Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Extreme styles

I have been collecting reference materials for a number of years now and as I was organizing things the other day I stopped to leaf through some of these catalogues and books.
I try to photograph or photocopy the more fragile examples so I don't have to worry about them becoming more damaged and I thought I'd share some of the things here with you.
We often think of extreme fashions as being something limited to our own present time because we don't often see examples of earlier times.
I wonder what people thought of these possibilities that were available to order in this 1914 Bannerman Tailoring of Chicago catalogue.
Obviously someone used the book as ascrapbook and interestingly they seemed to paste over most of the really interesting fashion plates and left the basic looks untouched- co-incidence? Who knows, but you can see some of this look developing earlier and I think the "novelty" drafts in The Blue Book of Men's Tailoring shows evidence of this direction in fashion.
Enjoy and I'll post more later.


  1. These remind me of some of our modern pattern envelope offerings (Divine Details, anyone?). Clown pants also seem to be part of the regular fare being offered up as women's fashions.

  2. By any chance, are the long coats on the left bodycoats?
    This was the first thing I noted when I first got my copy of the Blue Book was the "single breasted frock" with a much more substantial and encompassing skirt than what we tend to think of when speaking of morning coats.
    I almost think of it as an entirely diiferent animal in the bodycoat family tree.


  3. No, they are sack coats. I'll have to look at my Blue Book to see what you are referring to

  4. Well, frock coats and morning coats to me are different garments- the frock coat having a full skirt- one that is seamed to the upper body right to the front edge and covers the legs in the front. It isn't cut-away or cut back.
    Although in the Blue book you do see the SB frock coat skirt being whittled away and cut back. SB frock coats were not thought well of prior to this and interestingly, there is not a draft for a morning coat so perhaps this is the beginning of that style development.
    If I remember correctly, in the "Climax System" book they say that it takes a brave man to wear a SB frock. Can't look at that book because it is in a box right now.

  5. It's true there isn't a draft for a morning coat in te Blue Book, although in the back novelty section there is a "one-button novelty frock" which does have the dramatic sweeping cutaway that comes to mind when we think of morning coats today.
    And then there's that....??? the frock coat section at the front, the "day" or "Business" or just simply SB frock that seems to be an odd half-way point between a frock proper with it's fully encompasiing skirts and the morning coat with it's prominent, decisive backwards sweep.
    The long skirts and slightly cut back fronts of these extreme sack coats brought the Thing to mind.


  6. Well, now that I look closely at the illustration, it is labelled as a single breasted ,or "morning frock"- maybe it is the genesis of the style and certainly the length and cut of the examples from 1914 are long enough to look almost like that!l

  7. If I have my time-frame right, the extreme peg-top trousers seem to prefigure oxford bags.

  8. Yes Oxford bags came later if that's what you mean and what a turn about in shape in a short period of time!

  9. That type of extremely full/baggy suit cut was apparently quite common (or rather fashionable) around 1910. I see this kind of cut in pictures from a number of different sources, but almost exclusively American ones.

  10. I don't think I have many other style sources in my cache of items to compare- It would be interesting though to research what the European or English fashions of the day were, just to compare.

  11. Just stumbled across this splendid example of the curious American SB, not-quite-a-morning-coat frock creature: The skirt is close in degree of cuttaway the skirts of the extreme sacks of 1914.



  12. I had a look at that link and I think there is another name for that coat style but I can't think of it off the top of my head...
    I'll have to find some time to browse the site as it could be a great resource.

  13. Oh I love 'Old Photos' for just that very purpose. The gallery (the one that the photo is from) "American Life 1900 to 1909" goes very well with my study of Croonborg as many of the styles from the BLue Book (including many of the uniform variations) can be seen there 'in the flesh' as it were.

    Let us know (Perhaps through a PM over at the C&T forums) if you find the name for that particular style of American body-coat, I'd like to expand my sartorial vocabulary.


    Ian Brackley