In Chapter Two, "Death in the Fog," Sam Spade gets a phone call in the middle of the night telling him his partner Miles Archer has been shot dead. Spade gets out of bed and takes his time about dressing. Naturally he is disturbed by the news, but he is always in control of his emotions. Dashiell Hammett describes his clothing in detail. Several items of his apparel now seem old-fashioned.
"He put on a thin white union-suit, grey socks, black garters, and dark brown shoes. When he had fastened his shoes he picked up the telephone, called Graystone 4500, and ordered a taxicab. He put on a green-striped white shirt, a soft white collar, a green necktie, the grey suit he had worn that day, a loose tweed overcoat, and a dark grey hat."
Many readers today might not know what a union suit even was—a combination undershirt and underpants. The upper part had short sleeves. The whole union suit buttoned in front. Few men wear garters anymore, but they were necessary in those days to hold up the socks, which were usually made of wool. There was hardly any synthetic clothing material. Men's and women's clothes were made of wool, cotton, or silk. Men had detachable collars for their shirts. They could change the collars but wear the same shirt for several days. All men who lived in cities wore hats. Spade's trousers probably were held up by suspenders, although Hammett does not include this information. The grey suit almost certainly includes a vest, another item that has virtually disappeared in men's apparel.