Monday, January 10, 2011

In the Details: Vintage Men's Shirts Pt 1

Have you seen the new "Negroni" shirt pattern by Colette Patterns? It is a vintage-inspired men's shirt with a convertible collar. It seems to be a great pattern of a style that I have admired from the past. It has just enough difference at the neck from the button-down shirts being worn by the majority of men today.

I know that the men's sections in the Big Four pattern books are sparse and actually carry more unisex patterns than ones just for men. It makes me wonder, did men have more choices in the style of shirts they wore in earlier years? Specifically the 40s and 50s, when I thought men were at their best sartorially? Now, of course, this impression comes from the movies since I'm not old enough to have experienced that live. But just if some men actually dressed like Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart, Fred Astaire, or Gene Kelly, wow, what a wonderful image.

So I searched through vintage pattern sites to see what was out there for home sewers to make for their men. I choose none of the normal button-down shirts since those have not changed much over the years but instead chose shirts or jackets that were a little different and that might make an impact if worn today:

Pictorial Review 9051

This was the oldest (1925) jacket pattern I found. Can't you just imagine cub reporter Jimmy Stewart wearing that top one with trousers that had deep cuffs and a perfect break over his shoes? I wonder if the average guy could wear that jacket today? He couldn't have a beer gut, that's for sure.

DuBarry 1953 (1940)

A nice polo shirt with high collar and slightly gathered sleeves and cuffs. A simple but effective option. Notice how the pocket mimics the neckline facing. Oh, and look at that price?! If only patterns were that cheap now!

McCall 6166 (1945)

With this shirt all you would have to do today is use a different fabric for the body front than for the rest of the shirt. With the right combination of fabric I could definitely see this being made now. Even something as subtle as a slightly different print or different sized checks. The plaid patterned shirt shown makes me think of Rock Hudson in 1955's All That Heaven Allows with Jane Wyman. Playing an arborist, he's costumed in almost all plaid flannel shirts and coats. Yum.

Butterick 7673 (1956) and McCall's 3087 (1954)

This first one was the pattern that inspired this post. Would a man today (who wasn't a dental hygienist*) wear one of these today? From the pattern illustrations I can not figure how you would get this one off and on though. It doesn't seem to fasten in the back and the front panel doesn't seem to wrap over. Anyone have an idea?

McCall's 3904 (1956)

This one made the list only because they tried to be clever with the turning it upside down! But it's still the same old shirt. It didn't fool me.

McCall's 5758 (1960)

Here is an updated polo style with a more relaxed collar construction and the added bonus of an unusual hem line. Anyone see this lately anywhere? I kind of like the checked version, triangle point and all.

Images: Out of the Ashes and Stitches & Loop patterns.
*Well, isn't that what they look like, those old fashioned dentist smocks?


Nathalie said...

Was heading over to the comments to ask 'but how do you get it on?' (of that Butterick shirt) only to discover that you were wondering the very same thing!

Noile said...

What a great post! Regarding McCall's 3087, I am sure that there are two buttons approximately under the collar points -- that front "seam" just below the shoulders is actually an opening.

Why am I so sure? Because I took a screen print of a nearly identical shirt in an episode of the 2004 Japanese show "At Home Dad", staring Hiroshi Abe as the dad in question. His shirt appears to be a knit, but I loved it because it's made just like this McCall pattern, and I fantasized about making one for Mr. Noile.

I may actually do that one day. Wonder if it would work for Peter's MPB shirt sew-along??

At any rate, that's how the character Kazuyuki's shirt closes. (At Home Dad is fantastic, by the way. Watch it if you can!)

Nathalie said...

Aha! Peter is showing a pattern with an identical opening today, which got me wondering all over again. Now I've read your comment, Noile, we have a reply! I wonder if you need to put poppers along the seams, to stop them from gaping open when you move...

lsaspacey said...

Thanks Noile!

For some reason I never thought that the opening only needed to be as big as a man's head, I was thinking the whole side had to open. Duh!

Jason said...

I’ve made three of these, using both Butterick 7673 (1956) and McCall's 3087 (1954) patterns. One in a red and white striped searsucker and the other two in plaids. There as comfortable as a sweatshirt or pullover and I get tons of compliments when I wear them! The two buttons at the neck unfasten, and the neck opening is wide enough to get your head through. I’m such a same we don’t see shirts like this today.