Tuesday, January 27, 2009

What's So Great About a 1940's Suit?

It's all in the details - details you won't find in suits off the rack today. But in the 1940's, a woman could walk into any fine department store or boutique and find styles like this. And she could have the suit altered to fit by the in-store staff!

Click on the picture above to get a larger view and take a look at the details of this red suit made of Miron red wool gabardine. It's got a double collar rather than a simple lapel. The hip pockets have extra room built in, not only for your hands, but to accentuate the waist appear tiny. Not only is the waist shaped by the side seam, but 4 darts disappear into the huge pocket. That's 8 darts total on the front and there are probably at least 4 on the back. Now, go take a look at your favorite suit jacket. How many darts did you find? Probably 4 at the most.

You'll find two-tone effects in many suits from the 40's. This one takes the darker color of the skirt and uses it for contrasting trim at the collar, sleeve cuffs, pockets, and buttons on the jacket. Have you ever seen a fabric covered button that uses not one, but two fabrics?

1940's suits often have unusual pocket treatments. This one has a pretty curved flap accented with a button. Does your modern suit jacket even have pockets?

Why don't modern suits have great details like these? Money. It takes skilled seamstresses much more time to sew this intricately. It also takes more fabric to make a suit fit well with darts, to add contrasting trims, and to add interesting details. A suit like this would be cost prohibitive to the average woman today. But these wonderful suits from the 1940's were made so well, many still survive today. So, yes, you can still get high quality at a great price. Wear vintage!