Gentry Magazine – A Time Capsule

Gentry Magazine was the sort of publication that could never exist today.  It was laid out with an obsessive compulsive level of precision, the writing wasn’t the least bit watered down, playing to an educated set that could actually afford the clothes they profiled, and the features were immaculate, bordering on being almost too thorough, as evidenced by the magazine’s famous finishing touches that included fabric swatches and artist’s prints.  At the same time, in a lot of ways Gentry carved out the path for our modern publications.  It wasn’t only about menswear, Gentry also covered music, art, sports, food (James Beard was a frequent contributor), and other more general lifestyle topics, it’s staff understand the importance of imagery in keeping the reader intrigued (their “real life” style photographs seem like a precursor to today’s street style,) and their front covers were an art form all their own.

Founded in New York by publisher William Segal in 1951, Gentry was a lofty endeavor to say the least.  It was hard-bound, featured more photos than the even most magazines today, and it really honed in on the minutiae of clothes, going over details with a finer tooth comb than would ever be acceptable today.  Looking back on copies of Gentry, it reveals a lot about that era of style, when men carefully considered each component of their daily outfit, from each individual fabrics of their shirts and jackets, to the collar height of an overcoat, to the gorge of a sportcoat.

Gentry speaks to a vocabulary that most men simply don’t have (or don’t really care to have) anymore, a reminder of a time when a man’s everyday outfit had to be both respectable and personal, therefore they had to pay the utmost attention to each minuscule detail of their wardrobe.  The publication also is an odd collection of designs that we hardly ever see anymore, including knickers, full tailed tuxes, and traditional hunting jackets.  Yet overall what Gentry best functions as for me is a time capsule of classic American style.  Natural shoulders, sack suits, the colors and textures of a bygone era, wide lapels, fedoras, but also casual pieces-tassel loafers, slim break-less trousers, duffel coats, chunky knits, go-to-hell pants, blousy white button ups.  Gentry may have only lasted six years and twenty-two issues but it’s countless images and meticulous articles still stand today as one of the best resources on classic American style that has ever existed.

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