It’s 1940 All Over Again


Chris Sharp found these images in the same Esquire issue featured in our last post: September 1940 (sign up for the archives here.) They should provide further inspiration for any of you who feel stuck in a sartorial rut.

The text for the top image described this college man as wearing the color combination of brown and lovat. His jacket is Shetland, the shirt a buttondown and tie a foulard, and his accessories include a khaki hat and green striped socks. Please disregard the “fringe tongues” on his moccasins.

The page below includes more interesting text; here are the highlights:

A man needs a lot of imagination to get through college. Pressed for time to study, he can, if necessary, spend Friday afternoon from three to five in the library reference room and come out with twenty hours’ reading on Greek art.

A good many college-born fashions are accidents. For instance, there is the case of the student, a stockbroker by this time, who wore a pair of grey flannel trousers with a brown tweed jacket simply because his brown tweed trousers were ripped. It was as simple as that. Presumably he belonged to a strong fraternity and could hold his own on the dance floor. Anyhow, the combination went over; men everywhere liked the idea of the odd jacket, and it became an institution.

… Other university styles emanate from non-conformists. Last season when three-button jackets appeared in most classrooms, a few students, out of perversity, swung to the four-button style.

…. The University Bluebook says: “long on jackets, short on slacks.” The group in the last picture testify to that rule.



15 Comments on "It’s 1940 All Over Again"

  1. Minimalist Trad | December 9, 2015 at 12:00 pm |

    And then there are those of us who never feel stuck in a rut and are perfectly content to usually wear one of many almost-identical grey herringbone tweed jackets, one of several navy blazers (almost carbon-copies of each other), one of many grey flannel trousers that differ minimally, and either a blue or a white OCBD shirt. We also have a closetful of neckties, but always seem to come back to navy ties with stripes, or solid navy ties. Ah, the indescribable joy of simplicity!

  2. Ward Wickers, FIFS | December 9, 2015 at 2:34 pm |

    I can’t help but notice that the student referred to in the text above found a way to cram his study of Greek art into a couple of hours, but the one with real the imagination (combining grey flannels with a brown tweed jacket) became a stockbroker! Funny the writer didn’t view Mr. Grey Flannels Stockbroker as a Philistine ;).

    Great images from the Esquire archive. I am enjoying them.

  3. That’s because the stockbroker still had to take a required course in Greek art.

  4. Ward Wickers, FIFS | December 9, 2015 at 2:41 pm |

    LOL. Good one, Christian.

  5. It doesn’t seem so long ago that all golf shoes had “kilties.” Don’t recall them on regular street shoes, though.

    @Minimalist Trad

    You’ve said it all.

  6. Henry Contestwinner | December 9, 2015 at 5:22 pm |

    What do you have against kilties, Christian?

  7. Henry Contestwinner | December 9, 2015 at 5:26 pm |

    Wriggles, I suppose kilties aren’t common, but you’ve never seen them on street shoes? I have two pairs of kiltie tassel loafers that I wear regularly. I had a pair of kiltie lace-ups, but they didn’t fit, so I put them on eBay.

  8. @Minimalist

    I take a pretty lean approach, too (with color, pattern, etc.). But I’m always open to new ideas, and think that freshly updated small things like accessories make a big impact. If your minimalism is fixed and not evolving from one sort of minimalist expression to another, I’m curious why you would spend time on clothing websites.

    Granted, there are plenty of cultural articles, beyond clothing, on this particular website.

  9. Great find.

    And nothing in the copy foreshadows something we now know.

    Before five years would pass a lot of sharply dressed young Greek art scholars and prospective stockbrokers alike would have learned hard geography lessons of places about which they were blissfully unaware; Guadalcanal, Anzio, Bastogne, Okinawa, etc., etc.

    BTW The kiltie-clad subject of the illustration strikes me as a ringer for then-25 year old young Joseph Kennedy, Jr. (

  10. Looking at these old pictures–how college men once dressed. Relative to their grandsons, comically formal. I’m reminded that walk-across-campus-to-class wear during the heyday consisted of old khakis, worn out oxfords, shabby shetland crewnecks, and decrepit loafers.

  11. @Henry Contestwinner

    I’ve never seen kilties as an additional (flip up) part of a street shoe, as Joe College is wearing, and golf shoes used to feature. I have seen the sewed down mock variety as ornament with tassel loafers, though.

    I had a pair of black wing tip tassel loafers with the mock variety kiltie, around 45 years ago. Boy, that was a long, long time ago.

    I had to think a while on that.

  12. I recall a gent wearing loafers with kilties at a cocktail reception. When he joined us at the bar, one fellow, upon seeing the kilties, asked him if his shoes had cleats on them!! Got a good laugh. Guys can be brutal… So Henry, brace yourself! 🙂

  13. Henry Contestwinner | December 10, 2015 at 11:16 pm |

    Wriggles, as I mentioned, I had a pair of kiltie brogues. As I recall, the kiltie was part of the tongue. However, I agree that they are rare. Yes, both my kiltie tassel loafers (one black, about 25 years old, and one burgundy, about five years old) have the kiltie sewn down.

    M Arthur, that’s a fun story!

  14. FWIW kilties – in the form of a piece of leather inserted between the lower laces and the tongue are standard on traditional western work boots for horse packers, farmers, wildfire fighters, loggers, etc.

    Kilties come with all authentic traditional boots still made by companies like White’s and Nick’s in Spokane, WA, as well as the rubber-leather pacs by Hoffman in Kellogg, ID or Schnees and Kenetrek in Bozeman, MT (which the later make LL Bean’s look like something limited to eastern college campus wear (which they are of course) rather than serious mountain activities and work).

    Here are some leather White’s boots sold at Baker’s Boots in Eugene, OR:

    And Schnee’s mid-warmth mountain pacs at Schnee’s

  15. Chewco L.P. (Cayman) | February 15, 2016 at 8:19 pm |

    Looking for these pair of warlocks:$PC_SPP_1_F1$

    Please advise on where to find these subtle pair of kiltie loafers. Christian won’t be offended; promise.

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