Gray flannels that are TRUE replacements for cotton khakis

Charles Dana

Honors Member
...but to assign universalizability to that prescription is hasty.

I’m not supposed to hastily assign universalizability to my prescriptions? Dang. Guess I have to look for a new hobby.

I suppose I could give lectures on the pros and cons of antidisestablishmentarianism. Or tell fart jokes. Either hobby is fine with me.


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
I’m not supposed to hastily assign universalizability to my prescriptions? Dang. Guess I have to look for a new hobby.

I suppose I could give lectures on the pros and cons of antidisestablishmentarianism. Or tell fart jokes. Either hobby is fine with me.

No, I did not prescribe that you cease and desist from making universalizable prescriptions. Disregard that letter my lawyer just sent you.

Although, over-prescription of Universalizability® is a class B felony. Seriously, the feds could be after you. :devil:

Charles Dana

Honors Member
TimF, if you're looking for grey flannel wool trousers that are far less spendy than what O'Connell's offers, please note that Peter Christian has them for $120.00. I don't think you'd want to mow the lawn in them, but it wouldn't be out of the question to wear them while sitting on the lawn, feeding treats to your daughter's horse--or for general lounging about or running light errands around town.

I'm pointing this out to show you that I'm not in the habit of prescribing universatilityness--universalizinicity--Eliza Doolittle--whatever the hell you said I was prescribing.


Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Universalizicity... universoneutrino... Hoyvin!

Thanks for bringing this to my attention. I think I'll just appropriate any slightly worn pair of flannels for general purposes, and of course keep a good stock of nearly pristine pairs properly pressed for formal occasions.

Fading Fast

Thought our OP TimF would enjoy the below screen shots from the 1948 movie "An Apartment for Peggy" in which WWII vet - on the GI Bill - William Holden wears grey flannels casually - when cooking, sweeping up, running errands, etc. - with an open collar shirt and leather jacket (one assumes, his former flight jacket) when not dressed in jacket and tie.

Sorry, the pics aren't better as it's a color movie, but I couldn't find color pics of him in the flannels.

Attic apartment for peggy.JPG

Charles Dana

Honors Member
On college campuses after World War II, there was a movement away from flannel odd trousers and toward khakis as everyday pants. This ascendance of khakis was gradual—it didn’t happen in 1946—but the trend was clearly underway by the early 1950s.

The above paragraph contains no new information; it merely re-states what has been noted repeatedly in various Trad/Ivy discussion forums.

Here’s something new (actually, old), just in case you occasionally like to go back in time to see what the people in the midst of a sartorial turning point had to say:

The March 24, 1954 edition of The Daily Princetonian has an article by Richard Kluger, a Princeton University student. He has heard that the poet T. S. Eliot, though living in London, still purchases his clothes via mail-order from Langrock's (a now-defunct store that for many years sold quintessentially Ivy-style clothes to Princeton students and professors, and to area businessmen). Mr. Kluger has just read "The Waste Land" and has heard that in the 1940s, Mr. Eliot completed "The Cocktail Party" in a study carrel in Princeton’s main library. Thus intrigued by the famous poet, Mr. Kluger decides to talk with Harry Decker, the owner of Langrock's.

Mr. Decker confirms that T. S. Eliot is indeed a regular customer. According to Mr. Decker, T. S. Eliot is "tall, gaunt, stoop-shouldered and very hard to style clothing for."

The article’s final paragraph is as follows:

"The proprietor concluded our visit with a tour through the Langrock plant; stressing the quality and the tailoring as the distinctive Langrock features that attracted Mr. Eliot's patronage even from England, Decker noted that among his clients are...several hundred distinguished businessmen and celebrities. We thanked him and hurried around the corner to pick up a pair of khakis at the Army-Navy Store before it closed.”

I think the last paragraph of the article is noteworthy in a way that the reporter couldn’t imagine. His juxtaposition of two clothing stores that are diametric opposites—one devoted to the best in classic, natural-shoulder tailoring, the other one to casual cotton duds—is an in-the-field report of what was happening with college fashions at the time.

In effect, the reporter is saying (these are my words): “Wow. Such beautiful suits! Such magnificent fabric! Such attention to the fine points of tailoring! No wonder so many luminaries shop here. Well—see ya! Gotta go get me some cheap khakis!”

