This could be a bit of an add-on to You Should Know Better And So Should your Tailor , but I decided I’d just make this its own thing… it’s more about the details!
Tidbits on Clark Gables Tailored wares, you may see something that came and went when it comes to history, but hopefully you’ll see what I love about a certain aspect of suiting that isn’t easy to get nowadays.
Cary Grant 1959 / Gary Cooper 1940s / Douglas Fairbanks Jr. 1940s
If you look at all those suits above you can see that the waistband of the trousers is at the height of the waist of the suit jacket or slightly below. I actually prefer the trouser waist to be slightly below as when I sit with my jacket buttoned, the jacket waist drops to meet where my pants waist rests. When it comes to adding a vest, I love when the second button from the bottom is directly at the waistband of the trousers as well
Me looking goofy, showing my pants waist at the height of my jacket’s waist… It’s just… well it’s really really comfortable, and like the guys above, when I put my hands in my pockets, the jacket opens to reveal more pants.
Clark Gable 1933
Clark Gable just looking plain awesome, and look at that center fulcrum making a good x and you see trousers below the center button and shirt and tie above.
You can see how balance and drape of the masculine look of the 1930s was perfected in the suits Clark Gable wore. In 2017, we live in a time where pants and vests fight for where a man’s waist should be, but in the eyes of Eddie Schmidt in the 1930s (Clark Gable’s Tailor), there was no wondering, he knew exactly where and how to outfit a man. You can just see in his creations that anatomy takes precedence, from the break of the shoulder to the nape of the neck, to the point at which his trouser waistbands match up with his lowest vest buttons, you can see the comfort that comes from that proper fit in every movement. For example on Clark Gable, In movies such as It Happened one Night and Dancing Lady, suits that Gable has to wear are not only more extravagant and accentuated in design than their counterparts from a decade earlier (1920s suits that were more about fit than they were altering a man’s proportions), but you can see with the right tailoring how Gable is at ease, acting casual even when dressed to the nines in clothes that aren’t just about fit, but about drape as well. His suits were in harmony with his persona, and I blame his tailor. We can go into the tales of how Clark Gable Demanded that Eddie make all his wears for all his pictures, even Gone with the wind (there was quite a battle over getting Eddie to work on that one), but I’d rather take a look at why I think Eddie Schmidt was a true master at what he did.
By the way, not buttoning the bottom button on a vest is a decision, not a rule. If the vest cuts away so the button wont reach, then the tailor made the decision for you.
Now to the vests
One striking difference between what you see on Gable and what you see on most modern suits is how short the vest is and how high the trousers are. Of course in the 1920s you’d see low waisted trousers quite often and you’d have longer vests to compensate, but by the 1930s fashion sent mens waistbands higher (it’s rumored that The Motion Picture Production Code had come into play and trouser waistbands were getting higher in order to hide the possibility of seeing a navel but I have yet to find reference to navels in the code or its addendums). The vest is very trim and actually gives Clarks chest a bit of lift, a peacock effect. Something that is best achieved with a good cloth of about 16 oz in weight or more. Anything less tends to look too wrinkled and will pull too much at the buttons if tailored so fitted. It also helps that Clark is in prime shape.
Look at the cut, like a scimitar slash from a skilled hand. When buttoned, the cut of the vest looks beautifully trim, gently curving over his hips and hiding his trouser waistband, it’s as though it’s molded to his body. Armhole high enough so that the vest holds its place while not cutting into the armpit.
When it comes to my own vests and how I like them tailored, I really really love when the second button up from the bottom is directly at the waist of the trousers and the jacket center button can close right at or just above that point. It’s a fulcrum of comfort. Also… nice pointy fangs on the vest help with the look! Some pics of me mixing and matching at times.
Now to the jackets
The waist is pinched… quite pinched. This trim look was kind of the trademark of the 30s man. The 20s were about fitted trousers and sack coats that carried over from the post frock coat era, and the 30s were about sharp-shouldered bold chested masculinity and draping trousers. The shoulders became broader, the waists became snugger, and the jacket skirts flared away to point out the fulcrum of the body where the trouser waist and the jacket and vest all met at one point.
Now to the trousers. Yes I’m showing this pic again.
While jackets were about controlling the fit and accentuating the waist, Eddie went with an all-out drape that fell straight while standing tall, but swathed and rippled while a man was in movement. Quite dramatic. And again… high waisted and meeting with the center point of the jacket. Balanced! The trousers narrowed a little toward the bottom as to not swallow the show, but did not peg to a point where one would look like he was standing on an apple.
Anywho, just wanted to get some of my thoughts out there regarding why I love the looks of Eddie Schmidt’s tailored good on Gable. Also just needed to see if my keyboard still worked, since I’ve been behind on a few articles and need to give my writing (as bad as it may seem) a bit of a workout.
And now an example of just ignoring some of what I wrote above. You don’t need to have the waist on the jacket vest and trousers meet up, there are some fantastic examples of it done correclty with modern visual cues taken into account. But when it looks off … well.
With the low waist on the trousers and the bunching at the ankles, it just makes his legs look shorter than they are.
There are other issues like the skinny tie and wide lapel imbalance, or the long bunching sleeves, but the critically awkward elements that stand out the most are the pants and the vest. They destroy any anatomical harmony that the eye can enjoy.
He’s a slim man; the long vest trying to go over the low wasted trousers gives it a saggy belly look. If he’s going to wear a vest, he needs higher waisted trousers. The vest would have to be shorter giving focus to his trim waist…. Also, he should get those trousers hemmed, he’s gonna get his heel caught in the leg and trip.
Good thing is he’s wearing a suit. I’ve had worse fitting things, but I try not to wear them to red carpet functions.
Take care, and see you next entry!
Earnestly, I just don't know what to say.
But I'm grabbing some popcorn.
Haha, who are you, man? You must have more free time than me, and that's saying something.
I actually do know who you are, and you might want to head over to the Club Collar thread on Talk Ivy and weigh in on the pros of fedoras.
Welcome to the forum, Matt. Great to see knowledge being shared.
I'm having a pair of trousers made at the moment a whole centermeter higher than my normal stylee. I had wondered if I was getting a bit eccentric in my old age...