Esquire’s Complete Golden Age Illustrations:

Discussion in 'General Attire & Accoutrements' started by Flanderian, Aug 20, 2020.

  1. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    What follows is my collection of Esquire magazine’s sartorial illustrations from what is often termed, their golden age. Esquire was an outgrowth of the earlier publication, Apparel Arts. Apparel Arts was begun in December 1931 as a Christmas edition. It was published by the Menswear Service Corporation, among whose publishers were William Hobart Weintraub, David A. Smart and Arnold Gingrich. It was a trade publication intended for the menswear industry, and distribution was limited to wholesale buyers and retailers. It was published periodically during the year with varied special editions sometimes bringing the total to eight.

    It was a lavish publication for a magazine and bound between cardboard covers. In addition to the fine, commissioned sartorial illustrations intended to illustrate trends, it contained industry advertising, which was also sometimes lush, articles on how to dress and merchandising, and even tipped-in cloth samples for some of the clothing illustrated.

    The publication was often used as a point-of-sale trade stimulator by retail salesman, and proved so popular among retail customers that many copies of AA tended to disappear from the retailers. Learning of this, AA’s publishers began Esquire as a sister sartorial and general interest magazine intended for the public. The first issue was an autumn 1933 issue (I believe published in September ’33.) with Arnold Gingrich as its managing editor. Beginning with the January 1934 issue it became a monthly publication. In addition to featuring many of the sartorial illustrations from AA it also contained both fiction and non-fiction articles from many of the top writers of the day. Included among the authors in the first issue were Ernest Hemmingway, Ring Lardner Jr., John Dos Passos, Dashiell Hammett, Ersklne Caldwell and Gene Tunney.

    As well as I’ve been able to determine, all of the sartorial illustrations (Fashion plates.) that appeared in Esquire during this era also appeared in Apparel Arts. But not all such illustrations from Apparel Arts made it to Esquire.

    Both publications used freelance commercial illustrators who they commissioned to illustrate fashion plates on an ad hoc basis. Some were trained professionally, while others were largely self-taught. The illustrators also produced work that appeared elsewhere, notably for adverting, some of which found its way into the same magazine issues for which that illustrator provided fashion plates.

    Among the illustrators who did sartorial illustrations for Esquire during that period were Laurence Fellows, Robert Goodman, Leslie Saalburg, Charles Fox, Louis Hurd, Frederick Stewart Heidgerd, Charles Frederick Peters, Ruth Sigrid Grafstrom and others. Many are particularly fond of Fellows’ work, and I share their enthusiasm. Robert Goodman was the only illustrator I know to have become an Esquire staff member, becoming Esquire’s Art Director in 1945. And Ruth Grafstrom was the only female illustrator from that era of which I’m aware.

    What follows what is a essentially complete collection of Esquire’s sartorial fashion plates from their first issue, through to those July 1947. I’ve also included selected sartorial articles and advertising illustrations that I considered particularly relevant and meritorious. I know many/most/all (?) of the illustrations have appeared on-line here and elsewhere, or in print, but this is the entire group in one place, in digital form with decent resolution. They continue to inspire and instruct me, though I’ve seen them all now many times. I’m hoping that other members may enjoy them too.

    I intend to post 5 or 6 of these illustrations daily in chronological order. I love discussing them, and am always learning more about them, and would like to do so with any members who may wish too.

    The following illustrations are from the autumn 1933 issue of Esquire, their first -

    Esq093301.jpg

    Esq093302.jpg

    Esq093303.jpg Esq093304.jpg Esq093305.jpg Esq093306.jpg
     
  2. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Full disclosure: I've been a friend of Flanderian since we met years ago on another forum and have seen his incredible collection of illustrations before. As discussion in this thread takes off, we'll all get to experience how generously willing he is to shares with us his wealth of knowledge about, and passion for, these illustrations and clothes.

    Hence, I can say, with confidence, that we are all in for a sartorial treat as the illustrations he has reveal a wonderful time in American menswear (for those who could afford it during the Depression). The basic suit-tie-collared-shirt construct we are familiar with was already established, but the '30s into the '40s was a period of incredible variety and experimentation with styles, colors, textures, patterns and fabrics in menswear.

    For those familiar with the movies of the same period, you'll recognize the panoply of menswear on display in those films (worn not only by business tycoons, society types and Fred Astaire, but also the era's surprisingly well-dressed gangsters), but in these illustrations, we'll also get to see the clothes in all their vibrant colors.

