Boys To Men: The Long And Short Of It

whiffenpoofs 1927

No need to be long-winded, so I’ll keep it short: Jackets that are too short make men look like boys, while jackets of adequate length make boys look like men. Take it from these 1927 Whiffenpoofs — estimated ages 18-22. These gentlemen songsters may be doomed from here to eternity, but it’s not for being slaves of fashion.

Thanks to frequent comment-leaver S.E. for the excavation of this superb image. — CC

21 Comments on "Boys To Men: The Long And Short Of It"

  1. Everything is relative. It seems to me that they are wearing a fashionable turn-down collar instead if the wing collars their fathers were wearing and I suspect that their fathers wouldn’t have been seen dead in these clothes 🙂

  2. These Whiffendudes have no clue about BB ivy. Their vest don’t show an inch and a half of shirting, their pants are roomy, and their jackets cover their asses, WTF! 😉

  3. Richard Meyer | September 22, 2013 at 7:00 am |

    When boys wanted to look like men, instead of vice versa.

  4. Bjonhar raises a good point. It is hard for us (or at least me) to know whether or not they were slaves to fashion as I do not know the fashion trends of 1927. I do think it is fair to say that mens fashion was not as obsessed with youth then as it is now. It seems now that all men want to look like young men no matter their age.

  5. “Everything is relative” is a pretty weak rhetorical device that leaves no point in discussing anything.

    In fact wing and detachable collars were selected for sartorial extinction.

    Jackets were a bit longer in the late ’40s just as they were a bit shorter in the ’60s. In the late ’80s Armani had a huge influence making everything long and drapey, with gorges and button-stances all low and slouchy.

    But for most of the 20th century jacket length has been dictated by the wearer’s physique and a certain sense of proportion, that surely goes back to Greek concepts of beauty and balance and symmetry, that advises that a man’s jacket reach the bottom of his buttocks and the knuckles of his hands.

  6. @ CC

    Your comment just about captures the whole thing in a nutshell. By the way, I think I’m correct in saying that by the 1920’s so-called turned-down collars were the accepted business attire. I would guess these young men are dressed just like their fathers.

    Great picture! Thank you, S.E.

  7. great great picture.

  8. Most welcome.

    I am allowing myself the privilege of guessing that at least a few of the featured suits were tailored by one Jacobi Press. I mean, one can guess.

    With the exception of the wide lapeled number in the front row (second from left), I’d wear any of those jackets. Now. 2013. Okay, sans vest. But still.

    And how ’bout the saddle oxfords?

  9. “They’re not that different from you, are they? Same haircuts. Full of hormones, just like you. Invincible, just like you feel. The world is their oyster. They believe they’re destined for great things, just like many of you, their eyes are full of hope, just like you. Did they wait until it was too late to make from their lives even one iota of what they were capable? Because, you see gentlemen, these boys are now fertilizing daffodils. But if you listen real close, you can hear them whisper their legacy to you. Go on, lean in. Listen, you hear it? – – Carpe – – hear it? – – Carpe, carpe diem, seize the day boys, make your lives extraordinary.”

    –John Keating, the Captain,
    Dead Poets Society

    What’s the Latin for “seize the slope shouldered sack suit”?

  10. Love the saddle shoes

  11. Very nice SE, including Keating’s quote from one of my favorite movies.

  12. Beautiful quotation. Many thanks. I’ve seen the movie but never read the book. It is haunting to look at a group picture knowing that everyone in it is gone. Each one had hopes, dreams, aspirations; was loved and loved. One pictures is worth more than a thousand words.

  13. Orgastic future | September 23, 2013 at 1:02 am |

    To be honest, it all comes down to how you feel about your jacket’s length. The worst thing you can do is play someone else’s shadow and call it “appropriate style.” If you have short legs, your tailor should shorten the length of your jacket, otherwise you look like a 20’s band leader. If you are tall and subscribe to the “knuckle” theory, chances are you’ll look like you are in the NBA. But all in all, it comes down to how you feel.

  14. I’d take most of these looks over most of today’s!

  15. Is it me, or does these jackets actually look a little short? Not too short, but certainly shorter than you’d find at J. Press today.

  16. In my opinion, wearing a jacket that’s too long also makes men look like boys. These gents seem to hit it close to dead on, although it’s kind of hard to tell because the only guy standing up straight, with his jacket buttoned and his hands not in his pocket, is the guy on the far left. His jacket length is about perfect.

  17. I think the point is that most “young and trendy” men look have short clothes in the Thom Browne/Hedi Slimane style. I am young and dress like this. Why? Cause I am tall and skinny and I think it looks better on my silhouette. All this “Looks like real Men – this is how it should be” sounds like old/fat/business guy sour grapes. Conservative Patriarchy at it’s finest. Next you’ll tell me pleats are back in style.

  18. The “young and trendy” may think it looks better. But I’d wager that most do so because they’re told to do so by the fashion gurus. “Everybody does it” as they do meaningless tattoos. And there’s certainly as much vicious/mean-spirited/know-nothing youngster hogwash as there is OFBG sour grapes. Liberal Intolerance at its finest. And pleats are always in style if not currently fashionable.

  19. I found it interesting to look through the Old Banners when I was in residence. In my day through the present, most looked like children. Up until sometime in the 60s/early 70s, everybody looked like a grown-up.

  20. EVAN EVERHART | March 20, 2018 at 6:28 pm |

    Is it just me, or did anyone else notice that the only two of the gents in the above picture who have their coats buttoned, have their coats buttoned on the bottom button?

    I am wearing a Brooks Brothers suit from 1923 at the earliest, to 1926, the latest, today. Because of the button stance, I actually wore the bottom button fastened today, and it actually is rather pleasing, visually. I’ve also tried it with the top two buttons fastened, as well as only the top, and only the bottom. A flavor for every taste, and depending upon the weather, I can be a man for every season, or at least the man prepared for every season. Thanks for posting this wonderful photograph Christian, and thanks for digging it up S.E.!

    Short coats from the 1920s were referred to as “bum-freezers”, and were very popular with plus fours and Oxford bags. My Grandfather had a suit like that, with a matching tweed cap.

  21. EVAN EVERHART | March 21, 2018 at 9:40 am |

    The young man, back left appears to be wearing an unfastened double breasted jacket; no other style of jacket at that time would have had such exaggeratedly broad lapels, and they are peaked, so that even though at first glance it appears to be a possibility that he is wearing a fastened jacket, he is not, unless (and this is getting ahead of the time space continuum), he has decided to do a Kent fastening of his jacket. But who knows?! This picture really is very entertaining!

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