The Mancunion

Britain's biggest student newspaper

The evolution of suits

Perisha Kudhail tailors her way through suit history

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James Bond, Mr Darcy, and even Justin Timberlake have been known for their suave attire. The humble suit has been a foolproof way to look dapper since the seventeenth century, and don’t these guys know it.

To some, it may seem that the suit is a dying breed of clothing replaced by the ‘drop down jean’ and skater tee. But fear not—the suit, my friend, has been around for over 400 years, and I don’t think it’s planning on fading out anytime soon.

The 1600s Suit

The 1600’s suit upheld the richness in culture and wealth. With knee-length breeches and stockings, this suit was anything but simple. Partnered with a redingote or frock coat and a frilled shirt, the 1600s look oozed elegance. Once the attire was in order, the look was completed with a wig.

The 1800s Suit

The 1800s suit was an embodiment of Charles Dickens novels and the aristocracy. The 1800s suit was always a three-piece. A fitted waistcoat, with a tailcoat and tailored trousers (black of course) was the traditional look. This fitted sensation was accompanied by a top hat and a cane for the ultra-fancy.

The 1900s Suit

The 1900’s suit underwent extreme evolution. Just as the social and economic times were moving forward, so were the looks for men. In the early 1900s, a simple loose black suit would have been acceptable with a bowler hat—a look often sported by Winston Churchill throughout the war.

As the 50s and 60s rolled around, colour was beginning to come back into fashion for men. Just with the 1600s, deep colours were desired, particularly for the rich and famous. A royal blue look wouldn’t have been out of the ordinary.

The 70s adorned angelic white, accompanied with not so angelic behaviour. Saturday Night Fever brought us white suits with big lapels, and collars matched with colourful shirts. The trousers were often tight, so footwear wouldn’t be missed. This look was often accessorised with gold chains and a little bit of chest tuft.

The 2000s Suit

The noughties weren’t particularly recognised for its great taste in suits, as far more casual fashion was coming into play. Those who did opt for a smarter appearance went for the classic blazer and trouser look, accompanied with a tie. As the decade progressed, so did the tailoring of the suit to what we know it to be today.

The 2015 Suit

The suit has become such an asset to the wardrobe that people are starting to wear them to up the ante on a casual look. The three piece is now a favourable option, with waistcoats becoming the new hoody. A smart, tailored suit with a crisp shirt is great for today’s suit look. With pocket squares making a comeback, we can only wonder when the 1600s suit will come back into fashion.