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Suits, A History Lesson

Posted on 02 November 2017


A classic staple in any person’s wardrobe, most commonly reserved for business or formal functions. We’ve all seen one, and we’ve all seen how people look in them. A person donning a suit looks elegant and very well put together. However, the suit didn’t always look the way we see them today. Since they’ve been around since the early 1800’s it’s safe to assume they’ve evolved in their appearance and their function. We’ve sorted the eras of suiting below for you, check it out for a quick history lesson!

(all pictures from google photos)

1800s England




The shorter jacket and high

waist pant combo was introduced by Beau Brummel Early 1800’s. This developed the modern standard for suits as we see them today.

1800s United States




Abraham Lincoln was the main inspiration for the 3-piece suit with top hat combo. The style of these suits did not change much throughout the 1800’s.

Early 1900’s



The inspiration from Abraham Lincoln’s suit style it still evident in the early 1800’s. The only different was the tapered pant legs and the shorter lapels.

1920 – 1930s


The peak of glitz and glamour for the 20th century. After the war, suits became a way to show off wealth with custom designs and fancier fabrics. This was the first-time suits became more about expression than formality. These styles continued through the 1930s




The war forced a sense of minimalism onto the fashion industry and appearance. There wasn’t enough material to make clothing and so minimalism returned as it had in the 1800s.




Just like the 1920s, the 50’s were a liberating time after the war. Access to materials increased, pants got wider and were often cuffed. Jackets became broader in the shoulders and cinched around the waist.



The 1960s signified a divide between men’s fashions. There were the conservatives and the rebels who refused the rigidity of formality. Bespoke fashion also became readily available during the 1960s. The fit was more snug, pants were more tapered and lapels were thinner.




The 70’s are known for being exccentric, groovy and flared! That did not stop at how suits were tailored, the jackets got shorter, the lapels got wider and the pants got higher waisted and more flared at the end! Think: Austin Powers, Gold member




The flared pants of the 70’s did not last very long. The 1980s adopted the reputation of the deconstructed fashions. The Jackets got a bit longer, the lapels got a bit shorter. Shoulder pads were larger and the pants broke over the shoe. Double breasted jackets were all the rage!





 The 90’s are regarded as the age of minimalism in fashion. After 3 decades of expressionist fashion, the 1990’s cooled down a bit on the formality previous generations had donned as everyday wear.  It is the closest to how we expect a suit to fit today. The narrowed jacket, smaller lapels, shorter more tapered pants.





The 2010s redefined the purpose of a suit. Usually reserved for business or formal occasions, the suit has now become a fashion statement and a form of expression. We see bold colours, very short pants, very tapered legs and an extremely narrow jacket with small lapels.



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