Monday, 29 October 2012

Mo(u)rning for decent vintage trousers

I have often bemoaned the apparent lack of period men's trousers that would fit my ridiculously long-legged frame but here we have the rare occurrence of a pair of vintage trews that are indeed cut for the taller gentleman.

1925 Savile Row Bespoke Vintage English-Cut Morning Trousers 34L

Currently for sale at that excellent online vintage clothing emporium Savvy Row these splendid-looking morning trousers are almost exactly to my measurements.  If anything the inside leg could be a trifle longer still(!), but there is extra material available to let down (morning trousers of course having no turn-ups) and the rest is spot on.  Sadly (curses!) I haven't got a spare £65 lying about nor, if I'm honest, the need for a pair of morning trousers - although if I did have the former I'm sure the latter would cease to be an objection!

As it is these are at least welcome proof that tall chaps did exist 80 years ago and gives me hope that there are other similar garments out there waiting for me to discover them.

Note how, despite standing on a step AND wearing
a hat, my great-nan is still appreciably shorter than
Further evidence of gangly gents past comes in the form of my own paternal great-grandfather, by far the tallest in the family for a generation and who I may have mentioned as the likely source of my own height (and more importantly leg-torso ratio).

In these two accompanying photographs probably taken some time in the late 1960s (apologies for the quality but they are scans of photocopies) we can see quite clearly that he was a tall fellow with most of his height derived from the legs just as mine is.  Wasn't he a dapper chap, though?  Sadly I have no memory of him as he died 11 years before I was born.  His wife, my great-grandmother, who you can also see in the pictures lived to the grand age of 103 (!).  Unfortunately even so I was barely 2 years old at the time of her death so have no real recollection of her either although there are pictures of us together.

Sitting down the difference is all but non-existent (much the same
as it is when I sit next to my 5' mother), further proof that
"it's all in the legs"!
It occurred to me during the planning of this post that perhaps the problem with finding suitable vintage trouserings in this day and age is not so much due to there being few tall men in the past but rather more tall men today, if you follow me?  It is an undeniable fact that people are getting taller with each generation and with the booming interest in vintage clothing at the moment there are doubtless many lanky fellows besides myself out there scrabbling for trousers that fit, from a selection that must perforce be limited.  Still as I've stated these morning trews are a good sign that such items do exist and do come up for sale now and again.  Even then there's still the reproduction route to consider as well!

As a final thought - and a bit of fun - it occurred to me that during the Golden Age of Hollywood there were a number of actors who were noticeably long-limbed.  Jimmy Stewart was 6' 3", for example.  My Style Icon Cary Grant was 6' 1".  Lionel Barrymore, Basil Rathbone, Gary Cooper and Gregory Peck were all over 6 feet tall.  How do I know this?  While researching for this post I came across quite by accident the fact that Google will tell you the height of almost any famous person if you just type in their name followed by "height" (incidentally for similar japes Google also provides most actors' "Kevin Bacon Number" if you ask for it!).

So in fact it seems there was a reasonable number of leggy men in the first half of this century.  The question is, where are their trousers?


  1. I think men's fashions don't change as quickly as women's, so they're more likely to wear trousers out. Trousers wear out more quickly than skirts, in my experience, which might also account for limited amounts of vintage ones.

  2. Your great-grandfather was certainly a dapper fellow. Being the vertically challenged chap that I am, I have the opposite problem although there is always the option of alterations. Savvy Row is an emporium to behold, when I have to cash to splash, I will certainly be browsing their fine selection of gentlemanly apparel. I find it too much of a tease to look when I can't click 'add to basket'.

  3. I think Mim is right, best sunday wear became everyday trousers and everyday trousers then became patched and mended 'work wear' for the veg garden, then went on to become rags for cleaning I should imagine. If your'e looking for forties wear I would think a lot would have been re-purposed too (of course guys wore uniform so that won't help!)

  4. I choked on my tea with that last line, hilarious! Wonderful photos of your Grandparents, they were very smartly dressed. It's a shame you can't get hold of your Grandfather's trousers.

    Thanks for perusing my blog by the way :)


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