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How likely is it to find vintage clothing in larger sizes

Wardo1974

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When the pandemic began, with lots of downtime at home in front of the computer, I developed a sudden interest in unique, heritage, and vintage clothing. Ironic, given that for many, many months, the only place anything got regular wear was in my living room or basement office.

So for the better part of 3 years I've been shopping, and I'm wondering if I should give up. Plain and simple, were vintage clothes of any kind available in quantity in larger sizes?

I've focused mainly on jackets. I see 1930s, 1940's jackets all the time that I think look incredible...and they all seem to have really small measurements. There's an awesome-looking horsehide 1940's jacket on grailed.com for instance that is tagged as size 48, and I look at all the time, and its measurements put it more like at a size 38-40 (21" PTP) based on modern measurements.

I'm not even a giant person, I'm slightly above average. I'm 6'1", 215, with a 33.5" inseam for pants. So far, I've been able to find a 1960's Brooks Brothers cafe racer that I can wear, but even that is slightly on the small side. 19" shoulders (I need 20), 25" sleeves (I need 26.5-27"). And that's it. I have an interest in vintage leathers, textile jackets, shirts, denim, but I've honestly seen almost nothing I can wear. Even recent used clothing is typically in smaller sizes.

Am I wasting my time looking? Just wanted to know the thoughts and experiences of the larger gentlemen with similar interests.
 

BloodEagle

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Im 6'2 and a pretty big build who's struck lucky a few times with vintage leather jackets, so they are out there.
 

Marc mndt

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With regards to jackets, It's definitely possible to find 30s or 40s jackets with ptp measurements between 23" - 24". The problem will be the body and sleeve length though. Most will have body lengths between 22" - 24.5". Aviators will come with a considerable front drop which will definitely help but you'll probably still need a body length of at least 24". They exist but they're extremely rare.

Sleeve length will be the biggest issue. I own one jacket from the 40s with 25" sleeves but that's a rarity. Most will have 24" sleeves or shorter.
 

Wardo1974

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With regards to jackets, It's definitely possible to find 30s or 40s jackets with ptp measurements between 23" - 24". The problem will be the body and sleeve length though. Most will have body lengths between 22" - 24.5". Aviators will come with a considerable front drop which will definitely help but you'll probably still need a body length of at least 24". They exist but they're extremely rare.

Sleeve length will be the biggest issue. I own one jacket from the 40s with 25" sleeves but that's a rarity. Most will have 24" sleeves or shorter.
This is true. Those dang sleeves. 2 years ago on the FL classifieds a guy had this amazing 1930's horsehide Windward jacket. It looked like an original Aero Bootlegger. But the sleeves were a ridiculous 23.5", I think. Far too short. The fit pics of the guy selling it were unfortunately as silly as you'd imagine. What a shame.
 
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I know the catalogs (Sears) sold jackets in Longer sizes, but I’ve only seen a couple on ebay over the years.
80C999C0-EC1D-470C-B1D2-D81353CD21FE.jpeg

But that’s still only 25.5in for the body and sleeve.
 
Last edited:

Marc mndt

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6,859
The consensus is that men were smaller back then, so the sizes were smaller.
I looked into that some time ago. It turns out to be true for Dutch men (who are indeed on average taller today than back in the '30s).

American men however are roughly the same height.
About the average height. I thought that men today are a lot taller than they were back in the thirties. Turns out that is not the case.

According to the most recent study I could find (2018) the average height of an American male is 69.1 inches (175.4 centimeters), which is exactly the same average height as back in 1931.

height.png

Unless you mean small as in chest size / gut. In that case you're probably right :)
 
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17,146
Location
Chicago
Certainly not impossible but definitely more difficult. For those 5’9” and under 175lbs, the vintage world is your oyster. For the rest of us it takes patience and the dedication to work hard in the search. I’ve found plenty of vintage gems but they didn’t find me. It takes work.
 

Peacoat

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I looked into that some time ago. It turns out to be true for Dutch men (who are indeed on average taller today than back in the '30s).

American men however are roughly the same height.


Unless you mean small as in chest size / gut. In that case you're probably right :)
Interesting. Yes, I was mainly referring to chest size, but also thought they would have been a little shorter as well.

One possible explanation of why the larger size vintage Navy peacoats are more difficult to find is because in WWII the coats were mainly issued to kids who were 18 to 20 years old. The coats were manufactured to fit their body type–lean and not yet filled out.

When I was that age, I wore a size 38. In my late 20s that had increased to a size 40 and to a size 42 in my 40s. Not fat, but my body was just filled out.

So, when I see a plethora of size 38 vintage peacoats, and think, "Wow, the guys sure were smaller back then," it may be not that the kids of that age were smaller than the kids of today, but rather those of us in our 40s and 50s are larger than the 18 to 20 year old kids of the 1930s and 1940s.
 

