Charlie Chaplin is something of a sartorial legend today (he’s known to have sought the services of time-honoured British tailors Stovel & Mason and Turnbull & Asser), but his most iconic “look” (a bowler hat, waistcoat, cravat, baggy trousers, dusty black tailcoat and crooked walking cane) is actually the portrayal of an impoverished “Tramp,” a character who appeared in more than 80 of his movies. So while today we may associate Chaplin with a three-piece suit or tailcoat, old photographs of the "Tramp" show he’s barely holding it together: check out those disheveled trousers. Of course, Chaplin was a committed “leftist” (it was McCarthyist accusations of communism that drove him away from the United States in the 1950s) so the role of the Tramp was possibly his way of drawing the public’s attention to the poverty of the working classes. Nevertheless, it says something about Hollywood’s Golden Age that even that era’s image of a “tramp” looks stylish to us.
There’s also something about the look of a tightly-tailored upper half and a baggy-trousered lower half that remains cutting edge today (although how much of this is owing to Chaplin is another matter). For instance, check out the Chaplin-esque vibe of these two piece suits (complete with peaked lapels and pleated trousers) from the recent collection of avant garde Swedish-Norwegian (London-based) designer Alex Mattsson. Stay tuned next month for another “sartorial hero” profile.