Perfect Form: The Best Dressed Golfer of 1936

AldenPyle of Andy’s Trad Forum, one of the most diligent ransackers of the LIFE archives, recently dug up some photos of the 1936 National Amateur Golf Championship at the Garden City Golf Club.

The winner was John W. Fischer, who took the cup not only for his fine form on the fairway, but for being the most Ivishly styled. The shot of him above caught my eye. Note the natural shoulder, 3/2 roll and patch pockets, and perfectly contemporary proportions. The lapel width is even so spot on you could wear the jacket today, nearly 80 years later, and not have to change a stitch.

I was a tad surprised that the form had reached a state of perfection so early. I gave Bruce Boyer a call to discuss.

Brooks Brothers’ Number One Sack Suit was introduced in 1895, and while the basic form may have its origins at the turn of the century, the details and proportions had yet to stabilize. Bruce felt that the form would have settled down to a no-need-to-mess-with-it state between 1932 and the time of the photo in 1936.

Bruce also speculated that the suit above may be custom. First off, it fits great. There’s also the faint suggestion of a dart above the patch pocket, gentle waist supression, what appears to be a tapered sleeve, and the comparative rarity of the basketweave fabric. But while the suit may be bespoke, it was certainly based on an established form, not individual whim.

As further example of the perfection of form, note Fischer’s winning combination of patterned suit, white shirt and striped tie.

It’s also interesting to compare Fischer’s clothes to the others at the tournament. This chap in double-breasted suit and slicked hair seems to represent the style of his era, while Fischer seems to float above it. Double-Breasted Man could only be dropped into a few decades since the ’30s and still be in fashion, whereas Fischer’s look, though always appealing to a minority and rising and falling in popularity, has managed to remain perennial.  — CC

10 Comments on "Perfect Form: The Best Dressed Golfer of 1936"

  1. The dude in the double breasted looks on point. For what it’s worth he’d probably get his mug on The Sartorialist. Perfect hair. Perfect form.

  2. I agree about the perfect fit of Fischer’s suit. But, natural shoulders aside, the waist looks more British than Brooks. How much can one take in a sack coat’s waist before it loses its sackness?

  3. I’ve been having this conversation a lot lately, including just today with Paul Winston. The term “sack” is often used in Tradsville to describe any jacket with a 3/2 roll. But the button stance and the sack cut are two completely separate items.

    You can have a two-button jacket still cut like a sack, and you can have a 3/2 with big shoulders, peak lapels, double vents and a wasp waist.

    So even though I reference the Brooks No. 1 sack in the story, I wouldn’t call Fischer’s jacket a “sack” because it doesn’t fit like one.

    The confusion comes from the fact that with Press, etc., the undarted, unsupressed 3/2 came to be the standard cut. But not all 3/2s are cut that way. The one I’m wearing on the About page is a 1963 Norman Hilton, 3/2 and natural shoulders, but darted and shaped.

  4. Thanks, Christian, for clearing things up. Who makes jackets like your 1962 Norman Hilton nowadays?

  5. The updated sack suit for Ralph Lauren F/W 2010. I’m told images of the full collection will be available in a couple weeks. Undarted, but shaped, as darts are only one means of shaping.

    So to further confuse things, you can have a 3/2 without darts and still have waist suppression. The 3/2 roll, darts, and shaping are three separate variables.

  6. Michael_Mattis | February 12, 2010 at 10:55 am |

    With that hand on Fischer’s arm, he looks more like he’s being arrested for trying to steal the trophy.

  7. Are we sure that’s not Gary Busey as a skinny youth?

  8. Vern Trotter | July 27, 2019 at 9:05 pm |

    Johnny Fischer was an amateur golfer from Cinncinati and the University of Michigan. Also was on a couple of Walker Cup teams. I don’t think he ever turned pro. I think this coat was for sure from Brooks. He also was shod in spectator golf shoes.

    The Walker Cup of course was started by George Herbert Walker of St. Louis and grandfather and great grandfather of two United States presidents.

  9. Old School Tie | July 28, 2019 at 6:15 am |

    @Michael_Mattis – the poor chap looks so thin and weak that hand could very well be holding him up…

  10. Atlantapete | July 30, 2019 at 1:00 pm |

    Johnny Fischer graduated from the University of Michigan and the University of Cincinnati College of Law where he was a Law Review Editor. Except for service in the Navy Judge Advocate’s Corps during World War II, he spent his entire career as a public finance lawyer with the Cincinnati-based firm of Peck, Shaffer & Williams, where he was the managing partner at the time of his death in 1984. He was a member of Augusta National and for 20 years was either Chair or a member of the committee that set the pin placements for the Master’s Tournament. Within a year of his final illness, he shot a 72 at Augusta.

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