Apparel Arts College Clothes

Clothes for College Men in Fall – Apparel Arts 1933

First issued in 1931, Apparel Arts (AA) soon became the leading magazine for the men’s clothing trade & haberdasheries in the USA. An AA article from 1933 focuses on out of town clothing, beginning with college fashion at the time. Undoubtedly, college students were much better dressed than their peers today, and hence it is very interesting to see how meticulously all the essentials of a young collegiate’s wardrobe was described.  In order to help the reader to visualize the fine clothing items better, famous illustrator Laurence Fellows sketched a fashion forecast as well. In the following we will explain the illustration, and subsequently, you will be able to read the original article about College Fashion from 1933.

Apparel Arts - Laurence Fellows - Clothes for College


The student on the left is wearing a double-breasted navy suit made from worsted wool. His shirt features bold blue and white stripes and a tab collar. This ensemble is accompanied by a dark tie, with light blue polka dots as well as a red and blue silk pocket square. The black bowler or derby hat, the pipe and the black oxford shoes finish off this combination. The topcoat laying on the arm of the chair is likewise double breasted and comes in a slightly lighter shade of blue than the suit.
The chap on the right is wearing a single-breasted, three button, three piece suit with notched lapels in a black & white shepherd check. He combined it with sturdy dark brown brogue shoes with a straight rounded toe and a grey & red striped shirt with a rounded club collar and a collar pin. His  narrow maroon (crochet-)knit tie tops off the ensemble. Over his arm there is a bow tie with a small pattern and two vividly colored ties. In his hands, he is holding a Norfolk jacket which is made out of tweed.
In the trunk to his right, you can see a double-breasted dinner coat with massive lapels and behind that a tail coat. On top of the trunk, you can spot a Balmaccan made of Harris Tweed and a brown Snap-Brim-Homburg. Next to the trunk, you can see a pair of patent leather oxford shoes without a cap. On the floor, there is also a pair of light blue & red slippers, white buck shoes with black rubber soles and heels, and a pair of brown buckskin bluchers.  The evening shirt is made of linen with a black bow tie, then there is a button down collar shirt, a striped tab collar shirt as well as a detachable a wing collar with a white full dress tie. Beneath the shirts you can see a Tattersall waistcoat and a collapsible opera hat.  On the bottom, there are three pairs of pajamas, an assortment of pocket squares and a dressing gown.

Article – Apparel Arts 1933


IN the Fall a young man’s fancy turns to haberdashery rather than Homer, and suits rather than Suetonius. Then the Novum Organum becomes a new world of dress. Back to college… back among men… back where clubs and clothes mark a man’s standards.

The word “collegiate,” now seldom used in speaking of college men, is altogether foreign to its famous meaning of some eight years ago, when the raccoon coat, Oxford bags, the hat pushed up in front, and the socks rolled down, were all implicit in the term. Today the college man is looked upon as a leader of fashion, a man who dresses inconspicuously and correctly for all occasions, thanks to the leadership of smart Eastern Universities, which have a metropolitan feeling, or at least are near enough to metropolitan areas for the students to feel all the influences of sophisticated living. We can thank the present-day “collegiate” element for the return to popularity of the tail coat, for the white buckskin shoes, for the gray flannel slacks with odd jackets, and for various other smart fashions which are typical of university men today.

For on-campus wear there is a general acceptance of country clothes in the typical British manner, such as odd slacks and tweed jackets, country brogues and felt hats. This is the way the undergraduates at smart Universities and prep schools dress today during classes. Over the week-ends when the average college man goes to town there is always the dark Chesterfield coat and derby hat. Single or double-breasted town suit, black shoes, very often a white starched collar and a tail coat.

Clothing and furnishings that should be sold to men going to college for the first time or returning to college should be exacting for the very reason that none will find out more quickly what things are wrong than the student himself when he gets to his college.

Smart and new items already having a definite acceptance with University men and which follow Fall fashion trends in all their indications are these: a double breasted suit of dark blue; it may be of solid color or may have chalk stripes, silk stripe effect. This is the suit that the college man will wear to and from town and very often wear in town. Another suit that should be in the wardrobe of every well-dressed undergraduate should be either a single-breasted Glen Urquhart plaid or the newer Shepherd plaid. This suit serves many purposes. First of all it is worn on Saturdays and at athletic activities with a top coat. It may be worn when going out at night. Secondly, the coat may be worn ideally with slacks and the trousers may be worn ideally with an odd jacket. A third suit that should be in the wardrobe of the man returning to college should be a Harris tweed or a Shetland suit either in shades of brown, lovat or to please his own individuality. This suit is typical of college clothing today and may be worn, like the Shepherd check suit, with odd slacks or with odd jacket, most comfortably for outdoor activities or for football games. It is also advisable to have an extra sport jacket along. This may be of any check tweed fabric and should invariably be single-breasted with notch lapel. It may have side vents with a belted back with by-swing shoulders or the newer modified Norfolk. A pair of gray flannel Glen Urquhart plaid slacks, or the newer Shepherd plaid or tweed slacks should also be included.

