A sartorial tribute to one of the greats.
Perhaps one of the most interesting suits to ever grace the silver screen, the flannel suit worn by Clark Gable in the famous pre-Code romantic comedy It Happened One Night (1934) is often held up by clothing aficionados as a prime example of tailoring’s golden age.
It encompasses some great details; triple bellows patch pockets (the hip ones with flaps), a ventless rear with a belted back and pleats, generous lapels, well cut straight leg trousers with a high rise, and the old American staple of two button sleeve cuffs.
I recently decided, having long counted myself among the admirers of the original garment, to design my own spin on it.
It came about after I made a pair of odd trousers out of a grey flannel fabric that ended up being a shade too light, so I decided to make a matching jacket in the style of this famous suit.
It would be markedly different, but I didn’t want a direct copy.
I kept many of the details which I liked; the bellows pockets, the generous lapels, the twin button sleeve, the ventless rear with a belted back.
The workshop I used doesn’t have the ability to put as many pleats in the back as the original, which I was fine with.
I wasn’t after a fully bespoke piece, and the multiple pleats on the back of the original garment would require much handwork.
Unlike a direct reproduction, this design of mine can be exactly reproduced for clients at a reasonable price.
I included some of my own favourite hidden features like a button on the right hand lapel so the garment can actually be fastened all the way if it’s particularly cold.
I also elected to forego a waistcoat; while the original garment was a three piece, mine would be a two piece.
This was done simply because I don’t find myself drawn to waistcoats, wearing the sole waistcoat I already own very rarely.
The trousers were made in the style I continued to develop on my corduroy suit. I didn’t change anything about the styling, however I did make some changes to my fit pattern. The waist came in a few centimetres, as I had lost much weight and wanted to be able to wear this suit with a belt.
I also narrowed the thigh, and widened the cuff opening. I left the knee measurement as it was before.
I will be making further changes to my fit pattern based on this iteration, mostly based on the weight loss; the jacket is now four to five centimetres too roomy in the abdomen and seat, and I’m not quite satisfied with the trouser silhouette yet. For the next pair, I’m going to narrow the thigh by a bit, and further increase the cuff opening.
Despite being very roomy, the silhouette still implies more taper than I want it to. My intended changes should help it appear a little straighter in silhouette, and the thighs should drape better without so much excess cloth.
All being said, however, I’m very pleased with the end result.
I’m simply becoming very picky as I hone my critical eye.
The suit has turned out beautifully.
The suit plays well under various coats too, which is handy considering it’s been particularly cold here recently.
I’ve worn it more often under a coat than as its own outer layer.