The Post Of The Seven Gables

Clark Gable is largely remebered as one of the glamorous menswear icons of the 1930s, along with Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, and just about every other star from the Golden Age of Hollywood.

But as he aged and fashions changed, Gable evolved with the times and shed his double-breasted suits with nipped waists and squared shoulders, and settled into buttondowns, discrete ties and natural shouldered jackets. He kept the signature mustache, though.

Gable is seen here in a series of photos by Sid Avery taken in 1957.

Ivy Style columnist Richard Press surmises the clothes came from Brooks Brothers or Dick Carroll of Beverly Hills.

Around the same time — 1958, to be exact — Gable starred opposite Doris Day in a film called “Teacher’s Pet.” Gable plays a tough New York newspaper editor who dresses in sack suits, buttondowns and knit and rep ties.

He somehow gets conned into lecturing at an adult night school, but after learning the instructor is furious with him, and is a hot dish like Doris Day (remember, there’s no accounting for taste), he decides to pose as a student instead. Here he is learning that the shapely blonde is not a fellow student, but actually the instructor:

Naturally, he makes for a smart-alecky student, casting aspersion on everything Doris Day says:

He’s able to romance her, but she eventually finds out his ruse. That’s him dressed for the evening in white buttondown, silver tie and navy blazer:

After chasing girl, getting girl and losing girl, it’s back to the daily grind:

I’d tell you how it ends, but you can probably already guess. And besides, our seven photos are used up. — CC

31 Comments on "The Post Of The Seven Gables"

  1. Great!

    It is pretty safe to say that these clothes were custom by Brooks Brothers.

  2. Nice to hear from you after so long, Mark. Coincidentally I was just in LS last week ordering another jacket. Thanks again for that great tip.

  3. Good thing the ties were discrete, not concrete. Them concrete ties is heavy.

  4. The 3/8″ lap stitching and the soft shoulder of the tweed suggests ready made. The fold on the arch of each shoulder together with wrinkling of the back collar on the gabardine suit plus machine stitching on the lapels confirms, “off the rack.” Probably Southwick who pitched Brooks and Dick Carroll.

  5. As for Squeeze’s comment, it is very unlikely that the Great Gable was wearing ready to wear in these photos.

    He was known to be a Brooks Brothers custom customer.

    Also, a leading player, such as Gable, would not be wearing RTW in a movie. As his friend, Adolphe Menjou commented in his autobiography (Gable wrote the foreword), the screeen image magnifies the smallest flaw in costuming. That is one reason why the leading stars had their clothes custom made.

    Mark E. Seitelman
    http://www.seitelman.com

  6. Thanks for the insight Mark and Christian thanks for the pics.

  7. After Adolph Menjou’s unspeakable testimony before the House Un-American Activities Committee, I doubt if he could be trusted to write the forward for a comic book.

  8. Richard Meyer | October 3, 2012 at 1:01 pm |

    Agree with both Mark and Squeeze. Anyhow, what a far cry from the way most movie actors dress today, preferring to look like homeless drug addicts.

  9. Let’s not forget that the first set of photos were taken at his home, where he’s wearing his own clothes, and that in the movie stills he’s playing a tough newspaperman, and might very well be wearing off-the-rack for character purposes.

  10. I’m sorry, but I take exception to Squeeze’s characterization of Menjou’s testimony. While I respect our friend Squeeze and greatly enjoy his knowledgeable contributions to this site, I’m afraid that too many of us have forgotten, or may have never known, what a grave threat the Soviet Union and Soviet-supported Communism were.

    It is a fact that Communists infiltrated numerous American organizations with the intent of corrupting them. It is also a fact that the Soviets funded some American Communists. Menjou and other patriots recognized the threat, and sought to fight it.

    Since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the collapse of the Soviet Union, there has been an enormous lacuna in American education: the horrors of Soviet Communism. For 70 years, the Soviets oppressed the peoples of Eastern Europe, murdering over 50 million of them. After the end of WWII, America struggled to contain the tyranny of Soviet Communism, and our defeat of that evil ideology is one of the greatest victories in the history of the world. Yet no one under 30 knows anything about it! At most, all they “know” is that mean conservatives unjustly persecuted innocent liberals for exercising their First Amendment right to free association. As it turns out, that right is trumped by the government’s right to protect itself from sedition and treason, which is what the Communists were fomenting on our own shores.

