The Man Of ’52

Hey guys, flu got me. First time at my desk in 48 hours. Chew on this for a bit, courtesy of commentariat member Carmelo. — CC

35 Comments on "The Man Of ’52"

  1. I’m not sure where that photo was taken, but I’m pretty sure it isn’t the Wanamaker Building, interestingly enough.

  2. Please don’t die

  3. The man of ‘52 sure looks better than the man of ‘17.

  4. You notice;
    The style is called “natural look”.
    Single breasted is “heavily favored” (but evidently not the only one).
    “Two and three button models divide honors”.
    “Trousers front are both pleated and not pleated”.
    Not yet integralist “Ivy” rules here,exactly as in the patrician pre war “collegiate style”.
    Very interesting.

  5. Plantagenet | February 5, 2018 at 9:29 pm |

    In spite of the fact that the copy reads “jackets that hang easy and straight”, it looks to me like there’s some waist suppression there.
    Or is that just because of the way the model is standing?

  6. A bit of shape,yes.
    Was usual on the best tailored sacks.

  7. Reactionary Trad | February 6, 2018 at 2:07 am |

    I tell my tailor that if I wanted shaping, I’d buy ready-made.

  8. Vern Trotter | February 6, 2018 at 4:21 am |

    You will note the suit coat hangs exactly to the first knuckle of the middle finger, (if he stood up straight) as it did for decades and still should. This suit looks better than any Brooks is selling today.

  9. Vern,
    Not only the suit, but everything the model is wearing.

  10. Poison Ivy Leaguer | February 6, 2018 at 8:49 am |

    In John Wanamaker’s good old days they could compete with the better specialty stores. They later became just another department store and subsequently folded.

  11. Vern
    But that coat length doesn’t expose his junk and ass cheeks. 🙂
    Although the pockets are low enough to actually be usable. I also like the longer fuller trouser bottoms with a very slight break.

  12. Carmelo is maturing. This is RTW Ivy from various everyday sources.
    He used to imagine that Ivy was only ever something ultra elite.
    He now proves himself wrong.
    A wonderful image.

  13. Charlottesville | February 6, 2018 at 1:14 pm |

    Thanks, Carmelo. I always enjoy your contributions to this site. Great photo, and a reminder that what we call “Ivy” had begun to make its way into the mainstream earlier than the famous 1954 Life magazine article, at least in the northeast. Possibly in Chicago and San Francisco as well, but that is just a guess on my part, and the look may have been confined to specialists like Robert Kirk/Cable Car Clothiers who offered English-style clothing. Someone with access to advertising from the period could probably confirm. I agree with those who wish that contemporary men dressed even half so well.

  14. Charlottesville | February 6, 2018 at 3:33 pm |

    Also, sorry that you are sick, Christian. Hope you recover quickly and completely.

  15. I can’t imagine a newspaper of today (yes, there still are some) printing something like this. Unless it was about hoodies.

  16. Straight Arrow | February 6, 2018 at 8:15 pm |

    Robert Kirk and Cable Car Clothiers didn’t merge until 1972.
    Did English-style suits look anything like the suit in the photo? Or did “English-style” refer to the fabrics, rather than the cut?

  17. Robert Kirk sold “British Goods” which I believe referred to the fabrics.
    For a history of this San Francisco institution which seems to be struggling

  18. I see that the Man of ’52 wore a hat and smoked a cigarette.

  19. Reactionary Trad | February 6, 2018 at 2:07 am |

    I tell my tailor that if I wanted shaping, I’d buy ready-made.

    Well Reactionary trad,but you order your suit now,in 2018,not in 1952 or in 1937.
    Back then the tailored sacks had a bit of shape.
    More the gently waist supptession on a undarted sack is completly different by waist suppression in a darted coat.
    In a sack the effect is less three-dimensional because waist suppression is obtained only by the side seams and by ironing.
    None similarity with a ready to made or bespoke darted front coat.

    Lawton | February 6, 2018 at 10:04 am |

    Carmelo is maturing. This is RTW Ivy from various everyday sources.
    He used to imagine that Ivy was only ever something ultra elite.
    He now proves himself wrong.
    A wonderful image.

    Lawton “Ivy” WAS something of elitarian,but before the war.
    But here in 1952 at the start of Ivy trend cycle we have still many features of genuine patrician style that was more varied and rich of shades.
    Is the dawn,patrician style is no more,but the main street Ivy is not still started.


    “We always had some waist suppression, more than Brooks and Press….
    We didn’t have darts, but we had a little more side suppression. But it was a very fine difference”.

    Here a bespoke sack from Chipp.

    But also Brooks had a gently shape:

    You can have this mainly on bespoke or well tailored sacks,but for the mass ready to wear production a straight unshaped line is more helpful for easy fitting.

  21. Pietro Moreno | February 6, 2018 at 11:20 pm |

    Ciao, Carmelo

    A sack with a straight unshaped line is the most comfortable jacket that one could imagine.

  22. I’ll take that suit whether it’s 2 or 3 button, waist suppressed or not, pleated trousers or not. As long as the shoulders are right, it’ll be the business, because they don’t make ’em like they did in ’52.

  23. Before Ivy went excessively narrow. Lapels are four inches. The shoulder, while natural, is hardly the super-sloped, zero-padding shoulder that often comes to mind vis a vis the Heyday. The pants–looks like a straight (minimal tapering) fit. I bet the tie is at least 3 1/4″ width.