Another necessity for the college man is the dinner coat. This may be either single or double-breasted, preferably double-breasted. This suit has many advantages. It is worn at fraternity dinners, smokers, theatre and many other evenings when a tail coat is too much and sack clothes are not enough.

LAST, but not least, as a matter of fact most important, is the tail coat. This will be worn at all fraternity or club dances, at proms, dancing when in town and other very formal occasions. From an overcoat standpoint the college man should have in his kit a double-breasted or single-breasted dark town coat either of oxford gray or navy blue, preferably without velvet collar. This will be worn in town and will also serve as an overcoat for formal evening wear.

Another coat that is ideally suited for campus wear is the reversible top coat of gabardine and Harris tweed. Instead of this coat the smarter dresser may include in his wardrobe a bold checked Harris tweed Balmaccan and for bad weather days a gabardine Balmaccan. Another coat which may be used on the campus is the old time favorite, the double-breasted camel coat. The newer ones are cut much shorter. Many have leather buttons with three buttons to button and there is a decided flare in the skirt.

For football games and Winter outdoor activities it is always good taste to have either a raccoon coat or a black broadcloth coat lined with fur and a fur collar or a tweed type of coat lined with fur and a fur collar but, of course, due to the period of depression that the country has just been through, while these things are nice, they are terribly expensive and so as to substitute for these fur coats, one should by all means include in the wardrobe a double-breasted Ulster type of coat with a very heavy lining. The coat may have four or five buttons, double-breasted and a broad collar. The smarter coats of this type have no belt in the back.

Next in importance after having the student fitted out with his clothes are his shirts. It must be considered that students attending Universities today need shirts for every type of occasion. The shirt wardrobe should consist of country sport shirts, of town shirts which include starched collars, and of formal shirts. For general campus wear, the sport type of shirt should be as follows: It may be of flannel or flannel finished material or heavy cheviot Oxford. In model the button down collar-attached shirt and the round collar attached shirt to be worn pinned, and the medium pointed collar to be worn pinned, are the three outstanding and favorite styles. Blue is by far the best color, with gray, tan, and white following, also yellow, a new shade which has already been accepted by University men. Checked patterns, such as Glens, hound’s tooth checks and the newer Tattersall check. Shirts for general wear and town wear should be of striped or fine checked madras, broadcloth, lighter weight Oxford. These are most popular in tab color models. The widespread tab is the newer one. It might be well to include neckband shirts in this wardrobe, and white starched collars may be worn with them. Pleated bosom shirts are again back and smart college men returning to town for the holidays will get much pleasure out of wearing pleated shirts with white starched collar and cuffs. Round collared shirts and pointed collared shirts of these medium weight materials are also correct for general and town wear. For evening wear, the plain white linen or white pique two stud open front shirt is the correct shirt with either tail coat or dinner coat. With the double-breasted dinner coat, a white turn-over starched collar may be worn and a semi-stiff pleated shirt with two studs. This shirt may also be worn with the tail coat but with the high wing collar with bold broad tabs. Single cuffs should be on all dress shirts.

The next item of apparel which depends now on both the suit and the shirt is the correct neckwear. Here again we have the sport and country and town and formal atmosphere. For general campus wear the wool cashmere tie is still ideally suited. Smart University men have taken up the silk crocheted tie horizontal and bias stripes, and this Fall they will be more popular than they have been in many a year. Although bow ties are primarily a Spring and Summer item it would be a good idea to include a few bow ties in the wardrobe for early Fall and as they are now made of cashmere as well as silk, the student will undoubtedly get use out of them. For town wear, striped rep ties and Spitalsfield ties are back again. Foulard ties are good for all year round, just as popular for Winter as for Summer, and every student’s wardrobe should include these along with others. India madras ties for early Fall are also good, new and colorful. For formal wear the newest and smartest shape is the semi-butterfly tie in both black and white and these are styles that should be sold to students going to college this Fall.

socks Apparel Arts 1933

Undergraduates at important Universities have put their stamp of approval on wool hose and the majority of college students wear wool hose all the year round. The newest note in woolen hose is the revival of the Argyle plaids that were present a few years ago. Plaids and checks have already run the gauntlet and the new wool hose that are favored are made in 6 and 3 rib in heather and mixtures. There is also a revival of the horizontal or partridge stripe which is now considered very smart. For town wear, lisle or silk hose 6 and 3 rib in solid colors or broken check clocks. For wear with dinner clothes, black hose with white, black or colored clocks. For tail coat, sheer silk hose or fine 6 and 3 rib silk hose. The newer evening socks have a wool foot for comfort while dancing and to act as a cushion for the thin soled evening shoe.

