The History Of Menswear Told Through NYPL’S Digital Collection: Part 9

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Earlier this year the New York Public Library shared 180,000 prints, maps, manuscripts, and much more in a digital public domain collection for the very first time. In it, we unearthed menswear ads from over one hundred years ago. In this series, we explore them. Discover part nine below, and find the other parts here in case you missed them.

More Novelty In The Shirt Way 1865

Patterned Shirts Cartoon
This cartoon by John Leech from 1865 pokes a bit of fun at dress shirt patterns, and how they’re determined to be in vogue based on their fabrics and patterns. Just because something is new, and potentially even on-trend, doesn’t mean it’s the shirt that’s going to make you look and feel your best. That’s why we believe in creating shirt patterns that don’t look like every other, but still embody a sense of timeless style.

When it comes to fabric, men’s dress shirts originated as mostly cottons or linen during the summer. In 1910, silk was very popular until the cost of silk import drove the prices too high around 1920. In the early years, thicker, coarser weaves such as broadcloth were favored, with the softer oxfords and mercerized cotton leading the later years.

Today, nearly all of our dress and casual shirts are 100% pure Egyptian cotton, but for a few cut from linen or linen-cotton blends. We source our cottons from all over the world, but predominantly Italy, India and Thailand.

Then, from the 1930s on, fabric and design options exploded. Flannel, cotton, rayon, and tons of prints and styles were introduced and the modern variety of options was born. Different cuts and styles have come and gone since, ranging from Classics to our original popover.

How do you pick which patterns to give a try?