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Evelyn Waugh BEAU BRUMMELLS on £60 A YEAR. - Page 4

post #46 of 55
To join the debate, in the '20 and '30 people tended to be more frugal than we are! Mostly because "consumer pressure" was lower, and there was not such a difference between "formal and casual" as we have now. The typical wardrobe (if I remember correctly form my grandfather's generation) would had been 2-3 day suits (normally grey), 1-2 afternoon (navy) and one dinner (tuxedo) per season - S/S and F/W plus one half to one dozen white shirts. Informal would had been some 1-2 sport coats (maybe, in continental Europe that had been an "sportsman" or "anglophile" affectation. You add to that one trench coat, one overcoat and one great coat, plus 2-3 hats and 4-5 pairs of shoes. Look at the travel attire in the old GQ/Apparel Arts - and compare it with our travel necessities! On the other hand the difference between blue collar and white collar wages was a lot bigger than now - two different lifestyles!
post #47 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. 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.

Once you have a shoe wardrobe, a pair every other year is plenty. Three suits is a bit tight but manageable, particularly since men of Waugh's class didn't go to offices every day and their entire wardrobe needed only to be appropriate for lunching at one's club and staying in someone else's home for the weekend.
post #48 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by Will View Post
Once you have a shoe wardrobe, a pair every other year is plenty. Three suits is a bit tight but manageable, particularly since men of Waugh's class didn't go to offices every day and their entire wardrobe needed only to be appropriate for lunching at one's club and staying in someone else's home for the weekend.

I don't think Waugh was quite as rich and idle as Bertie Wooster

As the original post suggests, he was a journalist, and he had already finished Decline and Fall and was working on his next novel.
post #49 of 55
Waugh's article is dated 2/29. If the market crash that ushered in the Great Depression in the Fall of '29 had any effect on the UK, this article was probably woefully out-dated within 7-8 months for most citizens. I wonder if he did a follow-up when everyone started frequenting the 3rd rate tailors?
post #50 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by koolhistorian View Post
You add to that one trench coat, one overcoat and one great coat, plus 2-3 hats and 4-5 pairs of shoes.

I'm late to the party but I'd love to hear a discussion of the difference between a great coat and an overcoat. I just purchased a thick BB camel polo which I think may qualify as the former.
post #51 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by sellahi22 View Post
I don't think Waugh was quite as rich and idle as Bertie Wooster

As the original post suggests, he was a journalist, and he had already finished Decline and Fall and was working on his next novel.

What does that have to do with going to an office? He would have written while at home. He only needed the aforementioned clothing for appearances in public. Like most writers, he probably worked in a robe and ratty pajamas.
post #52 of 55
Here is a bit of truth instead of the timeless or your own style. "Another disadvantage of the small tailor is that he never knows what is fashionable. At least once every eighteen months you should spend fifteen guineas in getting a suit in Savile Row, which will serve as a model for him." Fashions are always changing. Savile Row walked away from what it was if they are pushing timeless today.
post #53 of 55
Quote:
Originally Posted by KObalto View Post
I'm late to the party but I'd love to hear a discussion of the difference between a great coat and an overcoat. I just purchased a thick BB camel polo which I think may qualify as the former.
I think that in this context an "overcoat" probably refers to a lighter weight full length coat--what might also be called a "topcoat." A "greatcoat" would be for more full-on deep-winter wear.
post #54 of 55
We don't live in the horse and buggy days. My grandma would tell me of granddad riding off to market with a wagon load of wheat in the dead of winter. It was about 30 to 40 mile ride. A night in town and then a cold ride back. A great coat would be very handy when sitting upon a wagon bench. He probably sat on a folded blanket and had a couple of other blankets and some heated bricks or rocks to keep him warm for the first half mile. Today some of us, those who don't have a garage, dash out to the car and a couple of miles we are nice and warm and when we get there we dash inside some other warm building briefly feeling any cold on those cold days. How lucky we have it today. Few need a great coat anymore.

