A Visual History: 600 Years of Menswear
How did the suits, ties, pants or everything we're wearing today become what they are today?
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
16th Century, 1500s
17th Century, 1600s
18th Century, 1700s
19th Century, 1800s
Early 20th Century, 1900s
2000s and Today
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