Category Archives: Men’s Haberdashery & Accessories

Sock Suspenders: Garters for Men

Ad for men's stocking garters made by Hickok, Esquire, August 1934.

Ad for men’s stocking garters made by Hickok, Esquire, August 1934.

This garter ad is from 1917:

https://witness2fashion.files.wordpress.com/2015/05/1917-jan-p-30-boston-garter-for-men-ad.jpg?w=500

Knitted stockings have been around for centuries. (Queen Elizabeth I liked the silk stockings she was given as a Christmas gift in 1561.) The Bata Shoe museum has a lovely pair of embroidered stockings for a lady which date to the early 1700s. But until the invention of Lastex elastic thread, around 1931, stockings tended to fall down without a garter or suspender to hold them up. (Men’s socks with “elastic ribbed tops” were available before that, although it’s not always easy to tell if the word “elastic” means “stretchy” or “made with latex/rubber.”)

Ad for Esquire silk stockings for men, Esquire magazine, June 1934.

Ad for Esquire Hose silk stockings for men, Esquire magazine, June 1934. These pure-silk-top hose would stay up better with a garter.

Before Lastex, exasperated mothers would yell, “Pull up your socks!” — sometimes, just to get their offspring to stop whatever else they were doing.Boy's patterns, Delineator, July 1917. Two of these children have sagging socks.
When an impeccably dressed gentleman undressed, however elegant his clothing, he eventually revealed his stocking garters. I’ve rarely seen a full illustration of a man wearing underwear, socks, and garters — perhaps because the result is faintly comical.

Men's underwear in an ad for Celanese, a plant-based synthetic fiber. 1934.

Men’s underwear in an ad for Celanese, a plant-based synthetic fiber. 1934.

I was surprised that men’s garters came in a riot of colors.

Men's stocking garters. Detail of Esquire illustration, March 1934.

Men’s stocking garters. Detail of Esquire illustration, March 1934.

Stocking garters for the college man. Esquire, March 1934.

Stocking garters for the college man. Esquire, March 1934. Illustration by Hurd.

Esquire, March 1934.

Esquire, March 1934. [Ripley’s Believe It or Not was a popular newspaper feature.]

A glimpse of stocking was a good thing, but a glimpse of hairy shins was not.

Socks were always on display when a man crossed his legs. Esquire, July 1934. Illustration by L. Fellows.

Socks were always on display when a man crossed his legs. Esquire, July 1934. Illustration by L. Fellows.

The well-dressed businessman wore sock garters to keep his socks from falling down around his ankles, or revealing skin when he sat with his legs crossed.

Distinguished suits for men, February 1934. Accessories include stocking garters, a pocket square, and men's jewelry. Esquire magazine illustration by Oxner.

Distinguished suits for men, February 1934. Accessories include stocking garters, a pocket square, a cuff link,  and a gold collar pin. Esquire magazine illustration by Oxner.

Some stocking garters had one fastener, in center front, but others had a garter on either side of the shin.

Men's sock garters from Sears catalog, circa 1930.

Men’s sock garters from Sears catalog, circa 1930. “Come in the color combinations men prefer.” “Neatly boxed,” because garters were a useful gift.

Ad for Paris Men's Garters. This ad appeared in the January issue, which was on news stands in time for Christmas shopping. Esquire, Jan. 1934

Ad for Paris Men’s Garters. This ad appeared in the January issue, which was on news stands in time for Christmas shopping. Esquire, Jan. 1934.

Judging from the men’s magazines and pin-up illustrations of my teen years, many men enjoy looking at a woman who is wearing a garter belt and stockings. I personally can’t imagine getting a similar erotic charge from the sight of a man wearing stocking garters — even in brilliant blue:

Hickok garters, 1934 ad. Esquire.

Hickok garters, 1934 ad. Esquire.

Fortunately for costumers, you can still buy sock garters — there are plenty listed on Amazon.

 

 

2 Comments

Filed under 1900s to 1920s, 1920s, 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Hosiery, Men's Haberdashery & Accessories, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Underthings

A Gentleman’s Morning Coat, 1930’s Weddings

Groom, bride, guest (in checked trousers) Best man (?) and usher. I think the father of the bride is the beaming man with white hair; the man with the blazer and red carnation is presumable a guest. Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

Formal Wedding Party, Daytime Wedding, Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

The "morning coat", or "cutaway" is the most formal daytime outfit for men. "Morning coat" refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126.

The “morning coat”, or “cutaway” is the most formal daytime outfit for men. “Morning coat” refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126.

