Browsing All Posts filed under »History«

The Sartorial Art Journal Fashion Plates: In Living Colour

June 17, 2014


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


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


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


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 […]

The Victorian Cummerbund

January 6, 2014


I’ve long been intrigued by the contradictions inherent in the Victorian cummerbund.  First there’s the seeming paradox of the original garment’s use to ward off chills in the tropics.   Then there’s the contrast of an informal sash being worn with a full-dress rig.  So it was time to once again turn to online newspaper archives […]

Flashback: The Dress Shirt Protector

December 6, 2013

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According to History of Underclothes, the dress shirt protector was popular in Britain from about 1897 and consisted of “a pad of white quilted satin faced with white silk.” North American newspaper archives reveal that in the United States it was more often referred to as a full dress protector and sometimes a dress shirt shield […]

Rented Formalwear, Gilded-Age Style

November 25, 2013


In a previous post chronicling the history of formalwear industry leader After Six, I reported that the company was often credited for pioneering the concept of rented formal wear in the 1920s.  Well, my recent investigation of digital newspaper archives reveals that the practice goes back much further. Advertisements for evening wear rentals began to […]


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