Southern Revival: Can Sid Mashburn Popularize The Undarted Jacket?

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GQ has just launched a new magazine called GQ Style, which features an extensive profile on Sid Mashburn. If you don’t know a lot about him, Mashburn worked at Ralph Lauren for a spell and has been considered a tastemaker since opening his eponymous store in Atlanta (it helps that his wife used to work in PR at Conde Nast).

The house style is a sophisticated take on Americana, and if there’s anyone else out there interested in “Ivy chic” (no? OK…), then Mashburn’s shop and site are places to keep your eye on. He likes a lot of the things you guys do, including white Levi’s (which English Ivy guys seem to have a soft spot for), inexpensive Timex watches on nylon bands (beloved by trads everywhere), Belgian Shoes (for the Hamptons/Upper East Side/Palm Beach crowd), and soft-shouldered jackets. I met Mashburn at a trade show here in New York a few years ago, and he insisted on removing his sportcoat and having me try it on. It was indeed comfortable in the extreme.

Given that he’s a tastemaker lauded with a multi-page spread in the debut issue of GQ Style, there’s reason for Tradsville to cheer for Mashburn in the spotlight. That’s because he’s currently pushing, among other things, an updated sack jacket with an undarted chest. It’s extremely rare for a clothier that prides itself on being contemporary and sophisticated to produce a jacket without darts.

The jacket model is called the Virgil No. 3; here’s the description:

With a 3-roll-2 front, a hook vent, and no front darts at all, a jacket like this feels a little old-school-academic. Think of it as the fresher, sexier brother of the sack jacket. We built it with a soft (read: natural) shoulder & a specially-constructed canvas chest piece that’s light but has some shape — because when you wear a jacket, you kind of want the real man to show through. And while we always go for an American-Italian blend, the cut of this model leans a bit more stateside than the rest.

Back in the heyday, so-called “Main Street” clothiers copied the cut and details of the Ivy League Look and sold it around the country. These less-expensive clothes may not have been kosher to the purist, and the companies that made them soon moved on to other fads when the heyday ended, but they helped the style flourish. We should take the same attitude towards clothiers of today that may fall outside the small nexus of pedigreed providers, but are taking inspiration from the Ivy League Look and might just convert a few of our fellows to the charms of natural shoulders, hook vents, and undarted fronts. — CC

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18 Comments on "Southern Revival: Can Sid Mashburn Popularize The Undarted Jacket?"

  1. Marc Chevalier | June 11, 2016 at 2:16 pm |

    Yes. Undarted sack jackets can be (and at different periods were) shaped at the chest and waist. Not to an hourglass extreme, but subtly noticeable in any case. Undarted sack jackets need not be straight-hanging tubes.

  2. Very cool that SM named the jacket after Sidney Poitier’s 1967 portrayal of Virgil Tibbs.

    Source: http://www.gq.com/story/sid-mashburn-suit-interview

    Nine classic minutes of Virgil Tibbs: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=35HI5AQYUwg

  3. Sid’s stuff looks nice. Not always trad, but almost always cool. They also have a nice selection of ties.

  4. Front darts are unnecessary and throw off the balance of a suit–most especially if the cloth features a check or stripe pattern. They’re awful. Subtle shaping through the middle is easily achieved without them, and Mr. Washburn proves the point well.

    I’ve guessed that one reason for the embrace of darts has much to do with a misguided protest against old Brooks style (sack coat)–judged by the stylists and fashionistas to be frumpy, stuffy, staid, stodgy. The irony is that some of the most poorly tailored jackets I’ve ever seen feature massive darts. One of the most elegantly tailored jackets I’ve seen in years was Ralph Lauren’s “Russell” model–natural shoulder, high armholes, full but not billowy chest, and understated shaping. Sans darts.

    Good for Washburn. Harkens back to 60s era Norman Hilton– before the decline.

  5. NaturalShoulder | June 11, 2016 at 11:15 pm |

    I would certainly consider purchasing one of those jackets. I appreciate a bit of shaping in waist and they seem to strike a nice balance. The only feature which might give me pause is the gorge which looks awfully high.

  6. Dutch Uncle | June 12, 2016 at 6:43 am |

    The whole spirit of the sack jacket is destroyed when it is not a straight-hanging tube.

    I would choose the word “proper”, rather than “frumpy, stuffy, staid, or stodgy.”

  7. The coats seem awfully short in comparison to the sleeves. Straight hanging tube would be better too. Just my opinion as staunch traditionalist.

    Will

  8. carmelo pugliatti | June 12, 2016 at 5:08 pm |

    Straight tube jacket are mainly a post war thing.
    The undarted American sacks of 30s were often well shaped.

  9. TT Farrington | June 13, 2016 at 1:00 am |

    Carmelo,
    It was in the post-war era that Ivy style became American style, rather than the style of one group.

  10. The postwar Ivy style is what most of us take as the standard. It was a liberating escape from shaped waists.

  11. Another point about Sid that’s alluded to in the article: the service. He’s also carrying on the “fogey store” tradition of top-notch service and hospitality. I can’t think of many other stores founded in the past 30 years that place such a high emphasis on serving the customer, not just selling you something. They treat the person who buys a MTM suit the same as the person getting a pocket square.

  12. carmelo pugliatti | June 13, 2016 at 10:31 am |

    I don’t think that a shaped waist is unconfortable..at least if is not a hourglass waist in a deep padded jacket.
    Conversely give a pleasent and flatter shape.
    But these are personal tastes.
    About “Ivy style”,is matter of perspective; for exemple for me is a long line from 1920s (in his modern form) to late 1980s.
    Boom years are a part of this story (an important part of course),but not the only.

  13. Marc Chevalier | June 13, 2016 at 1:28 pm |

    Are shaped waists an incarcerating bondage, then? Good grief, NT Ipsum.

  14. Ken Pollock | June 13, 2016 at 7:20 pm |

    The shaping reminds me of Norman Hilton’s Hampton model, but I do not think much of these very short jackets.

  15. I am inclined to think those sleeves are not finished. Perhaps trying on the jacket would be the first step in judging the jacket’s length. I could be wrong.

    The straight hanging tube cut may arguably be correct, but it only passes on the young and in shape.

  16. @Henry

    Was not Bertie attempting to irritate Jeeves after Jeeves sneered at a mustache, Old Etonian Spats or the like when he said “tinkerty tonk, and I meant it to sting?”

    As I viewed the coats above, I could not help but recall Jeeves statement that “the shorter the man, the louder the tweeds.”

  17. @NaturalShoulder

    Amen as to the gorge–it’s almost on the other side of the jacket!

  18. notdesigned | June 18, 2016 at 5:10 pm |

    Tried on the blue model shown above last week in his Atlanta store. Fit is excellent–very high armholes, almost perfect length on me (Longs are available, btw) in the body and sleeves. It was a touch snug in the chest but could easily be let out.

    I could knit pick and say I wished it had lower patch or patch/flap pockets and that it was unlined or half lined but, honestly, it’s the best sack jacket I’ve ever put on outside of the old Brooks stuff. I wouldn’t hesitate to buy one.

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