The Obsolete Pattern: Re-creating a 1930s Men’s Union Suit
As a fan of vintage patterns, I am especially drawn to styles that are no longer (or rarely) worn today: garments like smoking jackets, painters’ smocks, ladies’ bed jackets, and formal gloves. On eBay recently, I purchased a vintage men’s pattern lot that included a pattern for a men’s union suit, Simplicity 1335 (in my size no less), which dates from the early-to-mid 1930s.
Notice the NRA eagle in the lower left-hand corner symbolizing FDR’s National Recovery Administration, founded in 1933—and declared unconstitutional two years later. Simplicity 1335 is a rare pattern, although the union suit itself was ubiquitous in the early decades of the 20th century. It was popularized in advertisements by such well-known menswear manufacturers as BVD, Munsingwear, and Hanes. The word union refers to the combination of top and bottom into a single garment; in the United Kingdom, this undergarment style was known as a combination.
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