Today, we will continue with the third part of our Spring Outfit series. Part 1 focused on the details of the Paddock Suit, and in part 2 we analyzed the Navy Blue Spring Suit. This time, we want to present you to a couple of suits that are a bit more extraordinary.
Grey Suits & Brown Accessories
Our first picture shows a scene with two gentleman, one of whom is holding a little guide book that says ’1939’. This illustration shows what visitors would likely have worn at the 1939 World Fair in New York.
Both men wear suits with a base color of grey, brown shoes as well as a hat, and as such, both outfits are ideal town & country ensembles.
The Light Colored Chalk Stripe Suit
The gentleman on the left wears a single breast notched lapel suit with three buttons. The light grey worsted wool cloth has white chalk stripes; the shirt is made of pale grey broadcloth and has a white starched collar. Around the neck, he wears a yellow wool challis tie with printed burgundy dots. Interestingly, the brown cavalier hat matches his brown cap-toe oxfords.
The Plaid Suit
On the right, we see a man in a lightweight worsted suit with two overplaids – one in reddish-brown and the other in a mustard-yellow. At that time, this kind of suit pattern had just been popularized in Great Britain by the Duke of Kent, and subsequently it also became rather en vogue across the pond. Just like our illustration with the gentleman in the navy blue spring suit, the buttoning point is low and the pockets are aligned with the lower row of buttons. However, this time they have flaps and there is also an extra ticket pocket. The lapels are a little wider and not quite so long.
That season, it was recommended by Apparel Arts to wear a suit without a vest. Some might think “of course! It is a double breasted suit”. This was not so back then; it was not unusual to wear a waistcoat underneath a double breasted coat. At the end of the thirties, men started to go without their vest, and this trend obviously continues through the present day, since not many men wear a waistcoat anymore, no matter whether we talk about single breasted or double breasted suits.
The trousers are not cut as fully, and supposedly measure 18 inches around the bottom cuff. This ensemble is completed by a soft tan shirt, a striped repp tie and suede monk straps. On his hat, he wears a fawn colored felt Paddock hat. This semi-sports hat was considered to be the ideal town & country hat for all spring occasions.
Unfortunately, plaid suits of that kind are seen quite rarely today. This is very much to my dismay, and I wish more men would wear them, especially since they are the perfect base for a unique, yet sophisticated outfit. A plaid suit is neither too formal, nor too informal because it is still a suit and not just a casual combination.
The Versatile Houndstooth Suit
He is wearing a single breasted brown and white houndstooth check Shetland suit. Shetland wool was named after its source – the sheep from the Shetland Island, which is rather hard wearing and quite durable. Shetland fabric usually has a soft touch and a certain nap to it.
Back then, Shetlands had been popular in herringbone and diagonals on campus, however, in 1939, the houndstooth check Shetland often conquered the campus. That hardly comes as a surprise since it was a very durable suit that could also be worn in various combinations, for example when paired with gabardine or flannel trousers. The most unusual accent in this ensemble is probably the brown velvet vest with brass buttons. Initially, these vests were first seen Oxford, England, but soon they also appeared in the US. The light grey oxford shirt has a button down collar and is combined with a brown velvet tie. Again, this was a trend set in Oxford and Cambridge that swapped over shortly after its introduction. Now, the other noteworthy details are the brown shoes: Designed in the Alpine peasant manner, they are laced on the side instead the front. In German, they are referred to as ”Haferlschuh”. With so much brown in the outfit, the red silk foulard pocket square, as well as the moss green semi-hat offer a welcome contrast.
Even today, a brown-beige houndstooth coat or suit are extremely versatile and appropriate for town & country wear. As such, it is the ideal garment for someone on a budget.