A Visual History: 600 Years of Menswear

Sometimes, I question myself on the things that I wear. Not on how or why I should wear them, but why.

For example: When did men actually start wearing suit and tie?

Is there a reason why we’re wearing a long piece of cloth around our neck?

Why the suit jackets have to be breasted and not a one-piece cloth like a sweater? Who decided that?

I recalled reading a little piece by former Style.com Editor-in-Chief, Dirk Standen (now the Digital Creative Director at W) on the relationship between food and fashion, and there’s one part that goes like this:

“Of all the creative pursuits, [food and fashion are] the most essential. You have to eat for sustenance. You have to wear clothes for protection from the elements. For good cooks or designers, the question then becomes, how do I turn a necessity into a pleasure? If you go too far, it becomes ridiculous. If you don’t go far enough, it’s too basic. That’s an interesting challenge food and fashion share.”

Considering his words, suits and ties are certainly not a necessity but a publicly accepted pleasure that isn’t ridiculous. In today’s world, it is a million-dollar pleasure that’s powering the menswear industry. But just how did the suits, ties, pants, or everything we’re wearing today become what they are today?

As Pearl Buck once said, “if you want to understand today, you have to search yesterday.” The West and the East certainly do not share the same history until a certain point in time when westernization started to happen in the Eastern world. But let’s save that for another post.

15th Century, 1400s

Man With A Glass Of Wine 1460 A Visual History: 600 Years Of Menswear

Portrait Of A Man In A Turban 15th Century A Visual History: 600 Years Of MenswearPortrait of a Man in a Turban, 15th century. Image by Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York
The Arnolfini Portrait By Jan Van Eyck 1434 A Visual History: 600 Years Of MenswearThe Arnolfini Portrait by Jan van Eyck, 1434 (Image by The National Gallery UK)
Charles The Bold 1460 A Visual History: 600 Years Of MenswearCharles the Bold, 1460

16th Century, 1500s

1500 Menswear Fashion History A Visual History: 600 Years Of MenswearPortrait of Prospero Alessandri, by painter Giovanni Battista Moroni, 1560

1500 Menswear Fashion History3 A Visual History: 600 Years Of Menswear

1500 Menswear Fashion A Visual History: 600 Years Of Menswear

1500s Menswear Fashion A Visual History: 600 Years Of Menswear

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17th Century, 1600s

1600 Men Clothing A Visual History: 600 Years Of Menswear

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18th Century, 1700s

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19th Century, 1800s

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Early 20th Century, 1900s

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1920s

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1930s

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1940s

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1950s

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1960s

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1970s

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The beginning of Hip HopThe beginning of Hip Hop

1980s

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American hip hop group Run-D.M.C. at the Montreux Pop Festival in Switzerland, May 1988.American hip hop group Run-D.M.C. at the Montreux Pop Festival in Switzerland, May 1988.

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1990s

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2000s and Today

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