Saturday, June 26, 2021

Men's Summer Fashions

Summer is here time for lighter subjects and lighter clothing; so, for no particular reason, Sweatback Saturday takes a thoroughly unscientific look at menswear in Germany and the U.S. in 1921.

"Zurück zur Natur" by F. Huebner in Simplicissimus, Munich, July 1, 1921

I'm going to go out on a limb here and presume that there was a significant heat wave across Germany that year. At the very least, the temperature was rising in a number of German cartoons. Here Michel, the German equivalent of John Bull or Uncle Sam, stripped of his clothes by the Entente powers, decides that that it was just as well anyway.

Detail of "Miscellany" by Werner Hamann in Kladderadatsch, July, 1921

The sign reads "outdoor pool." That looks to me like a mighty large pool back there.

One thing I've noticed is that, no matter how beastly hot the weather, German cartoon men maintained some degree of modesty...

"Berliner Pressebericht" by Karl Arnold in Simplicissimus, Munich, July 6, 1921
...Three out of four of them kept their hats on. (Cue Joe Cocker!)

Perhaps it came from our forebears' Puritan roots, or just from being on the winning side of the Great War, but American cartoon characters, despite the heat, dressed more modestly than their German counterparts.

Donahey in Cleveland Plain Dealer, ca. Aug., 1921

Most cartoon characters today would choose to wear something easier to wring out than a pair of overalls if they intend to sit under a shower. 

Even when heading out to the freibad, American cartoon men kept themselves covered — perhaps with some help.

"Did We Put Enough Sand on Yuh" by R. B. Fuller in Wayside Tales / Cartoons Magazine, July, 1921
Even in a cartoon set in the heat of the Great American Desert, here's a guy fully dressed, hat and all — okay, he has taken off his overcoat.
J. N. "Ding" Darling in Des Moines Register, July, 1921

I suspect, however, from the context of the cartoon that this fellow does not make his own clothing choices.

All this is not to say that American cartoonists weren't any good at figure drawing. But if a cartoonist wanted in 1921 to show off his chops at drawing the male form, he had probably best stick to cartoons about Biblical topics.

"Djer Moi..." in Life, June 9, 1921

"If There Had Been Movies in Bible Times" by Thomas S. Sullivant in Life, June 23, 1921

"Yez Kin Put Me Down As Sayin'..." in Life, July 14, 1921
(Who knew that the Garden of Eden was in France?)

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