The 1920s and 30s saw great changes in men's fashions. The formal dress codes of Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen had required an army of servants to maintain. However, the serving class all hut disappeared after World War 1, and fashions changed along with the new social order

 

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Men's fashion


Social changes and the growing influence of the USA strongly affected the way men dressed between the wars.

 The 1920s and 1930s saw great changes in men's fashions. The formal dress codes of Victorian and Edwardian gentlemen had required an army of servants to maintain. However, the serving class all hut disappeared after World War 1, and fashions changed along with the new social order.

 Edward, Prince of Wales, led the way. His liaison with Mrs Simpson led to an interest in all things American, and particularly in the lack of pretension that characterized the informal way American men tended to dress.

  Suddenly, casualness in dress and manner became the acceptable hallmark of a gentleman. This trend was reinforced further down the social scale by another strong American influence, Hollywood movies.

 Fair Isle sweaters, tweedy suits, suede shoes, jaunty flat caps and stylish braces with a jazzy design all owe their popularity to the Prince.

 Morning suits and top hats, the old daytime uniform, became evening wear under the new regime.

 Colourful ties and soft shirt collars reflected the more relaxed attitude.

CLIPS AND PINS

 The new fashions saw the introduction of a range of up-to-date accessories as well as the retention of some old favourites.

 Long neckties made an appearance, and tie clips and collar pins came with them.

 A collar pin was a gold or silver bar with knobbed or jewelled ends. These were attached to the collar and pushed the tie knot up and forward.

 Tie clips were worn further down and fixed the tie to the shirt front. These came in gold, silver or coloured enamel and were usually either plain or decorated with sporting motifs.

 Turned French' cuffs had been popular since before World War 1, so cuff links were already established as an accessory.

 However, the art deco movement stamped them with its own distinctive style. Geometric and sunburst designs made an appearance.

 Evening wear had its own set of accessories, which tended to be of better quality than daytime wear. There were thin evening watches worn on the wrist. The chain of the old fob watch was retained, but had other useful objects attached to it, such as silver or gold propelling pencils or cigar cutters.

 Fred Astaire helped to keep the cane fashionable for evening use, along with the top hat.

 White silk scarves, with tassels, were draped around the collar of an evening jacket, coat or cape, while cummerbunds were usually made of coloured satin or silk.

ART DECO DAY WEAR

 In the 1920s and 1930s, wing collars and stiff detachable collars were abandoned for all but the members of a few formal professions such as the law.

  Long neckties, cravats, or jolly bow ties were worn with the new, softer-collared shirts. The collar could be either long and pointed or cutaway, a style favoured by the Prince of Wales, Edward.

 Tie clips, which fixed the tie to the shirt, were fastened halfway down the length of the tie, just above the waistcoat, which itself of ten had a much racier design than the plain black or pinstripe affairs favoured by Edwardian men of substance.

 Flat caps were just one of several accessories that were reminiscent of the golf course, where American styles made a big impression.

 Argyll socks and Fair Isle sweaters were further variations on the same sporty theme.

ART DECO EVENING WEAR

 Even the most sporty gentleman still dressed for dinner, the theatre or the opera in the 1930s, and needed something formal to complement his outfit.

  In many cases this simply meant more elegant, or at least more expensive, versions of his daytime accessories.
Dress shirts did not have their own buttons, but were fastened with a matching set of studs and links.

  The stud heads were typically mother-of-pearl or white onyx edged with enamel, silver or gold and set with a central garnet, ruby or semi-precious stone.

 A cane was part of an ensemble that often included an opera cape and a monocle. Monocles were not always an optical necessity, but a popular affectation, immortalized by the humorist P G Wodehouse, creator of Bertie Wooster and Jeeves.

DEALER'S TIPS

There are several styles of cuff link chain links - dumbbells, swivel shanks end fixed rings among them - but classic links should have two identical heeds.
Wristwatches with square or oblong faces tend to fetch better prices then circular ones.
Look out for relatively inexpensive 1930s links end dress sets in bakelite, celluloid and other plastics.

ART DECO COLLECTOR'S NOTES

 Gentlemen's accessories can be sought out in specialist shops, though sharp-eyed collectors may find rich pickings in antique shops and markets.

 Prices vary wildly, depending on the quality of an article and the demand for it.

 Wrist watches first became popular in the 1920s and 1930s, and fairly plain ones can sell cheaply. However, watches that display a distinctive art deco design can command hundreds or even thousands of pounds, especially when they are made of silver or gold.

 Working watches are obviously more collectable than broken ones, though many may need just a simple cleaning to get them going properly again.

 Cigarette cases of the period can be cheap and cheerful or fabulously expensive objets d'art, made of precious metals and stones or enamelled with sunbursts or geometric designs. Make sure the hinges are in good working order.

MODERN REPRODUCTIONS

 Cuff links, tie clips and pins are desirable objects to collect and need not impoverish the collector. Beware of modern reproductions, though, as they will be made of cheaper materials.

 Gold and silver items will be hallmarked; check the date from these. Tie pins can make good bargains, as they are not widely collected but often made of l8ct gold.

 Cigar cutters, propelling and retractable pencils, pocket knives and swizzle sticks (used for mixing cocktails in the glass) often replaced fob watches at the end of watch chains.

 They can be made of base or precious metals and prices will reflect this. Again, look for hallmarks. Check that there are no chips on any enamel pieces, and have a good look at jewel settings to make sure that any stones are firmly in place. Replacement of lost stones can be an expensive business.

 At the cheaper end of the market are items of clothing such as scarves, ties, hats, braces, gloves and cravats.

 These can be fun to collect and to wear as they add that finishing touch of authenticity to present-day fashions, which are often based on 1930s styles.

 Look out for signs of moth damage on woollen articles such as original Fair Isle sweaters. Old silk and cotton can rot; check creases and seams carefully.

 Old umbrellas, made of a silk and cotton mix, are hard to find in good condition for this reason, though they may be collected for their handles, which often bear fine decorative work.

 Tie pins tend to be undervalued by collectors. They are often made of 18ct gold, though the fact that only the end was visible in use meant that base metals were also used. The heads were sometimes plain balls of gold, or were set with precious and semi-precious stones.
Decorative styles ranged from pearl and gold sunbursts and iridescent enamel work, to the African and Egyptian motifs beloved of 1920s designers.

 







Gens Chic
Gens Chic
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