Looking back in time can often turn out to be quite helpful when you want to find out how you can individualize your personal style. At a time when everybody wears things a certain way you can ensure to look classic, yet different enough to stand out from the crowd.
This ad from Aug. Pick & Co. shows us soem beautiful fashion illustrations of upcoming spring summer illustrations. At the time, they had premises in London W1 at 1. Golden Square, Berlin W8 Leipzigerstraße 24 and in Leipzig C1 Fleischerplatz 2-5. Sadly they are not in existance anymore.
What you can learn from this illustration?
1. Blue is the most popular color in menswear today, yet the blue outfit on the left is absolute unique. He combined a mid blue pair of pants, with a light pastel blue sportcoat with an interesting double windowpane. The look is very refreshing and you should try to combine your suit pants with odd jackets for a different look.
2. If you look at the color combination, you see, blue, white and orange. You can also mix and match colors, but it pays not to overdo it. This chap as a blue hat with and orange band, and orange tie and orange in his shirt. It is certainly different, but very classic.
3. At that point in time, striped jackets were only worn as a suit, never as an odd combination. The gentleman in the middle combined solid trousers with a striped jacket and paired it with a dark shirt, bright tie and a collar clip. You can combine your striped jackets too, but bear in mind that the stripe must not be too formal. For example, a navy pin stripe suit will not work with a pair of khaki pants. Instead, mix a grey flannel chalk stripe with a pair of blue trousers. Keep enough contrast without going overboard.
4. The man on the right shows us the half belted back of his jacket, which is a distinct feature of a sport coat. Here, he pairs it with a tattersall shirt, a bold herringbone overcoat and a light grey pair of slacks. It works really well together, because the pants are neutral and work with almost anything. You should also invest in a light grey pair of pants, because you will be able to combine it with all kinds of colors including blue, brown, red and green.
5. Sportcoats look better with patch pockets. Most sportcoats today are cut like a suit jacket because it is more economical to cut all jackets the same way. However, I really like the look of distinctive features for sport coats and city suits. Not only is it fun to have different elements in your wardrobe, but it also allows you to dress appropriately at all times.
Duke of Kent Silhouette
Today, most double breasted jacket either com in 6×2 or 4×2 meaning that you either have a total of 6 or 4 front buttons with 2 closing buttons. An often overlooked and forgotten style is the Kent Silhouette, which is just 4×1. In order to make this look work, the closing button row should be on the waistline or slightly below, and the top buttons have to position further out. This example is perfect and since you generally cannot find this style of the rack, it is a subtle hint that your garments are bespoke. Also, note the checked fabric with a subtle windowpane, what a beautiful fabric.
Why you should wear a Duke of Kent style jacket?
1. It is perfect for the gentleman who already has a range of different jackets in his closet. The 4×1 silhouette is very masculine and powerful, yet unique and refind.
2. Chances are nobody else will have a jacket in that style.
3. A double breasted silhouette is per se always more formal than a single breasted one but in this case the combination with brown makes it a bit less formal and hence you can wear it for almost any occasion.
White Shirt Collars by Van Laack
White Collars were by far the most used collars in 1937. Unlike today, men preferred to proper look of a stiff, white detachable collar. The advantage of it was, that you could combine any shirt with any collars, which meant one had many options. The big collar you see here was a classic spread, not to wide, not too small and the shape could be worn today just like that.
Today, it is very difficult to find stiff collar shirts, and you either have to have them custom made or buy them from England. The stiff detachable collars themselves need a special form of dry cleaning and most dry cleaners are not able to do that anymore. As such, it is difficult and bothersome to go for this look.
What you can learn from this ad?
1. Classic collar shapes never go out of style and you can wear them indefinitely
2. The white collar, can be a great contrast on a patterned or contrast colored shirt. It works well with business suits and adds a more formal touch.
3. Your shirts always wears out first on the collars and cuffs, but the body is still perfectly fine. Don’t just throw the shirt, but have a white shirt collar and double cuffs attached to it for a different look.
4. Shirts with white contrast collars and cuffs are called Winchester Shirts.
5. Van Laack is still going strong in Germany today, although they no longer offer detachable collars.
Sock Suspenders / Garters by Cunard
In 1937, sock knitting machines were not as technically refined as they are today. Moreover, the use of elastic materials was just in its infancy, and so over the calf socks would often slide down. Cunard was one of the suppliers of these sock garters or sock suspenders.
What you can learn from this ad?
1. At the time, you needed suspenders to actually keep your socks up
2. Today, well made over the calf socks will stay up without garters or suspenders.
3. If your socks slide down, get either longer socks, or better socks, or both. All Fort Belvedere Socks are quality, over the calf socks that come in different sizes and were designed to stay up all day.
4. Investing in sock suspenders or garters is pointless unless you want to dress in period costume.
Tie & Color Matching
On the left, you can see a tie ad from the now defunct Rotsiegel company.
What you can learn from this ad?
1. Matching the right colors is often underutilized or executed poorly in menswear. But just look at the chap in the bottom right. He wear a striped grey three piece suit with a navy tie. This ensemble would work with a white or light blue shirt, but the light pink really makes it shine, in a subtle, understated way. If you have a grey, suit, you should definitely give this color combination a try. The perfect tie for this would be the navy fresco tie from Fort Belvedere.
2. If you have conservative ties in dark blue, try to combine them with unusual colors. The man in the middle wore his dark navy, white and red tie, with a chartreuse shirt and a brown jacket. While I am personally not overly fond of this color combination, you have to try things out to create a dashing look, and not every combination will be your best, but that’s ok. You will only improve your look if you try over time. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and you cannot transform your style in on day either, but consistent work and effort will pay off.
This chap is wearing plus fours made of a donegal tweed, saddle shoes, over the calf socks, a knit vest and a checked shirt.
What you can learn from this look?
1. You do not always need a jacket to look stylish. A vest or a sweater vest will make you look dressier than if you just wear a shirt.
2. Saddle shoes are an interesting shoes that works well for casual outfits. If you have all the basics in your shoe closet covered, consider investing in a saddle shoe.
3. When you combine patterns, make sure the colors and the size of the patterns don’t clash. Here we can see donegal plus fours with little knobs. the Shirt checks are simple but much larger than the knobs, whereas the vest and socks have a special diamond pattern with smaller lines that makes the entire ensemble work together. When you start out. I recommend not to combine too many patterns and colors at once. Start with 2 and take it from there.
Select Interesting Fabrics
Fabrics are manifold and wonderful. They come in so many pattern, color and weave combinations that you have an endless supply. Once you have a navy solid and grey stripe, go for something brown with an interesting weave that is versatile, and I promise you will be able to wear it with all kinds of other garments. Khakis, suit pants, chinos, tweed, flannels…
In this pictures, you can see interesting stripes, donegal flecks and windowpanes. Combining all of that requires quite a bit of skill. If you start out, it may be wise to just go for one jacket in donegal tweed and then you can combine it with existing items in your wardrobe, such as solid.
Over time, you will feel more confident and develop your very own style.
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