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January 2016

1920’s Men’s Suits

The most formal suit a man of the 1920s might own consisted of a black or midnight-blue worsted swallow-tailed coat (“tails”), trimmed with satin, and a pair of matching trousers, trimmed down the sides with the braid or satin ribbon. These were worn with a white, waist-length linen or piqué vest over a starched white dress shirt. Dress shirts had buttonholes on both sides of the front opening, but no buttons. Men kept their shirts closed by threading removable buttons, called studs, between each set of corresponding buttonholes. A stiff, detachable collar attached to the shirt with collar buttons, and cufflinks fastened the French-style cuffs. A white bow tie, black silk top hat, white gloves, patent leather oxford shoes, spats, a white silk handkerchief, and a white flower butonnière completed the outfit. (1)

suit 01
The Comedian Harmonists (L to R): Robert Biberti, Erich Collin, Edwin Bootz, Roman Cycowski, Harry Frommerman and Ari Leschnikoff, 1920’s

Such a formal outfit, or “full dress”, as it was known, would have been appropriate for only the most important occasions, such as balls, large formal dinners, evening weddings, and opera performances. Not surprisingly, only wealthier gentlemen could have afforded – or would have needed – such a suit. (1)

A gentleman’s semi-formal suit, called a tuxedo, could have been worn to nearly every evening engagement. Like a full-dress suit, a tuxedo was made of black or dark blue worsted material, but the tuxedo jacket had not tails and the tuxedo pants were trimmed, if at all, in very narrow braid or ribbon. The tuxedo vest could be black or white, but, unlike the obligatory full-dress white tie,tuxedo ties were always black. In fact, just as today, party invitations that indicated that affair was “black tie” meant that men were expected to wear tuxedos. Men usually completed their tuxedo outfit with all the same accessories as the full-dress suit, except that instead of top hats they would wear a dark, dome-shaped hats called bowlers.

suit 02
Harlan Randall of the Washington Opera in 1925 Perfect collar and tie.

Tuxedos were appropriate attire at the theatre, small dinner parties, entertaining in the home, and dining in a restaurant.

A standard, conservative business suit in the 1920s consisted of a jacket, trousers and a vest and was sold in not just black but any number of shades of grey, tan , brown, blue, or green. Instead of a bow-tie, one would wear an ascot or a “regular” four-in-hand, which was a long necktie tied in a slipknot with one end hanging in front of the other. At the beginning of the decade, men’s business suits fitted relatively snugly, often with a jacket that tapered at the waist, but in later years the silhouette of business suits relaxed considerably and jackets became longer and roomier, with a less defined waist.

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Different examples of the 1920’s Business Suit.

Trousers had cuffs, front creases, and button or hook-and-eye flies throughout the 1920s (zippers were not widely used on trousers flies until the 1930s). Professional men wore business suits to work, obviously, but also to other daytime occasions, including theatre matinees and church services. (1)

Source:

(1)The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

1920’s Men’s Trousers

Trends were changing and spreading rapidly in a short period of time. However, most 1920’s men’s trousers appear to be very close from the classic suit trousers that we know today.

During the first half of the decade, trousers were very simple, straight and slightly narrow. The waistline dropped just below the belly button and would be worn with either a belt or suspenders. Creases down the front of the leg became popular for the first time, emphasising the silhouette. Cuffs were also added and could be seen a little bit shortened, drawing more attention to the shoe and sock coordination.

trousers 01.jpg
The Yale University Whiffenpoofs of 1927. The cappella group embraces the fashions of the times with sharp, tailored three-piece suits.

As opposed to the previous decade, trousers were also worn as a separate from the suit jacket, creating a more individual and less conservative look.

trousers 02
1924 Sydney Police Mugshot, Guiseppe Fiori  (found on vintage.es)  – mugshot that looks more like a catalogue picture!

 

1925 saw the arrival of Oxford Bags, broad, pleated trousers which were worn by undergraduates at the English University. These soon replaced the slim trousers worn by most most young men and the fashion for looser-fitting trousers would last until the advent of denim 30 years later. (1)

trousers 03
Oxford Bags seen on the streets of Britain, 1920’s.

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1920’s Catalogue promoting the Oxford Bags to be worn by young students.

Oxford bags were not a new invention: for some time they had been worn by athletes as an alternative to golf trousers which had been banned in the classroom. The 28” wide bottoms of the Oxfords allowed the trousers to be pulled over the top of their illegal knickers. The original functional size of the hems soon became overlooked as Oxford Bags grew in size, sometimes up to 40” in diameter! Trend-setting Ivy League students brought the fashion home after their stays in Oxford and ordered more pairs from their tailors. (1)

trousers 04
The comfortable functional aspect of the original 28-inch hems could be lost in grossly oversized versions as much as 40-inches in diameter. (1)

The dominance of loose trousers as city wear was, in fact, partly due to the rise in popularity of sport, in particular, golf. The fashionable golf trousers of the inter-war period were ‘plus-fours’, a version of the knickerbockers but with a fuller cut that allowed the fabric to fall 4” below the knees, thus giving them their name. Their success led the way for widely-worn suits that were ‘sporty’ though no longer worn exclusively for sport but also for strolls in the park on Sundays, for travelling and even by the young in town. (1)

trousers 06.jpg
Two young men wearing knickerbockers, 1926.

