The History of the Suit - Part 3 - Fashion Fast Forward

December 21, 2017

Last month part two covered the History of the suit up to the end of the 1950s. This month, we are looking at the suit through to 2018.


Fashion is now starting to speed up with changes in design by the season and the year.


In the early 1960s the size of the lapel had shrunk from the wide lapels of the 1950s to a very narrow lapel in the early 60s. Suit jackets were also cut as straight as possible without any indication of a waistline. Cloth rationing changed styles significantly, contributing to a large reduction in the popularity of many cuts, such as the double-breasted suit, with the single-breasted two-piece growing in popularity.


Casual wear such as denim was becoming fashionable, influenced by the West Coast of America, more and more men were ditching the suit in favour of jeans and floral shirts. Suits were worn to the office and were seen by some as a synonym for drab, middle-class conformity with conservative men carrying their briefcase to work and regarding button down shirts as their one rebellious fling.


In the late 1960s and early 1970s the Nehru jacket started to appear on celebrities in the United States and swiftly became the fashion-conscious man’s jacket of choice – usually worn over a polo neck sweater.


In the 1970s, a snug-fitting suit became popular once again and this style permitted the return of the waistcoat. This new three-piece suit worn by John Travolta in Saturday Night Fever was an icon of the times. Lapels were wider and flared trousers became the norm.


In the late 1970s, several brands introduced the concept of "suit separates", separately sized coats and trousers allowing a man to purchase the appropriate size. This led to the downfall of many old-fashioned tailors.


The 1980s saw a trend towards the simplification of the suit once again. The jacket became much looser and waistcoats were once again out of fashion. The waistline on the suit jacket went down again in the 1980s to a position well below the waist. By 1985, the fashion was for double breasted suits, loose cut with longer jackets, sporting exaggerated shoulder lines.


The 1990s saw the return to popularity of the three-button two-piece suit, which then went back out of fashion some time in the first decade of the 21st Century, when two-button single-breasted suits we back in vogue.


The times have changed dramatically since the 1960s and we have come full circle, with many men desiring bespoke, fitted suits that flatter rather than hide their physique. The trend for fitness has compounded this with younger men joining the middle-aged in wearing suits.  Colour has re-emerged (last seen in Georgian times) and bright fancy linings allow personalisation (linings are available in every colour, with punk designs showing a personal taste that was unimagined a few years ago).


In 2018 we expect to see colour taking off in every aspect of mens’ dress from the suit to the casual and weekend wear, men are again allowed to express their individuality.


Read The History of the Suit - Part 1 - Men In Petticoats


Read The History of the Suit - Part 2 - Covering up one's Knickers


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July 24, 2019

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