It has been a few weeks since we posted an article about fashion illustrations and with summer temperatures continuing to keep us warm, I thought a beach wear photo from 1934 would be just the thing to write about today.
I chose this illustration from Fell Sharp because it displays a number of different outfits with varying degrees of formality. Although at the time it would not have been unusual to have found such a variety at the same location on a hot day, it is pretty much unimaginable today. A jacket at the beach? Probably not, though I imagine a few such scenes might still occur in South Beach hotels or Hamptons beach houses. On the very left, we see a young chap in a boxer brief swim suit with a robe and espadrilles; above him stands a well dressed gentleman in a double breasted coat. At this day in age, most would look similar to the young man, although the espadrilles would be substituted with flip flops and robes have disappeared in favor of t shirts.
Swim Trunks & Espadrilles
Let’s look at the different degrees of formality step by step. For present day US American standards, the young person in the fitted red-black striped swim suit is quite daring. It is much tighter and shorter than what most men feel comfortable wearing today.
Personally, I find it great to see that men in the 1930’s had absolutely no problem wearing these fitted swim trunks. They are far more flattering than the baggy suits of the day. Also, the espadrilles men wear during the summer months usually come without ties, but back then, it was not considered effeminate to have straps tied around your ankle; to the contrary, no one would have questioned the masculinity of the wearer. What do you think about this outfit – would you wear it comfortably today?
Short Sleeves & Shorts
The next outfit is a bit more formal in the sense that the young man is wearing a v-neck shirt & shorts. Obviously it is cut slimly with contrasting red accents. Even the shorts were cut to be worn on your natural waistline and of course, a belt was obligatory.
Slacks & Espadrilles
The young, red-haired chap on the middle right wears a navy blue, red, yellow and green striped polo shirt with mid grey cuffed slacks and a pair of orange espadrilles. Most men would probably wear shorts with these kind of shoes today, but I think the long trousers look great with the espadrilles.Generally, I think shorts are better suited to people with nice looking legs, but not everybody has them. This combination is summery but more elegant than the man with shorts.
On the left, we see a gentleman chatting and drinking a cocktail. His blue – brown striped club blazer features the obligatory patch pockets and even a crest on the chest pocket. While I like the pork pie hat with it, I am not particularly fond of his shirt collar and the way he buttons his shirt all the way to the top. His slacks are white or off-white and could be tailored of flannel, a lightweight cotton or a linen blend, which are all cool wearing summer fabrics. Since he wears white shoes with it, white socks would be overkill and so he opted for solid yellow socks, which adds a nice contrast to the overall outfit and helps distinguish the pants from the shoes.
Double Breasted Summer Coat With Kent Fasson
The gentleman with the most formal outfit has many interesting details. First, let’s start with the coat -it features a natural shoulder line, wide slightly peaked lapels and a 6×1 Kent Fasson button configuration. Unlike most jackets, this one has the buttons positioned more closely together, creating a trapezoidal shape. Consequently, the two sporty cuff buttons are spaced apart a little bit to create a harmonious look. Also, note the perfect match of shirt cuffs and sleeve cuffs.
His shirt is a light peach color which pairs well with the burgundy, white polka-dotted bow tie and the burgundy boutonniere. Together with the full cut, buff colored trousers and dark brown suede shoes, the outfit is fantastic. Finally, it is topped off with a brown summer hat with a uniquely folded white hat band.
In my opinion this outfit is modest in its color palette yet outstandingly elegant and full of beautiful details, isn’t it?
What is your favorite outfit in the picture?