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When is 3 Piece Suit appropriate - Page 4post #46 of 515/11/11 at 3:46am
Styleforum Top Pickspost #47 of 515/11/11 at 3:48ampost #48 of 512/18/12 at 12:31pmpost #49 of 512/18/12 at 1:12pmQuote:Originally Posted by tlmusic
A bit of history:
The 3 piece suit was the first acceptable style of what we call a suit. It was originally called a "lounge suit." and was usually single breasted.
It has been acceptable for at least a century. In the early 1900's, practically all suits had vests.
Before WWII, shirts were considered underwear, and it was improper to reveal much more than the ends of the cuffs and the area around the shirt collar. The vest helped hide the shirt in proper company, as well as offer additional warmth in times when people did not heat their homes and offices like we do.
The double breasted suit had military origins and became acceptable for business around 1930. At the time it was considered to be less formal, even though we think of DB's as formal in modern times. If you watch movies from the 1930's-1940's people will often wear DB suits in the summer, because they were a cooler option. Check out the movie "Laura." It's set in super hot summertime, and there are a lot of DB suits.
Starting in the 1930's there was a movement away from 3 piece suits, and the DB suit was the first way to get there, and not reveal too much shirt. When you watch movies from the 1930's- 1940's, usually the hipper, younger guys wear 2 piece DB's, while the older, established generation is still wearing 3 piece suits.
During WWII there were all kinds of shortages leading to laws actually limiting the inclusion of vests with suits. In the late 1940's, it became more and more acceptable and popular to wear single breasted suits without a vest
By the 50's the modern man now wore the single breasted 2 piece suit. Think of "The Man in the Grey Flannel Suit". Gregory peck wears a two piece single breasted, while his boss wears a double breasted, which would have been trendy in the boss's younger days.
Of course, James Bond and Cary Grant (in North by Northwest) would have to wear 2 piece suits. They wanted to represent the comfort and style of their time. They helped establish the style which still prevails today.
In current times we're seeing the next evolution being wearing a suit without a tie--Trendy in the 80's, acceptable to many people in 2008.
So to summarize:
3 piece single breasted suit = trendy in 1900, acceptable today
2 piece double breasted suit = trendy in 1930, acceptable today
2 piece single breasted suit = trendy in 1950, acceptable today
Very good summarization of sartorial history. I would add that double-breasted dinner jackets are still considered less formal than their single-breasted cousins.
The only thing I would add is that three-piece DB suits were extraordinarily common in the 1930s. Three-piece suits were very much an office wear thing. Today, the shirt and tie sans the jacket look, once in the office, is a pretty ubiquitous look; before WWII, the same look, with the addition of a vest, was also the norm. Hence vests on DB suits, where the vest otherwise would never be visible.
Clothes wise, my last job was in a very conservative environment (read: conventional, not classic/traditional) and no one ever let on that my three-piece suits, sweater vests, or bow ties were pushing the envelope. I definitely got dagger eyes the *one* time I wore a DB suit, though . . .post #50 of 512/18/12 at 1:23pmpost #51 of 517/3/13 at 6:13am
I feel compelled to post in this thread as my last recent purchase was a 3-piece suit.
The lesson learned, is that while a typical muted gray or navy SB 2-button is hardly much different with the addition of a single-breasted matching vest, buying a taupe glen-plaid with purple overcheck, 1-button, wide peak lapels and a double-breasted vest is an entirely different matter. God know what I'm supposed to wear this for...
(pardon for the terrible pic, camera rig is out of operation).
In general, if you wear a buttoned cardigan or v-neck sweater vest with your suit regularly, neither you or others will experience more then a slight touch of difference when you replace the knit with a vest in cloth matching your suit.
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