A Brief History of Men’s Suits: From XVII – Now

♫ I be on my suit and tie, s*it tied, s*it tied… ♫

While today Pitti Uomo is closing its’ doors for January’s event, we have decided to take the most used menswear look of this season’s Street Style and find out where it came from. From the streets of Florence most men preferred (obviously) to wear suits and we all know why. Suits are the symbol of class and elegance, and more importantly a symbol of masculinity. Some of you may have noticed that male’s attractiveness rises every time they wear suits. Was it always like this? Yes. But when the ‘always’ begins from?

Imagine mid17th-century, men wore wigs, knee breeches, and justacorps (knee-length coats). In other words, a pure embodiment of Extravagance. They looked something like this:

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©Source: vestnik.icdc.ru

Fortunately, when the Regency Period took place in the history of Great Britain and further strolled into the Romantic era, men’s suit’s silhouette became more clear and simple. The frock coat became popular along with tophats.  Tailcoats appeared in France in the middle of the XVIII century and were considered to be  military clothing: its shape let men sit comfortably in the saddle. However, since officers belonged to the upper class and appeared on the dinner evenings, suits became fashionable clothes for special occasions.

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©Source: vestnik.icdc.ru

Moving on to a trio package: sack coat with matching waistcoats and trousers worn in the 1900s. Trouser became shorter, moreover, they were creased front and back using a trouser press.

The Frock Coat

Formal black frock coat with silk-faced lapels, light grey waistcoat, Cashmere striped trousers, button boots, gloves, Ascot-knotted cravat, and cravat pin; April 1904. Credit: Men's Fashion Illustration form the Turn of the Century. Reprint by Dover Publications, 1990.
Formal black frock coat with silk-faced lapels, light gray waistcoat, Cashmere striped trousers, button boots, gloves, Ascot-knotted cravat, and cravat pin; April 1904.
Credit: Men’s Fashion Illustration from the Turn of the Century. Reprint by Dover Publications, 1990.

The Zoot Suit

“Washington, D.C. Soldier inspecting a couple of “zoot suits” at the Uline Arena during Woody Herman’s Orchestra engagement there.” Credit: Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, FSA-OWI Collection, 1942

The 1930s were well-known as an Age of the Cinema when men tried to look like Clark Cable, Fred Astair, and Gary Cooper. After the Great Depression in 1929 men’s fashion drastically changed. If the first half of the 1930s saw financial instabilities in the economy, than the last years of the decade, which had less pressure on men’s fashion thus it created more freedom of choice. The so-called ‘comfort’ and ‘freedom’ of menswear was mainly achieved by the material choice such as wool, tweeds, flannel, and linens.

 “For the first time, American men realized that clothing should not be worn to hide the natural lines of the body, but, rather, to conform to them, thereby enhancing the male physique. At the same time, clothes should not be too obvious. Instead, they had to become part of the man who was wearing them. The idea of clothing was not to set the man apart (as had been the case for centuries, when kings and noblemen dressed primarily to accomplish just that) but to allow him to be an individual among individuals…. Americans had finally learned that the goal of good clothing was to flatter rather than be conspicuous.” – Alan Flusser

Here comes the World War II following with 1950, 1960, 1970…but nothing in general changes. In other words, there is no drastic transformation in men’s suits during these periods. The more decades pass from 19th the simpler and more comfortable suits become.

Source: articlesofstyle.com
Source: articlesofstyle.com

A lot of things happened during this period that is also worth writing about. However, it will take pages to describe every detail that evolved and was created each decade. For now, let’s see what we have in 2017?

Source: huffingtonpost.co.uk
Source: huffingtonpost.co.uk

Always Classy…

P.S. Stay tuned to find out about the most important details created during 1940 to 2000 in the future blog.

Source: imgur.com
Source: imgur.com


  1. I. (2013, July 30). A History of Men’s Suits From 1900 – 2013. Retrieved  from http://imgur.com/gallery/u9N66
  2. A Decade In Fashion: The 1930’s. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.mensfashionmagazine.com/a-decade-in-fashion-the-1930s
  3. H. (2013, November 03). The Evolution of Men`s Suits. Retrieved from http://thesalespitch.com/theevolutionofmenssuits/
  4. A Brief History of Men’s Fashion. (n.d.). Retrieved  from https://articlesofstyle.com/56239/a-brief-history-of-mens-style/
  5.  Эволюция мужского пиджака: наследник сюртука и фрака. Retrieved from http://vestnik.icdc.ru/index.php/live/1895-evolyutsiya-muzhskogo-pidzhaka-naslednik-syurtuka-i-fraka

One Comment Add yours

  1. quinncove says:

    Super interesting, thanks for sharing!

    Liked by 1 person

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