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Old Brooks Brothers

post #1 of 56
Thread Starter 

This thread is for pictures and articles about the beloved old Brooks Brothers, before it was sold to Allied Stores in 1981.  It's the Brooks that my wife always associates with my father-in-law -- traditional, elegant, and well-made clothes.

 

The first image is from the December 1, 1945 issue of the Saturday Evening Post.  Three tailors are sitting cross-legged, hand-sewing jackets.  Those suits?  Only $43 each, or the equivalent of $558 today.

 

 

Why were dressing standards so high in the past?  Part of it was that a man's sartorial education began as a boy:

 

 

This is a picture not from Marinella but from Brooks.  Hand-cut ties:

 

 

Hand-sewn belts.  

 

 

Brooks also had sized socks to match your shoe and foot size.  It even had a cane department that could make bespoke canes.

 

 

What did Talleyrand once say?  "He who has not lived in the years before the revolution cannot know what the sweetness of living is."  

post #2 of 56
Awesome thread. Vox would have killed it if he was here.

I have one contribution, I dont know how old it is but certainly older than 1981. Wes will be along with a red jacket shortly.

AppleMark


AppleMark
post #3 of 56

I suspect many people will know Heavy Tweed Jacket, the best menswear/Grateful Dead bootleg blog I can imagine, but for those who haven't, here's his great archive of material on vintage Brooks.

 

http://heavytweed.blogspot.com/search/label/Brooks%20Brothers

post #4 of 56
Thread Starter 

Excellent blog suggestion YRR92.  I love his scans of vintage Brooks Brothers and J. Press catalogs and advertisements.  He had an informative and very well-done comparison between the new and old Brooks Brothers OCBD, complete with measurements: http://heavytweed.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-most-imitated-shirt-in-world-brooks.html 

 

We'll have to make sure that the material on this thread is distinct and contributes original material.  Please PM me if there's any overlap.

post #5 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by CrimsonSox View Post
 

Excellent blog suggestion YRR92.  I love his scans of vintage Brooks Brothers and J. Press catalogs and advertisements.  He had an informative and very well-done comparison between the new and old Brooks Brothers OCBD, complete with measurements: http://heavytweed.blogspot.com/2012/12/the-most-imitated-shirt-in-world-brooks.html 

 

We'll have to make sure that the material on this thread is distinct and contributes original material.  Please PM me if there's any overlap.


He's got an amazing blog, though it's a little more focused on post-WW2 Brooks. I know Vox had some great shots of mid-50s BB bespoke, but I think it may have gone down when he nuked his tumblr the first time.

post #6 of 56

Great idea. Thanks for the pictures CrimsonSox. Subscribed.

post #7 of 56
Thread Starter 

How did young men dress in an age of elegance?  This Laurence Fellows illustration from Brooks Brothers, published in Vogue, August 15, 1926 has these recommendations for children aged 14, 12, 10, 8, and 6.  "At fourteen years, the dignity of the long-trousered suit may be achieved in grey flannel or tweed.  The suit for the younger man of twelve years still has short trousers, here in brown herring-bone tweed."  The 14 year old's suit has a vest.

 

 

 

Brooks Brothers in the December 1, 1948 issue of Vogue has this advice for a young man's black tie.  The first dinner jacket should be purchased at 15 or 16, in a single-breasted, peak label (not a shawl label).  The fabric is a dress worsted wool, available in either black or Duke of Windsor midnight blue.  The recommended shirt, surprisingly, is not cotton but plain white linen with a pleated bosom.  The ensemble is completed with a black silk twill tie pointed at the ends, plain black silk socks, black or white dress braces, and patent leather oxfords or pumps.  The first tailcoat should be purchased by the first year of college with a white, single-breasted cotton marcella vest, a stached neckband shirt, and a detachable wing collar.

 

For daytime wear, no student would be complete without a brown wool herringbone sack suit, single-breasted and unpadded, grey flannel trousers, a grey tweed jacket, and cashmere sweaters from Scotland.

 

 

From the same 1948 article:

 

 

 

 

A cashmere sweater in a surprisingly trim fit for Brooks:

 

 

Note the high rise on the evening trousers.  

 

 

The rise on the trousers has to be high to lengthen the line of the legs, to give the impression of height, and to cover the waistband behind the vest (illustrated using a picture from outside the article):

 

 

 

A young man tries on his first dinner jacket:

 

 

A college student's first tailcoat.  Brooks did not allow tails to be sold to minors:

 

 

A young man puts on a sack suit jacket.  

