Vintage Suitings: Discussions of, and sourcing modern equivalents, etc.

Discussion in 'Suits' started by Guttersnipe, Aug 20, 2012.

  1. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    I have a pair of dark cream flannels in a heavy wool (16oz maybe). They are great for spring and autumn but they stay in the cupboard in summer.
     
  2. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    i would definitely wear cream flannels on a cool but sunny Autumn day. a whole suit ? probably not, but if you feel like it, do it.
     
  3. Guttersnipe

    Guttersnipe One Too Many

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    Cream flannel suits were not really intended for fall or winter wear. They were really more of a specialized item that fell somewhere between the categories of resort and sports wear. They were sometimes referred to as tennis suits, for reason obvious below:

    [​IMG]

    Over the years, I've also run across a few cream flannel suits that consisted of crested blazer style jacket with matching pants. The last one I saw had burgundy edging on the lapels and on the breast pocket was the crest of Cornell University with embroidery that read "Class of 1938." However, I've also seen these suits with with various fraternity and athletic club crests as well.

    In Raymond Chandler's Farewell, My Lovely, published in 1940, there is an excellent description of the character Lindsay Marriott, a blackmailing gigolo, wearing an elegant cream flannel suit. It's clear from the first person narrative that Marlowe thinks such a suit is fussy and that Marriott is an effete dandy.
     
  4. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

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    Of course, Marlowe was also inherently suspicious of anyone who wasn't clad in work-a-day blue serge - General Sternwood aside, who he seemed to like a little. But there is no way around the dandyish connotations of a cream wool suit. Case in point:

    17m3hauk22v2.jpg
     
    Last edited: Aug 2, 2014
  5. Warbaby

    Warbaby One Too Many

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    Sorry to interrupt the discussion of cream flannels, but I just found this item on eBay and thought someone here might be interested. It's a 1924 Chicago Tailoring Company fabric sample case with approximately 300 fabric swatches. Fabulous.
    <http://www.ebay.com/itm/261550087220?_trksid=p2055119.m1438.l2649&ssPageName=STRK%3AMEBIDX%3AIT>
     
  6. Guttersnipe

    Guttersnipe One Too Many

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    I'm not sure about that. From the way Chandler describes characters, devoting long passages to what they are wearing, it seems to me he was very interested in clothes. From passages in which he describes Marlowe's outfits, it's probably accurate to say this interest extended to the character. Marlowe frequently wears ties with matching silk "display handkerchiefs" and swanky suits made from somewhat exotic cloth. If I recall, tropical worsteds are often mentioned, big that L.A. is so damn hot.

    To me it seems like Marlowe objects mostly to clothing that doesn't meet his standard of manliness. For instance, he thinks that Lynn Marriott's flannel suit is fussy or that only a punk would wear flashy pachuco outfits like the houseboy, Candy, in Playback.
     
    Last edited: Aug 3, 2014
  7. Patrick Hall

    Patrick Hall Practically Family

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    <<PARDON CHANDLER-LOVER THREAD DERAIL PLEASE>>

    I think you are 100% right. Marlowe has no love for men who don't live up to his standard of manliness - think of the pummeling he gives Carol Lundgren. But I also think that Chandler is very interested in showing that great wealth is the Maltese Falcon (see what I did there?) of life - it corrupts all those who touch it, whether they get it through inheritance or earning. Marlowe's attention to sartorial detail is always spot on, but oftentimes the portrait he paints of the best dressed characters he encounters in his work speaks to their ennui, or their powerlessness, or their depravity.

    <<END THREAD DERAIL>>

    Back to vintage fabrics - I'd never seen or heard of "tennis suits" before, but it makes sense. Doesn't Fitzgerald have Gatsby dressed in a white flannel suit too? Might white wool suits for autumn/winter may have been a dandyish, parallel phenomenon to the sportswear you mention Guttersnipe?
     
  8. Guttersnipe

    Guttersnipe One Too Many

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    It's been years since I read The Great Gatsby, but I do recall that Tom Buchanan takes exception to Jay Gatsby's suits at some point. Although, it wouldn't be a fall/winter weight suit, as the novel takes place during a stifling hot summer.

    It that vein, I don't think cream flannel suits, or odd trousers, were intended for fall or winter at all. Being in a hotter climate, it might seem odd that people would wear flannel in summertime, but lots of places can be rather cold in the summer month. Mark Twain famously (never) said "the coldest winter I ever spent was a summer in San Francisco," which it true. June through August here is routinely overcast with cold Pacific Ocean winds keeping the temperature in the 50s and low 60s. Similarly, English seaside summer resort towns like Brighton or Morecambe don't get (what Americans would consider) hot, which is probably why so many vintage English cream flannels are so heavy.
     
  9. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    Here's a thread where the subject of tennis suits is discussed - and showing an example of what we think is a 'tennis suit' that I found a few months ago.
     
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2014
  10. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    Donegal tweed samples from Molloy and Sons.

    i think these fabrics would interest the cap makers.
    i'm uncertain how they'd make up as tailored items as the fabrics are weighty but not dense; i.e. you can see quite a bit of light through the weave.
    i suspect a sports jacket might work, but maybe not trousers.

    19 oz per metre on the left. 21 oz on the right.

    [​IMG]

    (actual size)
     
  11. Two Types

    Two Types I'll Lock Up

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    The top right is splendid.
     
  12. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    some vintage fabric i bought a while ago with a weave i don't know the name of.... does anyone know ?

    it's about 14 oz, so not as heavy as my ideal 18, and rather 'crisp' without being scratchy.
    the jazziness of the weave makes me wonder if it's 1920s.

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  13. Fastuni

    Fastuni Call Me a Cab

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    Nice!

    I have had a German late-30´s and a 1952 dated suit with very similar fabric (plus silvery effect stripes).
    Of course the cloth used could have been older.

    I don´t know a special name - part of the stripes is meant to resemble a woven struturce, the other is a bit like houndstooth.
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  14. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    thanks Fastuni.

    what style was the late 30s suit you had in similar fabric ?

    (p.s. i can't see the 'weave' structure; all i see is zig-zags !)
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  15. Fastuni

    Fastuni Call Me a Cab

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    A normal 3-button SB, notch-lapel, three/piece street-suit with the usual features.

    Green area resembles a normal weave (look at the light-grey thread).
    Yellow area are zig-zag ¨steps¨ that look a bit houndstoothy.

    [​IMG]
     
    Last edited: Aug 12, 2014
  16. herringbonekid

    herringbonekid I'll Lock Up

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    ah yes, i can see it now !
     
  17. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    HBK that fabric is almost, if not entirely identical, to that of a mid-40s DB American suit I purchased from Ebay a few years ago.
    It even has the same red stripe running through it. The name of the pattern is unknown to me, though my wife calls it my "Bugsy suit."
     
  18. Benny Holiday

    Benny Holiday My Mail is Forwarded Here

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    Thought I might have had a couple of pics of it handy, and I was right:

    [​IMG]

    [​IMG]
     
  19. Rabbit

    Rabbit Call Me a Cab

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    Looks like a herringbone pattern made of a houndstooth micropattern to me.
    Twill weave, I imagine, like herringbone is?
     
    Last edited: Aug 13, 2014

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