The formal suit has been with us for hundreds of years, actually more like four centuries, and although many times doomed for failure they are still with us today. The attraction fashion-wise to a formal suit is the simple forms that make up the design. Aside from its rather iconic and unchanging style, the formal suit has adapted itself quite cleverly to change over the years. There is also something quite proper and formal about getting fitted for a made to measure suit that really does not occur with any other piece of clothing. Today technology has aided the tailor’s methodology of measuring up a client for a new suit. Machines capable of body scanning, and three-dimensional printers have made the old trade of tailoring into a space-age art. This new breed of suit will have reduced creasing capacity and are dry cleaning friendly. Over the years there have been some classic suit designs, and in this blog we look at some of them.
The Burton Classic
Burton’s was founded by Montague Burton in 1903, and from this single Chesterfield shop it grew into one of the largest chains of clothes shops in Britain. During the fifty years after 1920, a high percentage of male Brits would pass through their local Burton’s doors to buy their first ever suit. Burton’s clothing were renowned for being of sober design with classic styling and a dearth of color.
The Edwardian Suit was highly popular in the 1940s and 50s, it was elegant and fitted an aristocratic demand to the tee. On the streets of Chelsea and Mayfair at this time an elegant gentleman would be fitted out in a New Edwardian suit. The waistline was tight and the suit’s sharp lines differed so much from the baggy demob suits that were worn by most of the male population of Britain at the time. The accessories of this classic suit were almost as important as the suit itself, the wearer would also have highly polished black shoes, a bowler hat and, of course, an umbrella.
The Armani Gigolo
Whereas the Edwardian Suit shouted masculinity, the softer cut and lines of the Armani Gigolo were almost feminine. Armani adopted lighter fabrics for the suit and offered a range of soft colors, the buttons were lowered and it was all over a very stylish and modern look. It took its name from the Hollywood film American Gigolo, where Richard Gere bought the style to the masses which held its popularity for almost a decade.
The Japanese Minimalist
There is a Japanese term that describes the understanding of elegance, Iki. Japanese designers hit the catwalks of many famous fashion fairs in the 1970s, showing off an array of austere and decentered suits. The blend of East meets West was loved and Rei Kawakubo, Yohji Yamamoto and Kenzo Takada became superstars in the fashion industry. The suit was to show sophistication and was favored by architects and advertising gurus especially. In part two of this blog we will continue our observations of classic suit designs including which are the best fabrics and colors for today’s suits.