As a Salute to Father’s Day: A look at menswear beyond the suit


Colorful highlights from the FIDM Museum Collections

Not many have argued with Mark Twain’s statement, “Clothes make the man.” So, in honor of Father’s Day, and with thanks to the FIDM Museum Blog, presented here are some defining moments in men’s style.


Like many museums that focus on dress and textiles, the FIDM Museum is constantly searching for compelling historical menswear in order to build the collection. The current offerings, while not definitive, contain some noteworthy gems that capture specific moments in the evolution of menswear.


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Top hat, c. 1855–60, Museum Purchase, 2010.5.13


The Aristocrat: Perhaps the epitome of power dressing was in the mid-nineteenth century, when a gentleman of distinction wouldn’t have dared to leave his house without a hat. Equated with authority and success, top hats were worn by the aristocracy, bankers, businessman and politicians. Unlike today's top hat, which is worn only in a few formal situations, top hats were an everyday component of the masculine wardrobe.


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Lounge or at-home jacket, Silk with cotton embroidery, 1880s, Museum Purchase, 2008.5.34


The Aesthete: The Aesthetic Movement was a reaction against the rapid industrialization taking place during the 19th century. Aesthetes believed that modern society encouraged, if not enforced, a standardized personal appearance. This was particularly true for men, who were expected to wear a black suit and white shirt in business and formal situations.


As part of their rejection of mechanization, Aesthetes appreciated handcrafts like embroidery, smocking, and textile printing. Artisan crafts were valuable not only for their visual appeal, but because they were a means by which skilled craftspeople could earn a meaningful living. Intricate handcrafts were frequently used to create or embellish Aesthetic dress, as demonstrated by the wheat and floral embroidery on this lounge jacket. The cotton embroidery floss has faded over time; what is now white was once blue and green.


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Boy’s suit, 1890–1900, Gift of Toni Hohberg, 84.359.2AB


The Little Lord Fauntleroy: The 1886 children’s story Little Lord Fauntleroy relates the tale of Cedric Errol, an American boy who inherits a British peerage and becomes Lord Fauntleroy.


By 1893, variations of Little Lord Fauntleroy’s velvet jacket and breeches were featured in publications such as Harper’s Bazaar and Peterson’s Magazine. Surely little boys weren’t flipping through Harper’s Bazaar for fashion inspiration, so it is perhaps more accurate to say that the look was popular with parents who could impose their sartorial will on their sons.


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Norfolk jacket, Traina-Norell, c. 1947, Gift of Anonymous Donor, 91.40.1


The Sportsman: First appearing in the 1860s, the Norfolk jacket is a durable, loose fitting jacket designed to provide ease of movement to hunters and sportsmen. It was widely adopted as sportswear or casual daywear by gentlemen of leisure when vacationing in the country. Color also marked the Norfolk jacket as a casual garment. Unlike urban suits, which were almost uniformly black during the late 19th century, Norfolk jackets were usually made from rustic woolen fabrics in earth tones of green or brown.


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Neck tie, Silk, c. 1947, Gift of Steven Porterfield, 2007.897.27


The Conformist: In general, professional men of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century dressed in dark-colored business suits. Neck ties offered a small canvas on which to display a touch of personality, such as school and club affiliations. For those in the know, specific color combinations and patterns (often stripes), indicated where an individual had attended school and the social club to which he belonged. The years after World War II witnessed a proliferation of vividly flamboyant, colorful neck ties with a strong emphasis on naturalistic themes.


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Cabana set, c. 1955, In Loving Memory of Maurice Levin, 2007.917.30AB


The Casual Man of Leisure: Though "cabana set" sounds like the nickname for an elite group of beach hopping travelers, it actually refers to a matching or coordinating set of man’s swim trunks and sport shirt or light jacket. The Cabana set outfit was suitable for the relaxed, yet sophisticated, indoor/outdoor lifestyle closely associated with Southern California. A 1954 advertisement for Arrow brand cabana sets declared them suitable for "dad’s loafing, puttering or beaching."


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Men’s platform shoe, C. 1972, Museum Purchase, 2006.5.2AB


The Peacock: The late 1960’s and 70’s was the dawn of the Peacock Revolution. Men grew out their hair and donned everything from caftans to jewelry to eclectic platform shoes. These plaid platform shoes, though eye-catching and with 3 1/2 inch heels, are on the conservative side and could be paired nicely with the wide-legged pants pictured on the pattern package below.


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Men’s Unlined Jacket and Wide Leg Pants Pattern, Simplicity, 1973, Gift of Barbara Becker, 2008.927.7


The jaunty gentlemen portrayed on this pattern envelope are definitely “rocking the looks” of the Peacock Revolution.


Please visit the FIDM Museum Blog for more information about these pieces. Several new posts per week feature select garments and accessories from the museum’s collections, along with extensive scholarly commentary, and sumptuous photography.


Next Month:

Information on the 6th Annual Outstanding Art of Television Costume Design exhibition, opening July 31st.


   

FIDM Museum Shop

Gifts for Dads


Looking for a fantastic gift for your favorite father? Think your awesome dad is super-hard to shop for? Are you both tired of the same boring tie and coffee mug combination? Look no further–the FIDM Museum Shop has carefully curated a selection of clever, unexpected, and timeless gifts for dad.


Here are some gift suggestions for Father’s Day on June 17th:


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He listened to vinyl before you did. He drank whiskey before you did. He had a mustache before you did. Admit it: your dad was a hipster before you were! A fun peek at dad’s glory days.


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Your dad is not a hipster? Gentleman: A Timeless Guide to Fashion is the tried-and-tested guide on matters of style and quality.


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Even if you give dad a new wallet every year, this one has a modern twist. This vegan bi-fold is made from 85% post-consumer recycled stainless steel and available in different colors and sizes.


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Even if your dad has it all, he may not have an animal shot glass. The dark and mysterious lion, deer, and elephant shot glasses are designed to balance on their nose, ears, or horns. This gift is sure to bring out his inner Hemmingway.


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Thanks to Mad Men, men are wearing ties again. But the point is to make a statement, to use a tie to set oneself apart, not to fit in to the typical businessman mold. Vintage ties, including these made from authentic kimono/obi fabric, are 100% silk, and anything but ordinary.


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This is not just another watch for dad. The Storm Darcy Men’s Watch is sleek, modern, and–dare we say–beautiful. These high quality fine watches are available in different styles and colors, all of which combine style with substance.


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The perfect accessory for any man cave: this fab and functional Jonathan Adler Pipe Match Strike. Note: matches not included.


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Your dad could be the first on his block to own a black pewter animal head shoehorn. With the head as the base, the animals are designed to balance on their nose and ears/horns. Available in Moose and Bull.


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This Troika Magnetic Paperweight Grand Prix 1928 is the perfect desk accessory for the modern dad with an appreciation for vintage design. Chrome paperclips included!


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Enhance the sensory experience of enjoying a glass of your whiskey with theses Semoli Cupa tumbles. The contemporary glasses create a swirling rotation when set down, which assists the oxygenation of fine spirit. Set includes two tumblers in an elegant gift box.


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These Peddler Men’s Bracelet feature an extra skinny cuff with whip stitched leather scales. Three snap closures make it adjustable. Subtle and hip for the dad that still likes to rock a little bit of leather.


For all these and more, visit the FIDM Museum Shop.




2012 Exhibitions



  • RIPPED: Expressions from the Underground
  • November 8–December 22, 2012
 
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