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Tag >> 1950's fashion
In 1958, a group of young men in East London began to adopt a new smooth, stylish, sophisticated new look. This was the emergence of the quintessential Mod suit.
The male mods look is emphasised tailor-made suits (sometimes white) with narrow lapels, , thin ties, button-down , wool or cashmere jumpers (crewneck or V-neck), pointed-toe leather shoes that were nicknamed winkle pickers, as well as Chelsea or Beatle boots.
Scooters were chosen over motorbikes because scooters' use of body panelling and concealed moving parts made them cleaner and less likely to stain an expensive suit with grease. Scootering led to the wearing of military parkas to protect costly suits and trousers from mud and rain.
As I was only invented in 1984, my view of 1950's fashion is very influenced by 'Grease' and 'Happy Days', both fictional settings that, I understand from my Dad, are not that accurate. Yes there were Marlon/'The Fonz'/Zuko types around, complete with white tee, leather jacket, blue jeans and a motor bike, but the majority of gentleman were wearing the same thing.
The conformity of menswear dominated the decade; the 'businessman' look was worn by men everywhere in the UK, grey charcoal or dark blue flannel single breasted two piece suits, white shirt and plain earthy coloured tie. Men were very rarely seen without a hat on and most gentleman worn an overcoat also. Women were aspiring to the 'Golden age of fashion' with fashion houses such a Christian Dior and Pucci taking centre stage in the 1950's, however gentlemen of the decade aspired to conform, a trend rather nicely portrayed in 'The man with the gray flannel suit' starring Gregory Peck. Before the 1950's there was no such this as a teenager and young adults wore clothes of very similar styles to adults.
This meant that in the 1950's young people had an urge to be non-conformist. With stars like Elvis, Marlon Brando and James Dean coming into mainstream this gave 'teenagers' a fashion and music scene to idolise and adopt one could even argue that this is a form of conformism as well. Stemming from this saw the birth of 'The Teddy Boy', another trend of 1950's Britain. Teddy's wore longer jackets, sometimes with a contrasting collar, white or black shirt with a string tie, straight leg trousers and brocade waistcoat. Teddy's made the D.A hairstyle popular (a slightly uncouth acronym I shall leave unexplained), a hair-do that made the teddy boy look so iconic. To see my version of the 1950's suit click here . We have a large selection of flannel fabrics here to choose from. It must be accompanied with a white shirt and an overcoat.
See my teddy white shirt. Accompany this with a serious hairstyle!
Every time I read a book on men's style, I underline facts I don't know. Over the past few years, the number of underlinings in my books (and magazines) has got mercifully less. Fewer defaced volumes on the shelf.
But with Eric Musgrave's Sharp Suits, the number of facts multiplied. I gave up 50-pages in, so criminal did it seem to write all over the book. The problem is, this is a history of menswear rather than a guide.
And a history not only contains more facts, those facts come with quotes, anecdotes and supporting evidence. I'd heard most of the stories about Edward VII, for example, but I didn't know this quote from German Chancellor, Prince von Bulow: In the country in which unquestionably the gentlemen dressed best, he was the best-dressed gentlemen.
Equally, I knew Edward's innovations included the dinner jacket, wearing tweeds at the races and leaving open the button of a waistcoat. But I didn't know he was also responsible for the black Homburg hat, shorter tails on evening wear and turn-ups on trousers (to protect the bottoms from muddy ground).
I shall endeavour to scatter some facts from Sharp Suits throughout future posts. But for the moment here's a few to be getting on with:
A 1960 inventory of the Duke of Windsor's wardrobe listed 15 evening suits, 55 lounge suits and three formal suits (all with two pairs of trousers).
By 1849 Brooks Brothers had 1,500 people making its clothes, and could put a claim to being the first company to offer ready-made clothing.
After the Second World War there were approximately 100,000 tailors working in Italy, dressing around 85% of the adult population. And yet it was the Italians that became the leading manufacturers of ready-made suits in the modern era.
Hickey Freeman's greatest innovation was to bring the various parts of suit production into a single factory. Up until then different tailors worked on different parts of a suit in different locations, often at home.
The innovation of Hart Schaffner Marx (which bought Hickey) was to offer proportioned suits with basic body types tall, short, stout and thin.
Pierre Cardin was arguably the most influential menswear designer of the twentieth centuryhe changed attitudes to dress in men who had relatively little interest in their appearance Colin McDowell. Cardin ruined this reputation with astonishingly promiscuous licensing.
The hottest trend of 1962 was the suit silhouette worn by a group of public school boys that gathered around Le Drugstoe, a caf on the Champs Elyses in Paris. They went to Marina, an old tailor on Rue Vernier in the seventeenth arondissement, who was the first to cut flat-fronted, wide-bottomed trousers with small cuffs known as marinettes.
I'm done. More reading to do now.
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