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Old Brooks Brothers

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by CrimsonSox, Nov 9, 2013.

  1. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    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.

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

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

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    Hand-sewn belts.

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

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    What did Talleyrand once say? "He who has not lived in the years before the revolution cannot know what the sweetness of living is."
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
    2 people like this.
  2. SpooPoker

    SpooPoker Well-Known Member

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    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.

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    1 person likes this.
  3. YRR92

    YRR92 Well-Known Member

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  4. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2013
  5. YRR92

    YRR92 Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  6. JL3212

    JL3212 Well-Known Member

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    Great idea. Thanks for the pictures CrimsonSox. Subscribed.
     
  7. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    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.

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    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.

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    From the same 1948 article:

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    A cashmere sweater in a surprisingly trim fit for Brooks:

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    Note the high rise on the evening trousers.

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    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):

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    A young man tries on his first dinner jacket:

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

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    A young man puts on a sack suit jacket.

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    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.

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    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  8. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    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
     
    Last edited: Nov 10, 2013
  9. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    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.

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    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.

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

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

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    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:

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    *Figuratively speaking. Historically, Simonnot-Godart was founded in 1787, before Brooks was in 1818.
     
    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  10. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    [​IMG]

    A Brooks Brothers wedding, 1950, Vogue.
     
  11. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    A Brooks Brothers wool navy blazer, 1954.

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    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?

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    Last edited: Nov 12, 2013
  12. Kiwi Man

    Kiwi Man Well-Known Member

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    A very interesting threads.

    Thanks for sharing
     
  13. chogall

    chogall Well-Known Member

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    Let's role play old Yankee aristocracy.
     
    1 person likes this.
  14. Claghorn

    Claghorn Well-Known Member

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    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.
     
  15. Shirtmaven

    Shirtmaven Well-Known Member

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    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.)
     
    1 person likes this.
  16. Mark Seitelman

    Mark Seitelman Well-Known Member

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    To follow-up on Shirtmaven's excellent post:

    Brooks had three levels of quality in tailored clothing:

    1. "Own Make" was made in Brooks's factory in Long Island City. It was its top of the line suit. This is the Brooks suit that the bank manager or the law partners wore. Essentially, it was a handmade suit. These were the classic, full-cut, sack suit, Brooks suits of old in heavy wools and with vests. Brooks closed the factory when it decided that it was more economical to have outside contractors make the suits rather than its own in-house factory. Under this thinking Martin Greenfield made Brooks's RTW and MTM Golden Fleece lines. However, the wheel has turned in that under its current owners Brooks decided to manufacture again. Brooks bought Southwick and and did a major revamping of the factory to make its better suits.

    2. "346" was a lower level of quality-manufacture. There was less handwork, and the cloths were of a lesser quality. Hence, it carried a slightly lower price than "Own Make." However, this was not a discount or schlock line. It was a good, working executive and middle-level executive's suit. It was made by outside contractors, such as Norman Hilton.

    3. "Brooksgate" was the "university shop which catered to young men in college and in their early career. This was lower priced than "346". The sizing tended to be smaller. Some older men continued to shop there especially if they were slim or short. This line was discontinued in the 1980's when the idea of a "university shop" became extinct.

    On the shirts, I believe that the shirts on the main floor were all made by Brooks's factory, and they all the same level of manufacture. The Brooksgate shirts were made by an outside vendor.

    It is interesting that the tie factory in Long Island City is the one factory that Brooks had kept running through the years.
     
    1 person likes this.
  17. Trompe le Monde

    Trompe le Monde Well-Known Member

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    You didn't have cashmere sweaters flown in from Scotland when you were young? (would they have been flown or freighted in 1950)

    Back to the chimney sweep you go.
     
  18. mebiuspower

    mebiuspower Well-Known Member

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    Quote:Toronto has a BB Flatiron Shop that sells mainly Red Fleece stuff and it's right in campus area of the city.
     
    Last edited: Nov 13, 2013
  19. YRR92

    YRR92 Well-Known Member

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  20. CrimsonSox

    CrimsonSox Well-Known Member

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    Vogue, 1934, in the article "Campus Leaders." The tailcoat, shirt, and bow tie are all from Brooks Brothers, with the tailcoat having the classic Brooks rounded shoulder. The young woman to our left is a freshman, to our right a sophomore.

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