Thursday, November 2, 2017

Placement and proportions for the belt back suit

This one comes as more of a demand from a few friends who needed some answers ASAP. So here we go, and I’ll add more information as I update this over the next few days.
I thought I’d post this seeing as changes are being made to some modern designs using the knowledge I’ve shared, and mainly as a request that I explain the logic of belted backs in general. In the interest of repros we have made or we buy being right, I think it’s best to just show what I know and have seen to everyone.
Talking to a couple tailors I learned a lot more about armholes and body fit from when I began my quest to have a suit that fits well enough to make me feel as though I’m wearing pyjamas. I do like the roundtables in New York thanks to a friend of mine.  Now to the demanded info!
The half belted back and it’s placement.
When you put a belt on a jacket, the front and back of the belt is level. Usually it’s going to be directly at the wearers true waist. There have been dropped waist version in the 1910s and 1920s, and in the 1930s you’ll see the belts put on jacket more so at the true natural waist of the wearer.
Rather than showing exploded drawings of suit pieces, I’ll show you styles on people and hopefully make clear the logic behind the belting.
A belt all the way around the jacket clearly defines where the waist of the wearer is front and back. If there is a center button at the waist of the jacket, the button can often go through the button on a norfolk jacket that has a cloth belt, or like in the military stylings, the belt can be directly below. the center button but is still showcasing a uniform waistband around the jacket.
Matt Deckard Belt Back Norfolk.jpgJimmy Stuart Belt Back Matt Deckard.jpgPrince-Philip-in-Norfolk-Jacket-in-1952.jpgNorfolk_jacket_history_at_Keikari_dot_com.jpg
Matt Deckard 1920 Norfolk Belted suit.jpgNorfolk Suit Matt Deckard.jpg
There are examples of where the belt is actually dropped lower than the actual waist, but I’ve seen that it’s Proportional because the trouser have a lower waist and it’s the look of a trend of the time. — I’ll add photos of that shortly.
There are reasons to break the rule of where to put the belt when it’s going on the back of a jacket, but I’ve found if you do this, it’s for aesthetics rather than function.
The Jacket below has a center button defining the waist in the front but the rear belt is a bit lower than where the center button is placed. You can see the discrepancy in the waist placement by looking at the side pockets.
I’ve seen this mostly done on new models as I think the designers are separating the placement of the jacket’s front and back waistline, placing the belt nearer to where modern low waisted trowsers haver their waistling.
When paired with an action back, or even without, moving while wearing a jacket where the rear waistline is lower than the front waistline causes the belt to raise and sometimes hang higher or catch higher on the individual and bunch up the jack of the jacket.
There are also belted jackets where there is no center button placement, commonly these jackets are made to have both front buttons fastened and the belt in the rear is between the two buttons in the front.
When it came to me working to get proportions and placement correct, I went on a binge of not just tailoring books, but evidence on screen just to see action belt backs in action.
Below are several images from the 1934 Movie Transatlantic-Merry-Go-Round. Note again that the top seam of the belt is placed exactly where the button placement in the front lies. I’ve measured a few three button suits from the 1930s and when I wanted my own made, I went with that logic to keep my action backs functioning properly.


Some Images from 1933 The Clark Gable movie, Dancing Lady. I love this suit! If you watch the movie, the belt is exaclty below where the center button placement of the front lies.
Matt Deckard Belt Back suit DL.jpgMatt Deckard Belt Back suit DL2.jpg
Matt Deckard Belt Back Jacket DL.jpg
Belted back Double Breasted jacket with four buttons. The two top buttons sit at the wearer’s natural waistline. The seam of the belt in the back, when measured from the bottom of the hem up, is at the same height as the top buttons stance.
I went with a 2 inch belt and the yoke is not too large, but it was a science to get the proportions correct on that as well. Too wide and it’s very 1970s looking. Too narrow and it looks like a shoestring paisted to the back.
I’m going to continue editing this with more visuals as I have a lot written that I don’t think will become clear without the right imagery.

