Dressing well in the 1950s: From the Archives, April 4th, 1951

What did the well-to-do and well-dressed Dubliner need in his wardrobe and what did it cost him in the early 1950s? A lot less than it cost a Londoner, according to this report

What is the price that the well- dressed man in Dublin pays for his tailored elegance? How does it compare with the cost to his counterpart in London?

Inspired by details of inquiries into the cost of men's clothing in the West End of London recently, which were given in the "London Letter" of last Wednesday's Irish Times, a reporter yesterday visited men's outfitters in Dublin to find out how much it takes to look smart.

It was stated by our London Correspondent that the cost of a compete wardrobe in the British capital for the well-to-do man of fashions was more than £800. This included shooting suit and pink hunting coat, costing £130. The results of the Dublin research suggest that very few men in the Irish capital indulge themselves in such luxuries.

One of the most striking features of a tour of the Dublin shopping centres is the wide range in prices for the same type of article, but, of course, of different quality. For this reason it is somewhat difficult to be dogmatic about the exact cost of dressing well. However, for the purposes of comparing prices with London’s West End, the highest prices for equivalent articles are given.


The following table shows comparative prices for virtually all the articles listed in the survey of London’s West End shops, and those obtained in Dublin. The price [sic] given are the average rates ruling in some of the fashionable outfitters for men. They do not purport to represent the average price for all shops in the city.

The figures for London are given first, while those for Dublin are given in parenthesis.

Morning coat, vest and trousers £63 18s 9d. (£21); dinner jacket and trousers, £62 10s. (£22); lounge suit, £52 10s. (£24); full evening suit, £65 12s. (£24); poplin shirt to measure, £5 11s. 11d. (£2 10s.); dress shirt with collar attached, £5 1s. (£1 15s.); Macclesfield ties, £1 19s. 6d. (15s.); set of underwear, £6 (£2); handkerchiefs, dozen (linen), £25 (£2 14s.); handkerchiefs (silk) each, £1 10s. (6s. to 21s.); shoes (best English calf), £11 5s. (£9); dress shoes £12 2s. 6d. (£2 1s.); golf shoes, £11 10s. (£3); hunting boots, £21 (£14 14s.); bowler hat, £3 (£3); trilby, £2 10s. (£3); black Homburg, £3 (£3 3s.); raincoat, £16 (£8); overcoat, £40 (£20).

No comparable figures could be ascertained for what was described as “sporting outfit,” which costs £130 in London, and consists of shooting suit and scarlet hunting coat. The material used in hunting “pink” costs about £4 a yard. There was no demand for hunting suits in this country, it was stated.

In the Grafton street area, suits of the highest quality cost anything up to £25; for the workingman, who can only afford to buy himself a suit perhaps every two years, some Dublin shops are displaying materials costing £8 15s. to make up.

Suits which formerly cost the white-collar worker five guineas will now cost him from 12 guineas to 14 guineas. The price of overcoats on display in the city varies from about 22 guineas to £3 15s., at which price comfortable-looking tweed garments were offered in a Capel street establishment.

While the fastidious man pays up to £3 for his shirts, the white-collar worker, with diligent shopping, can obtain garments of reasonably good quality at prices from one guinea to 35s. The workingman’s shirt costs about 15s. Socks are on sale at from 3s. 11d. to 6s. 11d., and up to 30s. for the fancy types. The prices [sic] of shoes varies very little, and, although some types can be bought for about 30s., the general run of prices is about £3.

On a spending spree around the city the monied man would have an enjoyable time on £200, with sufficient capital to buy a complete wardrobe, excluding the hunting outfit.

The white-collar man if presented with £50 to spend on himself could buy a suit, overcoat, shirt, shoes, socks, underclothing and hat, but would have little left of his money when he reached home.

For the workingman who is prepared to travel from one shopping area to another spotting bargains £30 would buy a complete rig-out. There would be little change left for entertainment. Read the original at iti.ms/1BIYjav Selected by Joe Joyce; email fromthearchives@irishtimes.com