Tweeds On The Books, 1946

esky 1946

The war was over and the boys were already back in school. This is from the Esquire archives, which recently went online and can be accessed for a mere $4.99 per month.

Ivy Style Facebook member and comment leaver “Carmelo” found this image from 1946, which features some of my favorite things: blue buttondown, grey flannels, tweed, Norwegian moccasins, pipe, and a beautiful campus setting in autumn. No idea where the books are. — CC

38 Comments on "Tweeds On The Books, 1946"

  1. Very nice!

    (The image.)

  2. The difference between these collegiates of 40s and their predecessors of 20s and 30s is that while often the old alumni left the college passed to different style British inspired (lounge suits,double breasteds,darted coats,drape),the 1940s college boys hold the style of the “Ivy league days” even after the college.
    My impression is also that from mid 40s the so called “Ivy league style” had reached the full stylistic maturity.

  3. Ward Wickers | November 20, 2015 at 3:00 pm |

    Great image. There is something about the advertising art of this period that is pleasing. The pants seem fuller cut back then, and pleated. I am thinking that by the ’60s, the pant leg was narrower and mostly non-pleated. I must say, too, that I am glad we no longer wear hats. Before JFK, it seems you would have been considered naked without one, but I never like wearing hats.

  4. When i was a boy, my father’s suit pants were extremely fuller cut. He was a 38 waist all his life, very fit. Only the waist was a 38, the rest of the trousers probably would fit a 44 trunk..

    I recall heavy men, looking quite dapper. It seemed no matter how heavy a man was, those wide pant legs with the pleats hid a lot of pounds.

    The old Jackie Gleason show, “American Scene Magazine” always showed Jackie looking quite dapper in his dress clothes, with his “girls” bringing out his “equipment.” (Cigarettes, booze, and chair when doing his opening scene. Quite a difference from his characterizations.


  5. Do we have any photos of Ivy League undergrads in the 1940s which would substantiate the image presented here?

  6. Chewco (Cayman master feeder) | November 20, 2015 at 8:10 pm |

    @Philly Trad,

    There is a photo circling the internet of JFK wearing Chuck Taylor sneakers and a VERY wide leg trouser and I think this is from his Harvard days (he graduated Spring ’40).

    I’m not sure I can pull-off a trouser that wide, but I think it makes his outfit look even more casual than it ordinarily would.

    Yup, I guess JFK wore Chucks too. Just like the trans-atlantic accent, sometimes what you see/capture on film (still or moving) is not always an accurate representation of the “everyday.”

    if you are looking for evidence of 1940s collegiate attire, you can’t get a more candid photo than that one.

  7. The trousers in this illustration are relatively fuller,but i don’t think that have pleats.
    Seems a deep crease in a flat front trouser.

  8. Flannel odd trousers were imported into the US from the UK with pleats (probably to make them more useful for sports!). In the late 1940s, at least through 1949, you see ads in the Yale Daily News offering grey flannels in either pleated or plain front, including at J.Press. By the early 1950s, (1954?) there was an established Ivy cut trouser with tapered legs and flat fronts. In 1958, there is a J. Press ad that says all their odd trousers in the store are plain front, but if you order special they could have pleated fronts made up for you. That seems to be about the fashion cycle. Also, just my impression but I think that pants did become substantially slimmer over the course of the 1950s.

  9. When trousers lost their pleats and became slimmer, we could have predicted that the gentleman’s cut would eventually become the gigolo cut of today.

  10. I have some pants bought in the 1990s from BB with pleats. If I recall correctly, the BB suits I bought then also had pleats. I guess they made a comeback for awhile.

  11. NaturalShoulder | November 21, 2015 at 11:59 am |

    I think pleated trousers with a more full cut were popular in the 90s. I had some suits from Paul Stuart with deep forward pleats which were more full cut than anything they offer today.

  12. Ward Wickers | November 21, 2015 at 2:08 pm |


    You are right about Paul Stuart pleats. I have a couple of ’90s suits from PS and the pants were quite full cut. I used to like Paul Stuart clothing a lot. But they got a little too fashion-forward, and I stopped going there. I do have some beautiful suits, ties, braces, and shirts from them that are still in great shape.

