When in doubt, wear a Handmacher suit!
I’m a huge fan of vintage skirt suits, and if you are curious about the reasons, read my article about the 1940s-1950s suits. I don’t look for any particular brands when searching for a new addition to my growing suit collection. With the exception of the Taylored by Handmacher suits! You can see in the picture below, an example of one of my lovely 1950s Handmacher suits. The exact same one, at least style-wise, was featured in Harper’s Bazaar from 1952.
A brief history of Handmacher suits.
- Alvin Handmacher, the president and co-founder of Handmacher-Vogel Inc., was one of the biggest manufacturers of women suits in the USA in the 1940s, 1950s and the first half of the 1960s. According to the Trademark Electronic Search System (TESS), the TAILORED BY HANDMACHER logo was first used in commerce in 1940, so it’s safe to assume that this was the year of the brand’s “birth”.
- Handmacher’s ads were very prominent and published in magazines such as Vogue, Harper’s and Mademoiselle. The 1949 TV ad for Weathervane suits was one of the most successful advertising campaigns of its time.
- Advertisement in LIFE magazine from May 11, 1953, reads;
Calanese* acetate wonder fabric used exclusively in the most famous suit in the world. Handmacher’s crisp, cool Weathervanes solve summer suit problem-cost only $25 and $30
Who designed the elegant, stylish and beautifully tailored Handmacher suits?
It was no other than the famous American socialite Jane Derby.
I found in a news article from The Evening Sun (Baltimore, Maryland) 21 July 1958 that Jane Derby, during one of her trips to Paris;
She turned from client to apprentice, working for three couturiers. She was taught to select fabrics, to draft and cut patterns and “to work from the muslin.
After her return from Paris to the USA she opened a dress shop. And in 1938 presented her first Jane Derby Collection of ready to wear suits and dresses. In 1946 she started designing the famous Handmacher suits for Handmacher-Vogel, Inc. Jane Derby was known for her elegance, sophistication and an extraordinarily good taste, which she translated into her designs. Remember, when in doubt, wear a Handmacher suit!
- Until 1953, Alvin Handmacher was the main sponsor of LPGA tour -The Ladies Professional Golf Association. The person responsible for convincing Alvin Handmacher to invest a lot of money into LPGA was its tournament director, the brilliant Fred Corcoran, knows as “Mr Golf”. Corcoran’s daughter wrote in her book Fred Corcoran: The Man Who Sold the World on Golf;
Fred wouldn’t go so far as to say that without Alvin Handmacher and his Weathervane Championships, there wouldn’t be a women’s pro tour today. But make no mistake about it – Alvin put the Ladies’ PGA in business.
The legendary “Babe” Didrikson Zaharias represented Weathervane women’s sports clothes manufactured by Handmacher who paid her $10000 a year to wear his clothes.
I would gladly represent the Handmacher brand in exchange for an endless supply of his magnificent suits.
Here is a new to me late 1940s Handmacher suit.
A 1940s brooch
A 1950s gloves
French Sole Penelope Ankle Tie