London Men's Fashions - 1936

London Men’s Fashion 1936

The other day, a reader reminded me that we had not covered fashion illustrations for a couple of days, so today we will share a few illustrations from 1936. This particular year brought out some of the most dramatic changes in men’s fashion since WWI, and the American market observed London very closely. As the men’s fashion capital of the era, London’s main trends were eagerly exported and quickly popularized on the other side of the pond.

Blue Suit With Brown Shoes

Navy Suit - Brown Shoes

Navy Suit – Brown Shoes

First, I want to direct your attention to the gentleman in the navy blue Guard’s Coat. He is wearing mid-brown shoes with a navy chalk stripe suit and navy blue hat. This was a typical fashion of the London season. Many young, dapper men about town were observed wearing light brown shoes with dark town outfits. Incidentally, one of the London papers remarked on the King’s dress. Apparently, he had been seen walking outside Buckingham Palace wearing a navy blue suit, a dark coat, a bowler hat and brown shoes. There is an old saying that ‘the king can do no wrong,’ and in fact, the fashionable Edward VIII – who would later become the Duke of Windsor -may or may not have put his stamp of approval on this fashion. There is no doubt that it was accepted back then and it is still popular with a large number of well dressed men today.

Single Breasted 2 Button Suit With Peaked Lapels

Single Breasted 2 Button Suit - Peaked Label

Single Breasted 2 Button Suit – Peaked Label

Probably the most important new fashion trend in London that season was the single breasted two-button sack suit with double breasted (peak) lapel. This particular style was seen on many well dressed men in and around  London, as well as in the country on weekends.

Previously, the three button single breasted suit with a high roll, peaked lapel had been a permanent staple in the wardrobes of well dressed Englishmen. But the desire of the younger generation resulted in a preference for the two-button jacket. Sir Hardy Amies elaborated on this button style change, claiming that 4 buttons in the front are reduced to 3, 2 and 1 with the fashion cycles before they are added again in the following seasons.

Apparel Arts promoted the jacket heavily: “This new model should be promoted for the coming winter and spring seasons, particularly for town wear, as the peak lapel suit has practically disappeared from the fashion picture in any similar model up to the present time. The coat definitely has a more dressy appearance than the average notched lapel jacket which always forms a part of country suits and has, of course, been worn in town. This new jacket incorporates many important features, but particular attention is called here to the fullness in the chest (Drape).”

Full Cut Trousers

Also new to the US were the full cut trousers. The slacks of most men in America tapered to the foot, and measured around seventeen inches at the bottom hem.

Lovat Green Glen Urquhart Suit

Lovat Green Glen Urquhart Suit

In England, the cut was much fuller, measuring at least nineteen inches or more at the cuffs.

Lovat Green Glen Urquhart Suit

Moreover, some of the fabric patterns were woven in more colorful combinations. For example, just look at this lovat green country suit. As such, it does not have the popular peaked lapels but it features full cut trousers. While a bowler hat or a grey shirt would be unimaginable to the average American, the suit fabric is certainly the most unique piece in this outfit.

Colored Striped Worsted Suit

Colored Striped Worsted Suit

It is composed of a lovat green and blue Prince of Wales glencheck (aka glen urquhart) with a rusty red overplaid. Paired with tan shoes, it is definitely an eye catcher.

Red Striped Suit

The influence of color was apparent in country clothes, but also in town wear. This gentleman wears a suit with a wide red stripe on a mid-grey worsted fabric. Topped off with a black bowler / derby hat and black oxford shoes, he probably looked pretty dapper as he walked through Burlington Arcade.


7 replies
  1. Bespoke Lawyer says:

    Informative post. The full-cut, high-rise trouser seems to be as hard to find as a bowler hat. A future post re current sources would be appreciated.

  2. Herr Doktor says:

    Our Bespoke Barrister hit the nail on the head. These suits work so well because of the high-waisted trousers, something almost unheard of today. Long rise trousers really do look better than hip-hugging abominations.

  3. jonathan says:

    I agree i love high rise full cut trousers extremely hard to find unless you go the vintage roots most classic clothiers and designers have trousers that are slightly fuller in cut and you can wear at a higher rise

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