Friday, February 10, 2012

Do You Wear Vintage Suits?


This photo caused quite a sensation over on my Facebook fan page earlier this week.  It seems everyone adores this suit by Jean Patou from Spring 1951.  It's beige silk shantung embroidered with little black bows and worn with a matching black silk skirt.

Don't get me wrong.  I love this suit too.  But sales of suits have dropped out of site from my Couture Allure website.  I have to wonder why that is.  Maybe it's just that the suits I currently have in stock are not desirable, but I don't think so.

Do you wear suits?  Or do you think as a society we have become too casual and our daily lives no longer require a suit as part of our wardrobe?  If you do wear suits, have you ever purchased a vintage suit?  I'd love your input on this, as I'm really puzzled. 


27 comments:

K.Line said...

I would wear a vintage suit if it were in the right dimensions. I frequently find the one from the 50s are great in the bust, but too small in waist and hips. It's a proportion-change thing. I do have a variety of vintage blazers that I wear all the time.

Laurence said...

I really love vintage suits but you must wear them with the good accessories in order to be like a 50's model and not an outdated secretary... perhaps a lot of girls don't know how a strict suit can look with fancy gloves and a large hat...
I own myself about 20 vintage suits from the 0's-50's. I think it's also quite hard to find the good size for a perfect fit. You can buy a summer 50's full dress easily, just the bust and the waist must fit but for a suit you have to check : waist, shouders, arms, bust and mainly hips... it's often too small at hips...
That's what I think...

http://lostin1950.blogspot.com/

Sheila said...

I think that a suit as a piece of one's wardrobe has dropped out of favour, unless it's a business-type of suit worn for a job interview. Most people's lives don't require the wearing of something that formal anymore, and a suit is perceived as being VERY dressy.

I adore the look of "day suits" but when I wear mine (I have several non-vintage ones) as a suit, versus wearing the pieces as separates, I get a lot of comments on how dressy I am. I think the suit has devolved into separates, with the actual suit being only worn for very rare occasions, sadly.

That is a fabulous suit...*sigh*

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

I agree Sheila, that most jobs just don't require a suit anymore. Doctors don't wear them. Lawyer still do. But they do give the appearance of being very formal attire nowadays.
K.Line and Laurence, keep in mind that most suits from the 60s on back were made with wide seam allowances and were expected to be altered to fit the wearer, either at the store where purchased or at home. Most suits from the 40s and 50s have very wide seam allowances in the skirt for this reason. I've seen them up to 2" wide, which allows for quite a bit of leeway.

Mayrozez said...

I think Sheila is right on the money. I have a gorgeous 1950s Hattie Carnegie suit that I actually bought to wear onstage, but with the idea that I would also wear it on my "day job." Well, that was back in October and I JUST rolled the jacket out with a contemporary, patterned, pencil skirt a couple of weeks ago and received a lot of complements -- as well as questions as to why I was so "dressed up" and "professional looking" that day. I would love to wear the whole ensemble some time, but am not sure on what occasion I could do that without feeling to costumey or just too formal. I have frequently lusted over the beautiful suits on your site, but end up deciding that they wouldn't get enough wear to warrant the investment. I do intend to spring for a nice dress and coat ensemble one of these days, though, as I think that might be more versatile. I'd hate to see the suits disappear....

Casey said...

I love the idea of a suit in theory, but my lifestyle just doesn't really have many opportunities where a suit would be appropriate. I get enough comments on a daily basis inquiring why I'm so "dressed up", that I realize a suit would cause even more of a stir! I think the only instances I could see myself wearing a suit would be if I worked in a super-professional environment (cooperate jobs I have held have called for business casual--no one, even the execs wore suits) or to a funeral. That being said, I would still like to add a nice 50s or 40s suit into my wardrobe. I love the silhouettes and details from those decades, just finding the right fit is a bit of a trick (too often they are too tight across the hip for me, with not enough seam allowance to let out! Or the bust is far too large and too much hassle for me to have altered.). Still, one day I hope to own one and find excuses to wear it! :)

Renata said...

