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Evelyn Waugh BEAU BRUMMELLS on £60 A YEAR. - Page 3

post #31 of 55
It's difficult to translate cost across decades (though I acknowledge the effort some respondents have made in trying) because patterns of consumption have changed so much. But the underlying point is that many people would dress better if they focus on dressing in a more systematic way. Consumption patterns has moved from a farming/harvesting model to a hunter-gatherer model. In Waugh's time, it made sense to invest time in an ongoing relationship with a set of tailors, whereas today it's much easier for the average undiscerning person to go to their local department store and grab whatever they want off the rack. This may not apply to SF readers, but is an important change in the mindset of the average consumer. I suspect these changing patterns are what actually prompted the need for the article in the first place, as the change began in earnest around the 30s. On another note, I agree with Sator that Style can find expression through Fashion, with the concept of permanent style being fairly illusory. I wrote about this recently, suggesting that it would be worthwhile to conceptualise Style, Elegance, and Dressing Well as independent but potentially co-existing variables, with relative expression dependent on how an individual chooses to dress. If style is defined as a clearly expressed mode of dressing, it most definitely can be found in fashion. However, I would disagree with his implied suggestion that it is best expressed in fashion. Perhaps I am incorrectly inferring that from his post, though.
post #32 of 55
Fascinating. Thanks for taking the time to transcribe and post this. Regardless of percentage of income, the fact that custom tailored clothing was even a consideration in most men's budgets at the time is interesting. Since off-the-peg was not really available yet, guys had to put some thought and planning into their clothing purchases. Also, spending a relatively larger percentage of one's income on clothing might not have been as shocking as it seems today given all the other stuff we are used to spending money on. (phones, computers, watches, tv, cars, etc). Some visual reference. I like Waugh's style. Note the Fat Cat cigars. Looks like he got the well-dressed and "millionaire" looks down.
post #33 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Parker View Post
Some visual reference. I like Waugh's style.

Indeed. Two very contrasting takes on lapel size/width, too. Both suits are daringly bold in their own ways, despite being in conservative fabrics. It would be interesting to know when each was taken.
post #34 of 55
Very good thread.

RTW was widely available in the 20s.

The "mis-fits" were/are also known in the trade as "pigs". I can recall 20 years ago seeing people like G and H with a long "uncollected bespoke" rail in their sale. That seems to have largely stopped. Either because customers are persuaded the pig is OK, or maybe they all go straight to EBay or vintage dealers?

Bear in mind that the typical man in the 20s owned few clothes. But he wore them to destruction.

Waugh is right on DB vests.
post #35 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geezer View Post
The "mis-fits" were/are also known in the trade as "pigs". I can recall 20 years ago seeing people like G and H with a long "uncollected bespoke" rail in their sale. That seems to have largely stopped. Either because customers are persuaded the pig is OK, or maybe they all go straight to EBay or vintage dealers?

I suspect it may also be that the tailors don't want too many new customers asking too many questions as to just why there's such a long rack of "uncollected" items. Better for the image to dispose of them through other means, as you suggest, I'd have thought.
post #36 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdfast View Post
I suspect it may also be that the tailors don't want too many new customers asking too many questions as to just why there's such a long rack of "uncollected" items. Better for the image to dispose of them through other means, as you suggest, I'd have thought.

I'm sure you are right. I liked the use of the word "uncollected" - implying the customer died or never came back - rather than "rejected".
post #37 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Holdfast View Post
Indeed. Two very contrasting takes on lapel size/width, too. Both suits are daringly bold in their own ways, despite being in conservative fabrics. It would be interesting to know when each was taken.

I particularly like the lapels on the chalk-stripe waistcoat. Very handsome. I am not a Waugh expert but I would be inclined to guess that the pictures were taken some time in the early 1930s, if the dating of the picture in his Wikipedia entry is correct.

Here's another, taken I assume in the 1920s:



Note the contrasting (probably dove-grey) double-breasted waistcoat. I also rather like the tie pin.
post #38 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Geezer View Post
Very good thread.

Bear in mind that the typical man in the 20s owned few clothes. But he wore them to destruction.


I'd be interested in knowing how many well-dressed men in 1929 managed on such a meager diet as Waugh lays out. One pair of shoes a year? Two suits? One overcoat every three years? If I could only buy one pair of shoes a year, I think I'd start to feel a little shabby no matter how well made the shoes. I wonder if dressing well in 1929 was widely practiced (amongst the class of people who dressed like Waugh) in such a thoroughly practical way, or if Waugh's advice really was targeted at the unfortunate few who couldn't afford the clothes they longed to wear.

