he term "odd" lor a sport jacket was not occasioned only by its lack of a matching trouser; the word also Fits because of the garment's individualized detailing. In 1926, the outstanding sport coat at Palm Beach was the solid tan gabardine sport coat. Ushering in the fancy-back jacket era, here's another of the Brothers Brooks' many contributions to permanent fashion, their classic pleated back gabardine sport jacket, with a stitched belt across the back w aistline and four pleats above and below it.
In the photograph above, a very youthful Henry Fonda comfortably furls his lankv frame on the stage, courtesy ol his jacket's, "bi-sw ing." action back design. Functional bellows pleats run from the back's belt up to its yoke, freeing the arms' movement while facilitating the rotation of his shoulder. Notice the consorting of his tweed jacket's edge-stitching with his flannel trousers' cor respondingly jauntier open lap-out side seams.
The most popular fancy-back jacket of the time was the shirred back design with one piece of material between the yoke and belt. When Clark Gable walked across the screen wearing one. this model catapulted to the front of the pack. At First, this back treatment was confined to gabardine, but as it grew in acceptance, other fabrics such as Shetland wool, linen, and tweed soon saw action.
Likewise, offbeat pocket treatments were frequently employed to inject a bit of social pluck into the odd jackets rusticity. Based on the way I Iollywood film director George Fit/.patrick is upholstered, you'd expect him to be a chap of casual but eccentric bonhomie. Certainly his splayed shirt collar and foulard cascading from his one-button jacket's inverted pleated breast pocket would support such a hypothesis.
Another pocket permutation playing to gentle pretense is Master Gable's as\ mmetrically angled and gtissered breast pocket. While merging form and function, it also seems to have resolved the challenge of how to accommodate the bulk of both a pocket square and pipe.
It has been said that the horse actually invented
male sports clothes. As a result of the British sportsman's passion for ail things equestrian, the cloth coat was forced to be cut away at the front for freedom til movement, eventually influencing the tailoring of suits worn in town. By the mid -thirties, the hacking jacket moved out of the fields and into the city, showing the influence of riding clothes in its extra length and flair, slanting flap pockets, and twelve inch side vents. Straight from the horses mouth, here's an earh Brooks rendition ol the classic English riding rig.
The thirties also witnessed the civilian adoption of military apparel identified with the Commonwealth's colonies in Asia and Africa. The first of these was the mid-length safari jacket, inspired by the summer uniform of the English army during the First World War. f astened by a row of buttons, it featured a yoke in front and back, four gus-seted pockets, a belt and long sleeves with cuffs. Different design offshoots of this garment have enjoyed periods of revival, and w itin the new business-casual mode taking hold.
Film director George Fttzpatricks very "oddly' detailed sport jacket.
Clark Gable with pipe and pockets to go.
Broolis Brothers classic hacking jacket,
ABOVE: Safari or busk jacket— the alternative sport jacket.
The stripe sport coat as favored by Princetomans.
a simplified version of the classic safari jacket could very well be in the offing.
Although World War 11 put a damper on new sport coats, when the war ended, the first article of apparel to reflect a sense of celebration was the patterned sport jacket. Back in mufti and extremely sports-minded, the fashion-conscious man had no intention of letting his new sport coat be mistaken for a suit jacket, and therefore bold-patterned jackets returned stronger than ever.
In the late forties, primarily on Ivy League campuses. the exuberant striped Shetland jacket loomed as heir apparent to the bold plaid. About the same time, authentic madras plaids were making their way into the fashion lexicon of the college and country club set. With Esquires" Bold Look" of 1948, the American male seemed destined to wear clothes that would express his new optimism. However, no one could have predicted the conservatism of the Ii!ties, when the gra\ flannel suit practically became a state of mind.
From the seventies onward, designer-driven exploits subjected t he sport jacket to more experiments and manipulations than any other piece of tailored men s clothing. The recent interest in alternative business attire has re invito-
o rated the tailored sport jacket, investing it with a new fashion importance.
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