A rather knatty wavy-weave tie and sports jacketYesterday I posted a long interview with my grandfather about what he wore to work and out of work during his career at Barclays Bank. It revealed some interesting points about the dress of the working man – his socks matched his trousers, for example, so the black-sock phenomenon is a recent one, but they were always the short variety, so that was never as universal as some suggest.

I also found it revealing that he rarely owned more than a couple of suits and one lasted for decades, but they were made by local bespoke tailors. So to all those who say bespoke is expensive – yes it is, but not if you only buy a suit every few years. Problems with longevity can be largely solved by taking good care of the suit (don’t get drunk and fall over) and using heavier cloths.

Finally, I liked the evidence of increasing casualness in the wardrobe as the decades wore on. Cap toes gave way to half brogues. Waistcoats were dropped but trousers remained high. The bowler hat was dropped in the Seventies but, even back in 1938, no one expected a clerk in a suburban office to wear a hat, and a brown trilby was sufficient to work in central London.

In this post, I present more of a pictorial timeline, illustrating some of those points made in the previous post – starting with the shot at top of him in the garden, aged 16/17.

In knitwear, as a telegraphist on a minesweeping trawler
In midshipman’s uniform, with friend in army battle dress
Post-War, at the weekend. In a “home made” tie
On duty, though without waistcoat. Sombre, simple, serious pieces
At a bank meeting in three piece and regimental tie. His superior on his right. And facing, the head of the bank training centre in a much more adventurous patterned tie and glen check suit
My favourite photo. The tourist attraction. Still sombre and simple, though with waistcoat definitely gone
Though we can’t see what he is wearing, colleagues display that similarly simple colour palette and some surviving waistcoats
In typical black tie. Good fit, bow tied by hand, with cummerbund as was the norm
Post-retirement, greeting Asian colleagues. Lightweight suit with a wider cut to the trousers
At my wedding reception, with my cousin and his granddaughter, Ellie. A simple wedding combination with what, for him, was the instinctive ‘wedding tie’ – a nice little Spitalfields woven grey

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

Dear Simon

What an excellent record for you to possess and to review, especially in light of your knowledge of clothing.
This brings to mind a film i watched last weekend – Brideshead Revisited. If you have not seen the recent film version i highly recommend it, for the period clothing and style is sensational and shows a time when people ‘wore’ clothing, inlike today when all you see is jeans and T shirts despite these shoppers walking up and down streets like Bond Street and the similar. It raises the question why are they there if they dont like ‘proper’ clothes? This is quite well put by Alan Flusser in his Dressing the Man where he says something along the lines that fashion designers are very clever and ensure people follow it, for the designer’s/manufacturers profit, whilst not taking in to account what the wearer looks like. This is certainly evident by what one sees on the high street today.
Having said that, there are now more shops springing up offering cheaper versions of bespoke suits (A suit that Fits for example) – so we can only hope that one day decent clothing for all will return.
And finally, you can see from your posted images that classic fashion never dates.
Excellent post


they are not bespoke but made to measure, the article is nice , most people just had one suit and a sports jacket and used cleaners but young men wore sports jackets and trousers, most workers had a suit kept for sundays so i suppose they looked smarter than those who had one suit and wore it every day.wealthy men would have had many suits


i think a better way to dress these days is to forego the suit and dress in sports jacket and trousers , that means you can be formal or not


Beautiful Spitalsfield tie in the last photo, which prompts a question. Where can one find a selection of Spitalsfield and Macclesfield ties?


Your grandfather, and others of his ilk, probably didn’t even think in terms of “bespoke”, “hand tailored”, MTM, etc….they just bought “clothes”, from a reputable neighbor, as my Dad went to a good men’s store and just bought “a suit”


Simon, I loved this piece as it reminded me of my late father and my upbringing. My father was a cabinet maker who emigrated to Australia. I remember he was always well dressed for that Sunday family lunch or taking us to cinema or even down to stroll for sweets. I always remember he had 2 suits and both were hand tailored by a local (Italian) tailor. He never had lots of clothes but those he had were well made and well looked after. I think the more we can encourage local tailors as an industry (as an alternative to high street brands), the better chance of us returning to well dressed men! Thanks again – lovely piece Jim


I love these two posts. Thanks for sharing them.



I would suggest to Superchick (the profile name itself conjures up some vision of horror) moves on to another site. Their manner is aggressive and the comments not appreciated. If he/she wants to abandon suits then all i can say to them – is move on to somewhere else – this site is not for you.