In some ways the article suggests that dressing for Waugh and his peers was a much easier affair than it is now. One set of well-tailored evening clothes every three years and you were set. Waugh's modern-day equivalent would seem to need a much larger wardrobe because the distinctions between what's appropriate for any given social situation (amongst those who put some thought into these things) have become so much more fine grained. An evening out at a bar with friends vs. dinner at the latest trendy restaurant vs. doing the shopping vs. taking the kids to the museum, etc. In Waugh's time, would the same one suit have adequately covered all occasions without in any way drawing attention to itself for its utter inappropriateness? Or would there have been those who would have felt inappropriately dressed if they stretched the use of one well-fitted suit to cover so many of the different daily activities in which they might find themselves engaged? Would the truly well-dressed man have felt that lunch at the Savoy called for something significantly different from a drink with friends at the club?
post #39 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennyfeather View Post
I wonder if ... Waugh's advice really was targeted at the unfortunate few who couldn't afford the clothes they longed to wear.

In Waugh's time, would the same one suit have adequately covered all occasions without in any way drawing attention to itself for its utter inappropriateness? Or would there have been those who would have felt inappropriately dressed if they stretched the use of one well-fitted suit to cover so many of the different daily activities in which they might find themselves engaged?

Waugh's advice is definitely not aimed at the rich upper class of English society, who made it hard for the average man to copy them by changing clothes up to seven times a day. The only way you could keep up was by having a valet - Edward VII could not travel with less than two. The upper class definitely did invent more and more artificial rules about what was appropriate for every little occasion and time of day, just to make it harder for the socially ascending middle class "cad" to keep up with them.
post #40 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennyfeather View Post
I'd be interested in knowing how many well-dressed men in 1929 managed on such a meager diet as Waugh lays out. One pair of shoes a year? Two suits? One overcoat every three years? If I could only buy one pair of shoes a year, I think I'd start to feel a little shabby no matter how well made the shoes. (edit)

Waugh's modern-day equivalent would seem to need a much larger wardrobe because the distinctions between what's appropriate for any given social situation (amongst those who put some thought into these things) have become so much more fine grained. (edit)


I'd tend to think that, if anything, there are fewer different dress codes today than there were 80 years ago. Formal wear is a relic for all but an extremely small group of people and if you have a few suits, an odd jacket or two and some casual clothes, you can dress appropriately for pretty much any situation.

Also, Waugh's list of purchases doesn't seem very austere to me at all. 2 suits a year, if you keep your suits for 5 years (many will last much longer), will leave you with a 10-suit rotation. The same reasoning applies to shoes and everything else. You could even cut out the formal wear and get some designer pieces for going out instead. I think someone today could loosely base their purchases on his guidelines and have a great wardrobe.
post #41 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyLaw View Post
I'd tend to think that, if anything, there are fewer different dress codes today than there were 80 years ago. Formal wear is a relic for all but an extremely small group of people and if you have a few suits, an odd jacket or two and some casual clothes, you can dress appropriately for pretty much any situation.

I agree with you about there being less degrees of formality in modern life. But I've lately found myself struggling with my collection of "some casual clothes". More and more I find that in order to hit just the right note at any given casual occasion requires more and more casual clothing options. Naked and Famous selvedge jeans for the Saturday-night get together at the new trendy bistro down the street? Or maybe I should take it up a notch and wow them with my Walt slim fit Epaulet flannels in pewter tweed. Or will that push me over the thin line that divides the casually well-dressed, bistro-going man from the total prat? Two weeks ago I was at a downtown cocktail party attended largely by University academics and their friends. To not have been in a slim-fitting, Mad-Men inspired suit would have been embarrassing (needless to say -- dressed according to my wife like a weird cross between Ted Baxter and Mrs. Miniver -- I felt embarrassed). Last week I was at a neighbor's birthday party. He's a fund manager. To not have been in a pair of well-fitting, expensive jeans would have been embarrassing. Loafers didn't quite cut it. Sneakers only for the sad sack, no hopers. Damn, I should have bought the C+J Brecons when I had the chance...

Quote:
Originally Posted by JohnnyLaw View Post
Also, Waugh's list of purchases doesn't seem very austere to me at all. 2 suits a year, if you keep your suits for 5 years (many will last much longer), will leave you with a 10-suit rotation. The same reasoning applies to shoes and everything else. You could even cut out the formal wear and get some designer pieces for going out instead. I think someone today could loosely base their purchases on his guidelines and have a great wardrobe.

