There were the sketches and visual reference provided by the designer, but I like to research a bit more in order to make the patterns. I like to look at various drafts of the period I am trying to recreate but I don't actually use them because I don't have time to find out if they do or don't work on someone else's dime. I use my basic drafting set up and modify from there for fit and style.
I have a small collection of reference materials to use, and here are a few things that helped me.
I have had some opportunity to make 1950's suits before but I think I really was not successful in getting the silhouette right. I was determined to do better this time.
One thing I found was a chart showing proportionate back widths for jackets- you can see they offered three distinct widths for each chest size, depending on the style of jacket the customer wanted-
2. modified drape or wide shouldered young men's
3. drape coats or lounge coats
You can see that for a size 38 the back width could be between 8 1/8 inches and 8 3/4 inches
Compare that to the standard proportion of approx 7 1/2 inches for a size 38 across back.
We wanted a more extremely young men's shape for these jackets and in looking at some of the period photos of these musicians, and other people of the period, the jackets were quite roomy, boxy and slightly oversized, and long. The waist shaping was minimal, the visual waistline was lower than the natural waist and the hip was quite slim. The shoulders were wide and quite square, buttoning point was lower, hence longer lapels, and pocket placement was lower as well.
These pages give an indication of the body silhouette, shoulder width, waist shaping, and overall jacket length.
These jackets were for young men so you can see that the studio style is longer, has lower set pockets and less waist shaping.
The length for someone 5'10" is 32".
Suit drafting uses a formula to determine length and a basic jacket length calculation is half height minus something- minus 4 inches or 1/2 h minus 1/16 of height.
If the actor is 5'10" (70") /2 = 35 minus 4= 31 inches
in metric which I prefer to use
178cm/2 = 89 minus 11.125cm = 78cm (30 3/4")
So these jackets are longer than that.
for 5'10" 70/2 = 35 inches so 35 -3 would give us a 32" length.
for 6'2" 74/2 =37 inches so 37-3 = 34 length
I started then with this information in hand, set up my drafting as I usually do, and made modifications until I though I had a good idea of where I was going.
I then cut out a half jacket in some cotton I had and put it on my stand. I photographed that and sent it to the designer for his input.
Once that was done, I took an idea from my colleague Evan and I drafted in half scale to show the changes and modifications to my basic draft. This is what I then referenced in making the subsequent drafts for the other jackets.
That half scale draft is now tucked away in my files for future reference.