The Modern Suit is Over 150 Years Old

men's fashion illustration

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!

men's fashion illustration-sunflowermanThe 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.

men's fashion illustration-sunflowerman

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.

men's fashion illustration-sunflowerman men's fashion illustration-sunflowerman

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The Parts of a Men’s Fashion Illustration

Here is a visual insight into the process of one of the men’s fashion illustrations. Not everything is revealed, but study the images and you will get the gist of it all goes down. Let me know what you think.

This men’s fashion illustration is a part of the Illustration Weekly Series and was featuring the Milan’s Men Fashion Week at the beginning of 2013.

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Harris Tweed

A friend of mine is intensely interested in Harris Tweed. He has visited the islands where it is made, talked with the mill owners and sees an opportunity to invest in a Harris Tweed rebirth.

His interest has peeked my own and has caused a heavy influence of Tweed in many of my illustrations.

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A big question though, is Harris Tweed viable in the 21st Century?

All of the tweed is made on a specific set of islands in the Outer Hebrides of Scotland. All of the tweed is home spun and can be made no other way. Parliament even enacted legislation to protect Harris Tweed from being produced anywhere else with any other standards than how it is produced in the Outer Hebrides. A special Orb is attached to all approved Harris Tweed to guarantee authenticity. The islands’ economies are almost exclusively based on the production and sale of this special wool.

With most fashion labels producing ready made clothing in large factories at ever cheaper prices the cost of doing business in the Outer Hebrides is high. Businesses are purchasing less of the heavy weight wool and expensive artisan craftsmanship to produce their items at the lowest and cheapest costs.

Is anyone interested in wool fabrics for leisure in the spring and summer?

Is there a demand for high quality and intricate craftsmanship?

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Men’s Fashion Template, Jackets

The next up in the Template series is the Single-Breasted Jacket and the Double-Breasted Jacket.

Please feel free to nab these and use them in whatever way you wish.

The Single-Breasted jacket is one of the single most important facets of a man’s wardrobe.
It’s versatility is unmatched. Wear it to work, to a ball-game, to a reception. Bear in mind that it won’t make you the Ball of the Bell, but you are sure to look fine.

It is important to note never to button that bottom button. I know we all have stood in the mirror with all buttons fastened and wondered why. If you are comfortable with your self in a Single-Breasted jacket then heck I say go for it, but also be prepared for a few glaring eyes.
Men's Fashion Template

The Double-Breasted jacket is becoming popular again (i.e. Denzel on the cover of GQ). The standard is 4 buttons but there are such a variety of Double-Breasted jackets (2-button, 6-button…), all of which I find valid and beautiful. If you are attempting to play it cool and still class up an event it can’t hurt to pull out the 4-button Double-Breasted jacket.

Men's Fashion Template

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Creativity and Fashion- Hair

I was 11 with hair trimmers in hand. My mother vehemently and vocally disagreed. The masterpiece she had been parting over the last 10 years was disappearing. The full, soft, curvaceous mop atop my head was now adorning the tile beneath my feet.

Freedom. The tyranny was over. No person could control me any longer. My idols-a disobedient cousin, my father who liked to cause little mischeifs, the athletes on the playground- were now all knowable. I could truly understand them for the first time. I could feel the power. I cut off all my hair.

I was 17 with a paint brush in hand. The classroom bustle had lulled and all of the students were balanced upon their stools. My bristle top stood attentive as it had for the last 6 years, standing guard. This particular day it was given a new permission.

Change. The need for military grade hair-styling disappeared. The girls in the class expressed in resolute terms the attractiveness of long hair on men. Within 6 months I was a new man. My posture strong, my eyes seductive and my hair fell to the length of my shoulders.

Since those Sophomore grade-school years the cuts, lengths and styles have varied dramatically. I have grown it to obscene lengths and cut it back to nothing again.

I have shocked my friends with dyes, straightening, gelling, mohawks, near-mullets, corn-rows and at times a sheer lack of concern. Some members of my church even went so far as to scorn me for my erotically long hair.

The adventure of hair is fantastic if not at times controversial. If God gifts you with a full head of hair do not waste it. Enjoy it. Revel in it. Let the world see and marvel at it.

men's fashion illustration-hair

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