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Death of the belted back

Discussion in 'Suits' started by thunderw21, Aug 13, 2008.

  1. thunderw21

    thunderw21 My Mail is Forwarded Here

    It would seem that the coming of the Second World War and the regulations that followed spelled the death of the belted back in America. Catalogs and ads from the war period rarely ever show belted backs.
    When they were available they were older pre-war models on clearance, as the photos below from the Spring/Summer 1942 issue of the Sears/Roebucks catalog shows.




    What killed the belted back in America? Was it purely the wartime regulations, a change in fashion or a combination of the two?

    Was there a documented resurgence of the belted back right after the war before the 'Bold Look' dominated the scene or did the style die for good until the 1970s when there was a short rebirth?

    Did the belted back live longer in other countries, specifically in Europe? It seems to me that the war would have killed them off in Europe first before they disappeared in America.
    jamesmac1801 likes this.
  2. dakotanorth

    dakotanorth Practically Family

    Belt Back begone!

    I'm blinding guessing here, but shortly after the war, people and fashion wanted to move on from the "wartime" look. Less structured, more relaxed. Even in the early fifties we began seeing relaxed, sloping shoulders and looser cuts in suits that we typically relate to the late 50's.
    I think the beltback definitely has a "high-n-tight" look, everything lashed down, darted in, tucked and creased, etc. It didn't really work anymore- fashion moved away from a regulation-type cut.
    Plus, you can't sell something to people if they already own it!
  3. I think Dakota is right.

    Now on a note for today, I think we are so all over the place when it comes to fashion that most anything goes. Styles don't stick around for a decade and a half anymore... they simply come and go. That's why Personal style is on the grow. I wear belt backs. My company makes them. It's not everyones look, but it's my look and I think they are awesome.
  4. The Ralph Lauren Olympic Opening Ceremony US Blazer is a beltback.
    I cant find any pix, but one concept sketch confirms.
    And a littl birdie tells me its also got a pleated back.

    Cant find product pix on the RL site as its already SOLD OUT.
  5. Seems civilian fashion follows military fashions, or they used to anyway. The Jazz Suits and trench coats after world war 1, and maybe this too? This is a picture of the back of an enlisted man's tunic dated 1940. It had a belted back and brass clips for a separate belt.
    Some time after the war broke out, the tunics seem to have lost the belted backs.
  6. It certainly would have been much cheaper and easier to produce a jacket without such design features.... war issues aside, I should imagine that the potential increased profit margin in a 'stack 'em high, sell 'em cheap' approach was a very big factor in the belt back disappearing.

    Fashion I'm sure also had an influence.... and we shouldn't forget that as people ate differently (more? better? less healthily? All of the above?) over time, the average body shape began to change, necessitating a more generous fit. I'm sure that must have had an influence.
  7. I've seem new sport coats and jackets with belt backs. There's a recent 70's thing going on, which would explain it.
  8. IMG_1960.JPG
    Michael A and Kirk H. like this.
  9. BlueTrain

    BlueTrain One Too Many

    The US Army OD coat lost it's pleats at the shoulders because the coat (never called a tunic) was no longer a field garment. That made it look better and cost less. It had been replaced for that purpose by the original "field jacket," which did in fact have a belted back and pleats at the shoulders for freedom of movement. It wasn't a successful garment for army use for a couple of reasons but essentially the same design with different materials continued in use in the navy for decades. The sucessor to the field jacket was the olive green field "coat" from the M1943 clothing outfit, but everyone called it a field jacket forever thereafter. The original field jacket was never officially termed "M1941" in any army publication.

    An interesting twist on the story is that the British finally issued a similiar coat during the Korean War, which they called a smock, the term having previously been applied to other coats they issued. When it was finally standardized, it was officially referred to as the "1960 Pattern combat smock, in spite of having been in use for almost ten years, though not everywhere. It continued in use in many variations on up to the present in plain olive green and different camouflage patterns, always being called a "smock." But today, the labels say at last, "field jacket."

    The US Army also issued an outer garment called a "mackinaw" in a couple of variations that are frequently referred to as "Jeep coats."
  10. Dirk Wainscotting

    Dirk Wainscotting A-List Customer

    I think it's fairly accurate to say that it wasn't worn by everyone anyway and that it was a style that began its decline in the '30s rather than the '40s. I'm sure there are plenty of ads and catalogues from the '40s offering them, but the widely worn styles of the '40s (especially in America) are of a silhouette that doesn't accommodate a belted back.

    My grandad wore a belted-back jacket a lot around the house and garden and on short trips to the shops, but we lived in the countryside. When he 'dressed up' none of his suits or coats had belted backs.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2017
  11. Seb Lucas

    Seb Lucas I'll Lock Up

    Back belted jackets were a common 1970's thing down here.
  12. I just did a search on Bing for belted back jackets.

    90% of what came up was women's fashions.

    On the list of "images", I was drawn first to this one.

    Turns out - it's from the FL:


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