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Thread: A couple questions about 'The Roaring 20s'

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    Senior Member ats200's Avatar
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    Default A couple questions about 'The Roaring 20s'

    This is kind of a three part post, I have to explain a few things to get to my point.

    1. Has anyone seen the HBO show Boardwalk Empire? It's a great show, season 2 is coming out soon. It's about Atlantic City during prohibition and features some great historical gangsters such as Lucky Luciano, Al Capone, Arnold Rothstein, and quite a few others.

    2. I know it features mostly gangsters but I love the way the characters act towards eachother. I can't be sure the way the show portrays the lifestyle in the 20s is true, but I really enjoy seeing that even gangsters and hookers are respectful, polite, well spoken, and can read. It's certainly not like that today.

    3. The way they dress is awesome. I have been a big fan of cufflinks lately, I just like the old-style class. In this show, they wear tunic shirts, removable collars, collar pins, vests, etc. Even the "poor" gentlemen in the show wear suits classier than those you would find in a department store today.

    That being said... I am wondering if any of you gentlemen know of somewhere than I can buy this "old-style" clothing. I've found a few places that sell the tunic shirts and collars, but that's about it. I'd like to give it a shot because I like the style... I just feel it may not look as great in a modern world, I'm sure I'd look grossly out of place if I were to wear this stuff to work. I'm thinking more along the lines of special occasions or events.

    To those who may be more familiar with this time in history... is any of the "Hollywood" portrayal of the early 1900s even true? I'd imagine there was much more hardship and less education than they care to show but it seems like it was a great time in our history (excluding, of course, a few factors such as civil rights, the depression, etc.).

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    face scraper bondpunk's Avatar
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    if you wanna dress that way go for it!!! I almost always have my pants cuffed and lots of pomade in my hair looking like I just walked off the set of the outsiders or cry baby. People will ask questions every now and then but no worries. Best place to look for clothing like that is vintage clothing stores, and clothing patterns. You can always have it made or take up sewing and make it.

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    the suited and booted hick Devilpup's Avatar
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    Check out the Art of Manliness. Its got some good articles and look at the links down at the bottom. I believe there may be one called the well dressed gentlemen, it's a blog if I'm not mistaken and the guys there should be able to help. But I'm with you I wish more people wore suits today.
    No that pistol isn't the only thing under my kilt, but I can tell you both of them work just fine

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    Forum mogwai thebigspendur's Avatar
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    Back in those days most folks were really poor and had very little. Wages were low and benefits non exsistant and there were no social safety nets. You either made it on your own depended on family or starved. Medical Science was primitive. Yes, folks dressed better and acted more civil towards each other than now and were generally better educated (with less years of education than now) and smarter-street smarts that is.

    Don't be enamored with Hollywood treatment. It was a tough time.
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    Senior Member ats200's Avatar
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    Yeah I can't imagine what it was like to live in the time but it's very interesting to me. I'm sad that a lot of the traditions and culture haven't made it to 2011 although there are obvious benefits to living nearly 100 years later

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    Senior Moderator JimmyHAD's Avatar
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    +1 to what TBS said. I was talking to an old fellow in Newark, NJ twenty some years ago. I was commenting on the fact that all of the apts in old buildings had very little closet space. He told me that in the '20s and '30s, when those buildings were built, people didn't have large wardrobes. A man might have one good suit and a pair of shoes. Average people couldn't afford more. If my depression era father and mother saw me buying more than one razor and shaving brush they would be shaking their heads at the "waste" of money.
    Last edited by JimmyHAD; 07-10-2011 at 04:43 AM.
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    Senior Member blabbermouth ace's Avatar
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    You can still find garters to hold your socks up (trust me on this), but nobody sees them when you're wearing them.

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    Senior Member blabbermouth
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  9. The Following 2 Users Say Thank You to honedright For This Useful Post:

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    Senior Member deighaingeal's Avatar
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    I know where you are coming from. A few years ago I took an obsession with victorian dress and style. I began the search for quality apparel to be worn on a daily basis. What I found was a large quantity of affordable "costume quality" clothing not meant to be worn on a daily basis. I then looked into vintage clothing as an alternative, while sparsely available it was even more sparse in my size and desired era.
    I turned to my grandmother, as an accomplished mistress of the needle and thread I assumed that this could be the ultimate source for a custom fit. While glad to make the articles she mentioned that victorian era clothing was quite difficult to make a pattern for as the fit and finish were quite different from any that she had crafted before.
    I found plenty of patterns online and in historic books from multiple libraries. In my search I began to notice a pattern emerging (pun intended); the suits were generally purposed according to class and trade. Also as others mentioned the tales mentioned a patron's suit as a sole component. Interested in this, more research revealed a long forgotten truth: bathing was not a common habit in this era, this was an era of perfume clad officials and a general odor was a daily accessory.
    I decided to take the time necessary to learn what I could of life in that era and analyze every aspect I could to incorporate this philosophy into my conduct. What I found was to do this it would take an immense amount of time, energy and income; none of which I have. I have not given in to my desire, but rather decided to slowly undertake this challenge.

    Anyway, what can I add? The patterns from the 20s are still available. I'm sure with a little searching they could be found online. As for finding a tailor or seamstress I cannot help, but start finding local sewing circles. Most quilters are not skilled in the manufacture of clothing in my experience, but may know of someone who could help. Spend some time with these people, learn from them, befriend them; it will benefit you in many ways.

    As for education: I would argue the point that people were more educated in the 20s than they are today. I would say that education is very different and the focus has changed dramatically. While I wasn't there (obviously), from what I have come to understand it is all about the focus. Much of the focus of the education of past was penmanship, speech, spelling and history. Now the education of children has well surpassed in terms of the sciences, focusing a child's education towards what is considered a trade of higher education. Ask any parent of a highschooler if they could complete their child's homework and many would struggle, many would also state that they would have never thought of taking the same level at that grade.
    I should stop my rant here as I have taken enough of your time.

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    Senior Member ChesterCopperpot's Avatar
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    I've always like old fashioned styles, as well, especially the 20's to the 40's and into the 50's. The part I liked most were the hats, all sorts of different hat styles to choose from. Now that nobody really wears dress hats any longer, you either look ridiculous or like you're vying for attention whenever you wear one. I'd love to wear a suit with a matching fedora or some other style of hat but would feel way too self conscious to do so. I've taken instead to wearing ivy flat caps, they seem to have never gone out of style although my sisters tease me for wearing an 'old man hat'.

    But as far as education and 'well spoken-ness', yeah, Hollywood. None of my great uncles or grandfathers were particularly well educated or spoken. And my great grandmother really was a prostitute in the 1930's, but that's a whole different story!

    Here are some great old color photos of NYC in the 1940s: http://citynoise.org/article/10506

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