The Suit’s History

The Suit’s History

You can trace the origins of what we think of as a suit today back to the late nineteenth century. Today we call this suit the lounge suit or the business suit. However, before the modern suit was invented it had many forerunners existing before this. The evolution leading to the modern suit was essentially started by King Charles II of England.

Charles, was building on other influences himself however. Louis XIV of France had already done a lot of the suit because in 1666 he had created a royal decree forcing his court to dress in proto-modern suits. These suits included a coat or jacket, a waistcoat, cravat-which is similar to a necktie, trousers, and a wig.

While at first this may not sound like the modern suit we have all come to know and love, it contains all the basic essential elements that are still present in the modern suit. Small adjustments over the last four hundred years have resulted in the modern suit, but compared to other trends they remain relatively unchanged.

The biggest changes of course, are the lack of a wig and knee high breeches. Other notable changes have been the color. Today we prefer suits that are blue, gray, or black while the members of Louis’s court preferred much more flamboyant colors.

Today it also isn’t strange to see a women wearing a suit. Womens suits have their own set of small changes such as a skirt which is sometimes worn in places of trousers.

It wasn’t until the turn of the nineteenth century that there was another major innovation. This can be owed to George Bryan Brummel. Brummel had caught the eye of George IV, the prince of Wales, because he had a very extraordinary fashion sense.

George was really impressed with the ideas Brummel had. Because of this, Brummel quickly became one of the greatest tailors in London. He made many noticeable changes to the cut of the suit and had an incredible sense of perfectionism. It was the small details on his suits that really made them stand out.

In America the fashion of suits began to change in the late nineteenth century. People began to favor lighter coats and jackets which were cut to just bellow the waist. When this was combined with trousers and a waistcoat(which is called a vest in the USA today) it was recognisable as a modern suit. Many styles have came and went, but the basic concept has stayed strikingly the same since then.

John Daniels often writes about topics pertaining to women’s fashion. For more writing by this author please see Ladies Black Trousers as well as Women’s Black Vest