Too Much for a Suit?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by Sator, Jun 27, 2007.

  1. Sator

    Sator Senior member

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    Old photos are often fascinating for the stories they tell. This photo is no different.

    [​IMG]

    This police archival mug shot was taken at Sydney Central Police Station in 1921, on the day of their committal for their involvement in robbing a bookmaker of his winnings - a sum of over 300 pounds. The members of the quartet were driven to crime by the poverty of their circumstances.

    These were not major organised crime lords. Yet look at how they are dressed. If a bunch of petty criminals in the same position were called to court today would they be remotely near so well dressed? I strongly doubt it. I hate to imagine what someone in the same circumstances would wear to court today.

    In those days every man had in his closet a "ňúSunday best' suit he could wear when the occasion demanded. A man would have been embarrassed not to have, and it is highly improbable that they hired their suits for their court appearance. Yet it is likely that a tailored suit in those days cost as much in relative terms as it would today. It is unlikely that they would have managed to buy a decent suit for much less than the modern equivalent of about $1500 AUD. Nor was there the option of purchasing a cheap and nasty polyester glue-job imported from China. The suits they wore would almost certainly have been made in Australia - from Australian wool, of worsted probably milled in Australia as well.

    Today the average men on the street, whether in Australia, Europe, the UK or the US, would shrink from the prospect of paying that much for a suit. Yet the same man would probably drop $3000+ on a new laptop, a wide screen TV, and more - much more - on a new car or a house. Back in 1921 a computer was not considered a basic necessity. On the other hand however a decent suit was. Today even those who live at the lower end of the income spectrum might own a car and a computer worth many thousands. Back in 1921 the same money went towards getting a proper suit, as you would have been derided for not having one. Today, you see men driving high-end cars dressed in rags - a t-shirt, dirty jeans or shorts. Today, the same man in the high-end car might have to rent a suit for his court appearance - a nasty, polyester glue-job imported from China.

    So the point I am ultimately driving at is that in the big picture of things - $1500 - 4000 is not really the frightful sum of money some would have us believe. The difference is merely how much we value a suit - not merely in terms of pure monetary value but social and emotional value. Once it was important to present oneself on important occasions in our lives in a manner that was elegant and commanded respect. To do any less would have been an embarrassment. After all do you still use an old computer running Window 95? Do you drive an old Lada? Do you have a tiny black and white television set? Yet in matters of dress, this is more or less what most men settle for these days because a decent suit is "too expensive".
     
  2. lasbar

    lasbar Senior member

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    Gangsters used to be sharp-dressers ...
    Being extremely well-dressed was also a way of inspiring trust and respect around them....
    We used to recognise the real gangsters from petty criminals in the light of their sartorial credentials...
    People used to pay more attention to their clothes ,suits ,hats because they used to be class symbols...
    People were also more proud of themselves ,their identities...
    Nowadays ,scruffy millionaires ,bling-bling gansters,football players and brainless bimbos are fashionable....
    People used to look up at stars like Grace Kelly,Marilyn ,Brigitte Bardot ,Sophia Loren.....They were untouchable ,different role models....
    Now we have Robbie Williams coke-head bisexual ,Britney Spears,David beckham ,Paris Hilton and so many others ...The pseudo- meritocracy era does not only have positive points...
     
  3. G79

    G79 Senior member

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    Quiet an interesting observation you make Sator. With the dot com boom and dressing down @ work notion spreading like a epidemic across sectors the suits have gone from being indispensible to almost something that is regarded by most as superfluous in ones wardrobe.
     
  4. lasbar

    lasbar Senior member

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    All that cool Britannia ,Branson in jeans and Blair playing electric guitar in polo shirts...AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!![​IMG] [​IMG] [​IMG]
    World leaders in baseball caps playing the common man....
    Dressing-down,friday jeans ,monday jeans and so on!
    People are losing their sense of style to satisfy their obsession for comfort...
    American tourist wearing trainers with lovely little black dress!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!![​IMG]
    Traders on stag night acting like d...heads,throwing their platinium cards without any class or respect for people around them....
    My room 101 is full!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Last one for the day...Snobish sales persons who do patronize you and do think the shop is actually belonging to them!!!!!!!!!!!!!
     
  5. Get Smart

    Get Smart Don't Crink

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    as much as I lament the piss poor dress codes that monopolize most folks' lives, I don't see any point in drudging about sartorial standards of the past, because those days when men wore a suit and hat to walk down to get the newspaper are gone.