In the Spring and Summer of 1934, Esquire magazine ran several articles about wearing the morning coat. The morning coat, or “cutaway” had long been a correct choice for formal daytime events, but in 1936, by royal decree, it officially replaced the “frock coat” as formal daytime clothing in the English court. (I found this date  in Diana de Marly’s book, Fashion for Men. )

In the early 20th century, in spite of the acceptance of sack suits for most business purposes. . .

What the sack suits looked like by 1934. Double breasted or single breasted, they were standard business clothing. Esquire, Feb. 1934.

What sack suits looked like by 1934. Double breasted or single breasted, they were standard business clothing. Esquire, Feb. 1934.

. . . the frock coat was still correct formal daytime wear for diplomats and other men for whom a casual appearance was not acceptable.

A little background on the frock coat:

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1861. He wears a frock coat, vest and trousers. Photo by Mayall, courtesy of V and A museum.

Queen Victoria and Prince Albert, 1861. He wears a frock coat, vest and trousers. Photo by Mayall, courtesy of V and A Museum.

The frock coat — and the man’s three piece suit — can be said to have originated with Charles II of England, who abolished the clothing worn at the French court . . .

A french courtier, 1660, from costumer Nicole Kipar's archives.

A French courtier, 1660, from costumer Nicole Kipar’s archives.

and commanded, in 1666, that the more manly “Persian” suit of clothes be worn in his presence. Eventually, the combination of knee length coat, breeches, and vest evolved into normal business wear for men. The 19th century frock coat really did resemble the full-skirted dresses of the 1820’s and 30s….

Frock coat in French Fashion Plate, 1829. Courtesy of V and A Museum/

Frock coat in French Fashion Plate, 1829. Courtesy of V and A Museum

Frock coats, 1828, Journal des Dames. Thanks to TwoNerdyHistoryGirls for finding this plate.

Frock coats, 1828, Journal des Dames. Thanks to TwoNerdyHistoryGirls for finding this plate.

Young lady with gentleman in Frock coat, London, 1861. Courtesy V & A Museum.

Young lady with gentleman in Frock coat, London, 1861. Courtesy V & A Museum.

The photo below, from the early 20th century, shows the King of England, George V (at left), wearing a frock coat, which he favored for official daytime menswear. It was worn by lawyers, bankers, and other successful men, not just at court. He is with his son, Prince Edward (b. 1894, later the Duke of Windsor), who is wearing a formal black or dark gray cutaway.

Left, King George V in Frock coat; right, Edward Prince of Wales, wearing a cutaway or morning coat. Photo: Flash and Footle .

Left, King George V in frock coat; right, Edward, Prince of Wales, wearing a cutaway or morning coat. Photo: Flash and Footl

During the few months when he was king — before abdicating — Edward, who really preferred to wear a sack suit, abolished the frock coat at court in favor of the cutaway, or morning coat. By the 1930s, the bands of braid on the cutaway had disappeared. (Around the turn of the century a cutaway could be part of a casual three piece suit.)

During the early 1930’s, Esquire treated its readers to at least two articles about the morning coat — timed for the Summer wedding season. (On June 3, 1937, Edward, now the Duke of Windsor, was married — appropriately, in a morning suit.)

This ad from men’s clothier Rogers Peet shows attire for a wedding:

Rogers Peet ad for menswear. Esquire, April 1934.

Rogers Peet ad for menswear. Esquire, April 1934. (The curvature of the page distorts it.)

Esquire, April 1934, p. 126.

Esquire, April 1934, p. 126.

The Floorwalker at a posh department store. He says, --and think of us when you think of panties," while handing an elderly lady her package. Esquire, April 1934, p. 32.

The Floorwalker at a posh department store. While handing an elderly lady her package, he says, “–and think of us when you think of panties.”  Esquire, April 1934, p. 32.

Esquire felt obliged to explain that — even though classy store employees wore them — there really was justification for a gentleman to buy a set of morning clothes.

Reasons to won a morning suit, Esquire, April 1934.

Reasons to own a morning suit, Esquire, April 1934.

The "morning coat", or "cutaway" is the most formal daytime outfit for men. "Morning coat" refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126.

“Morning coat” refers to the entire outfit, which includes striped trousers and a vest, etc. Esquire magazine, April, 1934, p. 126. Illustration by Fellows.

Article from Esquire, April 1934. p. 126. It refers to the image at top of this post.

Esquire morning coat article, April 1934.

