Comfortably Distinctive: Norman Hilton, 1958

This Norman Hilton advertisement dates from 1958. The copy includes the phrase “comfortably distinctive,” which is a good description of the Ivy League Look in general. Being distinctive while still comfortable is much more challenging, alas, when not wearing a flannel suit and soft-roll collar. But let the principle guide us nevertheless.

22 Comments on "Comfortably Distinctive: Norman Hilton, 1958"

  1. Beacon Hill | May 6, 2011 at 8:12 am |

    Ah, the days when the top buttonhole on a 3-button jacket was simply left unbuttoned and the reverse side was not ostentatiously displayed.

  2. Newton Street Vintage | May 6, 2011 at 3:54 pm |

    Nonsensical internet parlance would call this a 3/2.5. It is every bit as vestigial as a “hard pressed” 3/2, just a matter of personal taste. IMO this style of roll looks better with the higher-fastening jackets that are popular now, and were popular then.

  3. Louise Church | May 6, 2011 at 7:35 pm |

    That’s too DANGEROUSLY close to button-three- roll-nill, for my well-derfined Ivy tastes, Mr C!

  4. Too Mitch McConnell for my tastes…

  5. It’s all in the details. That’s a beautiful challis printed tie and pocket square. Curious what kinda shoes a guys like this would have worn. Maybe something from Alden? Perhaps a split toe blucher with a handsewn vamp and toe seam.

  6. Maybe wingtips, long or short, or plain toe derbies, or Allen Edmonds Bradley split toes. Probably not loafers, not that guy, not with a suit.

  7. Old Bostonian | November 13, 2020 at 11:48 am |

    They were wearing Florsheim wingtip bluchers, I can assure you.

  8. Couldn’t they find a better looking model?

  9. Coincidentally, today I am in the office wearing an approximately quarter century old mid-weight gray herringbone Norman Hilton sport coat and similarly aged Corbin slacks. Both have aged well.

  10. Thomas Hallet | November 13, 2020 at 1:49 pm |

    My father had a suit very like this one. He wore his with burgundy cordovan bluchers.

  11. Charlottesville | November 13, 2020 at 2:35 pm |

    My own preference would usually be for a slightly lower roll, probably because that is what I am used to, but it is a beautiful suit, whichever way you roll. Perfectly tasteful, simple and classic.

    I note that the 1958 price in today’s dollars would be under $1050, according to a couple of inflation calculators I checked, and Norman Hilton was considered pretty high end. I doubt you could find that quality for that price today. For comparison, the first top-of-the-line suit I bought at Brooks around 1987 for $650 (I well remember the price because it was more than I could really afford at the time) would be about $1,500 in 2020 dollars.

  12. Charlottesville
    I clicked on the J Press ad and found they offer a gray flannel for $995. I also saw that O’Connells had an H Freeman for $995, but a Samuelson or (sigh) Southwick ran $1,200. When style and quality are considered, the suits from our remaining standard-bearers and IS advertisers make the BB offering look like a very bad deal.

  13. This lapel roll (featured in the picture) is absolutely perfect. Look at the Heyday era J Press jackets.

    When Nick Hilton resurrected the Norman Hilton country jackets a few years ago (which, by the way, were made with care by tailors in New York City), this was the soft roll he chose. 2.75” lapel width at the widest.

    He was able to replicate the natural shoulder perfectly, using Lovat Mill cheviot.

  14. My other question is what is he gripping in his hand? It looks like cleaning supplies? Or maybe hairspray?

  15. A can ‘o’ tennis balls? Or maybe a rolled up document; 8 1/2 x 11 US Constitution?

  16. @ PocketSquare

    Yes. It’s a bit odd to be holding that. And not actually ‘holding’, but gripping like a cosh. It goes with his purposeful and somewhat disturbing stare.

  17. Yes, unfortunately we did wear those slim ties with minuscule knots.

  18. PocketSquare | November 14, 2020 at 4:05 pm |

    Or maybe he’s opening some kind of trap door. Kinda like in the TV series of Batman with Adams West.

  19. Charlottesville | November 16, 2020 at 2:05 pm |

    I had thought the thing in the model’s hand was a cylindrical cardboard Scotch bottle box, like the ones often housing a bottle of single malt, but I can’t be sure. As noted, it could be anything from a rolled magazine to hairspray. Can anyone read the writing?

    Whiskeydent – The tried and true standard bearers are indeed the best, and sometimes one gets phenomenally lucky. I just bought a Southwick-made, Douglas model “Pressidential” tan wool gabardine suit from the J. Press Warehouse Sale for $199. The sleeve ticket showed $1250. I have wanted one of these for years, but always though they were too expensive, and then suddenly they were no longer available. I wonder what other old-stock treasures they may have.

    Boston Bean – I kinda like the tie and knot, at least with that lapel.

  20. PocketSquare | November 17, 2020 at 2:46 pm |

    Charlottesville- that sale was pretty good, i was able to buy a couple of patchwork wool baseball hats that were made in France for $9 a piece.

  21. Charlottesville | November 17, 2020 at 4:07 pm |

    Pocket Square – I got on as soon as I got the e-mail alert and I could see my size disappearing in various categories as I watched. I’m very glad to have been able to snag that suit.

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