  13. Wholly Roamin' | November 21, 2015 at 2:13 pm |

    I’ll agree with most of your favorite things, but I think my favoritest thing is the brunette in the background.

  14. Henry Contestwinner | November 21, 2015 at 2:24 pm |

    Well, Ward, I now know the source of our disagreement on nearly everything: you “never like wearing hats,” while I always wear fedoras with my jacket-and-tie outfits! (Straw hats in summer, of course, and a Homburg for my stroller, tuxedo, and charcoal gray suit.)

  15. NaturalShoulder | November 21, 2015 at 6:25 pm |


    I do agree that PS has moved more fashion-forward. I really used to enjoy their catalogs, but I cannot imagine wearing many of the looks they feature. I used to shop in the Chicago store when I lived there. I have been back up there recently and looked up my old SA. They still offer some fantastic fabric choices and I have picked up some items.

  16. I think pleats returned in the 1980s. Partly Giorgio Armani, partly Brideshead Revisited. Supposedly, they are returning again.

  17. They certainly are. People like Fabio Attanasio are making pleats look stylish again. Although these are some heavy Italian pleats:

    One thing that is slightly overlooked in the pic are the hems: cuffed. Every time I am getting new pants hemmed at Brooks Brothers, and I ask for a cuffed hem, the tailor says I can’t have a cuffed hem without pleated trousers. Says its a fashion no-no. Not sure how true that is. I guess the customer isn’t always right.

  18. Maybe I’m misunderstanding, but are you saying the tailor at Brooks says flat front trousers shouldn’t have cuffs? If so, and I really hope I’m just not reading it properly, that goes against everything about the bottom half of the ivy league look.

  19. No you are reading it correctly. I insisted I still wanted cuffs, but he wouldn’t budge and eventually said there wasn’t enough material in the trouser anyway for a proper cuff. He blamed my height (I am 6’2″). Funny enough, other tailors at Brooks cuff my pants; no questions asked.

  20. You should bring him in a couple Brooks ads from the TNSIL boom years. Or a few pictures of William Holden from the Sabrina shoot. That’s absolutely insane to me. Also, if a customer asks for something, no matter how stupid, why in the hell would you insult them and turn them away?

  21. Maybe you should look at Brooks ads from today haha!

    Well, I am a very frequent customer. Maybe he knew he could push me around a little bit and that I wasn’t going anywhere. He’s a good sport and the way I see it, since I *always* ask for cuffed hems, now 50% of my wardrobe is cuffed, and the other half is uncuffed. Fine by me.

    And as for pleats, I still have absolutely no pleated trousers. The only pleated ones at Brooks are their fullest (Madison) cut which I’m not a big fan of those.

    Where do you get your trousers anyway? I’m pretty much limited to Brooks, PS, and RL (the trinity). Those have been my safe go-to’s, and I haven’t wandered far.

  22. Ah, I didn’t realize you had a relationship with him like that. I have some BB chinos and trousers because of the sales, but the Press (since I live in D.C. and can visit the store) and O’Connell’s are go-to and both stores pretty much assume cuff, no break.

  23. Holden:

    Long pointed OCBD collar paired with a 3/2 sack–a natural but not slouchy/overly sloped shoulder. He’s wearing a full-fitting pant and (bulky) penny loafers.

    Interesting –the pre-Heyday styling.

  24. @S.E. Did you mean this picture of Holden?

  25. Speaking of pants, all of dress pants come from BB, J Press, RL, and PS. I also have several pairs of khakis from Orvis, which I like very much (their ‘ultimate’ khaki). The fight over cuffs with the BB tailor is interesting. Probably 80% of my flat front trousers have cuffs. My fight has always been with the J. Press tailors. They cuff everything, which is fine. But they always leave the pant leg too short. I like the pants to touch (not break at, but just touch) the top of the shoe. They always try to convince me a couple of inches higher is appropriate. I don’t like walking around in ‘high-water’ pants. Whenever I go to buy a suite or pants at J. Press, I know I am always in for a fight.

