Monday, June 9, 2014

Weekend Finds: You're in the Army Now (Matthew in WWII Uniform)

Good morning!

How was your weekend? You can about guess how I spent mine-- shoppin', readin', hangin' with friends (added wild card: got really into season 2 of about RAMPED UP from season 1, thank you Kelsey for encouraging me to continue watching). I finished Big Bill Broonzy's memoirs and launched into silent film scribe/Mary Pickford intimate Frances Marion's autobiography, and am almost through that. I ordered new glasses (pics to come when they get in with their lenses). As for estate sales, we made it a SUPER family affair this weekend-- my mom joined in, and we had a ball! As usual, I bought the most stuff-- but the NEATEST thing I bought of the stuff I bought, was in Donelson at an estate sale that was almost all kind of eh 80's and 90's stuff....and an entire closet full of WWII and later uniforms. AAAH!

Naturally, with that kind of buy-bait, I bit, and look at my little guy in his circa 1945 splendor:

Note: I am not actually eight feet tall, this photo was taken from the vantage point of
an ottoman. Still, I love this angle, and feel a little like David Bailey.

Could you die?

I might have mentioned before, but for the record-- my dad is not your casual WWII enthusiast. In the same way as some people collect the odd record here and there, and then there are rabid, down-to-the-bone vinyl enthusiasts, my dad is probably the most knowledgeable Second World War enthusiast you will meet outside of a professional academic setting. Since childhood, he's inhaled every kind of militaria book, magazine, pamphlet he could get his hands on, and with the same diligence with which I apply myself to, oh, 1800's portraits or thirties' dresses. Dude knows his onions, if those onions are MacArthur's family background or Pacific theater air attacks. Accordingly, when I see estate sales with 1940's-era content, you'd better believe we make a beeline, hoping I can score big band sheet music and he might lay hands on a service medal or a copy of Yank magazine. We went to this one and I dragged him to the closet going, "LOOK! Look at all of this!" He agreed that the items from the forties' were all in tip top shape, but he's a 42L, and the sizes on the clothes were 34S. Guess who I know who's a 34S? My long-torso'd little husband! With pants and shirts at $5 apiece, and the jacket itself at $15, I was like...well, one of us is buying this ensemble, Pappy...and it turned out to be me.

Rumpled Stiltskin.
We cherry picked the best shirt and pants out of the closet, and grabbed the officer's service jacket. While I was bummed it didn't have a matching belt, my dad mentioned a forties' looking leather belt could stand in pretty well in its stead. When Matthew put the jacket on, he went, "There's something in the pocket!" I was holding out for Krugerrands, or maybe at least a tie to complete the ensemble, when what should he produce from said pocket but the belt! YESSSS. There was an officer's hat, but it was $20, and a quarter inch too small for either of our heads. Maybe I'll find another!

What was so neat about seeing my guy in this uniform? Getting an idea of how little WWII era women lost their hearts to men in service uniform. Seriously? It's not like I don't already find my guy super attractive, but PLUS an army uniform? I love thinking about 18 year old farm kids or kids who had never had anything joining the Army and being given a suit of clothes better than what they'd wear to church on Sunday. How proud they must have felt in these Brooks Brothers esque uniforms, and oh my goodness how dashing when they went to town on leave from training and hung around the movie theater or the restaurants trying to pick up girls. If you were halfway cute, I bet you went from a score of 5 to a 15 out of 10 when you donned pinks and greens (as my dad just this weekend taught me the dark green service jacket and lighter green pants were called...this would be greens and like tans, haha). The pants need pressing, but look at how grown up and formal Matthew looks:

I was going to try to edit out my skull necklace and Matthew's copy of Mario Kart, but it adds anachronistic 
ambiance, right? That and I can't figure out how to, lol.
Second thought-- when or where can you wear something like this outside of a costume ball or Halloween? The very last thing I would want to do is show some kind of disrespect to actual servicemen, but as this uniform hasn't been used by the US Army since 1955, it's not like anyone would mistake my thirtysomething husband for a) having worn it for real the first time around or b) being an active member of the military. I don't know! Being the daughter of someone really into army surplus, I definitely wore my share of olive drab in high school, but I'm not sure how this works on guys and in the 21st century. What I do know? Dude looks like this coat was made for him:                         

Anyway, I gotta shuffle off to Buffalo...but how about you? Do you know any WWII nuts? How are you fixed for vintage Army or other service uniforms? What kinds of collections run in your family? WHERE or when do you wear something like this without giving offense? Let's talk!

That's all for today, but I'll be back tomorrow with some more things I found out on the junk trail. Have a fabulous Monday! I'll see you then.


  1. he looks so cute! that really is a dashing uniform!

    1. I know, it makes Matthew look like Tyrone Power or somebody...not that he wasn't already a stone cold cutie, but it's amazing how that suit brings such class and style with it.

  2. Replies
    1. Thanks, Laurie! I'm still brainstorming where he can wear it, but it was a fabulous deal for a perfect fit of a fabulous ensemble.

  3. What a terrific find and that it fit Matthew perfectly! You know the original owners took care and pride in it when they tucked the belt into the pocket for safe keeping! Now it's owned by someone to give it equal care. I always loved how these uniforms looked , they were so stylish. I wonder if there is any information out there on who exactly was the designer of all the WWII uniforms? Hmmm. Terrific find!

    1. I was talking to my dad about it and thought about how strange it would be to "change style" on a uniform, after however many years of having the same one. And you're exactly right, who did design them and what prompted the change? I'll have to do some more research and get back to you, I'm glad you're curious like I am about it!

  4. Paul is a 34 short, too. I always tease him about having extra vertebrae because his torso is sooo long compared to his legs. We have the same inseam and he's got 7" on me.

    The army uniform fits so well and makes Matthew look nice and in proportion! I thought I was the only one who had a husband with a freakishly long torso.

    1. Haha, isn't that funny? Long torso'd men of the world, unite!

  5. Wow, that does look like it was made for him. He looks like he should be with Gene Kelly and Frank Sinatra, painting the town red!

    How are you liking the Frances Marion autobiography? I loved it so much I hope to find a copy of my own somewhere. I haven't read the Cari Beauchamp biography of Frances yet, but I saw her at the TCM Film Festival in 2013-she gave a wonderful talk about women in the start of the movie industry.

    1. Haha, I agree!! :D

      I was on the fence about the Marion book-- it is EXACTLY the time period I'm most interested (pioneer Hollywood days to the thirties' and forties'), but I get so frustrated at how elliptical she is in her recollections! I actually skipped over the ONE LINE DESCRIPTION of where/when she got married in a chapter and had to go back and figure out "Now wait, WHEN did she get married?". I have that "Without Lying Down" book you mentioned on my to-read shelf here...I hope it shines a little more light on what must have been a fascinating life (if we could only hear more about it!). Did you ever read "Sunnyside" by Glen David Gold? SO GOOD. Chaplin, Pickford, Fairbanks, and Marion are all characters in one of the narrative threads in that fictional account of 1918 America, I LOOOVED it and I usually hate that sort of using-real-people-as-fictional-characters-in-modern-lit conceit. Gold knocked it out of the park, if you ask me.

  6. I agree with you, I do wish she had gone more in-depth with her stories. Still, I find her so fascinating-I had never heard of her before the TCM festival, then it seems I saw her name everywhere.

    I haven't read Sunnyside-but now will skedaddle over to my library database and see if they have it. Sounds awesome!



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