Esquire morning coat article, April 1934.

vest 1934 april p 126 wedding morning coat clothes formalwear color image fellows illus

In June, Esquire spelled out the groom’s obligations regarding gifts to the ushers, flowers, and how to avoid blunders when dressing for a formal daytime wedding — with many choices of gray, white, or natural linen waistcoat, and a variety of collars and ties.

Wedding Etiquette and Dress Article by Sturart Howe, Esquire, June 1934.

Wedding Etiquette and Dress Article by Stuart Howe, Esquire, June 1934.

Illustration accompanying Esquire's June article on clothes for a formal wedding, p. 139.

Illustration accompanying Esquire’s June article on clothes for a formal wedding, p. 139.

Which man wears wears what at a formal daytim wedding. Article from Esquire, June 1934.

Which man wears wears what at a formal daytime wedding. Article from Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 138.

I believe that the man with a mustache, standing left of the bride, and wearing a white vest and stiff wing-collar shirt, is the groom, partly because his boutonniere is lily of the valley, rather than a white carnation or gardenia.

The groom is responsible for flowers worn by the usher, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

The groom is responsible for flowers worn by the ushers, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

Gifts from the groom to the ushers, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

Gifts from the groom to the ushers, et al. Esquire, June 1934, pg. 138.

Waistcoats/vests to wear to a wedding with your cutaway or morning coat. Esquire, June 1934. p. 138.

Waistcoats/vests to wear to a wedding with your cutaway or morning coat. Esquire, June 1934. p. 138.

Wedding guest in cutway coat and spats. Ad for Talon zippers, Esquire, April, 1934.

Wedding guest in cutway coat,with spats over his shoes. Ad for Talon zippers, Esquire, April, 1934.

The wedding party wears spats, too:

Groom, bride, guest (in checked trousers) Best man (?) and usher. I think the father of the bride is the beaming man with white hair; the man with the blazer and red carnation is presumable a guest. Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

Groom, bride, guest (in checked trousers & shoes with light colored tops). An usher in white-striped trousers. Is that the best man wearing herringbone trousers and a wing-collared shirt? Esquire doesn’t mention him. I think the father of the bride is the beaming man with white hair and two-button cutaway; the man in the blazer, solid gray trousers, and red carnation is presumably a guest, not part of the wedding party. Esquire, June 1934. Pg. 139.

For the man whose social schedule did not include participating in the Easter Parade, attending Royal Ascot or signing treaties, there was another occasion, besides weddings, when a morning coat could be worn:

Cartoon by Hoff, Esquire, June 1924.

Cartoon by Hoff, Esquire, June 1924.

There is an excellent history of the morning coat at the Morning Dress Guide blog, with the added advantage of a European point of view (and photo collection) from its author, Sven Raphael Schneider.

Even in the thirties, when many men owned a tuxedo to wear to dances, nightclubs, dinners, concerts, and the theatre, morning dress was more  likely to be rented than purchased, in spite of Esquire‘s advice.

P.S. What would costumers do without Stacy Adams shoes? This company still sells black shoes with white tops, although they have snaps, rather than buttons…. The Gentleman’s Emporium has a surprisingly wide selection of spats.

3 Comments

Filed under 1930s, A Costumers' Bookshelf, Costumes for the 17th Century, Costumes for the 19th century, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Men's Haberdashery & Accessories, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Resources for Costumers, Shirts for men, Shoes, Shoes for Men, Suits for Men, Uniforms and Work Clothes

A Gentleman’s White Dinner Jacket, 1934

An off-white, double-breasted dinner jacket worn with tuxedo trousers. Esquire, July 1934.

An off-white, double-breasted dinner jacket worn with tuxedo trousers. Esquire, July 1934.

In 1934, Esquire magazine reminded readers that for summer and resort wear, the tuxedo was not the only option for “black tie” evening dress.

"A Few Suggestions for Saturday Night;" Black tie options for August, 1934, from Esquire magazine.

“A Few Suggestions for Saturday Night;” Black Tie options for August, 1934, from Esquire magazine.

“White Tie” describes the most formal evening dress for men; “Black Tie” is less formal, and less uncomfortable, since a starched bib-front shirt, white vest, and scratchy, rigid collar were not necessary with a tuxedo.

The Tuxedo was named after a resort called Tuxedo Park, but according to one club member, “I was brought up believing that no one called it a tuxedo. It was always called a dinner jacket.” From a history of the tuxedo in Wall Street Journal.

