Best guide to WWII US uniforms (print or online)?

Discussion in 'WWII' started by BigBrother, Sep 8, 2020.

  1. BigBrother

    BigBrother Familiar Face

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    Well, it (inevitably?) happened. What began months ago as a "$30-Amazon-costume-and-maybe-$85-Levi's-somewhat-if-you-squint-correct-looking-G1-jacket" thrust has now blossomed into a full-blown "I-want-so-many-of-these-services-and-all-these-types-and-oh-look-the-good-A2s-are-already-$800-so-why-not-spring-for-an-Eastman-maybe-4?" passion, and likely new obsession :).

    Really, did anyone doubt this would happen? No, no they did not and either on this forum or on usmilitaria someone literally called this out :).

    So! I'm now in the deep research and learning phase. For years I've known about and looked through the Men-At-Arms series, but I have no idea if they're the best place to look for an exhaustive and definitive guide to all this (to be clear, this is all for service and dress uniforms, i.e. what one would wear to formal or informal social gatherings (in my case, dances), and not utility/combat wear. Though who knows how deep I'll end up going down the road! But those aren't for now.)

    Where should I look- are there great books or online resources for this? I've definitely come across the Time (or was it Life?) spread showing the uniforms, and a buying guide or two pointing to Soldier of Fortune, What Price Glory, etc. items to create certain looks.

    But I have to imagine somewhere there's a resource that just lays everything out in exhaustive detail- eras, units, branches, campaigns, the lot. Thoughts?

    Thanks so much, and let me know if I need to bring donuts to the next meeting :).
     
  2. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    THe Men at Arms series is pretty good for the overall looks. Aero used to stock a couple of great books on the A2. I'm sure others will offer some better suggestions too.

    Note that some of the stuff that Soldier of Fortune sells in the UK is WPG stuff, so it can be a matter of playing the game as to comparings costs (including shipping and import). I've always been very pleased with the bits I've bought from WPG, though I should clarify that I buy military bits as a cheap way of finding period clothing I can work into a civiian look (e.g. by switching buttons, or just wearing a pair of Officer's Pinks with a civilian blazer), so I make no claims as to their superior accuracy or otherwise as uniforms, as opposed to as quality garments.
     
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  3. Doctor Strange

    Doctor Strange I'll Lock Up

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    Edward likes this.
  4. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

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    @BigBrother Whatever you do, don't look at the second link Doctor Strange posted. It can lead you down a path best not chosen. If you want examples, just go to the Outerwear section. On second thought, don't do that either. You don't want to end up like many of the guys there. Just stay away from the leather jackets.
     
  5. BigBrother

    BigBrother Familiar Face

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    72
    Oh I would certainly buy from WPG as I'm US-based. As an (related) aside, I have no clue how that guy produces and stocks everything on there. As far as I can tell, it's one man reproducing, to a fairly good quality level as far as I can surmise, 3000 different items. Crazy!
     
  6. BigBrother

    BigBrother Familiar Face

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    Thanks! I've actually seen those two before.

    Re: the first, the frustrating thing about that reference is that while it's a good introduction, it seems to lack all of the variations and permutations you see in pictures, at least in their pictorial depictions. If you look at this (to me) famous thread:

    https://www.usmilitariaforum.com/fo...agazine-color-photos-of-us-military-uniforms/

    you see so many damned different belts and ties and all the lot, it would be good to get a better explanation of it all, sort of like I've read in firearms guides for different eras.
     
  7. BigBrother

    BigBrother Familiar Face

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    72
    Hah, oh, I've seen that. What's worse, when I went to Eastman's (EDIT- I meant Good Wear's) site the first time, I just stared and marveled at their reproductions of all these different manufacturers' variations (similar with Aero). Truly amazing. At the time the thought of blowing $1K+ on such a thing seemed, well, maybe not absurd as I've certainly descended down similar rabbit holes in the past, but unfeasible. Until I realized all the ~$400 ones were basically junk, and that the ~$800 ones were not exactly right and so why not..... :). I told my girlfriend a few nights ago when I decided this stuff was for me, "oh no. Oh NO. Oh boy. Here we go...."

    Abandon all budget ye who enter here?

    UPDATE- crap. Crap crap crap. Screw you guys. I just returned to Aero's site after coming back here to add them to my Eastman (EDIT- Good Wear) mention, as I hadn't been there for quite some time and Doctor Strange reminded me of them, and I saw that unlike Eastman (EDIT- Good Wear), they're closer to the $800 USD price point. Why do you do this to me? Couldn't you be into vintage thimbles or movie tickets or something?? (As if those don't probably also provide a way to blow $1K :)). Thanks much, you rapscallions.
     