Regular over coats is enough for so many, and some top coats is plenty for others.
post #55 of 55
All credit to OP:

A friend found this in a book of essays and sent me a scanned copy. I've never seen it online. I have transcribed it here for your enjoyment. I apologize for any errors in transcription. -


Archivist. Daily Express, 13 February 1929.

Evelyn Waugh BEAU BRUMMELLS on £60 A YEAR.

Of course, there is really only one way of being perfectly dressed - that is, to be grossly rich. You may have exquisite discrimination and the elegance of a gigolo, but you can never rival the millionaire if he has even the faintest inclination towards smartness. He orders suits as you order collars, by the dozen. His valet wears them for the first three days so that they never look new, and confiscates them after three months so that they never look old. He basks in a perpetual high noon of bland magnificence. It is useless to compete against him. If your object in choosing your clothes is to give an impression of wealth, you had far better adopt a pose of reckless dowdiness and spend your money in maintaining under a hat green and mildewed with age a cigar of fabulous proportions.

If, however, you have no intention of deceit, but simply, for some reason, happen to like being well dressed, it is essential to have at least two tailors. There are about a dozen first-rate tailors in London whose names you may always see quoted by the purveyors of ‘mis-fit’ clothing. Below them are about a hundred rather expensive eminently respectable unobtrusive shops in fashionable streets, where your uncles have bought their clothes since undergraduate days. Below them are several hundreds of quite cheap very busy little shops in the City and business quarters.

The secret of being well dressed on a moderate income is to choose one of the first-rate and and one of the third-rate tailors and maintain a happy balance between them. There are some things, an evening tail-coat for instance, which only a first-rate tailor can make. On the other hand, the difference between a pair of white flannel trousers costing five guineas in Savile Row or George Street and one costing two guineas in the Strand is practically negligible. The same applies to almost all country clothes. It is not necessary or particularly desirable that these, except of course the riding breeches, should be obtrusively well cut. The chief disadvantage of small tailors is that they usually have such a very depressing selection of patterns. It is a good plan to buy all your tweeds direct from the mills in Scotland and to have them made up.

Another disadvantage of the small tailor is that he never knows what is fashionable. At least once every eighteen months you should spend fifteen guineas in getting a suit in Savile Row, which will serve as a model for him. It is never wise to allow any one except a first-rate tailor to attempt a double-breasted waistcoat; in some mysterious way this apparently simple garment is invariably a failure except in expert hands. But you can safely leave all trousers which are not part of a suit, even evening trousers, which ought, in any case, to be made of a rather heavier material than the coat, to our less expensive shop. The most magnificent-looking traveling coat I ever saw had been made up for four guineas from the owner’s own stuff by the second -best tailor in a cathedral town.

It is usually an economy to buy your hosiery at an expensive shop. It is essential that evening shirts and waistcoats should be made to your measure; cheap ties betray their origin in a very short time. There is only one completely satisfactory sort of handkerchief - the thick squares of red and white cotton in which workmen carry their dinners. Socks wear out just as quickly whatever their quality, and are the one part of a man’s wardrobe which ought never to attract attention. Expensive shoes are a perfectly sound investment, particularly if you keep six or seven pairs and always put them on trees when they are not in use. By taking trouble in this way a young man should be able to be more than ordinarily well dressed for less than £60 a year.

______________________________________£ s. d.
One suit (Savile Row) cash price___________ 13 13 6
One-third evening suit (one every three years; Savile Row) cash price___________________ 6 6 0
One suit (Strand)________________________ 7 7 0
Country clothes: flannels, part of tweeds, etc. made in Stand from own materials__________ 10 0 0
One pair of shoes (best quality)_____________ 3 10 0
Hosiery, hats, etc________________________ 10 0 0
One-third town overcoat (Savile Row)________ 6 6 0
______________________________________ £57 2 6
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