Do you love your job but hate having to wear a suit? Do you dread having to slip into that tailored jacket even on the warmest days in summer? It’s understandable. The modern day suit is a thing of beauty and of genius but it can be a pain to wear sometimes. Unfortunately, many men don’t have a choice in the matter. They work in offices, boardrooms and hotels. They groan and itch whilst postmen, farmers and lifeguards fall back in love with their jobs as soon the sun comes out. Yes, the suit is nice to look at but it isn’t always nice to be inside.
If you’re so suit-phobic you dread weddings and christenings – you’ve got the Edwardians to blame for your troubles. They’re the ones who took the morning suit out of the upper echelons and brought it down to regular folks. Before the early 20th century, suits were only worn by those with fat wallets and money to burn. Rich men tended to wear their suits almost every day, but poorer people just couldn’t afford the luxury of tailored clothing.
The victorian Edwardian era saw suits become widely available and they saw its function begin to shift. Men stopped wearing super fancy frock coats and turned to the shorter, less cumbersome morning coat instead. These two styles were very similar, except for one thing. A morning coat had a much shorter hem than a frock coat and so was much more comfortable to move around in. For the first time, suits began to be worn on a practical basis.
Function and comfort have dominated the history of the suit. The rising popularity of Edwardian suits was punctuated by change – changing length and changing cut. The acceptable length of a suit continued to change throughout the century, with lounge suits becoming popular in the late 19th century. The lounge suit was, yet again, just another version of the frock coat and the morning coat but much shorter and much easier to move around in, says Complex journalist Jian DeLeon. It was further popularised by notorious London dandy Beau Brummel.
Brummel shunned the overly elaborate designs of the 1860’s and 1870’s, opting instead for suits that were understated but perfectly fitted and tailored, says Wikipedia. Fans of Brummel and his ostentatious ways followed suit and began to choose fit and shape over appearance – thus, lounge suits became the next big thing.
Suits have continued to change throughout the years, becoming more and more casual all the time. In the 1920’s the lounge suit gave way to the sack suit – a loose, baggy ensemble with no darts that was cheap and easy to wear. The sack suit became popular with poorer people like musicians, actors and artists, says fashion magazine ShortList. Yet none of this would have occurred without towering Edwardian figures like Beau Brummel – figures who were very much the equivalent of modern celebrities today. The working classes have always aped the emerging fashions of the upper echelons and the Edwardian period was no different.
So if you’ve got a beef with the humble business suit, your culprits are those innovative Edwardians who felt it important to look dapper even whilst working. They’re the reason that you’ve got sweat running down your back in a board meeting. They’re the reason you’ve got to change before you hit the pub after work. They’re your suit purveyors.
Author Bio: Piter Thomas is an expert on the history of men’s fashion. He recommends Matrix Uniformsfor elegant, high quality work wear that will keep you cool and comfortable. Sam loves to delve into the history of fashion and how various trends resurface in different ways.