Atlantic City, January 1920… The Eighteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibited the manufacturing, sale and consumption of alcohol and, in the process, gave rise to a new wave of organized crime led by “gentlemen” wearing luxurious, impeccably accessorized wardrobes… The Roaring Twenties, improbably, a platform of men’s fashion today!
For those with a flair for fashion and not really amazed by most popular TV shows nowadays, following the life of a historical sartorialist is pure eye candy. Add sex, gangsters, dandies, revelers, moonshine runners, gunplay and racketeering, and you have an exceptional show: “Boardwalk Empire.”
As you can tell by now, we are obsessed with clothing… Custom clothing, to be exact. And immediately after watching the first show, we knew Sir Thompson was one of us. Praise is due to John Dunn, custom designer of the show’s suits, for transporting us back in time. A time that experienced probably the most changes in everyday life, especially fashion, that, with help of technological development, facilitated the introduction of new fabrics and closures. Natural fabrics like cotton and wool were the most predominant of the era, with silk still being highly desirable and still yet highly unattainable. What was not unattainable was the impeccably tailored gangster look. These gentlemen did not hold anything back (if you watch the show, you know what “anything” means) as far as fashion. We were blown away by colors, patterns and accessories of the highly fashionable time.
We are sure the real life Enoch Johnson (whom “Nucky” Thompson is based on), knew one should never compromise their style, and that a very well-suited man can literally reach for the stars. His TV proxy, Mr. Thompson, being the central character of the show, is a vivid example of what power means in terms of fashion… The power suit, completely mastered!
We cannot fail to recognize the construction of the suit, which is extraordinary. Leaving the long jacket on morning suits and tail coats behind and adapting a shorter, higher-waisted and smaller lapelled suit. The pants were also more tailored, although not tapered, and also shortened, providing some socks picking and began to be cuffed at the bottom. A sumptuous three-piece suit was a gentleman’s must.
Accessorizing was also a must, and the gentlemen of the ’20s were masters in this department. Handkerchiefs, cufflinks, platinum watch chains, shirts with collar pins, top hats/homburg (obviously only for the upper class gents), two toned wingtips and pattern combinations that will leave many of us allured.
In short, the sartorial gentleman of the 1920s, which “Boardwalk Empire” almost worships, was a gentleman who was fearless in his dress, displaying some of the most fantastical combination of colors and style possible while laying the groundwork for all of the beautiful colors and fashions we wear today.