    I'll note two things about the illustrations in his inaugural post. One, the bold grey herringbone suit will make many appearances in many varieties over the next decade-plus proving to be a true staple of American menswear (and a personal favorite). And, two, in the bottom illustration, I, personally, couldn't carry off such a bold outfit, but am really glad there was a time, place and man (at least on the pages of "Esquire") who could.
     
  3. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    Thank you, Sir, you are very kind!

    As you once noted elsewhere, the appearance of many of these ensembles benefits from being worn by men, judging from the illustrations, that are around 7 feet tall!

    But seriously, I think what good looks they have are also a product in many instances of the passion of the individual illustrators for the subject, nowhere more so than in Fellows'. I suspect this contributed markedly to his success with them.
     
  4. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    The following illustrations continue the autumn 1933 issue -


    Esq093308.jpg Esq093309.jpg Esq093310.jpg Esq093311.jpg Esq093312.jpg Esq093313a.jpg Esq093313b.jpg Esq093314.jpg

    This concludes the Autumn 1933 issue.
     
  5. Peacoat

    Peacoat Bartender Bartender

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    This type of thing takes time to put together. Thank you for the effort.
     
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  6. Tiki Tom

    Tiki Tom One Too Many

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    +1. Amazing illustrations and I thank you for pulling this together. I know this represents a bit of a fantasy, but I do regret that gentlemen no longer aspire to dress like that.
     
  7. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Clearly, we are a long way from the days of a young man dressing like this one ⇧ (a wonderful combination of classic style with a "softer" touch, do wish his overcoat had raglan sleeves though), but I've noticed that the crocheted tie has had a pretty good comeback the past few years.

    J.Crew (where I am one of only a few over 40 year olds on the planet that shops there - i.e., it has a young demographic) and J.Press (J.Something is disproportionately represented in traditional clothing brand names) have both dramatically increased their selection in and promotion of these ties the past several seasons.

    N.B. Note the bold herringbone pattern in the trousers on the man in the following pic - a theme we touched on in yesterday's illustrations. Bold herringbone, which is still with us to some extent today, was, as the kids today would say, "a thing" back then.
     
    Last edited: Aug 21, 2020
  8. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    You're very welcome! I enjoy it!
     
  9. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed One of the Regulars

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    my new favorite thread! Thanks for taking the time to do this! I so look forward to each installment!
     
  10. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    I've always loved crochet knit ties and over indulged in the past. Have them in silk,wool and cashmere. Especially prize the silk ones Paul Stuart sold for ages - they're very versatile and combine well with everything from rough tweed to more tailored worsted. And since most of my ties are 20+ years old, I like them even more, having what should now be a lifetime supply.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
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  11. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    Very welcome!
     
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  12. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    The second issue of Esquire published was the January 1934 issue. These are the first 5 illustrations from that issue.


    Esq013401.jpg Esq013402.jpg
    Esq013403.jpg
    Esq013404.jpg
    Esq013405.jpg
     
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  13. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    And this is the final 6 from that same issue.


    Esq013406.jpg Esq013407.jpg Esq013408.jpg Esq013409.jpg Esq013410.jpg Esq013411.jpg
     
  14. Edward Reed

    Edward Reed One of the Regulars

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    That boy Joe College sure does like going Nonchalant! :D great postings!
     
  15. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    Could you imagine a contemporary student dressed so!?

    Glad you enjoy them.
     
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2020
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  16. Fading Fast

    Fading Fast

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    Some fun things in the last two illustration posts:
    • Stadium blankets really were a thing - and a cool one
    • You can really feel the antecedents of '50s Ivy style in the "nonchalant" college kid's attire
    • While we have faster and cheaper ways today, travel was never better than '30s-'50s passenger trains (at least as fantasized by "Esquire")
    • Note our friend the bold grey herringbone suit makes another appearance
    • How cool is the bold-houndstooth lining of the overcoat in the second pic?
     
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  17. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    A most excellent thread! Thank you for sharing Flanderian!
     
  18. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    I think when conditions permit, you deserve an epic journey on one of these -

    https://www.belmond.com/trains/europe/scotland/belmond-royal-scotsman/

    https://www.belmond.com/trains/euro...s=2&departureDate=2020-09-30&packageCode=VVNP

    Quite welcome, sir!
     
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  19. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    These are the illustrations from Esquire February 1934.


    Esq023401 (2).jpg Esq023402 (2).jpg Esq023403 (2).jpg Esq023404 (2).jpg Esq023405 (2).jpg Esq023406 (2).jpg
     
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  20. Flanderian

    Flanderian One of the Regulars

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    And the rest of February 1934.

    Esq023407 (2).jpg Esq023408 (2).jpg Esq023409 (2).jpg Esq023410.jpg
     
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