In the late 1800’s, the outfit we now call a tuxedo was worn only when ladies were not present, or at family dinners in the era when men and women “dressed” for dinner. But, by the 1920’s, many men wore “black tie” to dances, nightclubs, and fine restaurants. This illustration shows three black tie variations from 1934:

Left, a double-breasted tuxedo in dark navy blue,; center, and single-breasted black tuxedo worn with a cream vest (a black vest was more common, but this was for summer.) Right, an double-breasted "white" dinner jacket, also double-breasted. Esquire, August 1934.

Left, a double-breasted tuxedo in midnight blue; center, a single-breasted black tuxedo worn with a light colored vest (a black vest was more common, but this was for summer.) Right, a white dinner jacket, also double-breasted. Esquire, August 1934. Both peaked lapels and shawl collars were acceptable.

The wider bow tie, called a bat tie, went with a soft-collared shirt.

500 text top three1934 aug saturday night p 122

“Palm Beach” was a brand name; it indicated a summer fabric that was washable, and could refer to the cloth or to a suit made from it.

Ad for a Palm Beach suit, Esquire, July 1934.

Ad for a Palm Beach suit, Esquire, July 1934.

Palm Beach label, July 1934 ad.

Palm Beach label, July 1934 ad.

White double breasted dinner jacket, Esquire Aug. 1934.

White double-breasted dinner jacket, Esquire Aug. 1934. There are four buttons, but only the bottom buttons are fastened.

The white dinner jacket was illustrated as an essential part of a wardrobe for a weekend in the country, Esquire, Aug. 1934.

The white dinner jacket was illustrated as an essential part of his wardrobe for a weekend in the country, Esquire, Aug. 1934. Also essential: black patent shoes or pumps for “dress-up time.”

A single-breasted white dinner jacket shown in an ad for Skinner Linings. Skinner made suit linings and, in this case, the cummerbund worn with the dinner jacket. Ad, Esquire, July 1934.

A single-breasted white dinner jacket shown in an ad for Skinner Linings. Skinner made suit linings and, in this case, the cummerbund worn with the single-button dinner jacket. Ad, Esquire, July 1934.

The white or off-white “dinner jacket” was usually worn with black tuxedo trousers.  Often the dinner jacket was a warm-weather choice because it might be unlined, or half-lined (rather than fully lined) in back, and because it was not worn over a vest. [Esquire recommended double-breasted business suits for summer in 1934, because they could be worn without a vest, unlike single-breasted suits, which were usually three-piece.] The cummerbund, in black or in maroon, was coming into fashion, perhaps left over from the brief craze for wearing a waist-length mess jacket for evenings on cruises or at resorts.

White dinner jacket from an illustration on cruise or resort wear, February 1934. Esquire.

White dinner jacket from an illustration of cruise or resort wear, February 1934. Esquire, Upper left. This double-breasted jacket only has buttons at the waist.

Mess jacket from an illustration of cruise and resort wear, Esquire, Feb. 1934.

Mess jacket with starched shirt and a black cummerbund, from an illustration of cruise and resort wear; Esquire, Top center, Feb. 1934.

Text for illustrations of cruise and resort wear, Esquire, Feb. 1934.

Text for illustrations of cruise and resort wear, Esquire, Feb. 1934.

There had been an early thirties’ fashion for wearing a white “Mess jacket,” which was cropped at the waist like a military evening uniform (hence its name — as in “Officers’ Mess,” or dining room.) As explained at the excellent  Black Tie Guide site, the white mess jacket was soon relegated to servants, barmen, and waiters.

The cummerbund, however, has been with us as a “black tie” accessory ever since; originally only worn as resort wear, in the 1930’s it slowly replaced the tuxedo vests worn in the 1920’s and was acceptable in town by the 1940’s.

Black tie worn with a vest or with a cummerbund, Esquire, August 1934.

Black tie worn with a vest or with a cummerbund, Esquire, August 1934.

500 text btm 1934 aug saturday night p 122

Black patent evening pumps or lace up evening shoes for men Aug 1934 Esquire

Black patent evening pumps or lace up evening shoes for men; sheer black stockings with stripes or red clocks. Aug. 1934, Esquire.

The “white” dinner jacket was not necessarily stark white; natural linen colors were also chic, as can be seen in this ad for Arrow dress shirts.

Ad for Arrow dress shirts, shown with an off-white dinner jacket. Esquire, Sept. 1934. The shirt on the right has a "regular", i.e., stiff, detachable collar. The one on the left has a new, attached collar.

Ad for Arrow pleated dress shirts, shown with an off-white dinner jacket. Esquire, Sept. 1934. One shirt has a “regular neck band” worn with a stiff, detachable collar. The other shirt has a new, attached collar.

The pleated fronts distinguished “dress shirts” from business shirts.

