Saturday, January 22, 2011

1960s style: JFK inauguration

Fifty years after the event, Life recently released previously unpublished photos of John F. Kennedy's 1961 inauguration.

While JFK may not liked wearing hats, he did wear the traditional top hat on the day of his inauguration.

JFK wearing top hat

JFK in morning dress w/cashmere stripes trousers

JFK standing in morning coat

JFK in black tie, dress shirt without studs

Monday, January 17, 2011

Sicilian tailors: What's next after the Neapolitans?

I came across this September 2010 Irish Times article on Sicilian tailors. The article makes an astonishing claim, which, if true, speaks to a wonderful sartorial state of affairs in existence half a century ago. In postwar Italy, the author of the article estimates there were approximately 100,000 tailors serving about 85 per cent of the adult male population. Even if those numbers are off by 20, 30 or even 40 percent, those are still remarkable numbers both in absolute and relative terms.

The article also references Sartoria Modica Ragusa Concetto, based in Modica, Sicily. Above is a photo of tailor Concetto with a customer. Concetto's cut is described as a "comfortable Neapolitan" style.

Neapolitan is a style that divides partisans and critics on the men's clothing forums into often silly bouts of factionalism. Whatever the moniker used to describe this Sicilian cut, it's clearly a soft-shoulder construction. At 1,000 euros for a suit and four days from start to finish, this might be a trip worthy of exploration for Sleevehead this year. We'll see if I can resist the temptation!

Additional links
- Irenebrination article on the history of Sicilian tailors

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Style icons: Cary Grant on TCM

This Tuesday, January 18th, at 6:30am Eastern US, cable channel Turner Classic Movies will be celebrating the birthday of men's style icon Cary Grant. Six of his early movies will be aired: Sylvia Scarlett, The Toast of New York, Bringing up Baby, Gunga Din, Only Angels Have Wings and Night and Day. This will be followed by the documentary Cary Grant: A Class Apart.

A great opportunity to view one of the most well-known paragons of masculine style.

Sunday, January 09, 2011

The well-dressed past: A sporting event in 1925

The occasion: US President Calvin Coolidge congratulating Washington Senator ace pitcher Walter Johnson on winning the 1924 American League baseball championship. At a distance, the first thing to notice is the sea of straw boater hats. If you click on the image for the hi-res version (and click again to magnify), you'll notice a few more details on individuals such as the prevalence of natural shoulder suit jackets and one or two button cuffs.

President Coolidge (center, wearing straw boater) is wearing a single-breasted jacket in a light colored wool featuring what I call a rounded peak lapel (or 'clover peak lapel'), in which the tips of the lapel and collar are rounded. It looks very close to being a Tautz lapel but it's difficult to say whether the top of the lapel is horizontal.

The man standing in profile behind Johnson's left arm also appears to be wearing a light-colored wool jacket with a one-button cuff and what looks to be a lapped seam on the sleeve. Or is it another type of seam? Tailors and other folks in the trade feel free to weigh in.

Finally, behind him is another man who is wearing a boater hat and bow-tie. What's unusual is the lapel on his jacket where the notch opens wider and lower than modern notch lapels - somewhat similar to a cran necker style lapel though not quite.

All in all, despite the apparent similarity of appearances at an initial glance, we see in closer detail some interesting divergence in the details.