What fashion cost in 1926 – Men

From the same 1926 Motion Picture Classic magazine series as Clara Bow’s oufit, comes this article with the breakdown for how Ramon Novarro’s evening suit cost $430.00 (not including shirt studs and cuff links, which could range in price from $25.00 to thousands – if studded with diamonds…) Translating $430.00 into today’s money would be about $6,000.00. Take away the hat ($10.00), cane ($12.00) and evening gloves ($5.00) as they are no longer worn, as well as the topcoat ($75.00), which is not pictured but included in the price, the adjusted value of the 1926 outfit in terms of finding a modern equivalent is closer to $330.00, which is about $4,600.00 in today’s money.

Today, a ready-to-wear tuxedo ranges between about $1,000 and $3,000 (up to $10,000, if custom made). Men’s evening shoes range from about $400 to $2,000, tuxedo shirts range between $60 and $300, bow ties cost $40 to $150, a pair of black silk socks range from $50 to $100, and a white linen handkerchief costs about $15 to $50. The total ranges from a low end of about $1,600 to a high end of about $5,500 (more if the tuxedo is custom made, as Ramon Novarro’s was.) In the picture it suggests Navarro’s suit would cost about the same as a flivver coupe, which was the cheapest car on the market in 1926. Today’s cheapest cars range between $9,000 and $12,000, which about equals the value of a custom made tuxedo in today’s money. It seems nothing has changed since 1926!

About Jonathan

Jonathan Walford is a fashion historian and co-founder of the Fashion History Museum in Cambridge, Ontario. The FHM maintains a collection of nearly 12,000 artifacts dating from the mid 17th century to the present. Jonathan has authored various books and museum catalogues, including The Seductive Shoe, Shoes A-Z, Forties Fashion, 1950s American Fashion, and Sixties Fashion.
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