Esquire ran a regular series of illustrations which used actual fabric cut into the shapes of coats, shirts, etc. This one shows the off-white color and linen-like texture used in some “white” dinner jackets.

A creamy white dinner jacket worn with a pure white shirt, plus blue bachelor button in the lapel. Esquire, July 1934.

A creamy white dinner jacket worn with a pure white shirt, plus blue bachelor button in the lapel. Esquire, July 1934.

The off-white tone of the classic dinner jacket — darker than the shirt  — can be seen in this amusing clip from the movie The Lady Eve (1941.) Henry Fonda plays a wealthy but awkward herpetologist who hasn’t been in close proximity to a glamorous woman for quite some time — a situation that fortune-hunter Barbara Stanwyck corrects in this shipboard scene. Her bare-midriff dress and high heels are wonderful, too.

7 Comments

Filed under 1920s-1930s, 1930s, 1930s-1940s, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Men's Haberdashery & Accessories, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shirts for men, Shoes for Men, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Clothes for Joe College, circa 1934

The expression “Joe College” in Esquire, January 1934, caught my eye.

Esquire, January 1934, p. 104.

Esquire, January 1934, p. 104. “On Every Campus Joe College Goes Nonchalant Again.”

I have a few other illustrations of “college life,” and will find more, no doubt. Perhaps it’s because the school year starts in September, but an autumnal color palette is common to them. Also, clothes for college men were more casual than business dress, and clothes for male country wear and sports traditionally echoed the colors of the landscape, favoring tweeds in browns and loden green over navy blue and charcoal gray.

Illustration for an article giving advice to College Freshman girls. Woman's Home Companion, October 1936.

Illustration for an article giving advice to College Freshman girls. Woman’s Home Companion, October 1936. “Freshmen are eager and thrilled with their new life.”

The article in WHC, supposedly written by a 23 year-old married sister, assumed that the Freshman girl would have attended an all-girls boarding school, and would therefore need social advice for a co-ed campus. (She reminded her sister to be as carefully dressed and well-groomed for class as she would be for a dance, since male students would see her all day long. This was in the bad old days, when any woman who attended college was suspected of “trying to get her M.R.S. degree.” No doubt, some were — college was a good place for intelligent and ambitious women to meet intelligent and ambitious men.)

“Nonchalant'” Joe College

The clothes featured in Esquire had an upper middle class, East Coast bias. Yale’s bulldog mascot appears at top left.

Joe College as drawn by L. Fellows for Esquire magazine, January 1934. Pg. 104.

Joe College as drawn by L. Fellows for Esquire magazine, January 1934. Pg. 104. A Yale bulldog is on the pillar behind his shoulder.

Belted jackets, like the greenish one in the background, evolved from country wear to urban sports jackets. The coat over that student’s is a large-scale plaid. The student in front wears a three-piece brown suit, a shirt with a button-down collar, and a knit tie under his reversible tan overcoat with cuffs that can be made tighter at the wrist with a button tab. Two out of three wear snap-brim hats or smoke pipes.

“… University clothes, at least for on-campus wear betray a studied carelessness… Rough cloths….From Princeton to California, the better dressed undergraduates are wearing shetlands, Harris tweeds, cashmeres and cheviot suitings…. This outfit, with its rough-textured suit, buttoned down collared shirt and crocheted tie, is almost a campus uniform.” — Esquire

Detail of suit , etc. College students. Esquire, Jan. 1934.

Detail of suit, coat, etc. Ivy League College students. Esquire, Jan. 1934.

“The reversible topcoat of tweed and gabardine, which swept the country after its introduction at Princeton almost two years ago, is another established favorite. College men… have resorted to an odd trick in the matter of headgear — the combining of a brown hat and a black hat band…. The new hats, by the way, have a lower crown and a slightly wider brim. The exact proportions are shown in the hat at the left.”

Cuffed trousers with a three piece suit: college undergraduate; Esquire, Jan. 1934.

Cuffed trousers on college undergraduates; Esquire, Jan. 1934. The neckties are described as “crocheted.”

Solid-colored shirts with matching cuffs and collars, Esquire, Jan. 1934.

Solid-colored, button-down shirts with matching cuffs and collars, Esquire, Jan. 1934.

Soft-collared shirts — button-down, in this case — were replacing shirts with detachable collars, in offices as well as on campus.

Other college trends were pictured in the Autumn, 1933 issue of the magazine.

Correct clothing for underclassmen, Esquire, Autumn 1933, pg. 58. Illustration by L. Fellows.