    As for Mr. Gable’s clothes, we ought to remember that until fairly recently, actors wore their own clothes on movie sets (except for period pieces or war dramas), and they were trusted to select something appropriate. When you see, for example, Edith Head credited, she is most often credited for gowns, i.e., women’s clothes, because it was only the women who were dressed by the studio.

    I don’t know how long this lasted, but it was certainly true in the Golden Age of cinema (even if not for every movie).

  11. Squeeze agrees with Henry on all issues save the fact that Menjou was a self-serving gas bag.

  12. Bespoke or off the rack, the man looks sharp! Nice stills Christian.

  13. “Bespoke or off the rack, the man looks sharp! ” Well for Christ’s sake He’s Clark F-ing Gable! 😉

  14. Squeeze,

    On that count, I defer. He may very well have been. He did normally play the stuffed shirt, so I wouldn’t be surprised.

  15. At MGM, men’s contemporary clothing was generally designed by Fred Valles. Few male stars at the studio wore their own clothes in films, although Fred Astaire did occasionally. Gable had personal furnishings from Dick Carroll or Oviatt’s. My mother was a friend of Kay Gable, and they often went shopping together. Carroll’s was my mother’s favorite place to buy things for my father.

  16. Christian, it is good to hear from you.

    I hope that your order goes well at LS Mens Clothes.

    Incidentally, I just saw the Holland & Sherry Harris Tweed book. The tweeds are very traditional, heavy, and beautiful. The colors are very vibrant. 16 ounces! It’s something that Gable would have worn.

    On Menjou, whether or not you agree with his politics, his autobiography has an interesting chapter on clothing entitled “Fine Feathers.” His go to tailor was not in Savile Row or Europe, but in L.A., Eddie Schmidt.

    Mark E. Seitelman
    http://www.seitelman.com

  17. Even better is the updated H&S Sherry Tweed book. Which, by the way, Izzy has. Some of the lighter weight stuff (10 oz.) is probably Breanish-made.

    Even better than that are the W. Bill Cheviot books.

    I agree with Squeeze on the suit, although I happy to defer to Mr. Seitelman on most if not all matters sartorial.

    Squeeze, you reference Southwick, “who pitched Brooks and Dick Carroll.”

    This observation intrigues. I feel sure I represent an impressive majority of at least two dozen or so throughout the world who would would be interested in learning (even still) more about the makers’ connections to certain shops.

    We know that the better men’s shops in the South have enjoyed a longstanding relationship with Southwick. The Andover Shop has used Southwick for a long while, and word on the street is that more than a few discerning shops still use Southwick for cut and sew. Two of my all-time favorite Press suits (now about four years old) are Southwick-made.

    I’d be especially interested in knowing more out the relationship with Brooks. One source informs me that the overly vague phrase “made in our own workrooms” likely meant “made in the for-Brooks room at the Southwick.

    As Boyer put it in his piece on Ivy, “Southwick was huge.”

  18. I know a huge difference in quality, but Southwick seems to be the new “Corbin” go to “trad” suit.

  19. I should have added in many shops.

  20. One of the best-ever posts at the Ask Andy site had much to do with Gable’s good taste.

    The poster lamented the disappearance of a proper 3-patch blazer, of the sort Brooks once offered.

    He used words like “piped” and “soft drape” to describe the blazer. The Platonic form of this dinosaur is, so he claims, none other other than the blazer Gable sported in 1953’s Mogambo.

    He supposed the piece was Gable’s–from his own Brooks-heavy wardrobe. Difficult to say.

    Hence, the legend of “The Mogambo.”

  21. For sure in 50s ClarkGable was a customer of Caraceni and Brioni (bespoke) in Rome.
    Are several pictures, for exemple:
    http://si.wsj.net/public/resources/images/PJ-AX268A_BRION_DV_20100929200429.jpg

  22. In the last photo, is that Nick Adams, aka “The Rebel”? I think Clark, although well dressed, is a little too old for Doris.

    Clark didn’t age as well as Cary Grant. Due to cancer, no doubt.