  24. Jonathan Sanders | February 7, 2018 at 8:11 am |

    What’s appealing to me is how soft the overall effect is. This is what’s sadly missing from today’s suits (unless you step to the plate for a full canvas). Whether it’s darted or not is beside the point. It’s the overall balance and how it drapes over the body.

  25. Pietro Moreno | February 6, 2018 at 11:20 pm |

    Ciao, Carmelo

    A sack with a straight unshaped line is the most comfortable jacket that one could imagine.

    I know.
    I said merely that in the past tailored sacks had a gently waist suppression,not that made them better of straight model.
    Only a historic note.

  26. Most Ivy wearers never bought “bespoke” jackets or suits, they bought them off the rack.
    Who wouldn’t want a slight waist suppression in a sack unless one had a large beer belly to hide. If one has a large chest and a relatively small waist. sacks get into the lab coat territory at 44 +.

  27. I was pondering the modern cut of menswear this a.m. and wondered if the effect of so many sci-fi movies and their tight fitting, single-colored uniforms has influenced what “these kids today’ want out of a suit. The silhouettes are identical. Just a thought.

  28. Charlottesville | February 7, 2018 at 11:56 am |

    Lots of interesting comments. I wish I had more information on the Robert Kirk-Cable Car history. The website offers this:

    Cable Car Clothiers, named after the Cable Car line on Powell and O’Farrell Streets, was founded in 1946 in San Francisco by Charlie Pivnick as a war surplus store called Vet’s Mercantile. In 1954, as military surplus sources dried up and the store began to focus more on traditional, British-style clothing, it was renamed Cable Car Clothiers. From 1970, it became known for its quarterly mail-order catalog, which eventually reached a circulation of 2 million and which helped to make the store a tourist destination. In 1972, Pivnick purchased and incorporated Robert Kirk, a San Francisco retailer founded in 1939 and also known for a focus on traditional, British-style clothing, thus allowing itself the motto “San Francisco’s British Goods Store Since 1939.”

    It would be interesting to see what the style of the “British goods” would have been in the 40s, 50s and 60s. I recall that Brooks emphasized its English fabrics, etc. as a selling point, and I have some BB ties that were made in England. I discovered Robert Kirk-Cable Car Clothiers at some point well after the merger from ads they ran in the New Yorker. By then the clothes seemed to be very similar to Brooks, so my guess is that may have been the “British” look Robert Kirk had advertised earlier. It would be interesting to see ads or catalogs from those days.

    As for the changing shape of the sack, I have seen in heyday magazine ads that the very straight-hanging jacket and fairly narrow trousers were hallmarks of the 50s and early 60s Ivy look, but older Brooks catalogs show wider lapels and waist suppression as noted by Carmelo and others. I’m wearing a tweed sport jacket from Brooks that I bought around 1988. It has natural shoulders and a nearly 3 3/4″ lapel, when rolled to the center button. I don’t recall what the waist looked like when it was on the rack, but I regularly had the tailor at Brooks taper the jackets a bit and take in the trousers I bought at that time. 30 years later, I am having to get the tailor to revisit his earlier work and give me back the missing inches so I suppose the sides are fairly straight now.

  29. Atlanta Pete | February 7, 2018 at 12:09 pm |

    When I discovered Cable Car Clothiers in the 80s, they primarily carried Southwick Douglas model suits and sport coats and they stocked 42XL, always a rarity. They also carried their own label suits and sport coats. I still wear a number of suits and sport coats I was able to buy at their annual sale. Also, the store I first discovered had a huge inventory of everything one might want to buy. Alas, a few years ago, CCC downsized and moved nd now stocks very little.

  30. Yeah, I completely don’t understand people who don’t want some waist suppression. I have a 44″ chest and 34″ waist, a straight up sack would look and feed awful on me. I have to go bespoke or made-to-measure. Last time I tried on an off-the-rack jacket I had to go up to a size 52 before the shoulders fit, at which point the rest of the coat was like a tent. Just a few years ago I could buy a 44 Regular and take in the waist and I’d be fine. Today’s 44R is not like that of yesteryear.

  31. Ken Pollock | February 7, 2018 at 1:04 pm |

    It looks very much like the Norman Hilton slightly shaped sack, the Hampton model.

  32. MacMcConnell | February 7, 2018 at 1:29 pm |

    I wore sacks till my senior year in H.S., Fall of 1969, it’s what my local Ivy shops sold in Kansas City. At the time I had a 44 chest and a 31 1/2 waist. I’ve always bought off the rack and even with waist suppression the jackets were like lab coats, especially in the front. One day at lunch I visited my favorite shop three blocks from my H.S., I was in the market for a new navy blazer. The manager suggested he order me a darted blazer, I believe it was a Corbin. I’ve never bought a sack since, with the exception of a Polo seersucker jacket. By the time I was out of college I had a 46+ chest and a 32 waist, I’ve actually had alterations where to take in the jacket waist the pocket and flap are removed and the front darts are taken in. The point being that if the jacket was taken in at the sides it looks great walking down the street, but if one sits down you can’t get a fork to your mouth. It’s a jock thing with lats expanding.

    So now at 67 I just buy darted 44L jackets with only a quarter inch off the sleeve no suppression . No I don’t have a 32 waist anymore, it’s 34-35.

  33. The Hampton model, which featured some shoulder padding.

  34. I have seen Cable Car Clothiers in at least three different locations around town (including a cavernous former bank). The fact that they once reached two million people via their catalogues is amazing. I recall that their advertisements always used to appear on the same page as Herb Caen’s column in the Chronicle, ensuring a good deal of attention. (I’m sure that space came at a premium.)

  35. I like this, it’s the ivy style as ordinary main street in ’52.

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