Correct clothing for underclassmen, Esquire, Autumn 1933, pg. 58. Illustration by L. Fellows.

Description from Esquire, Autumn, 1933, p. 58.

Description from Esquire, Autumn, 1933, p. 58.

Clothes for Underclassmen. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

Clothes for Underclassmen. Esquire, Autumn 1933. Bow tie or rep or wool tie, button-down shirt, camel-hair pull-over sweater, belted coat with raglan sleeves, snap-brim semi-homburg hat.

The text describes this as a “bat” tie:  “In the bat style, foulards and twills are preferred, while in the four-in-hand the first call goes to the heavier material, such as the silk and wool poplin in which the striped ties sketched at the right are made up.” The pull-over sweater” is described as a required item “in the college and prep school wardrobe.”

College students, from the April 1936 issue of Woman's Home Companion.

College students, from the April 1936 issue of Woman’s Home Companion.

Three of these men wear sweaters. The man at left wears a shirt with a collar pin under the tie knot, a V-neck sweater, a tweed sports jacket, and cuffed trousers in a darker shade than his jacket. (A decade later, this was the “uniform” of a college professor.)  All four male undergraduates wear neckties to class.

In Esquire, on the page facing the clothes for underclassmen, this outfit was recommended for upperclassmen and young, recent graduates.

Clothes for upperclass college men or recent graduates. Esquire, Autumn 1934, p. 59.

Clothes for upperclass college men or recent graduates according to Esquire, Autumn 1934, p. 59.

“The coat sketched here, with four patch pockets, is the type that has been made up by the better tailors, for some time, for [upperclassmen at Princeton and Yale] and for the recent graduates in the New York financial district…. Natural concomitants for the rougher clothing fabrics are crocheted ties in both horizontal and diagonal stripings as well as in rich dark solid colors and wool hose in the traditional Argyle plaid patterns.”

I would have thought that a gray coat would be recommended for graduates looking for a job on Wall Street, but perhaps trying to stretch your clothes budget was not considered a problem for Esquire readers. The coat’s hidden button placket is certainly a dressy touch.

The editors went on at length — and with disapproval — about Joe College’s insistence upon wearing “bruised” and “battered” dark brown snap brim hats, “pinched unmercifully at the front of the crown.” We “know that nothing can be done about it,” they admitted, although “right thinking citizens and hat makers” were offended.

Ah, the good old days — when college students could express a rebellious streak just by wearing a battered and sharply pinched brown felt hat with a black (instead of matching) hatband. The sight of an eighteen-year-old solemnly smoking a tobacco pipe must have amused — or outraged — a few adults.

College men wearing hats and smoking pipes. 1933-1934.

College students wearing hats and smoking pipes. 1933-1934. The little moustache on the lower right was not yet associated with Hitler, but why would a young man want to look like Oliver Hardy or Robert Benchley?

 

 

7 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Hats for Men, Men's Haberdashery & Accessories, Men's Sportswear, Menswear, Old Advertisements & Popular Culture, Shirts for men, Suits for Men, Uniforms and Work Clothes

Men’s Fashions in Color, 1933

A typical page of men's fashions from the first issue of Esquire magazine, Autumn 1933.

One of many pages of men’s fashions from the first issue of Esquire magazine, Autumn 1933.

A good costume designer is just as interested in men’s clothing as in women’s, with good reason: There are far more parts for men than for women in plays, movies, and television.
But dating men’s 20th century clothing is difficult for a number of reasons, among them a slower rate of change (men don’t buy a new suit for every new occasion, but wear them for years) and the subtlety of the changes (a quarter inch in the width of a lapel or a necktie, two versus three buttons, etc.) And not many theatres can afford a full-time tailor.

Men's suits from Sears, Spring 1938 and 1948.

Men’s suits from Sears, Spring 1938 and 1948. Click to enlarge.

Often, for budgetary reasons, “close is good enough” on stage because the audience probably won’t know the difference between men’s suits from 1938 and 1948 — although the difference in women’s fashions from those years would be clear.

Women's suit patterns, 1938 and 1948. The silhouette is very different.

Women’s suit patterns, 1938 and 1948. The silhouette is very different. Click to enlarge.

I feel bad about neglecting men’s fashions in this blog. However, this month I came across the very-first-ever-issue of Esquire magazine. Considering that it appeared in the depth of the Great Depression, when other magazines were becoming shorter (not enough advertisers) and eliminating color pages to save printing costs, who would expect to find 14 full-color pages of men’s fashion in Esquire’s premier issue?  But there they were — along with cartoons in color! (Fashion illustrations by L. Fellows.)

