Category Archives: Mainly for men Vintage

A revolution in shirt design, 1960s men’s fashion.

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Re-imagining the Shirt in the 1960s.
Men’s shirts through history have been fairly functional. They would keep a chap warm and well covered up, and particularly throughout the nineteenth century they would have been fairly voluminous with a wide straight cut, maybe with a generous shirt tail to tuck in to trousers, sometimes with detachable starched collars and cuffs. The collarless shirt, sometimes made of wool flannel, would be worn mainly by manual workers, a white or pale coloured shirt would be worn by office workers.
In the 1950s and into the 1960s, Rael-Brook was one of Britain’s largest manufacturers of men’s shirts. Their advertisements, featuring dancing shirts, were shown on the television, accompanied by the catchy musical jingo, ”Rael-Brook, Rael-Brook, the shirt for men”. Real-Brook introduced subtle stripes and soft colours, including primrose and pink to their range, to attract younger men to buy their products. In the early years of the 60s, millions of white shirts were imported from Hong Kong to Great Britain, but the younger market demanded something different. Arrow and Tootal were popular brands with the younger buyers, offering new and brighter patterns, with an emphasis on a new slimmer silhouette and innovations to the collar. Tab collars and button down collars became popular, as did pointed collars and rounded collars.
In 1963, Ben Sherman brand was born. Ben Sherman (neé Sugarman) came from the USA and started up a company making an iconic 1960s shirt. It was immediately adopted by the Mods of 1963, and later by Two-Tone and Ska followers. Like an Italian profile, the Ben Sherman shirt was a very slim fit with a square cut hem ( no bulky shirt tail!), it had a box pleat at the back, a back button and button down collar. It came in many colours and patterns. The Ben Sherman shirt was the epitome of mod fashion for British men.
In the USA, Arnold Palmer, probably the best known and best loved golfers of the 1960s, won the US Open in 1960, and created his own brand, Arnold Palmer Enterprises, a year later. From those early years, shirts were part of the Arnold Palmer range, and bore both his name and his own logo, a golfing umbrella. The Arnold Palmer shirt of the 1960s comes in a variety of colours and patterns, plains and abstract, has a sharp collar, is a slim cut, and reflects the tastes of young American Pop Culture.
Colour and pattern remained a feature of men’s shirts throughout the 1960s and into the 70s, when collars and cuffs became more exaggerated, sometimes with the addition of frills. 1960s shirt fashions remain infinitely sharp and wearable, making them highly sought after pieces of vintage clothing.

Ford Wales Amateur Golf Tournament 1982, Red Blazer.

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Sometimes a piece of clothing just grabs my attention and I like to find out a bit more about its provenance. And so it was with a bright red blazer that came in to my possession just last week.
It has an interesting pocket badge, embroidered with metal thread lettering, reading “Ford Wales Amateur Golf Tournament 1982, Home Internationals”, clearly a team blazer and of interest to Amateur Golfers and anyone interested in the history of Ford Motors. In 1982, Ford would have been in production at Bridgend, South Wales, I believe it was producing engines or engine parts, possibly for the Ford Focus. I find it interesting that even in the 1980s, the company would have supported its workers recreational pursuits, such as here, Golf. My understanding is that the Home Internationals, Wales, Ireland, Scotland and England, had their own knock out leagues, and that Ford’s sponsorship included Small prizes for the regional tournaments, and presumably a larger prize for the final, which I understand would have been played on one of the more prestigious courses. Although I have not been able to unearth any further information, it is enough to capture my imagination, and has made me think how a piece of clothing can archive social and regional history.

 

 

 

 

Vintage Classic hats for men

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Vintage classics, the gentleman’s hat.

Historically, hats were always an essential element of any man’s wardrobe. Worn to denote occupation, worn to denote class, to keep the elements at bay, to protect the wearer from missiles and blows, and to make a statement about culture, taste and style….hats were worn with pride and with dignity. In the liberal 1960s and 70s, men’s wear in general became more casual and individualised, and the classic hats of former eras fell from grace, or were worn for more limited occasions as a part of formal dress.
With the renewed interest in styles of the past, lovers of vintage, watchers of costume dramas etc., have discovered a new love of classic hats, and their many forms. A man can create a particular vintage look more effectively by including a hat in his ensemble. There are many styles to choose from, but I am particularly fond of those classic styles that can be worn by Everyman, looking stylish without looking as if in fancy dress!

