Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Vintage Suits - 1949

I don't think you can find anything more unique and more sexy than a vintage suit from the late 1940s through the 1950s. Suits from this era are fitted to the body, exquisitely tailored, and they always have unique design details. They were made with great attention to fine construction. You'll usually find bound buttonholes, high quality fabrics, interfacings and linings, and wide seam allowances to allow for individual alterations.

Just look at the Paul Parnes suit from 1949 shown above. It closes with buckles instead of buttons, the white lapel and cuffs are probably removable for a different look, and the pockets and peplum are top-stitched. This suit sold for $125.00 in 1949 (about $1155.oo in today's dollar).

The fact is, a suit from the 1940s or 50s will always be of higher quality than anything you can buy today, unless you're shopping couture. That makes a vintage suit a fabulous bargain as well.

The suit above, by Philip Mangone for Bonwit Teller has bands of ruching at the lapels, cuffs, and at the hem edges of the jacket and skirt. Mangone was one of the premier suit makers at the time, and his suits are highly sought after today.

In the 1940s and 50s, most women had at least one suit in their closet to wear to meetings, to dinner, to go shopping in the city, for travel, or to wear to appointments with professionals such as doctors, attorneys, or teachers. Because suits were so well made, a woman could expect one to last for years.

This suit by Zuckerman and Kraus has three rows of buttons at the front. It's the center row of buttons that is used to close the suit. The rounded pocket edges mimic the hem of the jacket.

One suit to last for years? Yes, that was the expectation and the norm. A bride would usually purchase a good suit as part of her trousseau. She would wear it as her going-away outfit, and then continue to wear it for years to come. Women changed the look by changing their accessories, just as we do today, but they had the added options of hats and gloves in addition to handbags, jewelry, scarves, and coats.

Another beauty by Philip Mangone. Here the plaid lapels stand out against black wool. The pockets are decorated with plaid cording and the suit came with a matching plaid coat. The set sold for $395.00 in 1949 (about $3646.00 in today's dollar).

Why not try a vintage suit on for style? I know you'll be glad you did! We've got a great selection for you at Couture Allure.

This Cymonette Original suit was available in black, navy, or pale gray wool. Lines of trapunto accent the shoulders and the pocket edges have the same shape. Sold for $60.00 in 1949 (about $554.00 in today's dollar).

Photo #1 by Harold Halma, #2 by Radkai. All 5 photos are from advertisements in a 1949 magazine.


Deja Pseu said...

Those are all so gorgeous!!

Back in the late 70's I purchased at a thrift/vintage store what I now believe to be a jacket from a late 40's or 50's suit. It was a gorgeous piece in lightweight grey wool crepe, fit me like a glove, and I wore it for several years until moths got the better of it. I'm on the lookout for something similar.

puddin said...

Aha!! Love the 3 rowed button one!

Nancy said...

Oh the things I would do for one of these suits. Any suggestions on where to find a vintage suit? I haven't seen many in the online vintage shops. Would estate sales be your best bet?

Nancy said...

Sorry, I meant to say do you know where to get any of these in a smaller size? I don't see many smaller sized suits in the vintage online shops. The smallest I've seen in a long time was a 36 bust. Some of us haven't been blessed with certain assets and need a 32.

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

Nancy, is your waist tiny too? I usually don't buy suits in tiny sizes because they are so hard to sell, but I'll be happy to keep my eyes open for you. Email me!

Leaking Moonlight said...

I altered to fit my mother's suit skirts from the 1940s to wear for work when I was a newly minted college grad.

They were seriously well made: hand-sewn seam binding, bound button holes, hand-picked zippers, generous hems and seam allowances, and lining everywhere. They also required dry cleaning, expert pressing, proper suit and skirt hangers, airing after wearing, and fine mending skills.

It does make me happy to remember wearing my mother's clothes.

Gladys said...

These are to die for.

I had one that was a blue pin-stripe. Oh how I wish I still had a 23" waist because I would so wear it in the winter.

I had an older lady teach me how to "sponge" my suits so that I could go longer between dry cleaning.

Love this post.

reformedcynic said...

I 100% agree! Unless you are having an items custom-made for you or are purchasing couture, vintage is the way to go..

@Gladys, how would you sponge a suite to prolong wearings?

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