The reporter’s comically abrupt transition from the venerable Langrock’s to the hardscrabble khaki joint presaged what was to happen to college fashions during the next decade: clothes in the former getting eclipsed by clothes in the latter, with the process complete by the late 1960s.

Come to think of it, perhaps the reporter, Richard Kluger, did have an inkling that the future would belong to khakis, not flannels, which would explain the vaguely satirical tone of his final paragraph, in which he seemed to breezily dismiss a store that represented a fusty old world.
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Charles Dana

Honors Member
^ By the way, Richard Kluger is still alive and is active as a writer of fiction and non-fiction books. His latest novel, Beethoven's Tenth, will be published later this year. He won the Pulitzer Prize in 1997 for his 1996 book Ashes to Ashes, a history of the tobacco industry in the United States. I wonder if he still wears khakis. I should ask him--he lives near San Francisco.

Fading Fast

⇧ Only tangentially related, but in the movie I noted above, there are a few references to the students on the GI Bill being treated with less respect by a few college professors. This highlights how, post WWII, the culture and student population at colleges were evolving from one of scions of elite families to middle-America kids.

And there is a very pro-GI Bill speech given by the wife of one of the GIs saying how the Bill allowed kids whose parents never went to college - who didn't grow up in homes with books and education front and center - to get a higher education.

Add that to the overcrowding that the influx of the GI was causing (one of the themes of the movie) and you can see how the old college sartorial model of very expensive clothes (like Langrock's) paid for by - let's not kid ourselves - the parents of upper-class college kids wasn't sustainable in the democratic post-WWII world of college campuses where neither parent nor student could afford "the distinctive Langrock features" of "quality and tailoring" and, like Mr. Kluger, would feel more at home (and able to afford) a pair of Army-Navy store-bought khakis.

Since the movie was from '48, it fits in perfectly with Charles Dana's comments about when the evolution away from flannels to khakis took place. Bill Holden's flannel-wearing GI-Bill-student character was still modestly aspiring to the old standards of attire, but without the budget to do so. Had it been five or so years later, he probably would have tucked his flannels away for special occasions and, for daily wear, just worn the Army-issued khakis that you know were in his closet.
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Super Member
My congratulations to Charles Dana, whose knowledge of clothing, historical sequencing of apparel pieces, and circumstances in which different apparel outfits were/are worn is superb.

Maybe it's just me, but huzzah to Mr. Dana. His posts are the most cogent, most informative pieces on the transition from Wool Flannel-to-Cotton Khaki that have graced a menswear forum in a number of years.

Thank you, Sir!

Charles Dana

Honors Member
^ Billax, thank you so much for your kind words. Your praise means a lot to me--a lot. And it's been a two-way street; over the years, I've been enriched and entertained by all that you have shared--pictorially and verbally--with us. In fact, I'm grateful to all of the other forum members who continually enlighten me with their own knowledge and insights.

Anyone with the time and interest can "time travel" the way I do. Here are a few of the ways I climb aboard the train to the past:

--I browse the Larry DuPraz Digital Archives of the Daily Princetonian and the archives of the Yale Daily News;

--Using my San Francisco Public Library card number, I gain access to ProQuest's

• New York Times Historical archives, which contain all copies of the NYT from 1851 to 4 years ago;
• Newspaper Archive Library Edition, which gives me online access to over 6,000 newspapers going back more than 300 years;
• Los Angeles Times Historical archives, which span the years 1881 to 1993;
• Vogue Magazine's archives from 1892 to the present (in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, Vogue covered men's clothing as well as women's).

If I'm researching clothing--specifically of the Ivy League/Trad type--then when I arrive at a given archive, I simply type applicable words into the search field: "Ivy League clothes," "sack suit," "lapel roll," "three button," "two button," "flannel trousers," "white flannel trousers," "Oxford cloth shirt," etc.--I just play around with various search terms--whatever I'm in the mood for researching--and see what pops up. Sometimes I get no hits, sometimes hundreds of thousands. Then to narrow things down if I get too many hits, I filter by decade or year. Just the typical things you do when you're doing online research.

To me, this kind of "time travel" is so relaxing. What a stress reliever it is for me to sit in a comfortable chair when I have a bit of time and read newspaper articles about the latest styles in men's suits in the early 1930s. (News flash: as of March 1931, the four-button jacket is "dead.")

Since I'm replying to Billax, I'll add some 3/2 Roll bonus information.

