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Brown and satin for evening, anyone?

18 May 2011

Newest for warm weather evening wear

Esquire, June 1935: “Don’t be alarmed – your white dinner jacket, single or double-breasted, has not suddenly been repealed. Your mess jacket has, of course, but you knew that last year. And yet, while the white dinner jacket is established, and the off-white (that is, tan) is arrived, the double-breasted of midnight blue tropical weight cloth is very definitely en route to high fashion importance, and it’s our bounden duty to warn you.

“It has shiny black satin lapels and is worn with a semi-stiff pleated bosom dress shirt, a white starched turn-over collar and a black dress tie of the semi-butterfly shape, sheer silk hose and black patent leather evening pumps. This outfit, down to the small detail afforded by the blue cornflower boutonniere, has been seen in significant numbers at the Everglades club and the Colony Club at Palm Beach, presaging its importance this summer.”

I find it a little disorientating, all this dicussion of fashions in what we today consider permanent style. Puts the lie to arguments about the fixed nature of formal evening wear though. A different style every season – and satin on the lapels, which is generally looked down upon (if only because it is cheaper and as such used more in ready-to-wear).

More talk of unusual colours, this time off-white being tan and not Burma. Whatever the name, it’s hard to see many today espousing what is a very light brown as evening wear.