Browsing All Posts filed under »History«

Dress in the Dominion: Historical Canadian Etiquette

July 24, 2014

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The historical paucity of genuine Canadian etiquette guides originally led me to wonder how much my ancestors’ sense of propriety was effected by our culture’s most predominant influences: our British founders and our American neighbours. If the content of the Toronto Reference Library’s collections is any indication, U.S. publications were clearly the preferred choice whether […]

From the Vaults: Jet-Set Styling

July 22, 2014

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Last of a series featuring highlights of my recent research at the Library of Congress. The Jet Age was definitely a mixed bag when it came to formal fashions.  The late 1950s and early 1960s marked a transition from the limited experimentations of the relatively conservative 1930s into the anything-goes attitude of the sixties and seventies.  The styles shown in […]

From the Vaults: Soviet Evening Wear

July 18, 2014

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Part of a series featuring highlights of my recent research at the Library of Congress. In my youth I was always fascinated by the bizarrely Orwellian nature of life in the Soviet Union.  An article on Communist sartorial propaganda in the May 1959 issue of GQ reminded me just how perversely fascinating the USSR was. The article’s introduction sets […]

From the Vaults: Silk Evening Shoes

July 17, 2014

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Part of a series featuring highlights of my recent research at the Library of Congress. William Skinner and Sons was a very successful silk cloth manufacturer with roots dating back to the 1850s.   Their earliest ads in Apparel Arts often promoted their quality silk linings for robes, suit jackets and tuxedos and occasionally for lapel facings and […]

From the Vaults: Apparel Arts

July 16, 2014

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Part of a series featuring highlights of my recent research at the Library of Congress. My most exciting discovery at the Library was really more of a re-discovery: the priceless fabric swatches contained within the pages of Apparel Arts magazine. For those unfamiliar with the publication, it began in 1931 as a resource for the American menswear […]

The Sartorial Art Journal Fashion Plates: Summer Formal Wear

June 19, 2014

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In the second half of our review of the Costume Institute’s incredible collection of digitized Sartorial Art Journal fashion plates, we look at the eveningwear illustrations that supplemented various summer issues.  While evening tailcoats were regularly featured in November and December plates, they were very rarely worn in the hot summer months.  Thus, the only […]

The Sartorial Art Journal Fashion Plates: In Living Colour

June 17, 2014

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The tailoring trade magazine The Sartorial Art Journal was published from 1874 until 1954 and a number of its early fashion plates were reprinted in a 1990 book called Men’s Fashion Illustrations from the Turn of the Century which explains their background: Large-format fashion illustrations were issued as a supplement to The Sartorial Art Journal for […]

Dinner Jackets and Dress Shorts

June 5, 2014

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In the spirit of summer’s arrival, here’s a novel approach to warm-weather black tie from the Life archives: dinner jackets and dress shorts. The photo above is from an August 1953 article about maverick American men seeking summer relief in the form of knee-length shorts. According to the story, “Properly worn with knee-length wool socks, […]

Spotlight: The Notched Lapel

March 6, 2014

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Menswear discussion boards occasionally feature lively debates about the appropriateness of a notched lapel on a dinner jacket.  Most commentators will argue that it is a modern trend imported from the common business suit and thus has no place on formal attire.  But some will inevitably counter that it is legitimized by historical precedent and […]

The Dowager vs. the Dinner Jacket: Round 3

February 3, 2014

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Season 4 of Downton Abbey is now airing on PBS and the fictional Grantham household is continuing to adapt to the social changes brought about by World War I.  For her part, the Victorian-minded Dowager Countess is still no more accepting of informal dinner jackets than previously. In episode 4, she converses with her tuxedo-clad […]

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