Thursday, October 12, 2017

My mother was heavily involved in Girl Scouts, and she had a very active troop that would camp a lot and was quite focused on outdoors type skills. I always asked her why there weren't a lot of co boy scout girl scout activities and one of the biggest reasons she had was that the organizations didn't get along. In another year, the boy scouts allowing girls into the organization would be top story but at the moment there is way too much going on politically and with so many back to back disasters, but this is big news. Am I against it? No, not really... I never saw the girl scout organization having quite the focus BSA did as BSA always had the rock climbing and uniformity and... well, I learned CPR and got to canoe to islands and hiked for weeks on end, ice axed my way up massive hills in Yosemite and got to slide my way down. Most meetings were there to prepare me and the boys in my patrol and troop with seeing if we packed the right gear and had the right badges to trust that each member knew how to use the gear. I earned my Eagle Award knowing that it really meant I learned things that would take care of me and others through emergencies and through normal life. I've me many many girlscouts that exclaimed to me that they had the same oppertunity. I'm not dissapointed in Boy scouts opening their ranks to girls. I'm proud of the decision. #eaglescout #boyscouts #girlscouts

Monday, September 11, 2017

Menswear Repro Roundup (sans denim and more dressy)

I consider these Lifestyle brands and you should too. 
As vintage wears down, we remake it the way it used to be made in hopes it comes out right.
Romance, Adventure, flared, nipped, bolder or subtler here and there… all the details of the past in the right order it's all in the eighth of an inch.
Reproducing the denim workwear has been well covered and done for a good 35 years now. 
I used to hunt for vintage suits after seeing The Untouchables, Raiders of the Lost Ark and A River Runs Through it. The Three piece suits in those movies, how they were worn for everything from adventure to a steak dinner with red wine made me want to live in those wears, but the build of men's suitings changed so much that I couldn't find anything quite near what I saw in those movies interpreting the 1920s and 1930s or like the actual ones that survived till today that many of my friends were wearing daily. I had to have it made. Now, there are enough shops remaking vintage reproduction menswear that one could truly open a mall with vintage menswear shops alone. 

This isn't to be confused with classic menswear, a lot of that isn't made the way it used to be. Only recently, even Brooks Brother brought back their unfused button down collar emulating the collar roll of the old classic that men depended on until the late 1960s. Menswear changes. The few that have started these shops below wanted something different than what many of the classic brands now offer of don't realize they no longer make because fashion and style and the environment have moved on. But the shops below not only fight on, they are growing in their variety of items and their presence in the market. 

Even with dressy menswear like suits, we are at a point where there are a lot of options, and I’m quite happy about this has happened, and it’s happened quite recently. When I began dressing retro, I aimed for that 1930s look, inspired by the Untouchables and Indiana Jones, Ariver Runs Through it. I loved three-piece suits yet didn’t have the build to buy any suit off the rack. I had them made and I had to go through a disguising of tailors to find one that would make what I wanted how I wanted it made.
Now here is why I’m writing. I just want to showcase what’s out there now and maybe update this article with the details that the current repro makers out there are offering.
So Let’s begin with
Baggy Trousers, big caps, they appear to be all over the Leisurely English on a spring or fall afternoon look, and all over Good Wood revival.

Designer – Chloe Hong

Designed to be more of a dancers attire, the cloths used to make the suits are quite soft yet have the absolute right period look. Three-piece suits cut to look very 1930s. I give them highest honors on the cut of the lapel as it captures that wideness and light curve of the era. Side adjusters on the trousers that have a high waist and a wide leg. I think I’m in love.
Properly cut patch pockets on the jackets, tall collars with rounded edges that are perfect for collar bars. The shoes were a particular excitement… and I may just get a pair to do a review of how they wear and can take a dance floor and walking life.
The jackets are fully lined and I prefer skeleton linings, especially with a belt back action back styling.
All in all I was impressed.

