What Men Are Wearing in 1912
Fashions in men's clothes change with every season in certain essential particulars, and what fits the scene one year is not at all correct the next; hence, it is easy to err. There are, however, certain errors that are fatal.
Let me enumerate a few which are the most conspicuously fatal: Never refer to your evening coat as a swallow-tail or dress coat. Today it is known, and known only, as the tailcoat.
Correct Outfit for Tail Coat, Shirt with Piqué Bosom and Cuffs, Poke Collar, Satin Tie, and Pearl Links and Studs. Woman's Home Companion, February 1912. GGA Image ID # 19c657c01b
Be sure to remember that the plain black cloth waistcoat for evening wear is an unknown quantity. And, by the way, “vest” is a word that is no longer in the smartly dressed man's vocabulary. It is an obsolete term.
Don't speak of the coat for informal evening occasions as the Tuxedo. If you do, you brand yourself as well as your clothes as hopelessly out of date. The Tuxedo is now referred to as the dinner-jacket.
Of course, you would never commit the error of wearing a black waistcoat and a turn-down collar with the tailcoat. Neither are you apt to be so hopelessly ignorant of things fashionable as to wear a white tie, and a shaped one at that, with your dinner-jacket.
But do you know just what's what this year in waistcoats, shirts, and collars, in neckties, studs, and gloves, and with what suits and on just what occasions you should wear them?
If you are just a bit uncertain as to the newest things out in men's apparel, you will like to read this article to the end.
First, let us begin with evening clothes. The suit with the tailcoat should be made of plain black worsted or broadcloth. The worsted is considered better style. The two vital points to consider about the coat are the length of the tails and the number of buttons used. The tails must reach just to the back of the knees, not an eighth of an inch shorter or longer must they be.
Of buttons, there must be three on each side of the low opening of the coat, and three smaller ones on each sleeve. The trousers have a narrow band of the self-material or braid, preferably the braid, down the outside seam of each leg. The tailcoat calls, of course, for the white waistcoat. The most approved waistcoat of the hour for formal evening occasions is made of white silk with a white satin stripe and must be bound with plain satin. Waistcoats of white piqué, plain or with a small figure, with flat collars of plain linen and pockets and edges bound with the same plain linen, are also favored and considered good style.
Tucked Shirt with Moonstone Links and Studs, Turndown Collar, and Accordion Silk Tie Are Correct with the Dinner Jacket. Woman's Home Companion, February 1912. GGA Image ID #
When the tailcoat is worn, the correct shirt has the bosom and the cuffs of piqué. If the waistcoat is piqué, then the tie is of the same material, while the white silk tie, striped with white satin, accompanies the white silk-striped waistcoat.
The bat-shaped tie is the most favored at present. The cuffs of all shirts, whether for dress or negligé, are much narrower. The newest idea is the French cuff, which is the turn-back cuff.
The turn-down collar is never permissible with the tailcoat. It is the straight collar, otherwise known as the poke, or the wing collar. These are the only styles worn by smartly dressed men.
The cuff-links, shirt-studs, and waistcoat-buttons match. They should be inconspicuous. The moonstone is correct, plain or with a narrow rim of gold.
Satin-striped Waistcoat with Satin Bound Edges, to Wear with Tail Coat, and Fringe-trimmed Silk Scarf. Woman's Home Companion, February 1912. GGA Image ID # 19c777b160
Either pearl or mother-of-pearl may be substituted for the moonstone if one prefers them. The correct gloves for dress occasions are of medium-weight, white glacé kid.
The crush hat is no longer the smartest hat for evening wear. The regulation silk hat is the correct hat to wear with evening clothes. It is a trifle more bell shape than last year, and the brim has a more pronounced roll. The hat is moderate in height, measuring from six to eight inches.
Correct Accessories for Dinner Jacket, in Accordion, is Bound with Narrow Braid and Finished with Smoked-pearl Buttons. Woman's Home Companion, February 1912. GGA Image ID # 19c77bcd6c
The newest dinner-jacket has a square cut, which is known as the English cut. With this coat, the turn-down collar is quite as appropriate as the straight poke or the wing collar. The tie must always be black or black and white, and so must the waistcoat.
The best-dressed men scorn the conspicuous fancy silk waistcoats to wear with the dinner-jacket. There are two smart styles in waistcoats now especially in vogue: one has the fashionable black-and-white changeable effect, known as accordion; and the other is of marquisette, a very exquisite, transparent material most fashionable just now for women's gowns. When used for men's waistcoats, it is black over white or gray Satin.
The New Negligé Shirt with Pocket and French Cuffs, Finished with Sewed-on Pearl Button Links. Woman's Home Companion, February 1912. GGA Image ID # 19c8579a86
It is the tucked shirt that is considered the best style to wear with the dinner-jacket. The width of the tucks may be quite a matter of individual preference.
Now just a word about everyday clothes. For afternoon wear the frock coat is more or less passé. The English cutaway has taken its place. It is generally made of gray cheviot, either quite gray in color, or black is the foundation with a gray, hairy finish. These new cutaways are braided with very light black silk braid. The trousers are of the same material as the coat. The black cutaway is not as fashionable as the gray.
For the business suit, which is the sack coat and trousers, the fashionable materials are rough Scotch and English mixtures and cheviots. Brown is the most fashionable color. Blue is in the background this year. It is nowhere near as good style as brown and gray.
Left to Right: A Smart and Comfortable Angora Muffler in Tan with Blue and White Stripe, to Accompany Angora Jacket; Turn-Down Collar and New Effect in Knitted Four-in-Hand; Cravat in Red-and Black Brocade, with Correct Wing Collar; and a Tan Angora Jacket for Sports or Motoring, with Engraved Metal Buttons to Represent the English Leather Buttons. Woman's Home Companion, February 1912. GGA Image ID # 19c85bd5e2
In the all-important matter of socks, here is the latest news: For evening dress, to wear with the tailcoat, plain black silk socks are the best style, with no ornamentation but plain black clocks.
For demi-dress occasions, the silk and cashmere socks in two tones are most favored. It is quite the smart thing, when the socks are in two-toned effect, to have socks and tie match.
If this is not looked upon with favor, it is equally good style to have the tie match in color only the clocks on the socks, or the predominating tone of the socks.
Knitted and crocheted ties are worn, and the Ascot is again in fashion to wear with one's afternoon clothes. Silk four-in-hand ties in brocade effects are the height of style, and the young man who wants to be first in his own town to wear a genuine novelty, which is as fashionable as it is new, should invest in one of the very latest crochet ties.
This new tie is of crochet silk, and it shows a hand embroidered clock which matches exactly the clock on the socks which are worn at the same time.
Talk about the fads and frivolities of women's dress! Surely the men are not far behind with their infinitesimal style changes which they follow with such serious precision.
Grace Margaret Gould, "What Men Are Wearing," in Woman's Home Companion, New York: The Crowell Publishing Company, Vol. XXXIX, No. 5, May 1912, p. 89.