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The British Bowler.
I love the bowler hat, as it is quintessentially British in origin and in nature. I always associate the bowler hat with suave Patrick MacNee…Steed in The Avengers (1960s). He was the epitome of London cool sophistication in his sharp suit, with rolled umbrella and bowler hat. The bowler is a classic, created by the eponymous Bowler Brothers, William and Thomas. They were commissioned by the 19th century hat retailer Lock & Co. To create a sturdy low crowned hat for their aristocratic client Mr.Edward Coke. This was in the mid 1800s, and for the next 100 years it was a popular style with city gents and politicians. In general, the bowler hat is no longer worn by the man in the street but is still a popular choice for high society occasions. For an authentic look, the bowler should be worn with a classic suit or with a well cut overcoat, smart shoes and gloves.

The Trilby and the Fedora
These classic styles are similar, and are perhaps the most commonly worn and popular of hats, particularly in the first half of the 20th century. They were both invented in the early 1890s.
Generally made from wool felt, the Trilby has a narrow brim and an indented crown, and is usually tightly turned up at the back ( and less so at the sides). The Fedora has a wider brim, and also has an indented or pinched crown. Both usually have a hat band, often of ribbon, and may either be stiffened or soft. Right up to the 1960s these were everyman’s hats, but the Fedora in particular is associated with glamour….often worn by film stars of the era….and by gangsters!
The Trilby and the Fedora are having a revival, and in my shop there is always a lot of interest in both styles. For a touch of glamour, 1930s to 1960s style…..wear with a classic trench coat ( incidentally, it’s a style that looks great on men and equally good on women!)

The Panama and the Boater
The Panama hat and the Boater are both men’s lightweight Summer hats, originating in the 1800s. The Boater is a flat crowned, stiff brimmed straw hat, with a ribbon band, often worn by tradesmen, barbers shop quartets, and particularly by butchers. It is also the classic hat for wearing when messing about on the river…..punting or rowing. Wear it with a good striped blazer and white bags for an authentic vintage look.
The Panama hat is finely woven from palm fronds and is as flexible as the Boater is rigid. The Panama usually has a pleated or dimpled crown and a ribbon band. It is an elegant hat popularised in the movies and beloved of both screen stars and public notables. Wear it best with a lightweight linen suit.

Of course, there are many other styles of classic hats to explore and enjoy, and it’s good to see men using these vintage styles to add a touch of individualism to their outfits.
N.B. The archive Photographs of Patrick MacNee and of Maurice Chevalier are not my ©

Classic vintage menswear, the Overcoat, Aquascutum.

 

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The name Aquascutum is synonymous with quality tailoring, with elegance and tradition.
The company was set up by John Emary in 1851, the same year as the Great Exhibition at Crystal Palace, and started as a tailors shop in London’s Mayfair. Emary took out a patent on the first water resistant fabric, and the name Aquascutum, it’s brand name, is Latin for water shield.
Aquascutum moved premises in 1895, to Regent Street, and in 1897 received its first Royal Warrant, from the Prince of Wales. Thereafter, Aquascutum enjoyed the long and prestigious patronage of the British Royal Family, receiving six Royal Warrants in total, the last in 1952 from Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.
During the Crimean war and in both World Wars, Aquascutum Made military trench coats, and was respected for both its military as well as its civil tailoring. Throughout its long history, Aquascutum dressed royalty, the military, stars of stage and screen, politicians, Everest climbers and even the 1996 British Olympic team.
Producing high quality men’s and women’s tailored coats, suits and uniforms, Aquascutum has a long history of innovation, fabric innovation and brand development that has earned it a particular place in British fashion and social history. Aquascutum was sold to YGM Holdings, a Chinese Company in 2012 after floundering in the early part of the 21st century.
During the 1940s 50s and 60s, a well dressed man would complete his outfit with a good quality woollen overcoat. This would be a capacious garment, cut to fit over the jacket of a suit. It was generally a well tailored garment and ideally would be made to measure, although “off the peg” became more commonplace, with gents outfitters able to make alterations where needed to a ready made garment. Overcoats from the first half of the twentieth century often have weatherproof finishes, satin or silk linings, and generous pockets. They may be double breasted, echoing the style of the war time trench coat, or single breasted, which generally sits better over a suit. They may have set in sleeves or raglan sleeves. Fabrics would usually be thick and dense wool weaves, in tweeds, checks or plaids, with colours and styles suitable for both town and country.
Buying a vintage overcoat is a great investment, as a quality new overcoat bought from a tailor today will set you back the upwards side of £600, whilst a good vintage coat may be picked up for under £200. Check the label, as it will give you information about the maker and the fabric composition. Some labels will instantly indicate a high quality garment, e.g Aquascutum, Gieves & Hawkes, Jaeger, Mackintosh, Austin Reed. Other labels may offer a local connection, e.g.made for a particular gentleman’s outfitter in a certain town.
Make a note of your own measurements, and compare them with the vintage item. The overcoat is designed to wear over a jacket, so it will be quite roomy. You may need to add a few inches to your own chest measurement for ease. Check both the sleeve length and the width across the shoulders. Nape of neck to hem will give you the length, which may be well below the knee, just below the knee, or a ¾ “car coat” length, which can be worn quite casually. The width from armpit to armpit , when doubled, gives you the chest measurement plus an allowance for ease of wear over your other clothes. Look at the overall condition of the coat. In particular, look for signs of wear at the cuffs, and pocket tops, which can become thin, check inside pocket linings for any tears or rips, and the lining, particularly under the arms and along the back seam, as this is where you will seem most signs of wear and tear. Any small defects can be repaired, such as missing stitching on a lining seam, or an odd missing button. If you are buying on-line, don’t be reluctant to ask for extra measurements or details from the seller. If you are a careful buyer, you will be able to add a high quality coat to your wardrobe, and will be able to wear it proudly for many years to come.

