11 August 2009

The Madras Blazer

Gentry Magazine Summer 1953

"...introduced and immediately accepted in Palm Beach this winter..."

Trimmingham's Madras Blazer circa 1965

Trimmingham's Label

Trimmingham's Blazer Button

Buttons by Gaunt of London

The standard "two button" sleeve of the 1960's.

My first item of madras, other than the shirts I had as an eight year old, was a pair of Polo madras trousers I purchased for a college dance. Expensive but I had to have them. They were cuffed then and there because the dance was that night. I'm still an impulse buyer.

That madras jacket was bought on impulse. Although it cost less than those Polo trousers 25 years ago - - It was a thrift store find - - Worth the price of the buttons alone. Gaunt was a maker of buttons for the the military in England and Canada. From what I gather, they went out of business in the mid 1960's hence my stab at the blazer's date of origin.

The madras has a beautiful patina and soft hand with nubs of cotton imperfection here and there. The single vent is short and the pattern matching at the pockets is dead on. Sloppy pattern matching is a real problem with a lot of today's manufacturing. Even the high end stuff. According to the 1953 Summer issue of Gentry, the madras blazer made it's debut the prior Winter in Palm Beach. Where'd you expect? Lawton?

Trimmingham's was a huge department store on Front Street in Hamilton with several stores scattered around the island. It was a full block wide and was at least three stories with a men's department on a windowless ground floor. The sport coat collection was amazing but seemed to be cut for the "ass less" British customer. Whenever I tried a jacket on, the double vents made my butt look like a dinner table.

Trimmingham's is gone now. A victim of insurance companies willing to pay insane money for Hamilton office space. I understand the employees have reunions despite some bitter feelings for the owners. Alas, when the dump trucks full of cash pull up in front of your house -- It's hard to say no. I'll pass this blazer onto my nephew when the time is right and if it survives another 50 years -- I hope it makes it to a museum.


M.Lane said...

That is one FABULOUS blazer! Love the provenance and the buttons.


LPC said...

These improve enormously upon fading.

Michael Rowe said...

I didn't know Trimmingham's was out of business...? Jesus.

Ben said...

Out of all the madras blazers that appear in this post, yours is by far the best. I actually think these are hit or miss, and some of the ones that appear in the vintage photos look a little too bold and blocky, and not in a charming "go to hell" way. Yours strikes a good balance between cut, pattern and muting (must've already faded some these past 40 years). You don't get that balance right and you're wearing Archie Bunker's chair.

Congratulations on the find. Bet you raced to the register, paid, and split fast! Call me Envy.

Enzo AGC said...

Just wait until you see my thrift shop find from this past sunday...

Kim said...

And Waterloo House is empty, its flagpoles still on the front with no beautiful flags waving in the breeze and the window boxes full of trash instead of flowers. Very sad, indeed.

Our cab driver told us that although they've closed it, the deal to tear it down has not gone through and may not happen. We can only hope.

Laguna Beach Fogey said...

Beautiful post. Thanks. I need one of those. But if I wore one, I'd want to add a bit of edge to it, or a deliberate mis-match, such as a pair of BB tennis racquet-motif trousers.

tintin said...

M Lane- Thanks, man. It's a keeper for sure. Just wish there was a Holiday Inn around here so I could test it out on the dance floor.

LPC- Uh, this one has 40 years of fading.

Do people read this or do they just look at the pictures?

Michael - 2005 I think it was. I was there for the film festival and it was made public. Big sale. Very sad.

Ben- Thank you. Who can argue with your erudite taste and keen eye. And I paid in cash.

Enzo- You on 23rd St with McNairy?

MOR- Welcome back from the Rosedon. Your description of Waterloo brought tears to my eyes which then turned to anger but then...you say the deal to tear it down may not go through? I am breaking out the prayer beads.

LBT- A player's gotta play.

Anonymous said...

Who knew the Trad had a little junk in his trunk. Badonkadonk. D

GSV JR said...

I still have my Oleg Cassini madras blazer from high school. The floor seller at Muse's was a big fan of "buying big to grow into," so it still fits.

Haven't worn it since my first - and last - meeting with the Loyal Order of the Moose local chapter. I was the youngest guy there and those nail chewers drank me under the table. I think my blazer must still smell of rye whisky, vomit, cigar smoke, and Brut.

Tucker said...

Gorgeous. Beautiful pattern.

I'm extremely jealous.

Anonymous said...


Richard M said...

Gentry was a fabulous magazine-wish I had every issue! Compare this to preset day GQ, Details, etc.!

EsseQuamVideri said...

Okay, the blazer is great... but where can I get that magazine?!

Derek said...

Love this jacket. Wish I could find one just like it or similar. I used to have a RL baracuta-style one in this pattern that I wore out in college...too small for me now!

My dad had a similar patterned jacket from his UNC days back in the mid-late 50s. I've looked online for one and they are all out of my price range, like $500 and up. I guess I need to hit some thrift stores!