Friday, September 11, 2009

What Suits You: Three Eras of Suits

Let's look at three suits of mine that I've never shown before. All three are from different decades, so note the styles of each of them. Also note the quality of the fabric, patterns and construction and shape.

In chronological order...

This first suit is what I would consider my 'perfect' suit: 3-piece, double breasted, navy blue material with teal chalkstripes, very nice fit and silhouette. And it fits like a glove.

This suit was made by a very high quality tailoring company that will remain unnamed. Truly, this suit blows away pretty much anything nowadays in terms of quality, bespoke or not. The material and craftsmanship of this suit overshadow the best any modern tailor can offer.

click photos to enlarge
Vest is well shaped with 6 buttons and 4 pockets, as an good vintage vest should.

Also note the great waist suppression on the jacket. The lapels are fairly wide but not yet as wide as some Bold Look lapels were. Very little shoulder padding allows for the wearer's natural shoulder shape to show. The button stance is fairly high compared to other DB jackets from the 1940s and the Bold Look.
Note the unfortunate damage to the right arm.

And the pleated trousers with the 'mandatory' 2" cuffs as the finishing touch.
This photo shows the beautiful fabric pattern of this suit. The harmony between the colors is wonderful.
The damage to the arm. How did such a long group of holes appear? Moth? Dog? Rampaging significant other? What stories this suit could tell?

Next is an early to mid-1940s tweed 2-piece. Again, you won't find fabric like this nowadays. It is surprisingly heavy and drapes wonderfully.
The jacket has medium padding in the shoulders and very nice waist suppression. The lapels are fairly wide, would be even wider had the top button been undone. Like the 1930s suit above, the lapels in the early to mid-1940s were on the wide side before flaring out during the Bold Look of the late 1940s-early 1950s.
The early 1940s weren't all too different from the later half of the 1930s except for the war effort putting a damper on some of the more exotic treatments like belted back, bi-swing backs, the Oxford Bags and the like.
Pleated with cuffs:
Again, no modern material can compare to the quality of this fabric. This is why I collect vintage clothing!

Last but certainly not least is this mid-1950s number. Note the heavily padded shoulders and the baggy jacket with little if any shape to it. Also note the 3 patch pockets. While pockets like these were popular on certain suits and jackets during the 1930s and 1940s, patch pockets boomed in the 1950s. They add to an already casual atmosphere.
The lapels are starting to narrow down again as the Bold Look died off.
Also note the very low button stance compared to the two suits above.
Trousers are still pleated with cuffs like the suits above.
But those are not the most important things about this suit. That award goes to the fabric: nubby 'Atomic Fleck'. The colors are truly amazing. The bluish gray background dances with white, medium blue and teal nubby flecks. This is a fairly rare Atomic Fleck pattern.
Hopefully this has given you a glimpse of the different eras of suits of the Golden Era. Unfortunately it was only a glimpse, for a deeper understanding of such things comes only from the touching, handling and wearing of original pieces.


Horatio said...

You might be able to get the striped suit fixed at a reweaving shop. However, it'll cost you; my guess is that much damage will be at least $100 to fix, and probably more.

I love the Atomic Fleck suit! Where--and when--did you find it? I haven't seen good stuff from the 50s in thrift stores since the 80s (but am finding some surprisingly nice things from the 80s now).

Will said...

Yeah, I've looked around and most places would ask several hundred dollars to patch the holes in my suit. Still looking...

Found it at an antique mall several months ago. It'd been hanging there for several years. My area of the country is relatively untouched by the whole vintage craze...

Unknown said...

...I love those atomic flecks...had a pair of pants (kind of a rock-a-billy pants from that era), in silver...very nice. Too bad I'm no longer a size 31.


Great post.Love this.But you will find tweed of this level. check out the Scottish Harris tweed makers. About 100 Euros gets you great tweed.Then have it made up in London. tailor there is around 200 bucks

MG said...

Having looked through a few posts, I'm curious where you find the majority or your clothing, especially the hats.


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