Even though I don't need to dress so formal, I really like to, and would certainly wear a suit if I had one. I never bought a vintage suit because I'd rather make my own - I am so picky about fitting, and I know a suit is one of the most difficult to fit clothes. I would, however, buy a sixties boxy suit, as its easier to find one that fits.

Zelle VS said...

I do, and I love wearing them. In fact even when I don't wear a vintage suit, I wear a classic one, and this makes it all timeless. I love also suits that go with pants, very much like in the early 80s

Mary said...

I love suits and would wear in a second if i had a smaller waist. I'm working on that! Your sales will go up once i have downsized as much as i want to... :)

Louise said...

I wear suits all the time- I have 3 kids and am a stay at home mum, so probably not the typical suit wearer.
I find them easy to wear- just put the suit on, some great shoes and jewelry and you are ready to go (in my case- to run after 3 small kids!). I know I am more dressed up than 90% of the population but since when is that a bad thing?

Susan said...

I love the look of a vintage suit but, as others have said, it's difficult to fit both top and bottom. I believe it's because they wore such killer undergarments that the bottom is a couple of sizes smaller. I too often wear the jacket with a modern skirt or pants, even jeans. There's rarely an occasion that's too casual for that combination. I always have to try clothing on so unfortunately don't purchase online unless I have the option to return at no cost. I don't trust my ability to measure correctly, plus I'm short-waisted so even garments of the correct size may not look right. Your things are just lovely and I look forward to reading your blog--it's my absolute fave. I've been collecting vintage for 30 years. I still get a thrill every time I wear a great piece, and of course whenever I acquire something wonderful.

Cindy said...

I love vintage suits. I especially love the Black Christian Dior suit you have for sale. I would love to purchase it but I am still paying for all the Christmas gifts I have bought. I have a couple vintage suits. Everyone is right, people do not wear suits like they used to. When I where my suits everyone is always staring at me but like Louise said: Since when is getting dressed up a bad thing? I love your blog, Thank you.

Erin said...

I love suits and would wear them to church, though not to work. My problem is that they are always too small in the waist.

Esz said...

I love suits! I only own one and I haven't worn it yet because it's summer here in Melbourne and far too hot. It's an amazing navy Lilli Ann suit with red and white accents.
My trouble with fitting is the opposite - if they fit in the waist, they rarely fit in the bust, mostly being too big there. I'm not sure if women from the 50's who were my size were corseted and thus had an even smaller waist, because I've not come across any suits that would fit me in the bust perfectly.
The Lilli Ann suit will need taking in just a fraction too. I sew myself but it's something I will leave for a tailor.
And I fully intend to wear it to work once the season is right. I don't care if I'm overdressed and people comment. Usually it's a positive thing and it inspires others to put more effort into their daily dress so I like being a catalyst for change. The more people willing to 'overdress', the sooner we will bring back standards in mainstream fashion. It's FAR too lax at the moment IMHO! ;-)

Lisette said...

I purchased a vintage suit, once, but I couldn't stand wearing it. It is definitely the modern part of me going, "Ugh, it's too old business lady, too covering up, too dressed up and just plain too stiff." I also find suits unflattering on me - a short neck is no friend to a collar, ever. I'd much rather wear a dress and jacket.

Midge said...

I love vintage suits and have some 40s & 50s ones plus a new one made from a 50s pattern The 40s and 50s are the age for suits IMHO. I have worn one to work when dark and more formal clothing was required for an event with clients and got loads of compliments. I have worn the others occasionally too to work or for other events. I love them and think they're all very attractive. It's just a matter of styling (even with modern accessories) to not look "old" in them. I have a new job which will require the occasional business outfit, and I intend to wear them for that, or also the jackets seprately with modern separates. I have done this for job interviews already and think the result was just right. Business-like enough, but "my" personal style and certainly chic!

Vintage Girl said...

We are too causal in dressing for sure. I recently went to a funeral where people were wearing jeans. Back in the 90's I wore suits to my job all the time. I think people are slowly returning to dressing up so a good suit or two would be important to own. Like the other comments, all my suits were altered due to a tight hip line.