Please note the Aquascutum illustration and 1950s advert are not my own ©️

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How to wear a bow tie

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The bow tie speaks volumes about a man’s personal style. Some people find the bow tie alarming or confrontational, but regular bow tie wearers find it a liberating and expressive vehicle for adding a unique accent to an outfit.

The history of the bow tie traces it back to the seventeenth century, in the form of a development of the cravat, along with the knotted necktie, the “four hander” “Half Windsor knot” and “Windsor knot”. The bow tie, traditionally, is hand tied. There are various ways of creating the bow, and a simple way is shown in the above diagram, from the McClatchy Tribune. At Coolclobber we stock a selection of vintage bow ties and the most common self tie examples we stock include white waffle cotton, for formal occasions, and classic silk, in plain or in traditional patterns, often paisley.

There are two types of clip on bow ties, both available at Coolclobber. What you need depends on the occasion and on what type of shirt collar you are wearing.  For a formal occasion, and when wearing a wing collar, you should either tie your own tie, or wear a clip on with a collar band. These ties can be simply adjusted to your shirt collar size ( there are often size markings on the inside of the band). The tie is ready tied and sewn on to one end of the band and there’s is a simple clip behind the bow that is hidden in wear. The bow sits just beneath the wing collar and the band is visible all round your shirt collar band. These ties are very popular and easy to wear and are made in silk, rayon, polyester and other man made fabrics.  A variation, that works equally well with a standard shirt collar, has a narrow elastic adjustable back.

In the gallery photos, I have three examples of my favourite style of everyday bow tie, the patent butterfly clip on. These ties are worn with a standard shirt collar. As you can see, in wear the clip lies flat behind the bow. To use, flip the tie forward, revealing the clips in an open position. Slide one side of your shirt collar inside one side of the clip, press the front closed, repeat with the other side. The bow now lies flat and securein front of the shirt collar. These are so easy to use and always look smart. The examples above are from the 1940s and 1950s, and are good examples of popular fabrics. The brown tie is also wired in the front to keep its distinctive shape.

A vintage bow tie is an inexpensive and stylish way to add a touch of individualism to an outfit, adding a touch of distinction. A bow tie undoubtedly gets you noticed!

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The string vest, retro men’s underwear.

 

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I believe that the string vest was first brought into being in the mid 1930s by a Norwegian army officer, Henrik Brun.  It was designed on the principal that it’s string net structure would trap heat in winter and allow the body to breathe in summer. String underwear was marketed for its athletic and health benefits and had its heyday perhaps in the 1950s. I certainly associate it with “kitchen sink dramas”, brooding young men in cinematic poses, and the memory of these iconic garments drying on a clothes horse in front of an open fire in our 1950s family home! Although it’s popularity dwindled at the end of the 1960s  and died a death in the 1970s, we can still summon the vision of famous string vest wearer Rab C Nesbitt (played by the talented Gregor Fisher)  in the 1980s!

Here is some authentic 1950s string underwear from the shop….perfect for costume purposes, AmDram, dressing up etc. Note the title “Tarzan”. Johnny Weissmuller played Tarzan in films popular through from the 1930s and 40s to the 1950s when they were often screened in afternoon matinées in British cinemas.

(The Strutts Health Vest  cotton ad is period marketing and I am unable to credit the photographer.)