I noticed in my research that until men's online discussion forums came along, nobody used the term "3 roll 2" or "3/2 roll." Dispensing with such arithmetic shorthand, newspaper articles would simply describe that configuration: "The lapel rolls gracefully to the middle button;" "only the middle button is to be fastened;" or, from the Cedar Rapids Gazette for August 28, 1932 (evidently re-printing a widely-distributed press release): "three button, center button to button."

And the advertisements? In the 1930s and thereafter, ads for suits and jackets having what we know as the "3 roll 2" merely referred to the garments as the "three-button model"--no further explanation was necessary; it was understood that if the jacket had three buttons, then of course the lapel would roll to the middle button, which would be the only button anyone in his right mind would close. (If the ad were for a true three-button suit or jacket, then it would specifically point that out.)

The ads for a 3/2 roll suit or jacket would explicitly mention the garment's other features--"natural shoulder," "hook vent," "lapped seams," "patch pockets"--but the jacket's button arrangement wasn't worth mentioning--no need to--beyond the words "three button." About the furthest the ads would go would be to extoll a sack jacket's "easy lines" (as the Princeton University Store did in an ad for its blue flannel blazer in the November 11, 1953 issue of the Daily Princetonian).
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Active Member with Corp. Privileges
CD opens up a whole new socioeconomic dimension with his deep research (which btw I would love to see a book come out of such painstaking labors). For the record, neither of Mr. Kluger's parents went to college, whereas Mr. Eliot's father was president of a major corporation. The lines of the present research seems to suggest that folks who can wear flannels casually were (and presumably still are) scions of the 0.1%.

Tangentially, it would be very interesting to get some first-hand accounts of the struggle to open up the Ivies to GI-bill'ers. Because, let's face it, inclusivity was not (and some would argue still is not) one of their traits.

Second tangent, how much better attired would the subjects be if Ishizu & Co. had done their book 20 years earlier? Or even 30 years earlier? (Visa issues aside, of course;)) I'd settle for 16-17 years earlier, which would be smack-dab in the middle of the flannels-to-khakis transition that Mr. Dana so eloquently explicates.

Charles Dana

Honors Member
Tangentially, it would be very interesting to get some first-hand accounts of the struggle to open up the Ivies to GI-bill'ers. Because, let's face it, inclusivity was not (and some would argue still is not) one of their traits.

Interesting point. An article by reporter Benjamin Fine in the New York Times dated July 22, 1956 comes close to addressing the above issue. I have quoted excerpts from the article at the end of this post for anyone who may be interested. Warning: The article says nothing about clothes.

But aside from the veterans who were at the Ivy League in the 1940s and '50s, I would like to see first-hand stories about any of the tensions that existed at elite schools between (a) the wealthy sons of America's aristocracy and (b) the smart but financially strapped kids attending those schools thanks to scholarships, loans, and/or work-study programs. In the 1950s, roughly a third of the undergraduates in the Ivy League were receiving some form of financial assistance--and I don't mean the kind that comes from Daddy's investment portfolio.

Here's a notice that was published in The Daily Princetonian on January 17, 1952:

"Student Aid Men Register

"Today is the last day for all men registered with the Bureau of Student Aid to register their earnings. Registration must be made between 10 and noon or between 1 and 5 today. Financial aid renewal next term depends on this registration."

Imagine getting to Princeton and finding out that you've been slapped with the label "Student Aid Man." Wonderful.

Suppose a Student Aid Man and a Trust Fund Baby are sitting next to each other in their Comparative Literature class in 1952. How will they get along? I don't know. What's likely is that 30 years later, when Student Aid Man sells his company for $300,000,000, he and Trust Fund Baby will grab drinks at the country club and talk about old times on campus--such as all the times that Student Aid Man helped Trust Fund Baby write term papers.


Here are excerpts from Benjamin Fine's 1956 story about how the initial phase of the GI Bill worked out:

“In twelve years, nearly 8,000,000 ex-servicemen attended school and college, took on/the-job training or worked on farms....

“Educators began last week to take stock of this great educational venture. At one time college campuses were swamped with veterans....

“There were misgivings at first. But the educators soon found that the veterans were characterized by maturity and strong motivation. The veterans were substantially older than their civilian classmates. And they wanted to make up for lost time.

