Duke Windsor Tweed


\\t Man y the early twenties, the odd trouser had established itself as an essential part of every well- dressed man's wardrobe. However, in [925. American college men vacationing in England were confronted by voluminous pantaloons worn by the Oxford and Cambridge undergraduates to camouflage their knickers, which were not allowed in the classroom. With pleated waistline, baggy knees, and bottoms measuring from 22 to 26 inches, the Oxford bag ignited a fad that swept the country in the space of a year.

Although their popularity went into decline the following year, the Oxford bag initialed a vogue that would last forever fuller-cut trousers. With Anglomania at an all-time high and the Ivy League stu dent a major source of fashion innovation for America, these pajama-width bottoms left the style-conscious young American in favor of wider-cut slacks. I leres the soon-to-be exemplar of English fashion. Jack Buchanan, taking a pair of bags out for a spin.

As the thirties began, many young men began ordering an extra pair of trousers to match their tweed three-pieces ol jacket, vest, and plus fours, or knickerbockers, a style that flourished on the golt links. When the trouser was donned with the vest and jacket, the ensemble could be used for business and then split up for sport or other leisure pur suits. This development resulted in many young men reverting to odd trousers for casual wear because they were more serviceable than the sport-only knickers.

The new trouser fitted close at the waist while hanging freely and easily over the hips. Two gen crous pleats were fixed into its high waistband to give extra fullness across the front, while the trouser leg was long enough to break slightly over the instep, ft was thought that the cuffed bottom and crease fore and aft had significantly improved the line of a trouser. abolishing baggy knees and fringed hems.

Oxford Bags

England's answer to Americas

Fred Astaire, fashion plate Jack Buchanan in Oxford bags.

England's answer to Americas

Fred Astaire, fashion plate Jack Buchanan in Oxford bags.

Along with tweeds, flannel became a leading bottoms fabric during the interwar period. It was first used in the nineteenth century strictly for underwear, bur by the 1880s. flannel was worn for goll, cycling, and tennis. In the twentieth century flannel was recognized as a stylish cloth, and in the late 1920s, the woolen mills in the west of Kngland created skillful mixtures of black, gray and white that added light and dark highlights ro the plain gray cloth, establishing the gray flannel trouser as a worldwide commodity. Among the young blue bloods from British society, gray flannel slacks came to be known as 'gravers."

Charcoal flannels dealt the sporting knicker. or plus fours, an early blow, while colored and striped flannel pants relegated it to chasing golf balls over the countryside. By the late j 1

thirties fashionable Americans abandoned knee-length bottoms both on and oft the goll course, and the knickerbockers went into hill eclipse.

Gray ultimately loosened whites stranglehold on the upper-class weekend regiment, because it looked more appropriate in winter than white. As a result, it was not long before the gray flannel pant found its principal role as the companion for any type of sport coat. I Iere s a 1940s French menswear magazines depiction ot this "txouser of trousers'' virtually unlimited j choice of dance partners. Ranging in texture irom tweed to corduroy. in pattern from solid to

Men's ready-made flannel trouser swatches from Brooks Brothers

Arnold Palmer Topcoat

Surrounded by friends, the gray flannel trouser is the blue blazer of cool-weather dress slacks.

ssi no

Man fancy, and in color from green to lawn, the medium gray worsted trouser is the blue blazer of odd dress slacks.

Today s less tradition-sax \ y male is sometimes confused v\ hen the services of a medium gray dress trouser are recommended for a non-gray solid or patterned sport coat. Although the blue blazer has long been paired with gray trousers, somehow the inherent stylishness ol such a combination loses its relevance when rhe non-blazer jacket and trouser ensemble is being con sidered. No doubt, such an oversight is occasioned by the pragmatic but instinctively female approach of marrying the pants color to an exact match found in the jacket Unfortunately, this sensibility often leads to the less sophisticated colonization of the sport jacket with a navy or dark brown dress suit—trouser shade. This is one of those times where the obv iotis is not always the more tasteful. Should you be considering a new sport jacket and are having difficulty visualizing it with a medium gray trouser. move oil.

