Today is Friday, so it is time for another Film Fashion Fridays article. Every week, I describe a costume or fashion concept from a movie and use it to explain how you can recreate that style for your own vintage look. I provide links to Amazon products which are similar so that vintage fashion is practical and easy for you to obtain for yourself. The purpose of this series is to encourage my readers and film fans everywhere to look to classic films for their fashion inspiration, and my family and I do. It is glamorous and fun!
Last week, I made my article in this series a contribution to the Reel Infatuation Blogathon by writing about a suit which one of my favorite film characters, Lew Ayres’s Dr. Jimmie Kildare, wears in Calling Dr. Kildare from 1939. This week, I am again entering a blogathon with an entry in this series. Today through Sunday, Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood is hosting the Dear Mr. Gable Blogathon in honor of Clark Gable, since she was too busy to honor his birthday in February. I am joining this blogathon with an article about a suit which “the King of Hollywood” wore in The Hucksters from 1947. As a dashing huckster named Vic Norman, he is always suave, dapper, and sincere.
In the second scene of this film, Vic Norman is just back from the war, so he is going to a job interview at a big advertising firm. Eager to make a good impression, he goes to a haberdashery and asks the salesclerk for a “sincere necktie.” He explains to the slightly confused employee that he wants a necktie which will make him look sincere. The clerk offers him a hand-painted necktie. When he learns that the item costs $35, Vic decides that any more sincerity would be foolhardy. For 1947, that is a very expensive tie, especially for a man who only has $50 to his name! He figures it is worth the price to make a good impression. It turns out that it was worth the cost, since his potential employer, John Kimberly (Adolphe Menjou), the harried but smug owner of the advertising firm, compliments him on the tie. Surprisingly, Vic candidly reveals that he spent $35 on it just to make an impression. When “Kim” asks why he would tell him that, Mr. Norman says, “I thought it would make me seem sincere. I want to show you what a sincere lad I am.” Vic is very smooth, and Mr. Kimberly laughingly replies, “You’re a showman, Vic, right down to your fingertips!” If you want to be a showman and be sincere, gentlemen, this is the outfit for you! Let’s consider what it comprises.
Vic wears a medium-colored suit. Naturally, it looks gray in black-and-white, since everything other than black or white is some shade of gray when a film is not in color. However, one learns to determine the subtleties of shading in black-and-white to decipher what hue clothing, hair, and furnishings are in black-and-white films or photographs. There is a slightly warm hue to Vic’s suit which makes me think that it is dark tan rather than gray. Perhaps it is taupe or very light brown. It could also be a brownish gray, a color in which my father has a suit. The material is not a solid color. It has a light herringbone pattern. Because of writing about men’s suits in this series, I have noticed that few vintage suits which weren’t black were a solid color. They usually had a subtle check or a demure herringbone pattern. This is a double-breasted suit. In some other scenes in this film, Vic unbuttons his double-breasted coat, so we see that he is wearing a vest. We can assume he is wearing one under this suit, as well, even though he never unbuttons it. As a matter of fact, you can see it peeking out at the top in one or two pictures. The suit has three buttons on each side. The material is heavy and sturdy.
The above suit from Amazon is a very good option. It is double-breasted and a has a classic fit. Like Clark Gable’s suit, it has three buttons which match the color of the material. The fabric’s texture is heavy, and it is a luxurious wool feel made of 65% polyester and 35% rayon. This suit comes in medium gray and taupe. Either could be the color of Vic’s suit. They both have a slight herringbone print. Personally, I recommend the taupe, since I am convinced that the warm tone which I detect in black-and-white signifies a color other than gray. This taupe is very sophisticated and understated. It is not as dark as brown, yet it is still a color which a 1940s gentleman would have worn. I believe that it would look something like Vic Norman’s suit in black-and-white. This suit doesn’t come with a matching vest, but that isn’t imperative with a double-breasted suit, since you can’t see it when the coat is buttoned anyway. It is only a practical addition when you live in a very cold climate, such as New York, and need the warmth from the added fabric. This suit costs $199.95-$209.95 depending on which color and size you order. This is the suit which I recommend as the basis for recreating this outfit.