“Perhaps the situation at Yale University is typical of the institutions that found their campuses overcrowded with ex-servicemen. Some 15,000 veterans attended Yale in the [past] 12 years. A maximum of 5,900 were enrolled during the spring term of 1947. Yale found that scholastically the vets did better work than the other students. But...the University benefited also from the rise in standards achieved by the veterans.

“The Columbia University campus probably had the largest number of G. I.'s of any institution. Some 85,000 veterans have attended Columbia since the program began. The peak year was reached in 1947, when 17,733 ex-servicemen were enrolled, comprising 74 per cent of the male student body.

“Contrary to expectations, few veterans gave up before completing their educational objectives. The ease and completeness with which the ex-G. I.'s fitted into the academic environment proved heartening.

“‘Veterans...have brought to our campuses an atmosphere of serious purpose and a sense of responsibility’ [said one official].

“There is little doubt that the veterans brought a sense of maturity previously unknown to college campuses. Dr. Herold C. Hunt, Undersecretary of the Department of Health, Education and Welfare and former...Harvard University professor [said] ‘Having shared the experience and responsibility of winning World War II, many veterans came to college with a deeper sense of values than those who came directly from high schools. Their seriousness brought good scholarship and a high level of achievement....”

“Many institutions created veterans’ divisions. Brown University set up a separate college for ex-servicemen in the fall of 1946 for men whose academic background was not up to those of the regular students....College gave them this chance to show that acquired maturity and greater incentive to learn could offset any deficiencies of previous training....They made good. Most of them were able to transfer successfully to the college proper.

“Now the Korean veterans, 350,000 strong, are on the nation’s campuses and in the classrooms...[and] they are being made welcome by educators impressed with the success of the World War II veterans.”
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Active Member with Corp. Privileges
Some fascinating sources you dug up there Charlie. Princeton in those years may have been the most "snobbish" elite NE school, with perhaps highest concentration of southern aristocrats of any of them. I know from personal recollections that life for Jewish students was not easy then. The eating clubs were the natural barrier separating the true "blue bloods" from the hoi polloi: "Financial Aid men", ethnics, farmers etc.

The Ivy heritage has always been about birthright elitism and exclusivity. So the big flap about how [insert any non-Old Money group, e.g. GI Bill'ers] has higher scholastic achievements relative to the traditional student body has always rung hollow to me. The Ivies and the elite liberal arts schools may pay lip service to academic achievements, but they are not the organizing principle for undergraduate admissions. Harvard and Yale were, and currently are, able to fill their whole incoming class with perfect-SAT-score students (just as an illustration; and also, do you think Skull and Bones were filled with Gentlemen As or Cs?). But they choose not to, their excuse being they want "well-rounded" students, which is code for "students with the greatest chance of being wildly successful later in life". And yes, the greatest predictor of wild success is wild success in parents.

I have an acquaintance whose father was a WWII vet. When he returned he took a train to Cambridge to enroll himself at MIT, as he wanted to be an engineer. MIT told him they were full, so he simply walked down the street and enrolled at that other Cambridge, MA school! What I have gaps in my knowledge about is, how did the Ivies which instituted admissions essays in the 1920's to exclude Jewish applicants, how did these same colleges accept so voraciously the lower-income vets in the 40s and 50s, given what they are fundamentally about?


New Member
So here are the traits of the ideal flannel trousers that are high-quality yet still able to be worn comfortably and care-free around the house:
  1. Can be had for 1-2x the price of a quality pair of khakis: $50-$125 (can be on sale, but no second-hand, thrifts, Trad exchange, etc.)
  2. Classic dress trouser configuration (not 5-pocket), with tailor-adjustable waistband, and unfinished bottoms for cuffing
  3. Contains 10-20% synthetic (maybe 30% is the maximum tolerable): this allows the pants to be hand- or machine-washable
  4. High rise (this can be suppressed in favor of price, #1)
  5. Heavyweight: 10oz and above (this can be suppressed in favor of price, #1)[/QUOTE]
Great post. I'm late to the discussion but I would buy those for sure. I'm a big fan of casual flannels since I stumbled on a pair of the LLB Country Flannels with double flap back pockets at the Williamsburg, VA Bean Outlet (sadly closed). It's been 8 or more years and I can still squeeze into them. Never more than a spot clean and brushing.

Wool pants that wear so casually are wonderful. I wish Bean still made them and I wish people wanted to buy them.
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