The first alternate to the classic charcoal gray dress trouser for the blazer or odd jacket is either a slightly lighter shade ol gray or a representative from the tan familv in a j wool coverr, gabardine, or cavalry twill. Because tan produces slightly more contrast than gray under the average sport coat, it registers a slight drop in relative dressiness. Various shades of corduroy or classic olive drab chinos follow next on the dress-down meter, with blue jeans residing somewhere below.

One trouser fabric that gave both the white and gray flannel a run for its money back in the thirties was wool gabardine. The silky, smooth gabardine offered a textural change of pace to the rough, woolly flannel. Still regarded as one the most luxurious lengths of worsted ever to grace a male thigh, its shown here on a man with the legendary gift of "gab. the well -lighted David Niven in rustic dishabille.

With the 1930s university man donning sport jackets and slacks

Sport Jackets Men 1930


David Niven luxuriating in gabardine trousers.

OPPOSITE TOP: Thegentqfted corduroy sport trouser.


The Duke of Windsor nursing his pipe and baby cords.

almost even day lor class, it's little wonder that the college campus pioneered many of the new dress trouser fashions. In the early thirties. Glenurquhart plaid slacks gained popular acceptance among university students. When worn with solid jackets, they marked an emphatic change in the balance of pattern between the traditional tailored sport ensemble of solid bottom and patterned top.

In 1933. having gained acceptance at Yale and other Eastern college campuses, covert cloth started the trend for sturdier, more rugged types ol slacks fabrics. As another tan alternative to the omnipresent gray flannel, covert's gray-green hue worked w ell with most tweed jackets, and especial!} well with the blue blazer. Initially tailored from topcoat fabric that proved too heavy lor comfort, covert cloths enduring popularity was assured when it was fabricated into lighter weight trousers.

Already familiar with the ribbed hardiness o( Bedford cord and cavalry twill in the saddle. the paddock set champed at the bit for an} opportunity to sport the cord trousers on terra firma. In regular weights and variegated ribs, cotton cords were perfect for campus or outdoor activities. Here we observe two of the faithful considering w hich suds to sample first on a Saturday afternoon s tailgate gathering.

Following on the heels of the wider-wale corduroy s popularity, w hat better way to step up its warm-weather comfort level than to step down its weight? The Duke of Windsor keeps score on one of Arnold Palmer's golfing nemeses. South Africa's Gary Player. While always resplendent, the Duke tones down not only to avoid any backswingdislrac tion bur also to accord with his light -color complexion. Details worthy ot note arc his low fastened tweed sport jacket with short side vents (wry Fred Astaire): cuffed baby cords; and monk-strap shoes.

With the college man returning to classes after military service, the arrival on campus of a

Knickerbocker Tweed Duke Windsor

military type of work fabric in the fall ol 194s came as 110 surprise. Chino cotton trousers in olive drab became the new uniform, remaining an integral part oi the collegiate man's wardrobe for the rest of the forties and into the fifties. By the mid-fifties, gripped by the emerging gray flannel conservatism, sport slacks gained a back strap but lost their pleats, cuffs, and swagger, tapering down to 17V2 inches at the bottom. The plain-front model maintained a dominant position throughout the next several decades, courtesy of a series of fashions that pushed the trousers' waist down to the hip: the fifties Continental look, with its low-rise pant: the sixties hip-hugging blue jean; and the low-slung suit trouser of French designer Pierre Cardin s seventies silhouette.

Ironically, the centurys last two decades witnessed the return of the tailored trouser to i J

nearly the height of its pre—World War II stylishness. With the drapey swathings of Italian designer Giorgio Armani and the 1980s mini-revival of the 1930s look, fuller-cut trousers made a comeback. And along with its softer mien, the sometimes suspendered, always longer rise trouser resumed its classical positioning on the male s natural waist.

As the new millennium picks up pace, mens tailored trousers are dividing into two camps: the "updated classic" as represented by the fuller-cut, pleated-front form; and the "moderne," as configured by the harder-edged, plain-front, trim-fitted shape. The modernists' slack "de sleek'' reflects their preference for pared-down, uncluttered simplicity. For the fashion vanguard, this cufflcss bottom s low rise and cojidomlike contour offer a sexy antidote to the loyalists larger-volumed silhouette. For the fashion savvy this dernier cri seems vaguely reminiscent of a former leg-hugging social equalizer, the blue jean, except that now its chic can be dispensed in any one of three shades of black.

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