Lost Treasure: O’Connell’s Uncovers ’60s-Era Tweed Stash

O’Connell’s is a big place. How big? Big enough for 26 tweed sportcoats to get lost for decades.

Owner Ethan Huber recently discovered a stash of two dozen tweed sportcoats made shortly after the store opened in 1959. The jackets have all the Ivy details straight from the heyday: natural shoulders, three-button fronts, narrow lapels, lap seams and hook vents.

As there is a finite resource of unworn Ivy garb from the heyday, grab these while you can — especially if you’re a younger guy who digs narrow lapels and wants to go authentically “Take Ivy.” Most of the jackets are sized between 37 and 42 — short, regular and long — and are priced at $395. Call 800.336.0076 or email service@oconnellsclothing.com to find out what’s available in your size. O’Connell’s is also in the process of adding the jackets to its New Old Stock page.

Here’s Ethan recounting the discovery:

I knew we had a few jackets stashed away. Recently I was watching “Mad Men” and thought to myself that the lapels looked about right and the patterns look about right compared to the ones I knew of, so I explored far off in the building and found 26 of them in plastic dry cleaning bags behind some old tuxes.

They nearly made my eyeballs pop out: all narrow (2 3/4”) lapels, with lap seams, ¼” pick stitching, hook vents, and made from some of the most incredible plaids, windowpanes, and solid tweeds. I can tell the fabrics are Scottish, the maker is American, and they have low pocket stances and the ancient O’Connell Lucas Chelf label. I don’t think I would find an ounce of shoulder padding if I split one open. All are natural-shouldered with really amazing contours.

Later Ethan sent this:

A little research shows a group of them made by Sheldon Hall Clothing (also known in the day as Meyer Merman Co.) — I am guessing they were made around 1961. Another group is circa 1963, made by a Samuel Wolbarsht, Inc., and the third group is made by Saint Laurie Ltd.; not sure when or if they are related to the St. Laurie tailors in NYC.

Here are the differences from today’s garments:

• 3/8th lined, with the back under the shoulder blades unlined.
• All have horn buttons with two buttons on each sleeve.
• Lapels are mostly 2.75″ with a couple 2.5 a couple others 3 inches.
• They have a lower front pocket stance, or else it just looks that way because the coats run an inch shorter than modern counterparts.

The cache of sportcoats — a sampling of which is below — makes for a useful historical record of the kind of variety that was available during the heyday of the Ivy League Look. I was reminded of comments made by Ken C. Pollock in Ivy-Style’s interview with him:

It’s a lot harder for me to find the traditional clothing that I really like. There’s such a limited amount, and nobody is really inventive anymore. It’s not a dynamic clothing now. Brooks and Press just turn out the same thing year after year, so I’ve moved into more English clothing for variety. I’d gotten used to much, much more variety because manufacturers had been selling to such a large market. I still don’t understand why Brooks Brothers has to turn out the same gray herringbone sportcoat for the last 50 years, when they could put a blue windowpane in it to vary it a little bit.

So without further pause, let’s check out the deadstock tweed goodness! — CC

14 Comments on "Lost Treasure: O’Connell’s Uncovers ’60s-Era Tweed Stash"

  1. I have the 5th one!

  2. Wow – what a find. It’s great to see that there is a market for this. I hope it stays.

  3. max the cat | October 12, 2010 at 4:23 pm |

    great pictorial..

  4. Rather ugly jackets IMO

  5. Thank God that Brooks Brothers has continued to turn out the same gray herringbone sportcoat for the last 50 years.

  6. Vern Trotter | October 14, 2010 at 9:06 am |

    They might appeal to some. Too bad they don’t have patch pockets with welted edges as did the vintage Brooks coats. Lapels are a little too narrow also.

  7. Why can’t they find these when I have some dough to spare?

    Well, I’ll sour grapes it all by saying the lapels look too narrow, and I don’t like true three-button fronts (though 3/2 is OK).

  8. Some are three-button, some are 3/2.

    And I take it by your dislike of narrow lapels that you’re neither young nor thin?

  9. Man, I love every one of those! Those sixties 3-button jackets always fit me like a dream. Too rich for my blood, though!

  10. Actually, I’m not that old (just starting to go gray), and I am pretty thin, but the lapel on a true 3-button always comes out too narrow for my tastes. Then again, the true 3-button is not flattering to me–and to hardly anyone else–so it’s a semi-moot point.

  11. The moral is, you shouldn’t throw any of your clothes away, your grandchildren might find them very wearable! Everything comes back to fashion again. From these, the 6th one is my favorite,

  12. Hideous jackets. Reminds me of what Jerry Lester, the old burlesque comic, would wear.

  13. Carmelo Pugliatti | March 15, 2017 at 7:54 pm |

    I like narrow lapels,and coats no 1,6,7,9,10 and 11 have a
    width not too much skinny.
    Some of these sportcoats are a bit flashy for my taste,but i like the silhouette.
    I hope that the real late 50s early 60s look can return one of these days (the real Mccoy,not the poor short and shrunken fit of 2010s).

  14. Carmelo Pugliatti | March 15, 2017 at 8:02 pm |

    Why must be young nor thin for narrow lapels?
    In 60s also old and burlu men dressed coat narrow lapels..and flatter they much more that the huge lapels and fat ties of 70s.
    The key is the proportion; narrow is right,skinny is wrong.
    Is more simple if you go to bespoke or MTM,but also in ready to wear case 3/2 is good.

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