Describing Men’s Clothing

tennis-game-with-charlie-chaplin-and-douglas-fairbanks-1349762749_bI have several fashion books that help me when I need to describe a male character’s clothing, the best of which, in my opinion, is American Costume 1915-1970. I don’t aspire to give long descriptions, because I think such things detract from the action, but whenever I can use clothing to give a sense of the era (1926), I do.

When my male characters are working, they wear suits: sack suits with straight lines, wide lapels and wide padded shoulders. That alone should give a dated image. For variety, I use double-breasted jackets, which were popular. Trousers were full, even floppy, and often pleated. The width of the bottom could be as much as 24 inches!

For casual, sporty dressing, young men liked pullover sweaters and knickers were popular. In one scene in Silent Murders, Douglas Fairbanks is playing tennis with Charlie Chaplin at Pickfair, and I have the men dressed accordingly. Pictures like this one help a lot! (Douglas is holding the tennis racket; Charlie is clowning around, as usual. Here’s what I wrote: 

A shout from below signaled the end of the tennis match, and fifteen minutes later, Douglas Fairbanks and his best friend, Charlie Chaplin, sauntered up to the patio, no longer dressed in tennis whites but sporting linen knickers, trim V-neck sweater vests, and matching bow ties, and still arguing amiably about the score.  (from Silent Murders)

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Published in: on June 8, 2015 at 10:02 am  Leave a Comment  

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