Men’s fashions changed pocket knife styles

smallmensfashionsturnofcenturyMen’s ready-to-wear clothing became available around the end of the nineteenth century. With the introduction of the sewing machine, combined with the factory system, men’s clothes started to be mass produced here in the States.

As a result the “fashion world” started to influence what men wore. Paris was the center of the fashion world around the early part of the twentieth century. Their fashions changed styles here too. In fact, men’s suits saw a slimming in profile that came in about 1908. 

What’s the connection?

Early in American cutlery history many knives were made big and bulky. There came a time when carrying big bulky knives died out. Some died as the result of obsolescence, but others died for another reason.

Men’s fashions

Did you know there was a time when thinner knives were actually in vogue?  The year was 1920 and the trend became so noticeable The New York Times ran a story entitled,  “Thin Ones Now the Vogue, as Men’s Pockets Are Smaller.”

“Few men, apparently, realize that there are fashions in pocket knives, yet there have been several distinct changes in the popular styles of knives in the last twenty years.”

“With the adoption of smaller pockets in men’s clothes, however, bulky knives have become relics of the past. American cutlery makers, like the watch manufacturers, have styled their products along more handy and compact lines.”

What became the most popular style?

In case you are curious as which style proved to be the most popular-

” The most popular model now is the two-bladed jackknife. As the holidays approach there is always an increase in demand for tw0-bladed knives with pearl handles.”

As a side note here: The article goes on to say, “Around 1900, the value of pocket knives was measured by the number of blades and useful instruments, such as nail files, corkscrews, etc., which they carried.”

Conditions impact knife styles made and carried

It is interesting to see how changes in society (fashions, industrialism, etc.) impacted knives, isn’t it?

By the way, if your favorite large pattern died out in the early 1900s, and it wasn’t the result an invention of a more efficient working tool, then now you know it could have been due to the fashion of smaller pockets.

Sources: The New York Times November 21, 1920;

Published in: on January 5, 2009 at 7:03 am  Leave a Comment  
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