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

Discussion in 'Andy's Trad Forum' started by Arnold Gingrich fan, Dec 12, 2008.

  1. Arnold Gingrich fan

    Arnold Gingrich fan Active Member with Corp. Privileges


    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?

  2. 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.
  3. outrigger

    outrigger Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    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.
  4. AldenPyle

    AldenPyle Honors Member

    Hong Kong
    Clearwater Bay
  5. mack11211

    mack11211 Advanced Member

    United States
    New York
    New York
    The store seems to have been in Ithaca, NY, according to the interview with its ad man:


    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.
  6. Bradford

    Bradford Senior Member

    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.
  7. 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.
  8. Arnold Gingrich fan

    Arnold Gingrich fan Active Member with Corp. Privileges


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

    [​IMG] [​IMG]
  9. Arnold Gingrich fan

    Arnold Gingrich fan Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    No, the hardware (the buckle) came with the trousers.
  10. Arnold Gingrich fan

    Arnold Gingrich fan Active Member with Corp. Privileges

    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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