Sunday, August 28, 2011

A too simplistic look at men's suits

It's a cheap shot for men to criticize how women's fashion changes from season to season, while their clothing doesn't change so much as glacially evolve. Friday's trip through The New York Social Diary made that abundantly clear.

Let's take a walk.

The photo below is of President Calvin Coolidge and his family in June 1924. The Coolidge's dressed in their conservative best, a tad dowdy for the age, yet a fair representation of their status and class.

Mom's dress, in high style at the time, the men's high buttoning coats, with summer vests so right for pre air conditioned Washington DC.

Six years later men's and women's fashion had changed completely. Brooks Brothers had introduced the Odd Jacket, or sport coat a few years earlier. Before the odd jacket, gentlemen wore contrasting suit coats with summer flannels to achieve a sporting look, as are the two men below on the right. The photo below, taken in Havana in Feb, 1930 shows how much fashion for men and women had changed in only 6 years.

But look closely to the men on the right, especially the sport in the white suit. Unlike the women, would he look out of place today?

Next, taken a year later in Palm Beach. We may not choose the same material today, but the style is virtually unchanged over time.

I've reached the conclusion that men's clothing doesn't change so much as its sense of purpose evolves. With only moderate changes to lapel width, and drape, men's suiting hasn't appreciably changed in 80 years. The best give-a-ways to a photo's age are shirt colors and his ties.

Cocoanuts Party, Palm Beach 1927

Baltimore 2011

Hope by now you are safe and out of harms way.

(all photos save the first and last are from NYSD)


Shelley said...

I read somewhere that 'fashion' began at some court or other back in medieval times when the men began dressing more outrageously in order to be noticed by the King and to curry favour. I don't know when the man's suit as you show it first was the style, but it crosses my mind that women are still dressing ever more outrageously in order to gain attention and curry favour. Just a thought...

helen tilston said...

Wonderful post, awesome fashions and timeless
Thank You
Helen xx

Jennings and Gates said...

It's the same with tack for horses. It hasn't changed much in hundreds of years. I guess if you have a design that is functional and attractive, why mess about with it? Great post!

LPC said...

Women's bodies, and the required ornamentation thereof, are society's laboratory. Gets exhausting sometimes, but we soldier on. Shopping, it turns out, isn't so frivolous.

Toad said...

LPC I am grateful women that make the effort.

Pigtown-Design said...

safe and sound. no problems with power (was worried about the sump pump and the 1900-built drainage system), no damage. skies are clear now and the sun is shining!


Toad said...

Hooray for Baltimore

Christina said...

I think the history of suit began during the period of sartorial revolution in early 19th century.

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