After our recent introduction of the paddock coat, we will now continue the series with another spring suit as shown in Apparel Arts 1939.
Lightweight Summer Fabrics
In the late 1930’s, new light weight wool fabrics came on the market, which meant that a business worsted suiting that was formerly only available in 14 ounces and more per yard was now was available in weights of 8 or 9 ounces. As a consequence, men could now refrain from wearing light colored suits or pants in shades of white in favor of a navy blue, breezy suit. And they did so, which meant that these lightly colored pants, which we can so often see in old pictures from the 30’s, were increasingly abandoned and were mostly worn casually or on vacation.
Two Piece Spring Suit by Robert Goodman
Let’s examine an illustration of a spring suit by Robert Goodman from 1939:
The suit worn by the gentleman is indeed made of the aforementioned 8 or 9-ounce tropical weight worsted. The double breasted coat has a rather low buttoning point, below the natural waist, and hence the peaked lapels have very long roll. Note: the flapless pockets are exactly at the height of the lower buttons. Over his right chest, we can see a fold that indicates that this suit was tailored with drape, likely also in the back over the shoulder blade. The matching trousers are cut rather full – just look at the excess fabric around his legs. Alternatively, this coat would also look splendid with lighter colored trousers such as cream, white, grey or even yellow. The white shirt is made of lightweight broadcloth and features a semi spread collar. In 1939, this was quite a wide spread and so it was called a cutaway collar. Today, a cutaway collar would generally be cut much wider. The large V created by the low lapels is decorated by a yellow, white and navy striped silk tie. The outfit is complemented by brown calf lightweight quarter brogue shoes, as well as a boater hat. In Apparel Arts, it was described as a Sennit hat, because the straw used for these boaters was called sennit once it was plaited into cordage. This sennit coradage was then made into these hats, giving them the name Sennit straw hat. Admittedly, the heydays of the boater had have long passed, though it looks quite dapper on the gent in the pictures, doesn’t it?
The Blue Spring Suit Today
A blue summer weight suit made of wool or Irish Linen can be very useful due to its versatility. It can easily be worn casually with different trousers, as well as part of a business outfit. The two present day pictures feature the Gentleman’s Gazette contributor Herbert Stricker. This navy blue Irish Linen 4×2 suit was made by Sartoria Sciamat. It is very similar to the one in the drawing, with the exception of the sleevehead, the width of the lapels, and the presence of patch pockets. As you can see, it can be combined with almost any trouser color imaginable.