You could be right (although a quick perusal of A Suitable Wardrobe could, to the untutored eye, suggest otherwise). But I'd definitely need to front-end load some of my purchases in the first year. Am I really supposed to walk the dog in my cordovan oxfords? Surely dog walking screams out for something a little more country brogueish (perhaps with a danite sole and full storm welt)?
post #42 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennyfeather View Post
I agree with you about there being less degrees of formality in modern life. But I've lately found myself struggling with my collection of "some casual clothes". More and more I find that in order to hit just the right note at any given casual occasion requires more and more casual clothing options. Naked and Famous selvedge jeans for the Saturday-night get together at the new trendy bistro down the street? Or maybe I should take it up a notch and wow them with my Walt slim fit Epaulet flannels in pewter tweed. Or will that push me over the thin line that divides the casually well-dressed, bistro-going man from the total prat? Two weeks ago I was at a downtown cocktail party attended largely by University academics and their friends. To not have been in a slim-fitting, Mad-Men inspired suit would have been embarrassing (needless to say -- dressed according to my wife like a weird cross between Ted Baxter and Mrs. Miniver -- I felt embarrassed). Last week I was at a neighbor's birthday party. He's a fund manager. To not have been in a pair of well-fitting, expensive jeans would have been embarrassing. Loafers didn't quite cut it. Sneakers only for the sad sack, no hopers. Damn, I should have bought the C+J Brecons when I had the chance...

This modern outlook is somewhat removed from Waugh's time and the experience of the ordinary man in the '30s, '40s or '50s. I think it's fair to say that choices were narrower and "fashion" was more about cut and colour fads than about items like jeans by [add disgustingly-priced clever-sounding brand name here].
My own grandfather had a tight wardrobe of functional suits and odd-clothes that served his needs and probably fitted into his position in society in many ways.

I'm interested in classic style, so I don't worry too much about who makes the jeans (if I wear them), but how good they fit at a reasonable price. You're making a mistake if you dress solely for other people's impressions, you should be dressing according to what works for you, and that has to involve building a few trusted and limited models. This is what Waugh's era did.
post #43 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennyfeather View Post
I agree with you about there being less degrees of formality in modern life. But I've lately found myself struggling with my collection of "some casual clothes". More and more I find that in order to hit just the right note at any given casual occasion requires more and more casual clothing options. Naked and Famous selvedge jeans for the Saturday-night get together at the new trendy bistro down the street? Or maybe I should take it up a notch and wow them with my Walt slim fit Epaulet flannels in pewter tweed. Or will that push me over the thin line that divides the casually well-dressed, bistro-going man from the total prat? Two weeks ago I was at a downtown cocktail party attended largely by University academics and their friends. To not have been in a slim-fitting, Mad-Men inspired suit would have been embarrassing (needless to say -- dressed according to my wife like a weird cross between Ted Baxter and Mrs. Miniver -- I felt embarrassed). Last week I was at a neighbor's birthday party. He's a fund manager. To not have been in a pair of well-fitting, expensive jeans would have been embarrassing. Loafers didn't quite cut it. Sneakers only for the sad sack, no hopers. Damn, I should have bought the C+J Brecons when I had the chance...

Wow, you are overthinking it, man. Do you really care whether your jeans are the right brand? I can't remember ever feeling badly because I was dressed less opulently than the people I was associating with.
I move in similar circles (at times) and I like to look nice, but if I ever buy a pair of jeans other than Levis... God help me.
post #44 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pennyfeather View Post
I agree with you about there being less degrees of formality in modern life. But I've lately found myself struggling with my collection of "some casual clothes". More and more I find that in order to hit just the right note at any given casual occasion requires more and more casual clothing options. Naked and Famous selvedge jeans for the Saturday-night get together at the new trendy bistro down the street? Or maybe I should take it up a notch and wow them with my Walt slim fit Epaulet flannels in pewter tweed. Or will that push me over the thin line that divides the casually well-dressed, bistro-going man from the total prat? Two weeks ago I was at a downtown cocktail party attended largely by University academics and their friends. To not have been in a slim-fitting, Mad-Men inspired suit would have been embarrassing (needless to say -- dressed according to my wife like a weird cross between Ted Baxter and Mrs. Miniver -- I felt embarrassed). Last week I was at a neighbor's birthday party. He's a fund manager. To not have been in a pair of well-fitting, expensive jeans would have been embarrassing. Loafers didn't quite cut it. Sneakers only for the sad sack, no hopers. Damn, I should have bought the C+J Brecons when I had the chance...



You could be right (although a quick perusal of A Suitable Wardrobe could, to the untutored eye, suggest otherwise). But I'd definitely need to front-end load some of my purchases in the first year. Am I really supposed to walk the dog in my cordovan oxfords? Surely dog walking screams out for something a little more country brogueish (perhaps with a danite sole and full storm welt)?

sorry - I really think that part of being a man is having no more than 3 types of clothes - suits, casual, gym stuff. when you have levels of formality of your jeans, you need to re-think how you are living your life.
post #45 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by globetrotter View Post
sorry - I really think that part of being a man is having no more than 3 types of clothes - suits, casual, gym stuff. when you have levels of formality of your jeans, you need to re-think how you are living your life.

You only left out work clothes. For fixing the car or gardening or making a mess in the workshop.

Although I guess Waugh prolly didn't work on his own car.
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