"This Our New York, cartoon by Howard Baer. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

“This Our New York,” cartoon by Howard Baer. Esquire, Autumn 1933. Public transportation brings together a range of ages and ethnicities — all wearing hats and gloves. His flashy clothes (and appraising stare) imply that the man on the right is not a gentleman.

The first issue was a quarterly — Autumn, 1933. In 1934 Esquire became a monthly magazine. Like Delineator magazine, Esquire aimed at a middle-to-upper class reader. Just as Delineator focused on what was worn in Paris, Esquire was focused on successful, East Coast, Ivy League, business and professional men — and those who wanted to imitate them. Many of the clothes are illustrated on older men of distinction; illustrations of sportswear (riding, skiing, and spectator sports like racing) assume that Esquire readers are far removed from breadlines and soup kitchens.

New Looks for Men in 1933

Some trends described as new to men’s fashions in fall of 1933 were the appearance of brown suits in business settings, rougher-textured and harder-wearing wool suits and coats (a nod to the Depression), and the shirt collar fastened by a pin. Colorful — and patterned — business shirts with white collars and cuffs were pictured often. It’s not certain that every fashion Esquire suggested became mainstream — just as few people actually wore Vogue editorial fashion. But the opportunity to see 1930’s color combinations, including advice on coordinating hats and shirts and ties, socks and suspenders and handkerchiefs, makes me very happy! Here’s what I learned from just four pages:

The Lawyer

Navy double-breasted suit and accessories, Esquire, Fall 1933, p. 82.

Navy double-breasted suit and accessories, Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 82.

This traditional double-breasted, navy blue suit “will never get you into the headlines as the Beau Brummel of your time,” but for the man who is not sure that his “taste in colors [is] to be trusted, sticking to plain blue is the most reliable way” to look smart. “You may not be resplendently right, but a least you can’t be clamorously wrong — you can wear almost anything with a blue suit.” Esquire recommends a colored shirt with white collar and cuffs. The one he’s wearing has bold stripes. Colored pocket square.

For wear with the navy suit, "self-figured" ties, gray Homburg hat, and a blue shirt with white pique collar and collar pin. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

For wear with the navy suit, “self-figured” ties, gray Homburg hat, and a blue shirt with white pique collar and collar pin. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

“The white pique collar that comes with the shirt should be of the new model that provides eyelet openings for the collar pin.” You can wear any of the self-figured ties sketched in the panel of accessories.” “The hat is the correct gray Homburg.”

500 navy homburg 1933 autumn esq color p 82 navy suit image“The newest thing in braces [suspenders] is the double braid in contrasting colors.”

500 navy suit suspenders1933 autumn esq color p 82 navy suit shirt tie suspendersThe full-legged, sharply creased suit trousers taper to a cuff.

Cuffed tapered trousers, 1933. Illustrations are by L. Fellows.

Cuffed, tapered trousers, 1933. They are exactly the right length to flow smoothly without a “break” [wrinkle] over the instep. Illustrations are by L. Fellows.

I find it interesting that the man in the navy blue suit is shown pleading a case in front of a jury; in Dress for Success (1975), John Molloy recommended that trial lawyers wear navy blue suits, because surveys showed that working-class jurors distrusted men in gray suits (too much like bankers.)

The Architect

Brown worsted checked 3-pc suit, blue shirt with white collar and cuffs, polka dotted or printed satin tie. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 81.

Brown worsted checked 3-piece suit, blue shirt with white collar and cuffs, and polka dotted or printed satin tie. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 81.

This young architect is wearing a three-piece brown suit with a small windowpane check. (For comparison, click here to see a 2016 three-piece checked suit — vest sold separately. The fit is very different, and the jacket very short.) Like the 1933 navy blue suit, these rather full pant legs are tapered and cuffed.

Tapered, cuffed suit trousers, Esquire, 1933.

Tapered, cuffed suit trousers, Esquire, 1933.

His matching vest has a lapel. His two-button jacket has flap pockets (including a small “ticket pocket.”)

Esquire showed two brown suits in city settings; “Catch the average American in anything but a blue or grey suit and you will detect a trace of the same self-conscious look that is otherwise reserved for those who wear evening clothes on street cars;” Esquire blamed this on the “superstition that blue is becoming to everybody” while brown is not. “If you’re one of those blue suit boys, try combining a brown worsted suit and a shirt with blue body and white pique collar. (The newer shirts come in very flattering deep blue.)” All four suits have very broad, padded shoulders.