Couture Allure Vintage Fashion said...

Thank you everyone for your thoughtful comments! I see a blog post coming about how to mix vintage suit jackets with modern separates.

Jill said...

I wear suits to work almost every day. I'd love to incorporate more vintage into my work wardrobe. The trouble is that I haven't really had much luck finding any vintage suits that fit or that are tailored and conservative enough for day to day office wear.

Anonymous said...

I adore vintage suits and own several from the '40s and '50s. They make me feel like a right proper lady when I wear them :)

~ Cerridwyn

Fashionista said...

I love the Jean Patou suit pictured, I would wear that to the races in a heartbeat (I can already see the hat/bag/gloves alternatives that I would wear with it). I wear a contemporary conservative suit most days to work, the exception being when it is really hot, then I have a few tailored dresses that get a showing. (I'm an accountant hence the conservative suits, you should see my shoes though....) But I have out-of-work suits that are at the extreme end of suit dressing (one is so extreme that I can barely move and I feel rather trussed up in it, but man, it looks good!) which I wear to the races, to smart lunches and "just because".

Long live the suit.....

Anonymous said...

I have, let me see, five vintage suits, and I wear them pretty regularly. I'm a librarian, so I don't need to dress up for work, but I like to look nice and suits are comfortable and pulled together. The only big issue I have with them is that I've never found a coat that works over those padded shoulders (particularly on the early 40s suits), so my wool suits are strictly for spring and fall, never winter.

I'm two modern dress sizes apart, top and bottom, and though lots of vintage suits don't fit me, modern ready-to-wear suits don't either! Sometimes you just have to make alterations, or give your local tailor a little business.

- EJ

Jackie said...

i have two fitting issues--1) I'm tall. This alone rules out a lot of vintage, but some pieces can be forgiving. Princess seams are great since I can alter the placement of the waist. Suits complicate things because the jackets are so structured, and alterations often are beyond my intermediate sewing skills and too costly at a tailor's. 2) Big hips. I'm 37-26-39. Tops will sort of fit (see above), but the matching skirts will be far too small.

Tara's blogs said...

I have 3 from the 1950s and all are different, despite all being neutrals (Navy, Gray, and Beige). I usually only wear them once a week for work, when I'm more engaged with the public and not at my desk, but it's nice not to wonder what to wear if you get up late! Just throw on a suit.

The sizing issue is difficult a lot of the time, but I still manage to find suits that will work. More often than not, they need to be taken in before I can wear them. But that's okay, because it's cheaper than buying a skirt suit off the rack; that's *if* I can find one that has a longer hem! (which is slim to none in most cases).

Although, I'd love a job that would require me to wear a suit everyday, or at least a few times a week!

Anonymous said...

I think there are several different reasons for the lack of interest for suits. As mentioned in many comments above there is always the problem with fit, since we are much bigger and taller today (in general), as well as that our proportions have changed (ie today we usually do not have the same big difference between chest and waist mmt as they had 50 years ago ). Then of course there is the question with today´s casualness. Most ppl just wear jeans and a top to work. If you have a "strict" job with a formal dress code, a vintage (usually colorful, or embellished) suit is considered too "costumey" and "alternative".
My own, personal reason for not wearing vintage suits is just this; I feel too "costumey". A vintage dress/blouse is easily made modern by wearing it with modern accessories, shoes or jacket. A suit is more of a complete outfit which makes it harder to give it a modern twist. I love vintage, but I dont want to look like I have timetravelled from the 50s to here, I want to look like a 2012 woman but with clothes of great cut and quality, no matter what decade they are from.
//Nicolina (Sweden)

Rachel said...

I have one vintage suit that has mostly sat in my closet. To be honest, though I would love to wear them in a business setting, I don't think they would come off as "professional," more "costume-y." It's not like in your personal time where you can wear whatever you want.

Rachel said...

oh but i forgot to mention, i will wear pieces of vintage suits... like the jacket worn or the skirt but not together. i find this is an easier way to make them work with modern wardrobes.

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