  26. @Ward Wickers,

    I think tailors believe they have the power to influence the look and style of the community around them. He is probably thinking, like my guy at BB, “I’m going to make sure everyone who walks out of here is dresses ‘RIGHT'” (in his mind, no break).

    I’ve been reading OCBD’s blog and people like him are VERY pedantic about having pants with no break.

    I, for one, prefer the “mid-Atlantic” break (somewhere in between trad US and trad EU). A very very small break.

  27. I think you are probably right, Chewco. And it is true, they can influence a community. I worked in New Haven for almost ten years. Walking around town, you could always tell who went to J. Press by the length of their pants.

  28. @Chewco “People like him…” I resent that characterization in this PC world! We are humans too, with names and feelings! (I kid, of course.) But I do prefer cuff, no break. Though I do have some chinos without cuffs but with no break. I could see a very small break worn with laced shoes like longwings, but I almost always wear penny loafers and I think they look better with no break. Plus, how are people supposed to know I’m wearing Wigwams when they can’t see them!

  29. For the record, I have a lot of respect for OCBD, and I admire the consistency in his timeless style. I was just highlighting the subtle differences in our preference for trouser length/break.

    @rmpmcdermott well, they would see your wigwams when you are sitting 😉

  30. @Chewco hahaha. I know I’m just ribbing you.

  31. Ward Wickers | November 22, 2015 at 3:06 pm |

    I do like the argyle socks worn by the gent sitting. I have a few pairs, but socks seem to wear out quickly for me. I’m always in replacement mode.

  32. Ward Wickers | November 22, 2015 at 3:19 pm |

    @Natural Shoulder

    I used to visit the New York Paul Stuart on Madison Avenue regularly. I’d make the rounds from BB to J Press, then PS. At one time, I had a PS store credit card. I’ve been to the Chicago store, too.

    One January I was in Chicago and forgot to pack gloves. Being in the Windy City in winter meant wind chill conditions. The hotel wasn’t far from Paul Stuart’s, so I walked over and bought a great pair of wool-lined leather gloves. I still have them and wear them as my ‘dressier’ gloves. My soon to be wife was also with me, and the Chicago Paul Stuart had a nice line of women’s clothing. It wasn’t long before my finance was telling me, “You know, I forgot to pack …” In no time, the counter had a pile of things for me to buy: wool skirt, cashmere sweater, etc. That was one of my more expensive excursions to PS and all I got out of it was a pair of gloves.

  33. Bags' Groove | November 22, 2015 at 4:33 pm |

    I just got back to this post, and one point shone out: your one about the break in a trouser. Frankly, I’m at a loss to know why anyone would want no break at all. All it does is ensure that the trouser swings remorselessly around one’s ankle when one walks. And before those who say a heavy break obscures some of the bench grade shoe they’re wearing, I don’t buy it. We’re talking an infinitesimal amount of shoe.
    Really, a trouser with no break at all, is no trouser at all. Give me a good old English break any day. Take that whichever way you like, all you American no-breakers.

  34. @Bags’ Groove – I just like the way cuff, no break looks. That’s why I want it. And I don’t really question the sanity of that choice because an entire generation of those engaged in the boom years of the TNSIL look thought the same.

    Here’s a good post on the subject by someone I respect and admire sartorially with photos by another person I think very highly of.

  35. @rmpmcd
    I can remember those long gone days when the cuffs of many American pants were beginning to appear closer to the knee than the ankle. Now they really were short pants, and quite unfathomable to Europeans. Even today, with the fashion having swung from yards of surplus cuff to none at all, I doubt there’s a European tailor who’d let you leave his premises without some sort of a break in your trousers. Vive la difference, and all that.

  36. And why would I let a European tailor tell me how to wear my pants? But you are correct, vive la difference. Let us all wear our trousers the way we like without judgement. You get your puddle of fabric, I’ll take my high waters and we both live in harmony!

  37. Whatever happened to knickers?

  38. Anglophile Trad | November 23, 2015 at 12:29 pm |

    After seeing these rich Italian pleats, I will never again wear plain-front trousers:

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