Two button suit with matching collared vest; worn with blue shirt, white collar, and a selection of ties. Autumn 1933.

Two button suit with matching vest, which has a lapel; worn with blue shirt, white collar, and a selection of ties. Note the collar pin. Autumn 1933.

“The bold polka dot tie shown on the figure is smarter than the printed satins shown at left, …but lots of men like them.”

Monogrammed braces (suspenders.) 1933.

Monogrammed braces (suspenders.) 1933. Note the striped business shirt and rep tie worn by the older draftsman.

“A pair of monogrammed braces like those sketched can be obtained for less, this season, than you would have had to pay for plain ones in the recent past.”

The Doctor

A doctor wears a rough brown wool suit for a more informal appearance. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 87.

A doctor wears a rough brown vested wool suit for a more informal appearance. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 87. Wide, tapering trousers and very wide shoulders.

More outdoorsy brown suits were recommended “for men whose business or profession makes an easy informal appearance helpful. The doctor, for example…. [Brown suits] resemble, as little as possible, the costume of the average undertaker.”

“With the new trend toward rougher textures, brown suitings … rough weaves, rough almost to the point of shagginess… have come to town.” [As opposed to being reserved for country wear.]

The doctor illustrated is wearing a “two button notch lapel modified drape model.” Notice the high waist and low crotch on the trousers, which are sharply creased and are cuffed at the tapered hem.

Two-button suit with matching vest, high-waisted trousers with cuffs, and "clipped figure" shirts. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

Two-button suit with matching vest, high-waisted trousers with cuffs, and “clipped figure” shirts. Esquire, Autumn 1933.

“The accessories … are selected as being especially well suited for wear with the rough suitings. The clipped figure shirting, long outside the pale of fashionable preferment, has come back with this new suiting trend, the slightly raised appearance of the fabric being especially appropriate with a soft rough suiting.”

"Spitalsfield" ties, 1933.

“Spitalsfield” ties, 1933.

“The Spitalsfield [sic] tie is another revived favorite. In a tie of this type you can get away with bright colors without … gaudiness.”  [London’s East End district of Spitalfields was famous for its silk weaving, thanks to an influx of Protestant French refugees after 1685.]

500 doctor snapbrim1933 autumn esq color p 87 rough texture doctor brown suit image

As for hats, the snapbrim is the only suitable model, but to be up to the times it ought to have the rather high tapered crown shown in the one sketched…. It is good in green or brown with a greenish cast.”

The Stockbroker

Gray double-breasted herringbone suit,without cuffs and with a ticket pocket. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 93.

Gray double-breasted herringbone suit, without trouser cuffs and with a ticket pocket. Esquire, Autumn 1933, p. 93. Men’s waists were high.

This gray herringbone double-breasted suit is not quite traditional. “Town clothes… are undergoing many changes. Here we have the omission of cuffs on the trousers and the addition of a ticket pocket placed just below the line at which the draped model gives a slight waist suppression…. The herringbone pattern is enjoying renewed popularity with the trend toward soft rough fabrics in suitings for town and business wear. A plain shoe, in black or briar brown … with a simple toecap and no punching or pinking…”

With this gray suit, he wears a horizontally striped shirt with white collar and cuffs; solid or foulard printed neckties. 1933

With this gray suit, he wears a horizontally striped shirt with white collar and cuffs; matching solid necktie. 1933. Is that a glimpse of a matching herringbone vest?

“… a demi-bosom shirt with cross stripes worn with a low front white laundered collar [detachable collars were still being worn]; and a dark solid-colored tie with a plain pearl stickpin — that rounds out … this formula for appearing to good advantage during the daylight hours. [For] men who have formed the habit of wearing foulard ties twelve months in the year, the new printed satin ties “have foulard prints, but wear much better.”

“Vertical striped hosiery” goes well with the suitings in rougher textured fabrics.

Trousers without cuffs (or "turn-ups") worn with striped socks and suspenders ("braces") with clips to attach to your shirt.

Trousers without cuffs (British “turn-ups”) worn with striped socks and suspenders (“braces”) that have “brace clips” to attach to your shirt. 1933

“Brace clips, attached to elastic cords, keep one’s shirt down.”

The number in his lapel, the slips of paper on the floor, the hurrying messenger — all are signs that this man works in the stock exchange. This photo confirms the background scenery, and this one shows exchange members with numbers in their lapels.

More 1930’s menswear to come ….

4 Comments

Filed under 1930s, Hats for Men, Men's Formalwear & Evening, Men's Haberdashery & Accessories, Menswear, Shirts for men, Shoes for Men, Suits for Men