This sportscoat is an awfully rare one. It dates from about 1940 – that’s when the Sears and other mail order catalogues feature these jackets in which the front darts are modified to form pleats at the chest. The pleat feature and very closely spaced double darts are clearly adapted from women’s tailoring, which often features such pleats for bust definition. You hear a lot from the era of man tailored suits and jackets for women, and those photographs of Marlene Dietrich wearing a man’s evening suit. This is one of the very rare occasions in which menswear was directly – and very obviously – influenced by women’s tailoring.
I love everything about this jacket, from the extremely suppressed waist and blousy chest, to the baby blue pinstriped fabric (yes, the blue really is this bold!, the pleats obviously, and the wonderful green swirl plastic buttons. I would have used blue buttons on this kind of fabric, but not any more: The light-ish green is just perfect. This jacket, with a pair of baggy dark blue mid 30s slacks is such a killer outfit. I just wish I had a pair of sage green trousers to match the buttons …
Edited to add this picture, courtesy of Will Moul (Houndstooth Kid blog listed to the right). This catalogue scan (I think Sears) is from 1940.
A very strange and awesome British tie. This probably dates to the middle or late 1940s and features an interesting simple pattern that reminds me of Blitz searchlights. Either that, or someone’s gone mad in technical drawing class. It’s not often that British ties come in such bold patterns.
Here’s a nice example of early 1950s tweed for men. Sold from the venerable barker’s of Kensington, a very good department store back in the day. The tweed is a mix of dull greens and browns. I had to add buttons and fix up the liner and arm liners to get it into shape for selling (see Selling page, above). The cuff buttonholes are properly stitched so if cut through, these would become working cuffs.
A couple more brocade ties from my collection. Nature was a hugely popular theme for ties, probably due to the endless different patterns that could be generated for tie silk. This kind of tie makes you wonder just what happened to menswear in the succeeding years. These were not by any means flamboyant ties. These would have been quite normal for the early (seals) to middle (butterflies) 1930s. After the early 1950s (despite the slight peacock revolution of the late 60s and early 70s) men became so much more conservative in dress, and that awful conservatism drags us down to this day. Grey suit, baby blue shirt, pink tie – BORING. I blame the business community with their strictly controlled “fitting in” uniform. You must not appear to be an individual. Conform, conform, conform.
These ties are anything but boring. The first one, from the middle-late 1930s features a brocade pattern of butterflies on the wing, by Regal. The second, also brocade, for a long time I’ve thought was flying birds, but when preparing the picture this morning, I have the impression it might be seals nosing balls underwater. Un-named and from the late 1920s or early 1930s. Both are American, of course.
These two ties are probably my favourite British novelty print ties. Even better than the football one I posted a few posts ago. The first one, like the football one, is a Total Sports Quality tie, and features horse heads and jockey caps. The other one is un-named and made of lovely barathea wool, with a print of polo players chasing a ball. Wonderful stuff …
If nothing else, the 1950s went mad for flocking. Commonly used terms like “atomic” are quite wide of the mark; the vast majority of such fabrics are rehashes of older designs, and less wild by far than some of the interesting 1920s “jazz” fabrics. I like this jackets slightly more muted, rather conservative fabric, but with tons and tons of flocking. The cut of the jacket is pure early 50s, with a very low button stance but retaining quite a high gorge, quite wide shoulders and drapey through the chest. Boxier and less tailored than a 30s or 40s, or even 60s jacket. One for the Rockabilly crowd …
In the middle 1930s, brocade ties were very, very common. They came in apparently endless varieties of patterns and motifs. here are two of my favourites. The first is un-labelled and features a rope knot motif. The second, orange, one was made by Arco, a big maker, and features a very nicely rendered swallow motif.