Source:

(1) Men’s Fashion in the twentieth century. From frock coats to intelligent fibres, by Maria Costantino, 1997

Fascination Street now on Facebook!

Just popping in to let you know that my blog is now on facebook! I want to reach more and more people every day, so join me for amazing content and glamorous pictures every day! Enjoy! X

1920’s Men’s Shirts

During the early 1920s, most men’s dress shirts had, instead of a collar, a narrow neckband with a buttonhole in both front and back. Detachable collars, which came in a variety of styles, were designed with two buttons so they could attach easily to the shirts. Men could choose a collar that was stiff, semi-stiff, or soft, with flaps that were pointed, rounded, or wing-style (stiff points that folded down in front, like today’s tuxedo shirt collars), Washable collars were made of fabric; others were made of celluloid and could be wiped clean with a damp cloth. (1)

shirt 03
Detachable collars available to order, 1920s

The shirt collar was to be the subject of one of the most fiercely-debated issues in men’s clothing in the 1920’s. Was it supposed to be soft and attached permanently to the shirt or stiff and detachable? Supporters of the stiff collar saw it as the bastion against the slovenly, casual manner of dress, believed to be the ‘American’ style of dress, that they felt was undermining the ideals of British male elegance. At a time when the American economy was booming and America’s impact on European culture was growing, it is not surprising that many felt under threat. (2) 

shirt 02.jpg
Detachable collars available to order, 1920s

By the middle of the 1920s, however, many men preferred shirts with attached collars – they were softer and much more comfortable than most of the rigid, detachable collars. (1)

shirt 01
Ramon Novarro, 1920s

The soft collar won the day and became part of everyday wear. In summer it was even worn without a tie, unbuttoned and draped wide across the jacket lapels in what was known as a Byron collar. At night, where wing collars remained chic with tails, an attached, semi-stiff, turned-down collar found an ally in the dinner jacket or tuxedo. (2)

Sources:

(1) The 1920s (American Popular Culture Through History) by Kathleen Drowne and Patrick Huber, 2004

(2) Men’s Fashion in the twentieth century. From frock coats to intelligent fibres by Maria Costantino, 1997

1920’s Men’s Fashion – Introduction

In a time of great changes in Womenswear, designers were also introducing innovative styles and shapes that quickly became very popular for men.

August 12, 1924. “International Boys Leagues. Thomas W. Miles and Simon Zebrock of Los Angeles at White House.” National Photo Co. – Shorpy.com

Distinguished London designers, based in Bond Street and Savile Row, drawn the latest fashions to be followed by many men across Europe and the U.S., and new icons of style such as Edward, the Prince of Wales, set the ideals of British elegance.


Edward, the Prince of Wales, 1924 – Google


It was a decade of timeless fashion and contrasting aesthetics. New colours and patterns could now be found in the wardrobes of men who were willing to take the risk.

However, there was only one king in every 1920s men’s attire – the tweed!

1926 © Getty Image


In the next series of posts, I will be exploring these fantastic garments and accessories in detail – from the tailored suit to the popular bowler hat, which continue to be classic menswear pieces to this day. 

2k16

Dear followers, Happy New Year!

I’d like to apologise for being away for almost 4 months now (how?) and explain what has been going on.

I have never had the intention to post anything personal on this blog, however, since I have received such good feedback and so many followers, I need to explain myself and let you know that everything is fine and I will go back to my regular posts asap. It’s been difficult to make the most of my free time since I have a full time job and a lot of things to do outside work.

I have been mainly focused on my professional career since I am not satisfied with what I do for a living at the moment. Finding something that you like to do it’s hard and takes time, specially when you have never had the chance to get certain qualifications.

Many of you must sympathise with this, so I hope you understand the reason for my absence.

Anyway, after days, weeks and months thinking and trying to find a realistic solution for this problem, I have now decided to try my chances on getting back to Uni and apply for a course specialised in Fashion History & Theory.

Realistic? Not sure. Possible? Why not?

I will be in contact with some course leaders for the next few days and maybe get some advices on how and where should I start. In the meantime, I’d like to take the opportunity to ask you my followers what do you think I should do, which course should I go for? Please take in consideration that I am based in London, UK and unfortunately moving somewhere else is not an option at the moment.

And last but not least, I’d like to say THANK YOU for the support, likes, comments, views, etc. For those who don’t know, I am also on Tumblr, Instagram and Pinterest.

Let 2016 be THE year! x

 

 

 

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