WHAT IS THE HISTORY OF SUITS
Suits – popularly known as the symbol of status and a suit embodies elegance, dynamism and all those elements that accurately define the idea of “success”. But do you know where suits originated?
Suits as a dress-code have been around for a very long time now, but even though they have seen a lot of change throughout the past century, their meaning and philosophical core is unchanged. The history of the suit has many stories to tell. Every decade has its own mark on how we define the “absolute” suit. Today’s a modern suit is the result of the evolution it has been through, influenced by social, economic and cultural happenings all around the world.
The big turning point though, came in the 1900’s for men’s style. A decade representing the end of the Victorian era and a new beginning for men’s fashion. This search for more comfort in suits gave rise to the modern lounge suit. During this time men wore three-piece suits that consisted of a matching waistcoat or vest which were often worn with contrasting trousers.
Moving to the 1920’s men favoured short jackets with two or three buttons rather than jackets with long tailcoats. Until the First World War, the less formal suit styles lasted after which when military uniforms became the new style influencers – extremely high-waisted jackets, often worn with belts and with not very wide lapels as they tended to be buttoned up high.
Fashion started churning the suit designs yet again in the 30’s when the “drape cut” or “London Drape” suit was taking the world of men’s fashion by storm. The new suit was softer and more flexible in construction. Adopted by popular Hollywood stars who became the new fashion trendsetters. Heading into the 40’s, the Hollywood suit was exaggerated: heavily padded chests, enormous shoulders, and wide flowing trousers. World War II again brought minimalism to the picture. But the change of year into the 50’s were again impressed by the Cinema. Men’s suits were inspired by broad-shouldered and often double-breasted and they wore wider trousers again.
The 60’s era brought men to skinny fit suits, drainpipe trousers cut short at the ankles and collarless jackets. The 60’s also brought polo-neck sweaters worn with a suit replacing the shirt-and-tie combo. During the 70’s era, the 3-piece suit designs made a comeback. In the 80's it was all again back to simplicity. Again, at first there was a lot of padding on the shoulders though but Armani did the world a favour then – he removed padding and jacket lining. They were back, the pinstripe suits returned. The 90’s continued the minimalism trend where suit-wise and colour-wise as it was mostly just black and grey.
In the 2000’s, suits were going out of fashion except for only formal occasions. But from 2010 we were back to basic suit choices like the popular styles of indie and retro. Slim fit designs now we’re back. We were back to taking trends from the cinema and the movie star styles. Even TV helped a lot because of a big list of small screen stars. Today, whatever said and done, a beautifully tailored and styled suit is still the peak of menswear.
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- Harish Sabnani