Their looks, even the ones that are supposed to be from the 1940s are very 1920s, yet there was a lot of lag in fashion when it came to what the US was doing and what the UK admired (if the styling is following the aesthetic of a UK of the 1940s still wearing older wears)… The film Brazil comes to mind, and I love every part of it.
Some exquisite cloth choices for things like large 8 panel caps in diamond pattern wool. I learned of them through just looking for copious amounts of information on hats. Being a headwear designer for the mass market and a lover that wears hats … I found them immediately enticing with their use of large brims and tall crowns. Seeing the cut of the vests and the fact that they had no fear of doing large runs of 4 button suits… This brand is a fast go to for a narrower shoulder 1920s work wear look.
The cut of the jacket is often a bit boxy with the narrow shoulders, the trousers have a beautiful drape.

Going very much for the Gatsby look, many of the suit cuts look to be modified patterns of today. Softer lighter materials with a boxier fit to the suits and wide sleeve. A good price point for the entry level retro dresser that’s going to be dancing a lot.
The cloth choices aren’t as vintage to my eye, but the price is good and the shirting cloth is solid. I particularly like the large collar to the shirts.
The suit designs are hark to a more 1970s aesthetic, which has a classiness all to itself. A major plus for those looking for lot of fancy back jacket options.
I find the half belts a bit wide like what was done in the 70s. But if on the right guy, the clothes always look as though they are in motion.
The waists on the trousers and jackets are a bit low which is closer to the 1920s and 2010s aesthetic.

One of the earliest in the repro menswear market, Vecona womenswear has always been exquisite, and the menswear follows that sense of German Detail on which the brand was founded.
What caught me at the beginning was the look of their vests. Kind of a whimsical take on the 1920s 30s look, they have constantly provided some properly draped trousers and vests heavily festooned with buttons.
The trousers look a bit low for the era with vests a bit long, yet the cut lets them be their own look with a bit of modern style helping the brand look not too retro. Very Superman Returns. The fang cut to the vests is superb!

One of the newer editions to the world of repro vintage menswear. They do short runs of classic ankle boots, Hollywood style long collared polo shorts and most recently wide legged flannel trousers. The cloth is quite nice for the trousers, the shirts are very 1920s and 1930s and a bit fitted for a pullover. The boots are exquisite.

Perhaps the oldest in the game and begun by my friend Annamarie von Firley in 1998. Revamp offers LA made wide trousers, vests with a lot of buttons and some of the more whimsical and rare looks from times gone by done in modern cloths often for a drape that allows a good swing for dancing.

Very post WWI and pre WWI looks for the person that likes to look disheveled while wondering the old manner. Formerly the Vintage Shirt Company, they spearheaded the English spearpoint collar resurgence and are a staple of any UK production working to make a period piece. Specialties include their high waisted trousers with a fishtail back and detachable collars. Always great for that period out of work writer look with a collar fang sticking up from lack of being pressed. Long tails and billowy fine cloth.

Very much the post WWII Noir look in style, the shoulders are wide as are the lapels, giving the wearer that "I'm big" look that was popular after fabric rationing ended. Very elegant wide ties and longer Amercian style Hollywood style spearpoint collar shirts. Lots of proper back details to the jackets and nice long points to the vests. 

Designer - Kazuki Kodaka

A leader in bringing back some very rare items like the siren suit for men as sported by Winston Churchill, and the first brand I've seen properly put out a 1930s cut and sewn necktie. AC has a genuine workwear for daily wear feel that is something that doesn't always go hand in glove, but for his wears, they are a build and styling that can be worn under the car or at the desk at the office and still carry their romance and mystery that we love of the past. Durable and classicly constructed. 

Very much more the workwear before fashion style of the turn of the 1800s to the 1900s. Sack cut jackets and high waisted trousers made for movement with no padding in the shoulders; when worn with a necktie, you'll look like you're leaving for that vintage factory job and you'll be coming back in about 9 hours covered in soot. Love it!

I'll grow the list, but these are the first that come to mind. Check out the pages by clicking on the names of the shops.

Do it yourself, do it in style.