August 2nd, 2010

History of The Tie: The 30s

The 30s is often referred to as the golden age of men’s dress. Even casual wear implied certain dress codes. Though the Depression caused manufacturers to scale back prices and luxury, as Alan Flusser writes in Dressing The Man, it also:

returned style supremacy to the hands of the lucky few who could still afford to dress well, leaving the kernels, those men of influential positions in finance and society, to do the leading…Their intact fortunes and inbred sense of security emboldened these men to improvise and break the fashion rules.

Fred Astaire

The most well-known “lucky few” of this period were the stars, the Fred Astaires, Gary Coopers, and Adolphe Menjous. The Duke of Windsor was the biggest sartorial celebrity, garnering the attention of the fashion media wherever he traveled. To complete the style triad, Prohibition-era gangsters overdressed themselves as businessmen, spawning colorful ties and bold suits. The 1930s was dominated by these inspirations, which is why it’s safe to label the 30s as the age of influence – style reflected what those at the top were wearing.

Art Deco - inspired tie

Tie designs were mostly the same as the previous decade: short, wide, and with plain geometric designs, a somber reminder of the economic environment. However, at the same time, the “zoot suit” and other extravagant urban flourishes like bold binstripes generated strong tie designs, as well as the Art-Deco movement of the same period.

Gary Cooper

As stars like Astaire and Cooper sported the English Drape, with its exaggerated shoulders, tapered arms and waist, and large lapels, other proportions grew as well. The Duke of Windsor is most famous for one of those proportions – knot size.

An Esquire illustration from 1934

Though he did not invent the knot that bears his name, it’s unclear who did. His father, Edward VII, has been pictured with a knot that appears larger than the four-in-hand. Nevertheless, the Duke’s thick ties and thick knots sparked American affection for the Windsor.

Adolphe Menjou

As the Edwardian era of dress faded, and more and more men were expected to don a “business” suit. They received advice from salespeople, who were informed by the recently founded trade magazine Apparel Arts, who in turn forecast and reported on the style worn by the stars listed earlier. Summer suits, double-breasted jackets, and blazers all became popular during this period. As more and more Americans began wearing business attire, the giants guided them.

Fred Astaire photo credit: 42nd Black Watch

Ties photo credit: The Fedora Lounge

Gary Cooper photo credit: Celebrity Insights

Illustration photo credit: Esquire

Adolphe Menjou photo credit: Rotten Tomatoes

August 2nd, 2010

Weekly Roundup

I’m not the most affectionate person in the world, I’ll admit. Which is why I enjoyed reading this article from Be Better Guys. It tells you not only about the handshake, which I can do, but touching the shoulder or arm in a professional setting, which is something I’m clueless at.

There are only so many Led Zeppelin and AC/DC licensed shirts floating out there, which is why high school hallways resemble mirrors. C’mon, be original! I suggest picking some from this Ebay store, courtesy of A Time To Get. One rare Led Zeppelin concert tee is reaching 5K. Goodness.

I’m always going to networking events and meeting alumni. After quick introductions, I often find it hard to alums who I lack an immediate connection with. (area, fraternity) Head on over to Man vs Style for three incredibly simple tools. The first is simply repeat a key phrase, prompting them to explain. Awesome.

I loved the Godfather. I’m a young male, what’s not to like about power politics and theatrics? Anyway, Shave Magazine gives you a pretty concise summary of the American and Italian Mafias, and why the American ones are dying while the Italians are thriving. Hey, I’ve got to get my olive oil from somewhere.

Head on over to Male Mode for a rundown of some Autumn/Winter styles from the website myWardrobe. The velvet blazers alone are worth a peak.

I wrote last week about the style of Inception. Well, Clothes On Film one-upped me with an interview of their costume director. Go for this post, stays for more.