Film Fashion Friday 16. Spencer Tracy’s Gray Double-Breasted Suit in “Woman of the Year” from 1942; A Suitable First Meeting

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Today is Friday, so it is time for another Film Fashion Friday article. Every week, at least most weeks, I choose an outfit from a Code film and write an article about it. In the article, I analyze the different aspects of the outfit and provide links to Amazon products which are similar. The purpose of this series is to encourage my readers to adopt a vintage, movie-inspired fashion, at least for special occasions. My family and I dress that way all the time, and it has many compensations for the extra effort it requires. If you click on the product images I provide and buy the products I recommend, we will receive a small commission through the Amazon Affiliate program. We need three purchases to be made before the end of October to stay in the affiliate program. Please help us by making purchases soon!

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By the way, today is the first day of our Third Annual Great Breening Blogathon! Today through Monday, we are hosting our annual celebration of all things Code in honor of Mr. Breen’s birthday on October 14. Because of my preparations for this event, I was unable to publish a Breening Thursday article this week or last. Never fear! There will be plenty of breening this weekend from us and other participants because of this blogathon! I am still publishing my Fashion Friday article and my 52 Code Films article this week.

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If possible, I try to combine my topic for Film Fashion Fridays with a blogathon by writing about a costume worn by a particular actor of which reflects a certain theme. This weekend, The Second Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn Blogathon is being hosted by Crystal Kalyana of In the Good Old Days of Classic Hollywood and Michaela of Love Letters to Old Hollywood. I decided to join this celebration of the great acting duo with an article about each. Since my new Code film for this week is going to be a Katharine Hepburn film, I am using a costume Spencer Tracy wore as my topic for today’s article. What better film for this blogathon than Woman of the Year from 1942, the first collaboration of Spencer Tracy and Katharine Hepburn?

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In this George Stevens production, Spencer Tracy plays Sam Craig, a sports writer. He gets into a literary fight with a jetsetting society columnist on the same paper, Tess Harding. He is infuriated by the things the “Calamity Jane of the Social Set” writes against sports. However, he is shocked by how beautiful she is when he finally meets her in the editor’ office. He never thought that he would find the “Number 2 Dame in the Country” straightening her seams when he first met her! Their animosity melts away as they find an instant attraction. As they say, the rest was history. This was the beginning of a famous forbidden romance and an eight-film collaboration.

In this famous first meeting, Sam Craig wears a gray double-breasted suit. Complete with a dress shirt, a tie, and a pocketsquare, he is a very polished yet clever and witty reporter in this outfit. Maybe it’s his dapper style, or maybe it’s his personal charm. Either way, Tess finds him irresistible when she first sees him in this scene. Well, she doesn’t swoon when she sees him, but she certainly gives him the eye! She consents to accompanying him to a baseball game within five minutes of meeting him, so she must think there’s something special about Sam. Let’s see which components form this outfit which is suitable for such a momentous first meeting.

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The main component of Sam’s wardrobe in this outfit is a gray double-breasted suit. The coat has six buttons. They are a slightly darker gray than the material. The sleeves are so long that the cuffs are completely covered. The coat is fairly snug through the torso, but it doesn’t cling. It is long enough to reach to the top of his legs. The pants have a pleat at the front and hang very loosely on him. It is important for gentlemen to not wear their pants too tight if they are trying to achieve a vintage look. Mr. Tracy’s suit is evidence of how good a properly-fitted suit looks on a gentleman. He was a shorter and stockier man. However, this suit looks very attractive on him. The double-breasted style slims him, and the looser pants make him look taller. Let’s see what suit options Amazon offers.

The above suit from Amazon is the best option for this outfit. It has a regular fit rather than a slim or modern fit, which is essential for achieving a 1940s look. The coat has six buttons which are the same color as the material and a pocket on each side. The styling is like Sam Craig’s suit, with peak lapels, pleats on the trousers, and a longer coat. The suit’s material is poly rayon. This suit comes in black, brown, burgundy, navy, white, and heather gray, which is pictured. That is the color which I recommend for this outfit. This suit costs $189.

An essential element of every suit is the dress shirt. In the Golden Era, a plain white shirt was the most common style. That is the style which Sam Craig has in this outfit. The lapels are quite long. As I mentioned before, his coat’s sleeves are so long that his shirt cuffs can’t be seen. However, they doubtless are French cuffs, meaning they require cufflinks. If I am not mistaken, that was the only style of cuffs which was available at the time. I recommend the below shirt from Amazon. It has French cuffs. The material is 60% cotton and 40% polyester. It comes in twenty-one other colors in addition to white. It comes with matching black and white metal cufflinks, which is very convenient. At $19.99, it is an excellent deal!