  23. Vern Trotter | October 9, 2012 at 11:46 pm |

    I took a year off from college in 1959-60 and worked at Brooks for the tie, belt and glove buyer, Stan Birdsey. I was usually stationed at the square counter directly in front of the 44th street entrance where the ties were. I believe it has now been moved. Because of this location, customers interested in other items would often stop on their way through the door and ask me for directions to other departments. Sometimes, if not busy, I took them to their requested location and because I was a stock boy, I could not write up sales as the union would not let me, so I took them to my favorite salesmen.

    One day I waited on a gentleman looking through the neckties. It was
    Clark Gable! I was gobsmacked! I was used to prominent men and movie stars coming in but still. We made some small talk, he did not buy and said he was going to the suits and sport coats floor and he knew the way. He would see me next time. I never saw him again. I
    believe the sport coats and suit shown are off the rack. Soon after I returned to school, I learned he had died.

    Many such customers bought off the rack because the tailor would alter and deliver same or next day for them if in Manhattan.

    Southwick started making suits in the late 1950’s for Brooks 346 line. It was a less expensive label for younger men but their regular suits were their own make from their original factory in Long Island City, which also made sport coats and their pink label shirts. The less heavy purple label was made by Gant for 346 I believe.

    In the late fifties, Brooks started a less expensive line for younger men called 346, after the address on Madison. Southwick made suits for this but only this label.

  24. Check out the last of the “at home” shots. He’s got one cuff turned back a bit — a casual-yet-studied style. Also makes me think the shirt is RTW. Good for Gable. (And Agnelli, for that matter).

  25. S.E.,

    If you’re still reading this thread (or anyone else who cares to chime in): Do you reckon your favored Press suits have fusing? I’m pretty sure mine do, except for the one Pressidential. I have a Southwick made-to-order I picked up in the South, and it’s fantastic and feels softer all over and in the chest piece than my Press suits. Only gripe is I’ve had to resew the pocket seams, but that’s probably my own fault for overloading the pockets. Got the Southwick for about $600.

  26. I bought the Southwick-for-Press suits on sale. A good deal. As for fusing, a safe hunch is there’s some but, relatively speaking, not much. I know that’s vague, but oh well.

    These days Southwick is making one hell of a jacket. I’m not sure what happened, but the shoulder is noticeably better than in years past. It was always fairly natural–mostly unpadded and sloping with a narrow point-to-point. But my own take on the Cambridge model–let’s go with “modified Cambridge”–has left me downright giddy. With MTM, you can the high armholes and soft, unpadded chest, while specifying a wider lapel that’s brings the old Warwick model to mind.

    Southwick’s challenge has been the seam where the shoulder meets the sleevehead. Short of going full “shirtsleeve,” that’s a bear to get just right–so there’s a, well, seamless line from shoulder to sleevehead. With the Cambridge, it seems there’s more inentionality about the naturalness of the shoulder.

    I’ve seen plenty of padded shoulders that look great–very natural. And plenty of unpadded shoulders that look awful.

  27. Another challenge for Southwick: offering one of their undarted “sack” models (MTM) with 1/8 (French faced, yoke-and-sleeves only) lining. All versions of The Cambridge feature 1/2 (or 3/8, if you prefer) lining.

    Other models–interestingly, all double vented–feature yoke lining and French facing. The Miles, for instance. Why they’re stubborn about not doing this with the Douglas, Cambridge, or other “sacks” remains a mystery.

    Actually, there’s a model that Southwick has yet to create. It exists in only within the realm of the Platonic forms: bolder lapped seams, a higher hook vent, completely padless chest and shoulders, 1/8 lining, higher gorge, and so on.

  28. Also, piece goods. If I worked for Southwick, I’d raid the W. Bill basement, asking Ray to direct me toward the old, dust-covered end-of-bolt stuff. “30 meters of each, please, sir.”

  29. S.E.: Southwick owes you; I’m thinking a retainer is in order.

  30. Ha! If only.

  31. Surprised at the rude remark……A dish like Doris Day,,,no accounting for taste. Perhaps lovely shapely blondes are not your taste, but you should have the intelligence and class not to mention it.

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