I’m working on “My Father’s House,” and I’m at the point where he arrives in America and is teased for what he’s wearing. He had purchased the height of style for his arrival in the U.S., but is put down for his “foreign” look. I’ve searched the web, but I haven’t found a good answer to the following question. “What was he wearing that marked him as a foreigner?” In other words, how did American men’s styles differ from Swedish (or European) style in 1910?

I’m grateful for any help I can get…..


Posted October 10, 2015 by Mona Gustafson Affinito in Uncategorized


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  1. Nothing to contribute. But thought I’d say hi anyway. Hope you get some answers. Have you checked with the American Swedish Institute in Minneapolis?

  2. Mona – do you know what his suit looked like – fabric – pattern – texture?If you do I may be able to offer some information. â€ŽHope you are feeling better.Pat Sent from my BlackBerry 10 smartphone. From: monagustafsonaffinitoSent: Saturday, October 10, 2015 4:16 PMTo: patgitt@gmail.comReply To: monagustafsonaffinitoSubject: [New post] HELP: AMERICAN VS. SWEDISH MEN’S STYLES 1910

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    Mona Gustafson Affinito posted: “I’m working on “My Father’s House,” and I’m at the point where he arrives in America and is teased for what he’s wearing. He had purchased the height of style for his arrival in the U.S., but is put down for his “foreign” look. I’ve searched the web, but “

    • Hi Pat,

      Thanks for the offer. All I know is my father said he bought the latest style suit to wear when he arrived in America and was teased for looking foreign. He said nothing about what it looked like. So what I need is information to write into the fictionalized story to give it more flavor and eating. When I look up Swedish men’s styles of 1910 I find a number of photos. Good, I thought. Now to find how American styes were different. Unfortunately, in looking up American men’s styles, 1910, I don’t find photos that show much difference, or it’s like comparing apples and oranges with social class differences. Most style stuff for both places was about people a couple levels above my dad’s social class. Maybe it’s just an impossible task?

  3. I will make my own feeble attempts to find some information. Yet, I suspect this may have had nothing to do with the way he dressed. Certain things about people don’t change all that much. It may have been his behavior or gestures, his use of English, the nature of his inquiries that he recalled as being related to his dress. As much as I do not like it, truth is that people have always had suspicions and discomfort with people who are “different”. “Bullying”, the focus of the present, is not really that new a concept, but rather the way people have always expressed discomfort with people who are “different”.
    With your father’s earnest and well earned arrival in the States, he may have had no idea that others would not welcome him and his sincere efforts. So, he recalls it as his clothes.

  4. Mona, I googled “swedish mens wear in 1910” and found a lot of images – maybe you could look at those and compare them with “American men’s wear in 1910?

    • Thanks so much for caring and trying, Leelah. I also googled Swedish men’s styles of 1910 and was very excited to see ways I could describe the cut of the pants and jackets. My problem came when I went to look at American men’s styles of 1910. It was like comparing apples with oranges with their apparent preference for conveying the styles of the upper crust, or of men at work with their tractors. Maybe I just need to give up?

      I wish I could find a verbal description that might distinguish fabrics. Or maybe I need to give up.

  5. Hi, Mona, Here’s a story I heard from my grandmother about a couple who’d newly arrived from either Norway or Sweden around 1910 and their “height of fashion.” They were invited for dinner at a neighbor’s home in a small S.D. town and startled everyone by wearing fancy evening dress–tails and top hat for him and a long evening dress for her. I don’t think the others had ever seen such elegant clothes and certainly didn’t expect them at a small supper party!

  6. If you have some idea of Swedish men’s style of the time, maybe Men’s Fashions 1910, Men’s Edwardian 1910’s Historical Fashion, or Men’s costume 1885-1910 would provide a clue.

  7. I don’t have an answer to your question, but it made me think about an exhibit I saw when I toured Ellis Island several years ago. It was about how men often came to the U.S. several years before their wives. When the women arrived they looked very “foreign” and their husbands supposedly often were disappointed since they’d become used to the way American women looked.. To eliminate this problem some women in New York organized a charity that donated clothes–and volunteers at Ellis Island dressed the newcomers in fashionable outfits prior to them being reunited with their spouses. I know that the volunteers were trying to be helpful–but in many ways this seemed sad to me.

  8. How are you Mona. I am waiting to hear. I have read your posts over, the recent ones and want to know what you are doing these days. I hope you are well and actively writing. Just a hello!!! I am fine.

    • How kind of you to ask. I’m working at pulling together my energies to do all the things I want to do. Working on “My Father’s House” has taken precedence when I get to my computer. I’m trying various changes in set-up to reduce the pain problem that emerges when I sit to work on it. Most of the time I’m as comfortable as any normal person can expect to be past the age of 46. (And I do have my father finally arriving in Connecticut in September, 1910. It turns out his very proper European suit is a scoffing matter for Americans. — fact if family lore is to be believed.)

  9. Hi Mona, you stopped by my blog awhile back and I have just now kind of caught up with the comments and thought I would visit. The story you are working on is very interesting. My grandfather’s parents and he were from Germany about the same time. The material they used for suits and such was a fine tweed and from what I have seen in pictures was kind of expensive looking. Not at all like the American suits of the time. Men in American I believe were starting to wear more casual suits-made of different wool blends and cotton. Plus, it could have been that it wouldn’t matter what your grandfather had worn, only that he was a foreigner and they found something in particular to pick on him about. Geez, adults can be as immature as grade school children.

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