    Last edited: Sep 14, 2020
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  8. BigBrother

    BigBrother Familiar Face

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  9. Edward

    Edward Bartender

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    It's impressive. He's built it up over time, the line; long process of getting the design right then sourcing suppliers voerseas for the price point (AFAIK, most of it is made outside the US, hence the competitive prices), and kept on top of the QC. THe big advantage he has, of course, is that uniform items aren't subject to the design whims of fashion, so nce someting is right, it's right...

    My next purchase from them will probably be the WW1 British trenchcoat - I've heard very good things about those.

    Don't forget too that during WW2, once ni the field there were many field-mods and variations started to pop up on many items, a mix of necessity and perhaps uniform and equipment standardisation not being what it became later on.

    Eastman don't get much mention round here any more since they pushed their prices up so far - I assume they now mainly target the well-heeled Airshow set, and the Japanese market? When Ken came back to Aero day to day in 2012, one of the things he did was give their A2 patterns a significant overhaul, so the old idea that Eastman were "more accurate" is no longer true. At that level of the market, imo it's as much about which company you prefer to deal with than anyting else. I've owned (second hand) A2s from both in the past, though I ended up wearing the Aero goat far more often than the Eastman horsehide A2, for whatever that may be worth.

    Whichever you go with, now is a good time to be buying from the UK i your currency is the US dollar as the pound remains historically low in value against US currency. It may drop further at the beginning of 2021, of course, but it's curently at about USD 1.30 to the GBP; the lowest it has been to date was about 1.24 a couple of years ago.
     
  10. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

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    Well, I see you have already started down the road.

    When I first visited the Outerwear section in early 2006, I only did vintage peacoats and was an authority on the subject. Now, almost 15 years later, I have 3 Aeros, 2 Johnson leathers, an Eastman, a GoodWear, a Vanson and 7 others. I also have 15 vintage peacoats. In total I have about 45 coats, jackets and overcoats. Can't have anymore as I am out of closet space. I could convert a room in the basement to storage space, but my wife says no. She reasons that if I had more space, I would just get more to fill the space, and she is probably right. So, for me, it is no mas.
     
  11. Seth Byrnes

    Seth Byrnes One of the Regulars

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    US / Canada
    It's not one guy, it's a company that has warehouses in Pakistan, the UAE and Salinas, California.

    I have bought from WPG - STRONGLY reccomend against buying their repro clothing.
    It is as wonky as it looks in the product images. Their original offerings are always a great price though, can't say anything against those.

    I have bought several repro things from WPG and have always been disappointed. Too long and out of proportion with actual period cuts. It's slapdash, as if they took the elements that make up period clothed and applied them to modern patterns.

    Check out 'US Uniforms of WWII by Shelby Stanton''. Not an amazing pictoral reference, but an extremely in-depth discourse on the development of field uniforms.

    I am sure someone has good reccomendations for pictures! Always look at primary sources, don't go with secondaries if you want the straight dope. The Signal Corps and National Archives are great resources!

    The Sherman Tank Site has a lot of period photos of tank crews (surprise!) and the Jacket, Combat, Winter is always a hit.
    The Sherman Tank Site | The place for all things Sherman Tank, By Jon RT
     
  12. Seth Byrnes

    Seth Byrnes One of the Regulars

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    120
    Location:
    US / Canada
    [​IMG] [​IMG]
     
  13. Seth Byrnes

    Seth Byrnes One of the Regulars

    Messages:
    120
    Location:
    US / Canada
    My case in point is WPG's M41 jacket.

    Top is an original, lower is WPGs repro.

    WPG's is too long in the body, too short in the arms, pockets are halfway below the third button instead of starting at the second, top button is grossly misaligned with the rest and the placket is crooked as hell.

    I made the mistake of buying it and then decided to keep and rework it for myself until I can afford a better reproduction. I had assumed the picture was of a 'LONG' length, which they offer as well as 'REGULAR' lengths. I was wrong, and I would hate to see what their long pattern looks like.

    In the course of tailoring it I checked the lining for fiber content (burn test) and it's as plastic as it comes, it turned hard and melted. When I contacted them about it they gave me a partial refund and promised to alter the listing to be more truthful, but have neglected to do so.

    Their jeep caps are also flimsy and probably faux material in spite of what it says on the site, but I am not hopeful they will do much about that either.

    I'd be dubious about anything they list as natural material.

    Go with other repro companies that are more forward with their fiber contents, like ATF on the cheap end or WWII Impressions on the high end.

    ATF admits their liners are not wool, but at least they take pains to have them looking good.
     
  14. BigBrother

    BigBrother Familiar Face

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    72
    Good God that does look awful. Reminds me of purchasing from Darcy clothing in England (was strongly strongly interested in finding a boiled front/detachable collar dress shirt) and it was seriously JCPenney quality. Returned promptly for a refund!
     

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