Friday, August 26, 2011

"Mad Men" and The Return of the Dreaded 2 Button Suit

A few weeks back it was a Friday morning and I met my good friend Chaz, a U.K. ex-pat who's ten years my senior and got into the "mod" thing a few years before me, at a local shopping mall.  I passed off some coupons for a sale Lord & Taylor were having.  We later went into Macy's and were descended upon by sales clerks like sharks on fresh chum.  After awhile it felt like we were in a bazaar in some Third World countries where merchants run up to you with things to buy, seriously.  While there we both lamented how for about five seconds (or maybe half a year) three button suits made a comeback in mainstream fashion (albeit with wider lapels, which I actually like on occasion).  Then they vanished because everyone got "Mad Men" mad and the dreaded two button suit made it's return.  Or at least that's what Chaz and I decided. But take a look at the suit section of any men's department in a clothing store, sure there have always been two button suits available for the conservative "old man" types, but for the suits geared towards the "young(er) modern professional" the three button suit was the deal.

"Mad Men" suit from Kenneth Cole

I never liked "Mad Men", I tried but after a few episodes, I got bored and couldn't get into it.  It didn't help that most of the "mod" type people I knew when on about it like the second coming of Peter Meaden.  What I found even more interesting that some mods on the West Coast (we're in the States here if you hadn't already guessed) seemed to dig it so much they were embracing the look and having "Mad Men" parties and "Mad Men" themed DJ nights.  Wow, scary. All in those ugly two button suits, not my thing, never was, never will be.  Though it may be "out of style" I will continue to wear three button suits/jackets.  I work for "the man" and though  I don't wear a suit very often when I do it's always been a three button job, so for about a year there I was actually cutting edge. I probably still am because civil servants are not the contemporary fashion plates from the private sector that I see riding the train that's for sure!

High school 1982, Dad's plaid jacket with the sleeves rolled up with a white polo shirt and a Chords badge on my lapel. I thought I was the shit, but I looked like shit with those sleeves rolled up!
 In truth though I did wear a two button jacket once when I was a kid in high school.  I got this great two tone black plaid jacket that was my Dad's and wore it, even though I was 15 my arms were still longer than my Dad's in his early 20's when he wore the jacket so I did that dreadful 80's "new wave" thing and rolled up the sleeves!  Ack!  Too dumb and young to know any better.  The other day I watched the entire clip of The Specials on "Saturday Night life" that I'd posted on an earlier entry this week and damned if everybody in the band except Terry Hall wasn't wearing a two button suit, guess none of us had a clue in the early 80's!? 

The Phantom Five command a hefty $15 at an Asbury Park record shop, photo c/o Donald "Shaggy" Snook. Me second from left.

I also had another two button jacket which buttoned higher and had lapels that were very narrow.  I wore it for the sleeve of my one and only recorded vinyl appearance with a group (The Phantom Five) I was in back in 1986 and wore it till it disintegrated a year or two later.

Me and Chaz, we're serious about looking serious. Ian McLagan gig, 2/27/09

And though I can possibly accept the return of the two button jacket however I pray that the three piece suit NEVER rears it's ugly threads again in my lifetime.....


C said...

Whilst I can't comment on the suits (it's like another language to me) I'm loving the pics! Any chance we could hear more about the Phantom Five one day too...?

Supermod said...

Bill, I remember when the 3-buttons were back a few years ago. But I was almost caught up in the trap! You see, Zara had a bunch of 3-buttons that I thought looked great... at first. Then, when I tried it on, I noticed something funny... there were 3 buttons on the front, but it was so low cut it might as well have been a 2-button jacket!

On the other had, Ben Sherman and H&M were offering 2-button suits. The H&M brown suit I bought is one of my favorites! See, as opposed to the Zara suits, these were high-cut enough so that you could actually add a third button and it looked natural.

Now, though, we're back to the low-cut 2-button... drag.

By the way, your blog is now banned at our place. I was just now looking at your photo with the rolled-up sleeves when my wife walked by with a "Wow! What a hottie!" Oh, and she noticed the Chords button, too.

After the look I gave her, BANNED!

skorpeo said...

I was thrilled when, years ago, I saw the 3-buttons reappear on men's suits. But I knew from the get-go it was doomed to be a passing phase and the 2-buttons would once again rear its ugly head. I don't think 2-buttons has anything to do with Mad Men,. I think it's just Madison Avenue (the REAL one) changing its mind once again.

Oh, insofar as the 2-button jackets; it's nothing a tailor worth his/her salt can't remedy in an afternoon. ;)

Wilthomer said...

Carlos I can assure you that a 15 year old me or a 44 year old me would pose no threat to your Mrs., please lift your ban, I need all the readers I can get, he hee!

swiss adam said...

I get the 3 button thing, always prefer a 3 button suit jacket, but if it was good enough for The Specials maybe we should cast our net a bit wider. The cut of a 2 button suit can still be right, even missing the vital third button. Details, details.

swiss adam said...

And as for the iffy three piece suit, Neville Staple did mange to look very cool in a grey one with the reformed Specials last year