Hart Schaffner & Marx Style Book, 1909

I usually don’t buy items that are concerned strictly with men’s clothing, but I’m sure you’ve guessed that I was seduced by the cover image of this little catalog from men’s suit and coat maker, Hart Schaffner & Marx.  They call it a style book, as it was not strictly a catalog.  I’m guessing that men’s stores mailed these to customers, as this came with the original envelope.

There are several things that I found interesting about this little booklet.  First, the cover image is more of a life style statement than an indication of what HS&M has to offer. There is no sportswear at all in the style book.

The second interesting thing was the use of women in the booklet.  I’ve looked at hundreds of catalogs that are selling only women’s things, and I can’t remember there ever being men just hanging out in the illustrations.  Sometimes there are children, and an occasional pet, but not men.  But in this little style book for men, women are used, mainly as background props.

Here we have not only the dear old mother cooking a turkey for her sons, we also have a kitty prop.

Here’s one that was a bit unexpected: a woman rabbit salesperson.

I can’t figure out if the woman in this photo is the man’s wife, or merely an admirer.  Perhaps she’s eavesdropping, trying to find out if the man is buying a toy for his son, but hopefully, a nephew.

There’s no doubt about this one.  He’s the man of the house, and there’s the nanny holding the heir.

Even nuns were utilized as background props.

Care about dress and appearance is not a small matter; the clothes illustrated here are made for the man who cares to be correct.

Mother has strayed and is busy looking out to see while father minds the heir.

Not all of the illustrations used women as props.  Here we see the faithful, but sleepy canine companion.

And I saved the best for the last:  a bell-ringing Santa Claus.


Filed under Curiosities, Proper Clothing

8 responses to “Hart Schaffner & Marx Style Book, 1909

  1. These are hilarious!!! I think the woman in the toy-buying illustration is clearly giving him the hairy eyeball! Not too different from today’s ad messages: Wear our clothes and women will think you are hot.
    What I also noticed is how LARGE these guys are in the chest, while also having teeny little feet encased in constricting looking dress shoes.
    I also find the Catholic Church scene fascinating, because in 1909 Catholics were only about 17% of the US population.


  2. Leigh Ann

    It is striking how oversized the overcoats and some of the suit coats are. I love the illustrations. The kitty, the man getting a manicure, the nuns, the rabbits! Wow. The woman on the cover does have an oddly resigned expression on her face, though!


  3. Those men are truly larger than life! This was fascinating.


  4. I want all of the suits and top coats as well…now! Looks like a PR / Customer- Identification advertising campaign…”this is our man” A father -of a certain financial bracket-respectable family man. The cover is quite deceptive …Mercy! – 1909 and a young woman in that pose ! Certainly wanting to get attention! Fantastic stuff Ms. Lizzie ! Reminds us of the Ralph Lauren /Bruce Webber “lifestyle” campaigns launched in the late 70’s into all of the 80’s? I want that db topcoat! No tuxedo!?!!!


  5. The trousers look almost like zoot suit pants, with their large waists, low crotches, and narrow cuffs. Do they accurately represent proportions?


    • Yes, the proportions are “realistic:” only very slightly longer than the “normal” artist’s 8 head figure, with the crotch half way (at 4 “heads”) and the knee at 6 “heads.” (I printed and measured the “man of the house” with nursemaid and the man on the boat.) How nice to be reminded that men’s fashions sometimes reach extremes that are as ridiculous as women’s fashions! The long, bulky jackets and tight, short cuffs make the men’s legs look awkwardly short — and the very wide (2 inches or more) cuff adds another horizontal line across the leg, to shorten it more. This 1909 style is just as ugly to me as our current men’s suit styles, with very low pant waists, too-tight jackets, and very skinny trouser-legs that are inches too long and “break” in a series of wrinkles up the calf. “This, too, will pass….”


  6. I love the shoes–hard to find something that looks that good these days. I personally wonder if the nuns picture is a hospital scene–the Catholics did have an edge vs. the Protestants in founding hospitals at the time. My dad and aunt, both Protestant growing up, were born at Catholic hospitals. So that might be the birth of the heir.


  7. Vicki

    I have one too. Does it have any value?


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