Chances are that when you think of menswear, you invariably think of the suit. Isn’t that right? The suit is one of the must-haves for any male wardrobe and is suitable for many occasions. But have you ever stopped to think where it came from? In this article, we look at the introduction of the suit and how it cemented its place as a staple of menswear.
It all began in Europe
The modern-day suit is a descendant of European royalty. Those regal garments were far more brightly colored with longer jackets and different accessories (wig, breeches and a hat) than we see today but the basic shape and style have remained very similar. Following the French Revolution, the royal court dress of the 17th Century fell out of favor in many countries, but a more flamboyant and tailored look took off in Britain in the early 19th Century. Popularized by Beau Brummel, this new style of suit sheds the wig, breeches, and hat and focused on a well-tailored jacket and trousers with a necktie. The suit was born.
The suit became the standard daily clothing for gentlemen, with the long-tailed suit jacket the only option. Around 100 years later the less formal lounge suit, including a shorter jacket, was introduced and quickly gained popularity. In North America, the ‘sack suit’, a loose unfitted form of the lounge suit grew in popularity and by the end of WWI, the lounge suit had almost entirely replaced the formal morning suit as a daily dress code for men. In the US it even became the new style of evening dress as the full-tail suit jacket was seen as out of date and too conservative.
Abbreviations of the new-born style
Further adaptations led to the popularity of the ‘stroller’, a semi-formal suit for the daytime. It comprised a black lounge suit jacket with grey pants. This look largely fell out of use following the counterculture of the 1960s but could still be seen in some businesses, particularly in the UK.
In the 1970s the snug-fitting suit coat returned to its former glory. The three-piece suit, including a waistcoat, came close to a return to its roots with bright colors, lace, and frills as disco culture took off. Away from the dance-floor, the colors were far more reserved, and big bold-patterned ties were a major part of the look.
In the 1980s trends changed and suits became looser again and waistcoats were largely on the decline. Big shoulder pads and funky styles were all the rage as fashion suits continued to be extravagant. By the 1990s three-buttoned suits were back in and they had once again become slimmer fitting.
From its regal roots in pre-revolutionary France, the suit has evolved and adapted to each new era and to the increasing demand for fashionable garments that have come with financial freedom. But in all that time one thing hasn’t changed; the following fashion means getting the fit right.
At Louis Collections in Bangkok, we offer bespoke men’s tailoring services to help you do just that. Buying the perfect suit is just the first step in achieving the perfect look. Having it tailored completes the look. For more information or to browse our collection go to our lookbook of the most recent styles.