Some of you who feverishly mined the men's clothing discussion forums in the exciting, early days circa 2004 may remember one poster who went by the name of "etutee". He was the probably first to scan and post images of old Apparel Arts illustrations of the 1930s on AskAndy and London Lounge, accompanied by extensive, historically relevant commentary and exposition. Unfortunately, most of etutee's posts have disappeared from the forum archives.
If I remember correctly, etutee's posts were probably my first exposure to Apparel Arts. That led of course to a hunt for old copies of Apparel Arts on eBay, as well as recompilations of Apparel Arts such as Woody Hochswender's Men in Style and the related reference bible of men's clothing, Esquire's Encyclopedia of 20th Century Men's Fashions. The latter two can run easily into hundreds of dollars. A rather expensive hobby!
A much more affordable introduction to the world of Apparel Arts is Sven's e-book which contains rare images of 1930s Apparel Arts illustrations that define the Golden Age of modern menswear. The book is divided into three sections on suits, jackets and overcoats.
Like the etutee of internet yore, Sven adds his own interesting commentary to the illustrations. Sven is very sympathetic to the classical canon of Apparel Arts but also reflects a modern and up-to-date viewpoint. Instead of treating the illustrations as sacrosanct and untouchable relics, he suggests improvements on pattern and color combinations found in the illustrations. In particular, I like his color recommendations.
Keep in mind you'll have to go a well-stocked public library to find copies of Apparel Arts (or buy them). Given the scarcity of this magazine, you can't go wrong downloading this e-book sampler of Apparel Arts. Highly recommended.