- Oct 5, 2015
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STYLE. COMMUNITY. GREAT CLOTHING.
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how so? somebody (not me) made a point about fit and then posted two different fabric treatment on stf. is that what is stupid?I don't know if you're being purposefully stupid, but stupid is how it comes across. And every time you post, you're just making it worse.
DFWR you’re right that Beau was a transformative figure. As Radical Dog noted, BB’s innovations were perhaps necessary but not sufficient to produce the development of the modern suit; he wore contrasting color separates after all. What has always been striking to me are the Treaty of Versailles photos, such as the one DWW posted. It may not be clear in that image, but these upper-class politicians are wearing contrasting (typically striped) trousers, not a modern suit, in 1919, a century after Beau’s heyday.As radicaldog posted above, you've misinterpreted this history. Beau Brummel didn't invent the suit. He's widely credited with having started "The Great Male Renunciation." After him, dress started becoming more austere and simplified, as evidenced by how fops dressed pre-Brummell.
But this story isn't even true. Anyone who's read a bit of social history knows that they should be suspicious of stories that are too neat and simplified. British dress became austere largely because of developments in liberalism and European politics. As democracy developed in Britain, the ruling class wasn't able to festoon themselves in crazy silks, gold, and other kinds of fanciful attire. Cartoons at the time were drawn mocking them (made for the illiterate class). Before this, kings and queens dressed in an otherworldly fashion to justify their place on the throne. As people started questioning this hierarchy, the ruling class had to dress in more austere ways to not get beheaded. You see this with the history of the beheading of Charles I and, later, the trial of George IV. As democracy developed in Britain, the ruling class had to be more modest in their dress to signal puritan values. And since many people ape the dress habits of the upper classes, others followed.
In the mid-19th century, proper gentlemen wore frock coats and continued to do so up until the early 20th century.
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Here's how Prince Albert dressed in 1854
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This is how the ruling class dressed at the signing of the Treaty of Versailles in 1919.
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The frock coat was not the suit. The frock coat was for aristocrats and proper gentlemen. The suit was for the working class.
Keir Hardie, founder of the Labour Party, raised a stink when he wore a suit and a deerstalking cap on his first day as an MP.
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MPs at the time wore frock coats, silk top hats, and firmly starched collar. Kier wore a suit to signal his allegiance to the working class in London. The British press was so scandalized by it at the time that they wrote, “a cloth cap in Parliament!”
At the turn of the 20th century, the suit was worn by clerks, shop keepers, and administrators. The frock coat was worn by politicians, financiers, and people of "respectable" professions, such as doctors and lawyers. If you went to a "respectable" place such as church, you were expected to dress in something more formal. Samuel Pearson wrote of the suit in 1882:
"The working classes of England are far behind those of France in the matter of dress. In Normandy you meet with the neat, white, well starched cap; in Lancashire with a tawdry shawl ... The men are worse. They never seem to change their working clothes when the days work is over. Those who go to chapel and church have a black or dark suit for Sunday wear, generally creased and often ill-fitting, but on other days it is seldom that you meet with a nicely dressed working man or working woman."
H. Dennis Bradley, a Bond Street tailor, wrote of the suit in 1912, lamenting the sliding dress norms among the lower classes. This was around the time the suit became increasingly popular.
"Surely, it is not logical to imagine that the present century, which in general progress promises to make the greatest strides in the history of the world, will be content to continue the negative fashions and the drab and dreary colours which are the legacy of a century admittedly decadent in the art of dress. The fashions of the men of the eighteenth century were, from an artistic point of view, almost perfect. Why did they decay during the nineteenth century to a degree of hideousness which was a positive offence to the eye -- to a retrograde ugliness without parallel in any era?"
Can go on for many more quotes. But suffice to say, at the turn of the 20th century, the suit wasn't considered upper class. In fact, the upper classes lamented the rise of the suit.