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Sam wears a plain black tie with this suit. Since the suit’s pattern is plain gray, without even a check or plaid pattern, a patterned or colored tie could certainly be worn without looking too loud. However, the choice of the simple black accessory says a lot about this character’s personality. He is a simple man who likes the simple things in life, like going to baseball games. He also is a traditionalist, who likes things to be conventional. That is why he opts for simple suits and plain ties throughout the film. This particular tie is not very shiny. It has a slight shine, but it is hardly satin. It is an average width. The below tie from Amazon looks very much like Spencer Tracy’s tie in this scene. It is plain black with a slight sheen. It is 3 1/2 inches wide and 57 inches long. The material is satin-finished polyester with full cotton liner. It only costs $8.95.

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Sam wears a white pocketsquare with this suit. Nowadays, pocketsquares are often pre-folded pieces of material which are stuck in the front coat pocket of a suit just for decoration. In the old days, they were functional handkerchiefs which were folded and kept in the pocket until it was necessary to take them out and use them. In movies, they are most often used for the chivalrous purpose of drying the tears of sobbing ladies. The below handkerchief from Amazon is a good pocketsquare option for this suit. It is 100% white silk. At 17 inches by 17 inches, it is large enough to be a very functional handkerchief. It is $10, which is a great price for real silk.

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The last element of this outfit is the shoes. In the above picture, you can see that Sam is wearing black Oxfords. They are undoubtedly leather with laces. Some regard brown as the proper color for shoes worn with a gray suit. That style can be seen in many Technicolor films from the 1940s or 50s. However, it is clear that Sam is wearing black shoes in this scene. Brown wouldn’t be a good choice with this outfit, since the black matches the tie. The below shoes from Amazon are a similar style to the ones Mr. Tracy wears in this scene. They are 100% leather with a rubber sole. They have a rounded toe and laces. They come in black as well as a brownish tan. They cost $54.99.

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The most important accessory for any newspaperman is his hat. Reporters were notorious keeping their hats on all the time, even when inside, so that they were always ready to rush out and get the scoop. Sam isn’t wearing his hat in the scene which we are studying. However, he wears it in many other scenes in this film, even when he is inside. There is a particualr scene when Sam is hurt because Tess didn’t notice that he bought himself a new hat after having needed one for some time. In honor of this, and because of the undying chapeau spirit of the journalist, I decided to analyze one of his hats. The above picture is from the scene when Sam sees Tess off at the airport. This scene was the first time that they kissed onstage. It is a classic moment, as the kiss is sideways and hidden behind the hat. The hat which he always wears looks like it is dark gray. It has a wide band. He always wears it pulled far down in the front, which is very stylish. The below hat from Amazon is a similar style. It is 100% cotton. It has a 1 1/2 inch brim and a 4 1/4 inch teardrop crown. It comes in black, grey, khaki, navy, white, and dark grey, which is pictured. It has a wide band. It costs $15.95

That concludes my description of this outfit. It is very dapper, the top of the line in terms of newsroom fashion. Paired with Spencer Tracy’s honest Yankee frankness and everyman savoir faire, this outfit has a charm which could melt the heart of any intellectual lady. If you want to imitate the style that Spencer wore in the scene that started it all, look no further than this outfit! It is more than suitable.

If you want to observe Mr. Tracy’s style for yourself, I suggest that you purchase the movie and study his outfit firsthand! Click the above image to purchase Woman of the Year on DVD at Amazon.

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!

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To every Glamour Girl and Dapper Dan, “Here’s looking at you, kid!”

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Today is the first day of the third year of our annual Code celebration, The Third Annual Breening Blogathon! It is running from October 11-14 in honor of Joseph I. Breen’s 131st birthday. Whether you want to breen a film, review a new Code movie, or analyze some aspect of the years when Hollywood was governed by the Code, this is your chance to write about the topics which we always cover. What are your thoughts on the Code? This is your chance to play PCA-member or pretend that you are a member of PEPS. Let’s make this our most successful blogathon yet!

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2 thoughts on “Film Fashion Friday 16. Spencer Tracy’s Gray Double-Breasted Suit in “Woman of the Year” from 1942; A Suitable First Meeting


  2. Pingback: Film Fashion Fridays | pure entertainment preservation society

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