As a result of being a men’s fashion illustrator I find myself delving into the history of men’s fashion. I like to know where history can be painted in to each illustration.
Recently I discovered a tidbit of knowledge which was quite interesting. Suits are over 150 years old!
The styling has been variable over the past century and half or so. When Beau Brummel (the man often credited with inventing the modern suit) decided to wear the first hipster pants in the 1800’s he was just trying to be different and unique. Who knew that he would start a revolution?
It did help that in the 1600’s King Charles the II made a royal change to the dress code of the court. They were to no longer wear the opulent French uniform, but switch to English cuts and fabrics. Politics and environment heavily influenced the change which prepared the way for Brummel.
150 years is still very young in comparison to so many articles of history but the influence it has taken hold of over the world is massive. Nearly every developed nation is marked with the inclusion of the suit in politics and business.
I often wonder at the oddity of lapels and collars, the need to secure a noose around the neck of the shirt and the overall lack of color in men’s clothing. Where does the desire for retaining vestigial patterns in clothing come from? The most odd thing about it is that I love it! I truly do love it. I love beautifully cut jackets with a perfectly complimenting shirt. I love ties in all of their absurdity and the craft of a well made pair of shoes.
The joy is confusing. All of the descriptions are particularly arbitrary; ‘beautifully cut,’ ‘perfectly complimenting,’ and ‘well made.’ It must partially be contributed to the suits’ symbol of power, but I like to think that it also says something about our past. In the same way an aged wine is born with decades of knowledge and passion I see the modern suit as a sip of Domaine de la Romanee-Conti.
So I continue to illustrate. I continue to paint and create and iterate in the fashion of the bespoke tailors in Savile Row. I see and feel the beauty of men’s clothing and fashion and I am excited to participate with everyone in wearing and exhibiting men’s fashion.