Manliness, Modernity and the Shaping of the Male Clothing

This chapter deals with the history of the men’s garment industry, a topic that particularly interests me.  Why you ask?  I have always been fascinated with men’s clothing but more specifically, men’s tailoring.  For those of you who are not familiar with this process, let me indulge you…  A tailored suit is one of a kind.  It is made specifically for your body, well… A man’s body in this case.  Any style, fabric, thread, buttons and hardware can be chosen to your liking.  It is a time consuming process requiring measurements, cutting, sewing and fittings (yes, there are more than one).  The measurement step is the most client involved (and also most uncomfortable) step.  The tailor comes into the closest contact with the client (has to get close to the crown jewels for an inseam measurement).  In fact, T.H. Holdings a column correspondent for The Tailor and Cutter urged a strict protocol of direct application of measuring system to living bodies during the 1880’s:

‘Remember always that your hands are going about a sensitive intelligent man, and not a horseback’ (Entwistle and Wilson 171).

If you’re interested in the process watch The Layover-Hong Kong.  Anthony Bordain gets a tailored suit made during his layover and even talks about it in his travel tips for Hong Kong.

A tailor made suit in the process…

The tailor gave way to manufactured clothes, which promoted new retail companies such as:  Austin Reed, Thomas Burberry and Gustav Jaeger (Entwistle and Wilson 172).

Burberry clothing is still around today and as influential when it first started…

These companies offered styles and fabrics for new physical activities such s cycling, tennis and rowing.  The sport and leisure clothing introduced was also tolerated for formal situations.  For example, the lounge suit that was reserved for relaxation at home was adopted by 1910 as regular business dress (Entwistle and Wilson 171).  We see this today as well.  Basketball shorts and a t-shirt worn to a grocery store, sweatpants and a pull over hoodie worm to the mall or a soccer shorts and a track jacket worn to class.  These clothes are not form fitting but they are comfortable, interchangeable and mass produced.  Notions of wearing casual clothes stemmed from the 1900’s and have evolved to what it is today.


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