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New year, new stock, leather wallets with pre-decimal markings.

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We have a great selection of pre-decimal leather wallets in stock.

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Vintage gentlemen’s accessories.

Black leather wallet.
Soft black leather organiser wallet.
Men's accessories
Boxed set of silver and gold toned cufflinks and tie bar.
Men's accessories
Vintage Two Tix men’s grooming kit. Bakelite, chrome and steel mirror included.
Vintage men's accessories
Vintage cigarette case. Chrome Emu brand with metal spring stays.

Vintage accessories at Coolclobber are always popular, and are divided into two sections, women’s accessories and men’s accessories.  The men’s section has a range of vintage wallets, hats, ties, braces, cufflinks, shoes and other items of interest, including some amazing grooming sets dating from the 1940s through to the 1970s.

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Click on the link above to visit Coolclobber shop and see the whole range of Vintage clothes, accessories and other items available.

 

What to wear this Winter…man in an overcoat

Silicone treated overcoat
Genuine Macintosh Weathercoat
Fabric detail
Close up of Tweed wool fabric
Coat collar
Collar detail
Secret pocket
Inside pocket, accessible through the back of the front pocket
Coat details
Genuine Macintosh Weathercoat details
Concealed buttons
Overcoat details, Tweed overcoat with concealed button front

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The stylish man….

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Coolclobber shop has a men’s department! Well, it has several sections devoted to men’s vintage clothing and accessories. Traditional men’s dressing gowns and pyjamas are always popular, as are hats and wallets. And, for the discerning traveller….what better than a shaving/grooming kit all zipped up in a leather case!

I always have favourite items. At the moment, one of my favourites is an immaculate silk lined British Bowler hat. Think Steed in the Avengers and there you have it….animal magnetism and elegance under one hat!

Featured here…..gorgeous brown leather wallet (un-used) with pre-decimal markings. Tootal 50s/60s Tricel dressing gown, traditional Paisley cotton pyjamas, neat and compact shaving/grooming kit in amazing condition….and hats…..Harris tweed countrymans hat, Jackaru black leather bushmans hat, Kangol street style black felt cap, beautiful British Bowler, traditional cloth cap……..

Vintage menswear and accessories
Vintage for the elegant gent.
A hat for every occasion

What is Tricel?

The British company Courtaulds, developed Tricel in the 1950s. A cellulose acetate spun fibre, it was a popular substitute for silk.  Tricel is a trademarked name owned by Courtaulds and British Celanese. Among its many qualities, it was easy to wash, retained its shape and retained its colour.  Acetate fibres are still used in garment construction, mainly for clothes linings. Tricel itself was superseded in the 1960s by Polyester, which has numerous extra properties and  can be crease resistant. The Tricel dressing gown by Tootal, shown above, is a great example . The colours have not faded and the fabric feels and handles like Medium weight silk.

What is felt?

Felt is a non-woven fabric created by wetting and aggitating natural fibres, like wool or fur, until they merge together, forming a mat.  Felt is a popular fabric for use by hatters and milliners as it can be cut without fraying, and can be steamed and shaped over blocks to form permanent shapes. Felt can be made in various thicknesses and densities, and left soft or treated to become stiff.  The classic British Bowler and the Kangol street cap are great examples of men’s felt hats.

What’s so special about Harris Tweed?

Every length of Harris Tweed, every garment made from Harris Tweed, has its origins in the Outer Hebrides . Harris Tweed is made from pure virgin wool, spun and dyed in the Outer Hebrides and woven by individual weavers , often crofters who live off the land and weave at home.  Harris Tweed is protected by its own Act of Parliament, and always carries the Orb logo that distinguishes it as unique to the Outer Hebrides. Weavers have developed their own colour blends and the fabric is much sought after for both traditional suiting and by contemporary designers.  Harris Tweed is special . It is hand woven by individual artisans. It is only produced in one place and is both beautiful and hardwearing.

If you find a Harris Tweed jacket or hat….treasure it!

Pre-decimal markings?

The first decimal coins were introduced to the British population in 1968. The five new pence and ten new pence coins, the equivalent of    a shilling and a florin, were used alongside the old coins, as the old coins were phased out. Other coins followed, and in February 1971 Britain was fully decimal.  In the old coinage there were twelve pence to a shilling and twenty shillings to a pound.  Old money was £sd, £ or pound after a pound weight of silver, s or shilling and d for pence, after the Roman coin the denarius. If you hunt, you can still find items like the 60s vintage leather wallet shown above, marked with pre-decimal markings.