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Nov 26, 2012

For Men Only?

Friends, I am not really a vintage menswear fetishist.  And yet...

I just picked up a copy of the recently published coffee table-sized book Vintage Menswear: A Collection from the Vintage Showroom by Sims, Luckett, & Gunn (Laurence King Publishing Ltd: 2012) from the library and it is gorgeous.  Do the words "D-2 mechanic's parka," "Buckle-back work trousers" or "Paratrouper jump jacket" make your blood pump faster?  If so, this book is for you.  I placed a reserve on it based on Urbandon's recommendation and I am glad I did.  I'm also the first one to borrow it -- always a nice feeling!

The splendid color photography includes lots of detail photos (garments are often photographed inside-out) for those who like to see things close up.  The text is minimal but very informative -- this book is really about the images, as it should be.  It's especially interesting to see with what care some of these garments were mended by their owners.

Vintage Menswear focuses exclusively on utility wear: clothing for sports and leisure activities, military endeavors, and old-fashioned physical labor (i.e. work).  It's not about vintage "fashion" though obviously these garments have inspired a lot of contemporary men's (and women's) leisurewear and outerwear (think jean jacket).  Some of these clothes have hardly changed at all, the military clothes in particular.

If you or someone you love makes men's clothes or collects the vintage originals, you'll appreciate Vintage Menswear.  It's not an especially costly book (roughly $30 USD) considering its size and the quantity (and quality) of photographs in it.  You can purchase a new or used copy on Amazon here.

You can see more full-color photos from Vintage Menswear here.  

Is this your sort of thing?  Yes, no, maybe?

Have a great day, everybody!


  1. Of course you fell asleep at that exhibit. It's so not you, but this book is definitely inspiration worthy. The clothing looks amazingly fresh and new and just the kind of thing I imagine you wanting to wear. I see some knockoffs in your future. Unlike men's tailoring it's much more in reach for the average sewist.

  2. Being a fan of menswear (I have sewn four "Misses' Mannish Jackets" from a 1941 McCall pattern), and having recently returned from the capital of men's tailoring (London), I swooned over the preview pictures of this book and ordered a copy immediately. The Vintage Showroom is on my list of places to visit the next time I'm in London.

    The functional clothes are full of design lessons, starting with the pockets. I love that most of these clothes bear the evidence of hard wear (and hardware, too, come to think of it).

    After I study the pictures, I suspect some design details, like the covered buttons on the boldly striped University Boxing Blazer, will creep into my projects.

    I'm sorry you found the FIT show a snore. I was counting on you to give us your impressions.

    1. OK, I didn't literally fall asleep. It was just a little too much like browsing through Brooks Brothers.

  3. Perhaps some of my fellow readers would like to do as Peter has, and borrow this book from their local library. If this is you, find this book in a nearby library using the amalgamated library catalog WorldCat (it works for most of the world, especially places where English is spoken and public libraries are many).

    1. Whoh! That actually worked! It got me all the way to my local library site in the UK. Definitely worth trying.

  4. I'm wondering if i should order it...I've owned so many of those clothes...(grin)
    ...that comes from being old...

  5. You know, I usually think FIT exhibits are usually spot on but I think I'd have the same reaction to this one that you did. Just about any Ivy League reunion for a class prior to 1980 brings out *plenty* of ivy style - who needs an exhibit? An show based on the utilitarian men's clothing in this book would have been much more interesting.

  6. That book looks like a visual feast! I especially love the inside of the jacket with the plaid bodice lining (can you use the word bodice for menswear??) and matching solid colour sleeve lining. Little details like this make me swoon :)


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