Wardo1974

A-List Customer
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325
Thanks Will. As mentioned earlier in the thread, although you might find the right chest size, the sleeves and length are issues. 24". Blast it.

Arms and torsos weren't shorter 80 years ago...it was likely the style, with long gloves.
 

Damon141

Practically Family
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928
With regards to jackets, It's definitely possible to find 30s or 40s jackets with ptp measurements between 23" - 24". The problem will be the body and sleeve length though. Most will have body lengths between 22" - 24.5". Aviators will come with a considerable front drop which will definitely help but you'll probably still need a body length of at least 24". They exist but they're extremely rare.

Sleeve length will be the biggest issue. I own one jacket from the 40s with 25" sleeves but that's a rarity. Most will have 24" sleeves or shorter.
Marc, can you tell me if there seems to be a style or brand you noticed which tends to have shorter sleeves with larger body sizes p2p?

My knowledge of vintage jackets is pretty much zero even after a time here.

I have noticed the varying dimensions of reproduction jackets, RMC for instance; they might have a size 44 in one style with a 23” P2P and 26” sleeves then a 44 with 23” P2P and 27” sleeves in a different style.

i have seen a few cross zipps with short sleeves for the given size.
 

Damon141

Practically Family
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928
Are then in 50 years also vintage lol
Funny you said that. I had that thought about jackets we have had made and thought it would be cool for makers to use a dating system for each build, that way one day someone finds an Aero or whatever on eBay and knows it was from 2020.

Since we can’t go with zippers dating anymore.

If I ever have a boy I would love to give him my jackets and they will be just that to him, vintage.
I guess I could write it in somewhere.
 

MrProper

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Funny you said that. I had that thought about jackets we have had made and thought it would be cool for makers to use a dating system for each build, that way one day someone finds an Aero or whatever on eBay and knows it was from 2020.

Since we can’t go with zippers dating anymore.

If I ever have a boy I would love to give him my jackets and they will be just that to him, vintage.
I guess I could write it in somewhere.
Yeah, a label like that with production year would be cool. Since I am the first owner of my jackets, I have all the documentation on the Aeros, which I can then pass on to my kids ;-)
 

Damon141

Practically Family
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I didn’t even think about documentation, that’s helpful. I didn’t receive anything but a home printed leather care instruction for vegetable tanned Japanese horsehide. But mine is chrome tanned steerhide

I’m actually going to pass along to Fields to throw in a creation date if possible just for thought of it making its rounds someday
 

Marc mndt

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6,859
Marc, can you tell me if there seems to be a style or brand you noticed which tends to have shorter sleeves with larger body sizes p2p?
I don't think there are particular styles or brands to look for. Sleeves on vintage jackets are short as a rule. I think your challenge will be finding a jacket with a suitable ptp. You probably need a vintage size 48?
 
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These fit smaller than the measurements. Also, ask for more pics of the back seam just under the right sleeve. Some Cals/SG will have DIY repair jobs that are not always done well lol. That area of the jacket looks off and I’m not talking about the stitching. That’s not abnormal for Cals/SGs, but to my eye that weird puckering is.

Edit— and I’m watching this bad boy now. Label and all.
 

GHT

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9,341
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New Forest
Meanwhile, I with my 6.5 size do not even look for vintage. That is without a chance. But since I prefer to be the first owner of the jackets anyway, I order them just as I want. Are then in 50 years also vintage lol
Nobody who got one had any idea that the nice new leather jacket issued for flying duty during World War II would be a status symbol widely sought and highly valued fifty years later. Sometimes owners kept theirs when they transferred because their names and unit insignia were sewn on them. The jackets were comfortable, yet snug, and never wore out, except maybe around the knitted cuffs and waistband.

Flyers liked them, and many kept them after the war, never dreaming that two later generations would prize them and that a number of companies would sell copies at prices many times their original cost to the government.

Ex-military vintage does come at a high price, not because of sizing, flying crews came in all shapes and sizes, but demand. You can get reproductions made, the price is down to choice of hide, lining and labour charges.

Sometimes, just sometimes, if you go to festivals or know of dealers, you might just come across a bargain. That stroke of luck was my good fortune when at a popular UK venue known as The Goodwood Revival. It was the last day of the long weekend, traders started to pack away their stock, my wife saw the type of blazer that I had been searching for still on display. The price was just around a hundred pounds. I tried it on, they certainly were smaller back then, disappointed I handed it back. "Look," said the trader, "you can have it for half price." "No point," I replied, "it won't button up." "You're lucky day," smiled the trader, "give me twenty pounds and wear it open." "Sold!"

You can see it on many of the threads on here, in fact, if you look up the what hat thread, you will see it along with my 1940's vintage MG car.
 

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