With Thanksgiving approaching shortly and the climate getting colder, it is time to focus on the winter wardrobe. On the streets, one can see all kinds of outerwear, ranging from boots and jackets with “high-tech fibers” like gore-tex, to polyester scarves and hats.
In my opinion, if you want to dress more elegantly and classically, even when it is freezing cold outside, one crucial garment to opt for is a heavy double breasted wool overcoat. Not only will they keep you warm at all times due to the fabric’s weight and overlap, but they are also more robust than other fabrics, such as cashmere.
For a little winter weather inspiration, here is a series of fashion drawings from Apparel Arts 1932 with “Fashions of the Quarter.”
1—First, we start with a white tie ensemble – probably the most handsome suit a man can ever wear. If you are so lucky as to spend any time in Vienna this winter, or otherwise visit exquisite balls, a white tie ensemble may be useful. The silk top hat and the white kid gloves in the picture are certainly not necessary today, but I think the top hat adds a very nice touch when worn with white tie. In 1932, tails were cut slightly longer than the years prior, and it was en vogue to have cloth covered buttons and a cuffed sleeve. It was accompanied by a white, single breasted waistcoat with removable studs / buttons, as well as a semi-butterfly bow tie and patent leather pumps. Today, this would be equally acceptable. If you do not feel comfortable in pumps, however, plain patent leather oxford shoes are acceptable as well.
2—Chances are, you will get much more wear out of a tuxedo than a tailcoat. In 1932, the shawl collar was becoming popular again. Paired with white buck gloves, a white waistcoat, stiff collared shirt, patent leather oxfords, a black Homburg hat, a navy blue Paletot, and a colored boutonniere, the outfit was perfect. Today, you can combine your shawl collar tuxedo jacket with a turndown collar and a cummerbund instead.
3—Instead of a Paletot, a designated evening topcoat was the epitome of luxury in the era. The one in the picture features a fur lining and a Persian lamb collar (also known as an Astrakhan collar)! It is worn with tail coat underneath, a silk top hat, a white silk scarf and white gloves.
Suit & Overcoat
4—This blue and green double breasted suit (left) has a very unusual 8×3 button configuration. The trousers are full cut and cuffless. The pale orange shirt with a white starched collar and cuffs go perfectly with the suit and the green tie and pocket square. The black/tan shoes and the bowler might be a little too much with such a suit today, but the rest makes for a very unique, yet wearable double breasted outfit.
5—Just like the suit, this topcoat has a lot of buttons – a 10×4 is a very hard button configuration to find and is likely only available as a bespoke garment. The combination of a striped shirt with tab collar, red & green striped tie, beige pocket square, yellow chamois gloves and brown shoes is perfectly wearable today. The green Homburg hat would definitely stand out in a modern combination but it is likewise wearable in a suitable combination.
6—This grey single breasted glen plaid suit has a ticket pocket and a waistcoat with lapels that looks stunning in my opinion. It’s a subtle yet special fabric, and in a pattern-light modern wardrobe, it is certainly a statement piece. In combination with the grey shirt and white collar and cuffs, the yellow & red striped tie and the pocket square add a nice touch of color. Instead of the brown shoes seen in the pictures, black shoes would also be very nice.
Balmacaan & Fur Coat
7—The brown Balmacaan topcoat has a wonderfully large pale blue overplaid. Such fabrics are usually not found off the rack and must be specially ordered or custom made. With the yellow shirt in a flannel winter quality, and cashmere tie and grey cuffed slacks, this gentleman looks very unique and yet well dressed at the same time.
8—On really cold days, a fur lined grey Shetland overcoat with fur collar is guaranteed keep you warm without sacrificing style. Such pieces are even hard to find bespoke. However, most fur linings are not permanently attached to a coat, but have buttons instead. This way, one fur lining can be worn with a number of different topcoats. The blue shirt, navy and yellow striped tie, black shoes and string knit gloves go very well with the ensemble.
Ulster, Guards Coat & Reversible Overcoat
9—Here you can see a very monochromatic outfit with a snapbrim and a 8×3 Ulster variation which is brightened up by a foulard scarf. In my opinion, it is very important to add at least one touch of color to your outfit, otherwise you risk looking bland.
10—This Guards Coat looks great with the striped navy pants, light blue shirt and grey gloves. The bowler definitely adds a formal note, but is maybe not the best choice today as it may appear a little dated.
11—Apparently, this Balmacaan topcoat is reversible and made of tweed. To date, I have never seen such a garment in person, though it definitely adds versatility to a bespoke garment. The grey Glenurquhart flannel trousers look fantastic in combination with the lovat green odd jacket, light vest & shirt, green tie, brown buckskin shoes and brown buckskin gloves.
Brown Topcoat – Yellow Gloves
12—Last, but not least, this brown 8×4 topcoat has a flap at the breast pocket and cuffs. The dogtooth checked wool scarf, as well as the yellow chamois gloves, add a simple, yet refined elegance to this outfit.
With all this inspiration in mind, I now wish you a happy Thanksgiving!