ONE of the most important things to be considered in the college man’s wardrobe is shoes which again must be suitable to the various occasions. You will notice in the forthcoming paragraph about shoes how they follow in the wake of the strictly he-man rough feeling of the tweed and how they adhere to the strict formality of dress-up clothes. For general campus wear the all-white buckskin shoe with no toe cap, red rubber heels and soles, is very important. Another shoe of the same type with black or red rubber soles is the white buck or white elk shoe with black saddlestrap. Though the brown buckskin shoe is a favorite of the horsey set they have not as yet been really accepted by college men. The brown buckskin blucher with no toe cap and heavy crepe sole and heel is a shoe that is very practical for all-campus wear and one which if liked by the student should surely be included in his wardrobe, as its smartness cannot be questioned.

As far as color is concerned brown is surely the favorite. Another shoe that is being worn by some of the better dressed undergraduates at smarter universities is a deep reddish brown Norwegian calf (which resembles a Scotch grain but is not as rough) with a round toe, on the English straight last, a straight toe cap with perforations and foxing along the side of the shoe, heavy leather soles and heels. Another shoe of the same nature that is worn by many students is the deep brown calf shoe, no toe cap, with three extra large brass eyelets and crepe soles and heels. For town wear or more dressy occasions black straight tip shoe, either plain or with perforations, with a slightly rounded toe, is very smart and conservative. With dinner clothes the five hole patent leather Oxford on the long vamp. The same shoe is correct with the tail coat. Pumps are definitely in and are accepted and are also correct with tail coat. It is necessary to include in one’s wardrobe a good pair of leather slippers with hard soles and heels. If students are fond of riding, boots either of the field type or more dressy type or the blucher riding shoe with canvas leggings should be included in the wardrobe.

Another very essential item of the young man’s wardrobe is headwear. Various hats for a college term are as follows. First, the derby hat. The newer model is a rather medium height, very full crown, with a short straightish brim. The next hat that is important is the brown snap brim hat. This hat may have a binding or it may be the new semi-Homburg hat which is a new Homburg snapped down in front. One may include in one’s wardrobe a tweed stitched hat or a one piece top cap. A small hat with rather a telescope crown and a small straightish brim resembling a Tyrolean hat is also good for campus wear. It is made of rough scratch felt.

Tyrolean Dobbs hat - muffler

Accessories should include various colored and white linen handkerchiefs for the every day clothes and white handkerchiefs for the formal clothes. A very smart handkerchief which should be in the wardrobe is the colored silk foulard madder handkerchief.

Mufflers — the silk or wool square in tied and – dyed and polka dot as well as in the old paisley patterns — are very popular.

The student will need a pair of white buckskin or mocha gloves for dress wear. A pair of pigskin gloves for campus wear is advisable. A pair of yellow string knit gloves for cold weather and rough country wear in general.

JEWELRY that is necessary is a heavy gold safety pin for one’s collar. Gold cuff links of modest design. A wrist watch or pocket watch. If pocket watch is worn, a gold link watch chain is very good taste. Of course, the necessary collar buttons for semi-formal or dinner clothes, black, gold or semi-precious stones. For tail coat white pearl or precious stones. Also in the wardrobe should be included a waistcoat. There should be white-single breasted for wear with tail coat and black single or double breasted for wear with dinner coat, although single breasted is preferable. Another waistcoat that should be suggested to students or boys going to college for the first time is a checked Tattersall waistcoat. These are very popular at smart Universities and go well with the odd jacket and slack combination.

Another item which would be useful to the college man is a sweater, either the sleeveless or a regular slip-over sweater with sleeves. The newer ones are cable stitch knit and are popular in wine and blue as well as in canary and white. Shetland sweaters with a high crew neck are also very good and of course the necessary pajamas, robe, underwear, garters, and suspenders.

This gives you a very definite example of what to offer college men, both, from the angle of what they need and what is smart.

Pictures & article : © Apparel Arts 1933.
6 replies
  1. Penny says:

    My how times have changed! At my college, most guys arrive to class wearing athletic shorts or sweatpants and a t shirt — unless he has a presentation. If he has a presentation, he might wear jeans and a dress shirt. It’s always nice when there’s a fraternity formal when the guys wear a suit and tie.

  2. gabi says:

    Really great article. Love the section on accessories. Men seem to miss that part 😉 Check out this article on same topic

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