 

 

Though the young man above is rolling his shoulders, with the natural shouldered suit, there are no large, stiff, unsightly folds of fabric that are bunching up, unlike in the modern picture below.

 


Edited by CrimsonSox - 11/10/13 at 7:01am
post #8 of 56
Thread Starter 

Apropos the above article on Brooks Brothers formalwear in the 1940s, our much missed friend Vox has a photo on his highly recommended blog of white tie evening dress from Brooks, 1947:

 

http://www.voxsartoria.com/post/51414191460/1947-full-evening-dress-by-brooks-brothers

 

He also has a photo of a stunning white camel-hair polo coat with mother-of-pearl buttons from Brooks Brothers, 1910.  I have to confess it's the most beautiful overcoat I've ever seen in my life:

 

http://www.voxsartoria.com/post/51414550570/c-1910s-the-early-polo-coat-by-brooks-brothers

post #9 of 56
Thread Starter 

A Brooks Brothers wedding, 1940 in Vogue.  The gentleman tying the ascot is Mr. Dick Otto of Brooks Brothers, who has spent 28 years tying "hundreds of wedding Ascots, from Wilmington to Bar Harbor."  The rounded natural shoulder is quintessential Brooks.

 

 

Brooks Brothers' advice on wedding wear in the same article.  Some advice that may be new for the modern reader: ties should never be shiny or satin (unlike the great majority of wedding ties today).  The groom should wear a biscuit colored double-breasted waistcoat with his morning coat to be distinguished from the best man, who should wear a grey double-breasted waistcoat. The ascot should be paired with a wing collar -- never a turndown collar -- and be secured with a pearl tiepin. 

 

 

The proper boutonnière.  I wonder what the symbolism is of wearing lily-of-the-valley for a wedding, when the plant is poisonous?

 

 

For a summer wedding, Brooks recommends dark blue coats with white flannel trousers, or white linen suits.

 

 

It's astonishing to think that Brooks once stocked all of the items that it recommends -- the grey or black formal overcoats with silk facing on the lapels, the chamois gloves and double breasted vests to be worn with a cutaway morning coat, the white wool flannel trousers.  The treasures of Madison Avenue, now scattered to the winds.

 

Before Simonnot-Godart, there was Brooks.*  Not only hand-rolled, but hand-spun linen handkerchiefs, of "the kind now getting scarce," even in 1940:

 

 

*Figuratively speaking.  Historically, Simonnot-Godart was founded in 1787, before Brooks was in 1818.


Edited by CrimsonSox - 11/12/13 at 3:55am
post #10 of 56
Thread Starter 

 

A Brooks Brothers wedding, 1950, Vogue.  

post #11 of 56
Thread Starter 

A Brooks Brothers wool navy blazer, 1954. 

 

 

A Brooks Brothers summer, 1954.  The suit is made of linen and (gulp) Dacron.  Though the fabric is unconventional (and it's odd that he's fastening the bottom button), the jacket has a lovely lapel roll.  Who said the Ivy League suit couldn't look trim?

 

post #12 of 56
A very interesting threads.

Thanks for sharing
post #13 of 56
Let's role play old Yankee aristocracy.
post #14 of 56
Quote:
Originally Posted by chogall View Post

Let's role play old Yankee aristocracy.


Yeah, I was gonna say that this thread was pretty wasp-y, especially when discussing the way children should dress. Still, not an unenjoyable read. Will be back.

post #15 of 56
Brooks was not the highest quality garment.
but always solidly made. good value and excellent customer service.


shirts were made In patterson NJ. I think that closed in the early 80;s
a second factory was opened in Garland, NC in the 60's. (still open) this was for the lower priced shirts.
I vaguely remember a third factory located in the south. i think that one closed in the 1980's

F.A Mclure,had a factory in east new york. they made sport shirts. Madras, flannel,etc

I only know of a suit factory that was in Long Island city. that closed in the 1990's
greico Brothers(now southwick) and Hertling ind. also made suits

ties are still made in Long Island city.

boxer shorts were made by Delpark. in manasquan,NJ

They must have had some other workrooms in NYC, but that was before my time.



Marks and spencer did a good job of closing most of the domestic factories. (thanks Joe D.)
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