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Time Periods => WWII => WWII Civilian Area => Topic started by: adam on October 02, 2007, 10:24:07 AM

Title: Shirts
Post by: adam on October 02, 2007, 10:24:07 AM
I was wondering what details to look for in a man's shirt that would make it a shirt from the 1930s/40s. The books that I do have on the subject stop at the 1920's, so patterns and information from them is a little too early.

So, what I was wondering is how did the cut differ from modern shirts? How did cuffs and collars differ from modern shirts? What about buttons and fabric? A lot of questions, I know.
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: Sterling on October 02, 2007, 07:44:16 PM
Conventional restraints relaxed with the opening of the 30s.  "A well defined tendency is for ties, collars and shirts, worn with morning coats, to display more colour' (Tailor and Cuttter, 1929).  Pale blue shirts with morning suits, and shirts of poplin, silk, tussore, and striped zephyrs, with stiff collars to match, worn with open-end neckties of striped foulard became fashionable...."it was evident that the white shirt for day wear was not only 'dead but damned." Yet although the collar was usually the colour of the shirt, and often striped, white collars persisted...  one firm was showing  'over twenty distinct and separate styles of white stiff collars..Evidently not all men were willing to move with the times.  The 1930s saw an increasing preference for the coloured shirt, made with or without attached collar, in silk, taffeta, crepe and wool taffeta, white collars of the Van Heusen make also became popular.  The day shirt made in the coat style was becoming very general.  This form, borrowed from America, enabled the garment to be put on without disarranging the carefully brushed hair or disturbing tis shining surface.... The pleated front had only a short life; the laundry saw to that..And the 1930s found the double collar creeping into use, at least with dinner jackets, while fancy materials declined in favour. By 1939 Courtaulds were advertising shirts and underwear in rayon for men."  pages 151-152 The History of Underclothes... C. Willett & Phillis Cunnington

Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: Sterling on October 02, 2007, 07:49:14 PM
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: Sterling on October 02, 2007, 07:54:10 PM
"1940s  at the beginning of the decade, white for day, cellular cloth with single cuffs, 10/6 Mercerized cotton poplin, double cuffs. Finest Jap silk, 25/-. Coloured poplins with double cuffs, with 2 polo shaped collars from 10/6. Flannel, Zephyrs, Viyella in fancy stripes.  For evening dress, plain linen fronts, 1 or 2  stud, square cuffs. Soft or stiff fronted Marcella, coat style with Marcella cuffs or plain.  Soft polo collars to match.   Van Heusen collars 15/- per dozen.  During the austerity period men's shirt tails were reduced and double cuffs prohibited."

Page 162 The History of Underclothes...Willett & Cunnington...

Hope this helps a bit but do take into consideration that it is a very English bias.
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: Sterling on October 02, 2007, 08:00:26 PM
Note**  In the 1930s the arrival of the Van Heusen collar, with fabric woven on the curve for a better fit and the fold line woven into the collar, was greeted with sighs of relief...  Pg 21 A Gentleman's Wardrobe, by Paul Keers
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: adam on October 04, 2007, 12:19:53 PM
Thanks, Sterling. That's what I was looking for.
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: Philonivs Maximvs on October 04, 2007, 06:36:32 PM
Excellent info, Sterling... thanks!

I might add that the modern dress shirt has a much less pointy collar than most "day shirts" did back then, even in Europe. Much longer and pointier were the shirts back then, but not wide like 70's "disco" shirts (so don't get those!).

I've converted a couple modern dress shirts into period style by purchasing one that fits, and one of identical material to cut up. I converted the collars, the breast pockets, and on one, I did the pullover old style. If the shirts are on sale, I can convert a good shirt for about $25 (versus $60+, what many of the vintage/retro places online are charging). Saves time, but of course if you want a "100% correct" shirt, you'll need a pattern and some material, and start from scratch.
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: adam on October 05, 2007, 09:59:48 AM
So, how old-fashioned would a pullover shirt be? I have some pattern drawings from a 1924 tailoring manual and would love to give that a try. I just wasn't sure of the accuracy.
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: Philonivs Maximvs on October 05, 2007, 11:09:38 AM
Think German service shirts... that's what I mean by pullover. More of a Henley style. I think that basic style pullover was popular from the late 1800's (I know that German service shirts had that feature from Franco-Prussian days at least).
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: History1940 on November 14, 2007, 07:24:53 PM
Here's the easiest answer to your question,...pick up a few old department store catalogues from the last 1930s and into the 1940s.  They will show you all you need to know
Title: Re: Shirts
Post by: Philonivs Maximvs on November 17, 2007, 09:18:52 AM
Careful though, American catalogues won't reflect correct style for Europe... western Europe was at least 10 or so years "behind" the US. Eastern Europe & Russia, well, even further! Styles there didn't change much from the time of the Russian Revolution. Watch "Doctor Zhivago" for some ideas.