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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.

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


"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.

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


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