Flashback: New Year’s Eve 1939

Posted on December 31, 2011


I’ve pretty much given up trying to find New Year’s Eve events in Toronto that are formal enough to merit black tie.  Instead I have to settle for imagining the tony affairs of years past such as the one described in this Esquire pictorial on the cusp of 1940:

If you’re really intent on ringing in the new this year, you might very well start with your formal outfit.  First of all, tails have pretty much replaced the dinner jacket at most places of celebration.  And the midnight blue shade, while far from constituting an innovation at this late date, is more modern than black.  For the rest, you can cehck up on the two outfits sketched.

The man standing under his own power wears a dress suit with black satin shawl collar – the first important change in dress clothes in years, adapted from military mess jackets.  Silk covered buttons are another feature of this coat.  The dress shirt is of white piqué with matching waistcoat and tie, the latter in butterfly shape with square ends.  Shirt studs are of white pearl, and the waistcoat buttons black.  The old-fashioned Georgian seal watchfob has returned, and is worn on the left side for convenience.

The other man wears a tailcoat with dull ribbed peak lapels, shirt of plain white linen and backless waistcoat of washable material with ordinary matching buttons.  High white wing collar, small shape square end tie, white pocket handkerchief and red carnation add the finishing touches.

With either outfit patent leather oxfords or pumps should be worn, and an opera or silk tophat [sic] is correct.  The overcoat may be single or double breasted, navy blue or black.

Happy New Year!

Posted in: History, White Tie