Vic is wearing a plain white shirt with this suit. The collars are pointed and fairly long, but they aren’t quite as narrow as those worn in the 1930s. They go down and out rather than just down. A half-inch of the cuff is showing throughout the movie.They are French cuffs, meaning they have unfastened cuffs rather than buttons and buttonholes. Thus, Vic must wear cufflinks. Before we proceed to what cufflinks should be worn, let me recommend the below shirt from Amazon. It is a very fine white dress shirt with French cuffs. The collars are very similar to Vic’s. At $15.99-$25.99, it is a good value for fine quality.
In the above picture, we can see Vic’s cufflinks. They appear to be round and black. Doubtless they are onyx. The shirt which I recommend supposedly comes with round black cufflinks, but the reviews indicate that they are not always included. To be sure that you have a fine set of cufflinks, I recommend the below pair, which is made of real onyx.
With this suit, Vic is wearing a simple white pocket square. Since he seems very well-dressed, it is doubtless silk. Below is a fine white silk handkerchief from Amazon which I recommend, due to the fact that it is sleek and reasonable.
At last, we have come to the most important aspect of this particular suit, Vic’s tie. As we noted in the quoted scenes at the top of this article, he went to great trouble and expense to procure a tie which would make him look sincere in his interview with Mr. Kimberly. The tie which he buys appears to be black, and it has five large white circular shapes on it, plus five smaller circles. The larger spheres look like moons to me. Perhaps the tie is supposed to represent the night sky with moons and stars. A gentleman can buy a tie nowadays for less than $35, the price of this tie, so we realize that this was an outlandish price for a necktie in 1947. Obviously, there is something special about this tie aside from its sincerity, which is valuable but not worth $35 by itself. We learn that it is hand-painted. Hand-painted ties are rare today, since even ones with intricate designs are usually factory-made. This tie was one of a kind. Its intricate design was probably replicated on other ties but could never be completely duplicated, since it was artistic work. The tie looks very smooth. Doubtless, it is 100% silk. That makes it much more valuable. We notice that Vic does not go to a large department store to buy his new tie. He goes to a small shop, which means it is probably a small and expensive store for gentlemen’s fashion. Let’s see if Amazon has anything which approaches the class and sincerity of Vic’s very expensive tie, though hopefully with a lower price, since, with inflation, $35 in 1947 would be about $500 now!
The above tie from Amazon is the most sincere necktie I could find on the website. The pattern isn’t really like Vic’s, but it has an artistic, hand-painted look which reminds me of that. It is black and white, and the pattern has swirls. It is 100% silk. It is only $7.99, which is extremely reasonable. A few people say in the comments that the material is rather flimsy, but you can’t expect it to be as sincere as a $35 necktie! I think that this is a very tasteful choice for this ensemble.
No outfit is complete without shoes. Like gentlemen in the 1930s, men of 1947 still wore their pants very long, so we rarely see the shoes below them. In the above picture, in which he is wearing a different suit, he looks like he is wearing brown suite shoes with laces. The below shoes from Amazon would be perfect if you chose the taupe option. They are a lovely, deep brown suede. If you buy the gray suit, select this same style in gray! Be sure to include socks, as well!
That concludes my description of this outfit! Just pair it with a dashing smile and Vic Norman-like confidence, and you will look as dashing as Dear Mr. Gable himself! Happy Belated Birthday, Mr. Gable! Here’s to one of the greatest actors of classic Hollywood, who always knew how to be suave and stylish, adding his personal charm to any suit he wore!
If you want to observe Mr. Gable’s style for yourself, I suggest that you purchase the movie and study his outfit firsthand! Click the above image to purchase all The Hucksters on DVD at Amazon.
By the way, please join our month-long celebration of Code films, #CleanMovieMonth85! Throughout July, we are going to watch nothing but American Breen Era films, and we are inviting participants to do the same. Writers can join this celebration with articles about their own favorite films and discoveries during the month, and we will republish them on our website. Here’s to 85 years since the formation of the Production Code Administration!
As a special high-point of our month-long celebration in July, we are hosting a blogathon on the first weekend in July in honor of the formation of the PCA and the twenty wonderful years of decent cinema which followed during Joseph Breen’s tenure. It will be called The Favorite Code Film Blogathon. On July 5-7, participants will choose their single favorite Code films and write about why these movies from the era of film decency were so good. Please join!
Remember, take pictures of yourself in vintage style and send them to me to be featured in a future Film Fashion Fridays article! I will gladly republish your pictures, advice, and experiences in vintage clothing for others to see and read. Let’s make Friday a day for film fashion!
To every Glamour Girl and Dapper Dan, “Here’s looking at you, kid!”
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