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  1. #1

    Default "Back waist straps" on trad trousers - what happened?

    .

    Consider the 1955 ad below. It mentions a once-common "ivy" detail that has inexplicably disappeared from today's trad suit trousers: the back waist strap and buckle.


    My husband has a 1930s Brooks Brothers suit with a back waist strap. I put it to you experts: When did trad clothiers do away with the strap...and why?


    Quote Originally Posted by AldenPyle View Post

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    That back strap was found on casual trousers in the 1950's. It was on every pair of polished cotton trousers that I had and on a few pair of odd wool trousers. I don't think I ever saw a suit with that detail although my experience is limited to So Calif.

    The ad that you posted is interesting. I wonder in which city Irv Lewis Men's Shop was located. I did not start buying suits until I got out of the Army in 1956 but that is close enough to the 1955 ad for me to say that the prices seem rather low. I don't remember too much about prices back then, but I know that I bought some nice suits in the late 50s for under $100. Some were by Southwick and I don't recall the other makers; I might not have even known.

    Sorry that I can't be more help with your questions, Jim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnold Gingrich fan View Post
    .

    Consider the 1955 ad below. It mentions a once-common "ivy" detail that has inexplicably disappeared from today's trad suit trousers: the back waist strap and buckle.


    My husband has a 1930s Brooks Brothers suit with a back waist strap. I put it to you experts: When did trad clothiers do away with the strap...and why?
    Are the trousers cut for braces? the reason I ask is I've only seen back straps on trousers cut for braces; and I'd always considered Ivy League trousers to be cut for belts.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim In Sunny So Calif View Post
    That back strap was found on casual trousers in the 1950's. It was on every pair of polished cotton trousers that I had and on a few pair of odd wool trousers. I don't think I ever saw a suit with that detail although my experience is limited to So Calif.

    The ad that you posted is interesting. I wonder in which city Irv Lewis Men's Shop was located. I did not start buying suits until I got out of the Army in 1956 but that is close enough to the 1955 ad for me to say that the prices seem rather low. I don't remember too much about prices back then, but I know that I bought some nice suits in the late 50s for under $100. Some were by Southwick and I don't recall the other makers; I might not have even known.

    Sorry that I can't be more help with your questions, Jim.
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    The store seems to have been in Ithaca, NY, according to the interview with its ad man:

    http://www.zwire.com/site/news.cfm?n...d=216620&rfi=6

    The back waist buckle has two things going against it.

    One, it draws the pants close at only one point. Even side tabs do it at two points.

    Two, to make it you need to buy the hardware, an additional expense.

    Three, I think even then most men were accustomed to wearing belts, especially with casual or odd trousers.

    The fashion for side tabs or rear tabs/buckles lasted into the early or mid 60s, I believe.
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    I had always heard that men got used to wearing belts while serving in the military during WWII, but this is later than that so perhaps that is wrong or it just took a while for the more traditional manufacturers to change their styles.

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    Thanks for the info on the locatation of the shop.

    I failed to mention in my prior post that none of the trousers with 'a belt in the back' (that is what we called it back then) that I owned or that I ever saw were cut for braces. They all had belt loops, people always wore belts with them, and while the belt in the back could have been used to tighten the fit, I never saw it done. I don't think it would have looked attractive.

    Before that styling detail had run it's course, I remember seeing a few, but only a few thanfully, caps and jackets with belts in the back. Someone joked the next step was a belt with a belt in the back.

    Mack suggested that we buried that fad in the early to mid 60's and that sounds right to me. As far as I know, that style has never made a comeback which I think is just dandy.

    Cheers, Jim.

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    Quote Originally Posted by outrigger View Post
    Are the trousers cut for braces? the reason I ask is I've only seen back straps on trousers cut for braces; and I'd always considered Ivy League trousers to be cut for belts.

    The 1930s Brooks Brothers suit trousers have brace buttons and belt loops.



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    Quote Originally Posted by mack11211 View Post
    The back waist buckle has two things going against it.

    One, it draws the pants close at only one point. Even side tabs do it at two points.

    Two, to make it you need to buy the hardware, an additional expense.
    No, the hardware (the buckle) came with the trousers.

  10. #10

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    Quote Originally Posted by Jim In Sunny So Calif View Post
    Mack suggested that we buried that fad in the early to mid 60's ...
    I'm not sure the word "fad" best describes it. After all, back buckles on trouser waists were first used in the 1800s. A 100 year-long style is hardly a passing fad.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnold Gingrich fan View Post
    No, the hardware (the buckle) came with the trousers.
    Never mind the quote above. My mistake. I now understand what mack11211 meant.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Arnold Gingrich fan View Post
    I'm not sure the word "fad" best describes it. After all, back buckles on trouser waists were first used in the 1800s. A 100 year-long style is hardly a passing fad.
    Perhaps 'fad' is not the most appropriate term, but it seemed like a fad to me because that feature was popular with college age people, in my area at least, during the mid to late 50's to the extent that it was even put on articles of clothing other than trousers. Also, because it was something I had not seen prior to the mid 50's.

