in the 1930s and even after the war).

The back is just as nice as the front, with its gathered back beneath the yoke:

Here's the tag showing it was made in Mexico.

I'm lucky to have such a great Hollywood jacket in my collection, especially in this great condition.  It looks to be unworn and with the original belt- somewhat unusual to find since belts were often separated from their jackets over the decades.

At roughly 60 years old this is a fine showcase example of the iconic Hollywood jacket.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

New Items at the Houndstooth Haberdashery

New items are being added constantly at the Houndstooth Haberdashery, including larger-sized vintage items for the bigger guys out there.

Bigger guys know it can be difficult to find larger sized vintage so this is a great oppertunity

The Haberdashery strives to offer nice men's vintage items at affordable prices.  I understand that vintage is not the main focus of most men's checkbooks, hence the fair prices.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Back to the Basics: Proportionality

This may be the most important piece of the puzzle when it comes to the appearance of a suit.  A suit can fit the wearer perfectly but if it does not have pleasing proportions then it fails at its main goal: to make the wearer presentable and attractive to the eye.

Throughout history humankind has been trying different styles and pieces of clothing in an attempt to create the most balanced, pleasing look.

click images to enlarge

If you ask me, humanity reached the pinnacle of proportionality during the 1930s and into the 1940s.  There's a reason it's called the 'Golden Era' of men's style.

The human mind is programmed to identify and be attracted to harmonized shapes.  One such complex yet ultimate simply proportional shape is the human body.  If one is to study its proportions, the shape of the human body, like many other things found in nature, follows elemental natural laws.  The Golden Ratio, also known as the "Divine Proportion", has informed artists for centuries as to the ideal attractive proportions to create in their work.  Derived from Fibonacci numbers, the Golden Ratio can be found throughout different parts of the human body.

Through the ages the human body has changed very little.  Sure, in recent years men tend to be slightly taller and a larger number of men are heavier weight, but the basics are still the same.  Check out Vitruvian Man from 1487 below:

The Vitruvian Man was meant to depict ideal male proportions and it is just as useful a tool today as it was so many centuries ago.  Notice the vertical half-way point is roughly at the crotch.  Above that mark are the hips, torso, and the head.  Below that mark are the legs and feet.

Using the Golden Ratio we find that the proportionally attractive separation point of the human body is roughly the navel/waist area.  This is an important factor and should be remembered for later.

Other parts of the human body, including the arms and face, are based upon the Golden Ratio.

So, why is the navel/waist area such an important item when it comes to dressing?  Because our goal in dressing well should be to present ourselves in an as aesthetically pleasing manner as possible and what better way to do that than to put the Golden Ratio to work?

For example, look at the two photos below.
The photo on the left is of a typical 1930s 3-piece suit while the one on the right is of a typical modern 3-piece suit.  The 1930s suit on the left is very well proportioned and attractive to the eye while the modern suit on the right is not.

Let's look at why.
Below is the same photo of the two men with vest, jacket and trouser length and position emphasized.  Blue indicates the vest, red the jacket, and yellow the trousers.
Notice how the 1930s suit on the left is based around the navel/waist area: the trousers sit at or about the waist while the vest skirt comes down to just below the waist.  The modern suit on the right, however, is based around the crotch area: the trousers hang right on the hips and the vest skirt comes down to just below the hips.  In other words, the 1930s suit on the left is based upon the Golden Ratio, giving the wearer the appearance of long legs and an athletic build, while the modern suit on the right is based around the physical halfway point, giving the wearer the appearance of a longer torso and shorter legs: a top-heavy silhouette that is not very flattering on any man.

Also note that the 1930s jacket has stronger shoulders and is slightly shorter in the skirt (a typical vintage drape jacket) than the modern jacket, which is slightly longer and has weaker shoulders.  The modern longer jacket length does not help the top-heavy silhouette of the modern suit.

Compare these suits to the Vitruvian Man and the differences become apparent.

In order to have a more attractive appearance when wearing a suit, base your proportions around the Golden Ratio point: the navel/waist.  Choose high-waisted trousers that sit at the natural waist, a short vest that comes down to meet the trouser waistband and doesn't let any shirt show between the two, and a suit jacket that's slightly shorter than usual.  Meeting these requirements today when most suits are made to be 'hip', fashionable, and/or ironic is a difficult task but not impossible.

It is important for a man to know how to wear a suit and wear it well.  A man knows what looks right and how a garment should fit, as he's either been taught how or has come to realize it for himself. He knows and follows the code of timeless style, not fashion.  A boy can throw on his father's overly large suit and think himself handsome. That same boy can also slip into one of his own old and much too small suits and perceive himself as being fashionable. The latter of the two seems to be the current fashion trend.  

Hopefully soon men will again understand how important proportionality is to appearance and go back to the Golden Ratio Point that was so common during the Golden Era.  I'll never understand why we moved away from it.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

An Oddity Lost

Well, not quite 'lost', just no longer in my possession.

You might remember this amazing 1930s sports coat I posted about nearly two years ago.  The photos from back then were crude at best but I recently upgraded them, as you'll see below.

Quite a rare sports coat, it is.  Lightweight donegal tweed material, a very large size, really nice condition for its age (aside from two missing buttons), and, most interestingly, four pleated patch pockets.

click images to enlarge

And with such uniqueness going on in front we would expect some more to continue in the back.  But we'd be wrong.  It just has a boring, plain, ventless back, as if someone had robbed it of its belt, pleats, and gussets.

Not that I'm complaining; just look at that fabric pattern.  It doesn't get much better than that.
This illustrates just how vintage (especially 1930s) fabrics kick the tar out of modern fabrics.  Even though this is lightweight tweed (contradiction?) it drapes and flows beautifully.  Exceptionally fine tweed like this isn't made today.  It is extinct, except in vintage examples like this jacket.

 The pleated pockets are just the icing on the cake.  Sure, you'll find sports coats with the occasional gusseted pockets but how many times do they have multiple pleats per pocket?

Made by Foreman & Clark, a quality maker back in the day.  This tag is a definite sign that, when it comes to vintage, you're getting a nice product.

Unfortunately this sports coat is way too big for myself and, while I loved having it in my collection, it only ever stayed in the closet, collecting dust.  So I sold it so someone else could own, wear and enjoy it.  Because what good is clothing if it cannot be worn?

To my eyes it is a piece of artwork.  I have a feeling the new owner would agree.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Wedding Part 4: Reception

The last of the wedding posts, this one will cover the fun and very enjoyable end of the day.  The catering was wonderful as were the wedding cupcakes.  The first dance, father/daughter dance, dollar dance, and general dancing followed.  My groomsmen and I also had a 'guy time' outside.

It was a great time with friends and family and we'd like to thank them for being so supportive, helpful, and for going out of their way for everything we needed.

click images to enlarge

Entering the reception hall to the "Indiana Jones" theme song.

Dollar dance.    :)

 Stylish guy time.

Back for more dancing.


Cheers from the happy couple.


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