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What is a power suit?

Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by johnapril, Nov 11, 2004.

  1. johnapril

    johnapril Senior member

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    What is a power suit?
     
  2. BjornH

    BjornH Senior member

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    I always picture broad shoulders and well-defined pinstripes with the power suit.

    B
     
  3. arvi

    arvi Senior member

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    something we should try to avoid wearing [​IMG]
     
  4. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I believe, but cannot prove, that the term was originated by Fioravanti in the early 1960s. Certainly, in my research I have not found any earlier uses.

    In the late 50s, the lean and clean "Roman" silhouette enjoyed a surge in popularity worldwide. It was a fad, basicially, but the silhouette done right had intrinsic merits. Fioravanti opened his tailoring firm in NYC around this time. It stood out. All the other bespoke tailors in NYC were either making American-style sack suits, or else some variation on the Savile Row style. Fioravanti was the only one selling the "lean and clean" Roman look. He called it the "power look" or "power suit" because it was very agressively styled: deliberately unrumpled, with no drape; a pitched, built-up shoulder; narrow trousers, etc. It was the opposite of "understated."

    That's the original meaning (I think). These days, it tends to refer to anything "striking": loud stripes, 180s with a shiny sheen, football shoulder pads, etc. Sort of like those bright yellow ties that briefly conquered the world in the 1980s.
     
  5. 1Dgaf

    1Dgaf Senior member

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    There are a lots of different styles. [​IMG] Image courtesy www.jessicasteen.com; style courtesy Versace (2020AD).
     
  6. Kaga

    Kaga Senior member

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    It is a wretched term used by tacky ebay sellers trying to sell naff suits from the 1980s. Like the power tie, it has no relevance to contemporary style.
    The typical power suit would be some shoulder-padded, low-gorged monstrosity from Hugo Boss circa 1984.
     
  7. Nick M

    Nick M Senior member

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    I always picture the very worst of the eighties: 4X1 double-breasted, perhaps, unvented, maybe even with notch lapels, pleated trousers tapering to narrow cuffs. Loud pinstripes, bright red or yellow tie.

    Was this the precursor of that Pierre Cardin/ John Steed Avengers look, or are they one and the same?
     
  8. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I think it is fair to call this cut a precursor to the Pierre Cardin look, although I think it would be more accurate to say that Cardin is a parody of it.

    The "Steed" look is more of an attempt to emulate the clothing of the Edwardian era.  The point (I think) was to emulate the cut of those clothes while still keeping the garment within the confines of a modern suit. Edwardian clothing was very lean and narrow: shallow chested coats, thin lapels, drainpipe trouser legs, etc.  Although some detailing, like the velvet colar, was included on Steed's suits to give them that extra touch of old-fashioned flair.
     
  9. Nick M

    Nick M Senior member

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    Ah, I see. So did anyone actually wear the Steed look in real life - did a fashion trend evolve from the show, do you know? Or did the look remain confined to the TV screen?
     
  10. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    There was a fad in Swinging Sixties London for young guys to ape the Edwardian Look. They acquired the name "Teddy Boys." I don't know if they were inspired by the show, if the show was inspired by them, or if both sort of simultaneously emerged from the Carnaby Street scene. The last is probably the most likely explanation. Steed, after all, was not a young man. And I doubt the Teddy Boys would have sought to emulate a (nearly) middle-aged television character, but I could be wrong.
     
  11. Kaga

    Kaga Senior member

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    (Nick M @ 11 Nov. 2004, 07:33) So did anyone actually wear the Steed look in real life - did a fashion trend evolve from the show, do you know? Or did the look remain confined to the TV screen?
    There was a fad in Swinging Sixties London for young guys to ape the Edwardian Look. Â They acquired the name "Teddy Boys." Â I don't know if they were inspired by the show, if the show was inspired by them, or if both sort of simultaneously emerged from the Carnaby Street scene. Â The last is probably the most likely explanation. Â Steed, after all, was not a young man. Â And I doubt the Teddy Boys would have sought to emulate a (nearly) middle-aged television character, but I could be wrong.
    IMMSMC, the Teddy Boys evolved in the 1950s as a corruption in both name and deed from the Edwardians and the neo-Edwardians, the latter of which was a brief fashion moment in postwar 1950s London. Neo-Edwardianism was a look espoused in certain tailoring styles. The Teddy Boys copied the look and added Brylcreem, flick knives, and pills popped in the dance halls. The Teddy Boys were categorized as a quiffed-up, somewhat violent youth group. The Mods, by contrast, formed in the early 1960s, beginning as a group obsessed with the sharp cut, style and quality of their clothes, often from expensive boutiques in the King's Road. The movement caught fire and was banalized to cheap flash junk in Carnaby Street, Richard Lester movies, etc. Steed was most definitely NOT a Teddy Boy.
     
  12. ernest

    ernest Senior member

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    Superman,

    Spiederman,

    Batman
     
  13. Thracozaag

    Thracozaag Senior member

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    (johnapril @ 11 Nov. 2004, 3:19) What is a power suit?
    Superman, Spiederman, Batman
    Actually, those are costumes (although Mr. Wayne had his utility belt). Tony Stark, aka "Iron Man" would best qualify in this regard. koji
     
  14. 1Dgaf

    1Dgaf Senior member

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    (ernest @ 11 Nov. 2004, 08:22)
    What is a power suit?
    Superman, Spiederman, Batman
    award for most creative response.
    What, so the Captain Power and Versace gag doesn't even get a mention? Good Lord you lot are hard markers.
     
  15. arvi

    arvi Senior member

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    i don't know if i would call their look Steed or Edwardian, but check out tony curtis and roger moore in the great(at least if you were a TC fan like me) british tv import of that era "The Persuaders"...these 2 guys at least could pull the look off with a sense of style rather than parody..
     
  16. armscye

    armscye Senior member

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    I have a history of English fashion, and the Teddy Boy thing was apparently pure Fifties and very adolescent in scope, so MacNee's clothes had no relation.

    Interesting: we tend to think of 007 and the Avengers as contemporaries, but Patrick MacNee was a well preserved near fifty when the series debuted-- he was a bonafide British naval officer during the Second World War, which puts him a full generation behind Sean Connery.
     
  17. Manton

    Manton Senior member Dubiously Honored

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    I stand corrected on the origin of the Teddy Boys. Tom Wolfe was writing about them in the 60s, but I guess he doesn't really claim that they originated in the 60s.
     

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