    After all, it's preaching to the choir here. Now a thread like this over at amjackassholes.com would probably make for a lively discussion
     
  6. Get Smart

    Get Smart Don't Crink

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    Today the average men on the street, whether in Australia, Europe, the UK or the US, would shrink from the prospect of paying that much for a suit. Yet the same man would probably drop $3000+ on a new laptop, a wide screen TV, and more - much more


    I was just having this conversation with my outside salesman, about how I would feel more hesitant dropping $1000+ for a new tv than for a pair of shoes or a new suit, which I would easily do without too much thought.
     
  7. lasbar

    lasbar Senior member

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    Are we part of the great of endangered species?
    Is Style Forum ,the haven of the Sartorial knights?[​IMG]
    We must start getting subsidies from the UN,the EU ,Kiton ,Brioni,John Lobb,Cartier and all colonize Monaco ,Moustique,St Bat or Grand Cayman!!!!!
    When we do start mating with our partners,Greenpeace warriors will protect us and we will be able to claim squatters right!!!!!!!!!
    Manton and Labelking will be our sartorial ambassadors..
     
  8. G79

    G79 Senior member

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    Are we part of the great of endangered species?
    Is Style Forum ,the haven of the Sartorial knights?[​IMG]
    We must start getting subsidies from the UN,the EU ,Kiton ,Brioni,John Lobb,Cartier and all colonize Monaco ,Moustique,St Bat or Grand Cayman!!!!!
    When we do start mating with our partners,Greenpeace warriors will protect us and we will be able to claim squatters right!!!!!!!!!
    Manton and Labelking will be our sartorial ambassadors..


    Ah what a noble idea it is!
     
  9. Philip1978

    Philip1978 Senior member

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    Are we part of the great of endangered species?
    Is Style Forum ,the haven of the Sartorial knights?[​IMG]
    We must start getting subsidies from the UN,the EU ,Kiton ,Brioni,John Lobb,Cartier and all colonize Monaco ,Moustique,St Bat or Grand Cayman!!!!!
    When we do start mating with our partners,Greenpeace warriors will protect us and we will be able to claim squatters right!!!!!!!!!
    Manton and Labelking will be our sartorial ambassadors..


    [​IMG]
     
  10. Mustapha

    Mustapha Senior member

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    Provoking post Sator,

    I was at an evening wedding reception recently - the couple were young and elegant. My wife and sons strove to look correct, effortless and all things considered; as elegant as we could be.

    The guests ensembles ranged from 'playing dressup' 80s style [supposing this was when the clothes were bought] to the bizarre [park ranger inspired green pants and matching shirt with hip pack and Tilley hat]. Lots of men in day wear [day time suits and colored shirts].

    Me in my tailored blue 2 button double vent was taken to task by a guest in a OTR brown tweed jacket for having a camera slung over my shoulder 'Take that camera off; it doesn't look right in the group photo' [wtf?].

    I am thinking that some members of society are in fact MAD. You would have to be, no? To wear a park ranger inspired outfit to a wedding and think it 'smart'? And what goes through the head of someone who chooses brown tweed for a evening function?

    Discuss.

    -Moose
     
  11. Thurston

    Thurston Senior member

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    Back in 1921 a computer was not considered a basic necessity.

    Sator, you make a provocative argument, but the above sentence stands out as quite silly.
     
  12. designprofessor

    designprofessor Senior member

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    I think it's high time SF organize into a well dressed crime syndicate[​IMG]
    I nominate Lucky Strike for the art /antiquity dirtywork.

    cool photo
     
  13. Degendorff

    Degendorff Senior member

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  14. Cantabrigian

    Cantabrigian Senior member

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    My reply is predicated on the assumption that the aim of the OP is to suggest that there still should be a bespoke suit in every closet.

    Yet it is likely that a tailored suit in those days cost as much in relative terms as it would today. It is unlikely that they would have managed to buy a decent suit for much less than the modern equivalent of about $1500 AUD.

    I'm no clothing historian but how did you come up with that figure?

    Since both tailors and mills were more common, I'd imagine that a suit then (adjusted for inflation) would have traded at a discount to today's price.

    And what you seem to cite as the going rate today (~$1250) seems really low.


    I'd also guess that back then it was a lot more acceptable - at least for John Q Public - to wear the same thing over and over. Today a similar lack of variety isn't considered simply boring but unhygenic.

    Today to be well turned out you'd need a larger number of suits that are more expensize in real terms. To say nothing of the lack of availability of such suits in many areas.
     
  15. A Canuker

    A Canuker Senior member

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    Where does one get those boots? Nice conversation and photo. When I get home I think I'll have a better read.
     

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