In conjunction with our article about Town & Country Shoes, we want to dedicate our article today to spring fashions in 1939, as illustrated by Apparel Arts. We will focus more closely on the Paddock suit; despite the original time frame of this style, it remains a versatile modern combination, well suited to both town and country wear.
Paddock Suit – by Robert Goodman
First, it should be noted, that the gentleman in this picture was illustrated by Robert Goodman. His work in Apparel Arts illustration was well regarded in the 1930s. In 1939, town clothes and accessories for spring and summer were noticeably influenced by sporting clothes of the time. That meant: suits came in all shades of brown, the accessories were more colorful, and the shoes came in less traditional colors, such as brown, and less formal shapes.
The gentleman seen here is wearing a single breasted, fawn colored worsted suit with wide chalk stripes and two buttons. Some of you might think that the style looks a little odd because both front buttons are buttoned. While that is usually not advisable, this coat is cut differently: the lower button lies exactly on the waistline and the top button lies very close to the breast pocket. Considering that this is remarkably higher than on a regular 2 button coat, it makes perfect sense to button both of these buttons. This kind of jacket was introduced in 1938 as the Paddock model, which was named after the place for pre-race inspections of horses on a race track. The name is rather appropriate, because the two-button Paddock Style is very similar to a riding coat.
Generally, a paddock coat comes with a center vent, but sometimes it has side vents instead. The two front buttons are always closed and the very high buttoning point makes for an elegant silhouette; it creates the illusion of added height. At the same time, a vest is not really necessary since everything, including the collar and the notched lapels, has moved up. In the back, it often has a British-Blade-back which provides space for enhanced movement. You will notice a turn-back cuff with four buttons, though the turn-back is optional, and flaps on all the pockets.
In the illustration, you can see the gentleman in his fawn color suit with tapered sleeves, a fine broadcloth shirt in ivory with a soft lounge collar, and a Spitalfields tie in a narrow bar shape. It is topped off with a green felt hat, and clove red carnation boutonniere (also known as a buttonhole), as well as calf leather monk strap shoes. With regard to the trousers, not much can be said: the fabric should match the jacket and you can go with or without cuffs.
Today, the Paddock Style is still very versatile. On the one hand, the 4 cuff buttons are a feature one can usually only find on city- or formal clothes. On the other hand, the notched lapel, flapped pockets and center vent are reserved for country wear only. Since the paddock combines both, it is perfectly suitable in town and country. For city wear it could be worn with a white shirt, a Homburg hat, and Oxford shoes.
Altogether, it is a very useful style, especially when traveling.
Characteristics of a Paddock Coat
To put it in a nutshell, the general characteristics of a Paddock coat are:
- Closed two-button front
- Lower button is positioned exactly on the waistline or slightly below or above
- Two outside pockets and a ticket pocket, all of which come with flaps
- The sleeves show 4 buttons and occasionally turn-back cuffs
- Some drape in the back, over the blades
The next time you visit your tailor, think about the making a suit in the very useful Paddock Style – I am sure you will get a lot of wear out of it, and not regret it!
For more fashion illustrations, please see our Apparel Arts Section.