Little evokes bygone style like a men's two piece walking suit. Although these days it goes by several names and can simply refer to a matching shirt and trousers, it still has the essence of a leisurely time and life.
History of Men's Two Piece Walking Suits
The rise of a wealthy leisure class in Europe brought with it new sartorial sense. By the 18th century, at least in Britain, the country was relatively peaceful and the rich and powerful could concentrate on other things besides politics and defense. There had always been gentlemen, but they could now devote themselves whole-heartedly to the work of being a proper gentleman. In addition, the textile industry grew and fabrics became more practical and less expensive. That coupled with households becoming easier to maintain so that servants could spend more time caring for clothes, the upper and even middle classes began to designate clothing for various times of day.
There had always been a difference between daywear and eveningwear. Now, men and women divided their days more strictly, so that morning clothes were worn for visiting, and walking suits for afternoon and Sunday strolls. The men's two-piece walking suit was a more casual item, appropriate to the more casual 1920s. Even if the walk was with one's date or wife, it was still an activity, and so demanded a casual jacket and matching trousers, rather than a vest. Of course, a necktie and hat were still worn.
Modern Men's Two Piece Walking Suits
Today, the term can be applied to both casual jacket and trouser combinations, usually worn in the afternoon, and to shirts and trousers that match. Obviously, you'll be hard pressed to find someone who designates an outfit solely for walking, but the term does still exist, presumably as a combination of practicality and nostalgia.
For something very casual, you can easily buy untailored combo suits at Contempo Suits, which has a wide range of what they call men's two piece walking suits. You can get them in a variety of colors and striped, plain or metallic. Most of the suits are a poly-rayon blend and reasonably priced.
Other choices in good two-piece suits can be found at Suit Fellas, which has an interesting variety of matching jackets and trousers. You can get a suit with a leather-fronted jacket mixed with fabric and matching fabric trousers with wide legs and box pleats. For a dressier event, you can get a white linen suit with a loose, fully lined jacket and wide leg trousers with inverted pleats. The trousers feature front and back lining.
Vintage Walking Clothes
There's a lot to be said for evoking the old days. Whether you're going to a costume event, or just a dressy outing that will allow for a costume look, you might want to find an outfit that makes you a historical gentleman taking in the air. At the Gentleman's Emporium, you can get all manner of Victorian wear, including frock coat, shirt, waistcoat, trousers, cravat, top hat and the all-important walking stick.
If you prefer actual vintage clothes, it can be difficult to find anything from the 1920s and 1930s, but try Vintage Trends. Most of their earliest items date from the 1940s, when the idea of the walking suit gave way to the leisure suit, and then only after the war was over, but you can find quality two-piece suits here, as well as fun accessories. The stock changes regularly, so you have to keep your eye on it.
If you have a good tailor, you may be best off buying a vintage pattern and having something made for you. Rusty Zipper has a nice selection of men's patterns. Again, they are mostly from the 1940s on, but it's a start and you will look ready to walk proud.