    Your husband's suit (nice suit btw) shows us that it was around in the 30's, but I wonder how popular it was at that time. I don't remember seeing it during the 30's or 40's although during the first part of that time period I did not pay much attention to such things.

    I have read that cuffs on trousers were prohibited during the first half of the 40's due to The War. That might be the case for vests too and also for belt in the back on trousers.

    One reason that I don't care for that feature is, as your second photo shows, that with back pockets, belt loops, and one can imagine a belt, that adding that rear belt makes the area look very busy, especially with a nice patterned cloth.

    Another reason is that if that belt was actually tightened up for a better fit, it would only be done if the trousers needed some help from a tailor and would not look good at all.

    One might say it is just a stylistic detail that does not need to be functional as is the case with many of the details of current men's tailored clothing and I could not debate that view except as I noted above, that it adds busyness where none is needed.

    It would be interesting to know which current details of men's clothing will be around in 50 years only on vintage suits.

    It is an interesting bit of tailoring history that you brought up that I had completely forgotten about.

    Cheers, Jim.

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    I well remember the back belt; my first pair of real "Ivy League" trousers, bought at Nieman Marcus in Dallas in the early '50s, were charcoal brown (a particularly lovely color), clearly cut for a belt, plus had the aforementioned back belt, which no one I knew ever used to adjust their trousers. It sits too low on the back to effectively adjust the waist plus, since these trousers were all flat-front, one certainly wouldn't want to add a pleat in the center of the back. I just assumed it was a vestigial fashion detail with no true function, rather like cuff buttons on a suit.
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    I remember them. I remember one day some of us sitting in my father's room as he used a razor blade to remove the back belts from a bunch of his pants. It was probably the very early 1960's.

    At that time he still had some t-shirts and jackets from the Marines, and he had served in WWII, so he was definitely one to hold onto clothes.

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    Default Penn State Daily Collegian, September 1958


    Not to add insult to injury, but I guess that State College was not necessarily the most up to date in fashion, but this probably gives some idea.
    "Mucho shaved his upper lip every morning three times with, three times against the grain to remove any remotest breath of a moustache...; bought all natural shoulder suits, then went to a tailor to have the lapels made yet more abnormally narrow, on his hair used only water, combing it like Jack Lemmon to throw them further off." -- Thomas Pynchon.
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    I remember the back belt always getting caught on chairs or scratching the leather upholstry
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    I like the back belt - anything to break up that w i d e expanse between the hips.

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    Default Return of the back belt?

    Another interesting exchange in the Ivy-Style interview with Cambridge J.Press manager Denis Black (http://www.ivy-style.com/) was the mention of the possible return of the back-belted trouser. An intriguing development, particularly given that many (in this thread at least) were all too happy to see it disappear from the Ivy repertoire the first time 'round.

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    Side adjusters I see the use for, but the back belt on non-high back trousers seems a little useless.
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    ^ agree with Javon. I tried on a pair of trousers with one a while back (PRL?) and the rise wasn't high enough doe the adjuster to do much.


    I notice in the ad the first poster posted one on the ivy details mentioned is "button stance", what exactly is this referring to? I only ask because I've come to think that a high button stance is a distinguishing trad/ivy/sack feature.

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    Two times in a row now that someone has mispelled my name that way. Last time it was someone at work who wrote "Javon." :icon_smile_big:
    [CENTER]"Don't be a snob about the way you dress. Snobbery is only a point in time. Be tolerant and helpful to the other fellow ó he is yourself yesterday."
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    Default Back Strap on Trousers

    I was introduced to the "Back Strap" in 1955, my freshman year in college. At that time It serviced no function other than a fashion feature. It was found on both polished cotton trousers & wool dress trousers. Sometime around 1960 to 1961 this detail was discontinued and also the style of buttoning the top two buttons on a 3/2 coat. :icon_smile:

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    In the mid-1950s I attended an all-boys Catholic school where the uniform was khaki pants (short for elementary, long in the upper years) plus a light blue short-sleeve shirt and a darker blue tie (for special school events and Mass the uniform was a double-breasted navy blue suit, but that's another story). It was jr. high age and we were becoming fashion conscious. The khakis were often pleated, but some of the hipper kids started wearing flat-front khakis with a belt in the back. Although I never wore them (we moved away and I left the school), I thought they looked terrific. I still do. Have seen them here and there and I do have a pair of RLP Bermudas with the back belt. Alas, I never wear a tucked-in shirt with the shorts so no one sees it. It's a private pleasure. I am also reminded that around that time I began seeing tasseled loafers, on adults, of course.

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    I remember this. We always wondered what it was supposed to do.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Gibson37 View Post
    I was introduced to the "Back Strap" in 1955, my freshman year in college. At that time It serviced no function other than a fashion feature. It was found on both polished cotton trousers & wool dress trousers. Sometime around 1960 to 1961 this detail was discontinued...
    They were called "hiney binders" (sp) where I grew up in Virginia and still existed - not consistently - on casual pants until the late 60s along with locker loops on the back of Gant shirts.

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