Clothes maketh the man. For millions of men across the world the common denominator that identifies them is the suit. Just three and half metres of fabric, some internal shaping elements, some lining, buttons and several metres of thread are all it takes to produce the jacket-and-trouser combination that can be seen from the boardrooms to the bawdy bars, wherever men gather.
The suit is still the uniform for millions of men who wear it to work; conversely, in its bespoke form, it is also a luxury status symbol for men. When a man wants to look anonymous, he can wear a suit. When he wants to express his dandified tendencies, he can wear a different suit. On every continent, the sober suit is the chosen dress code of presidents and diplomats, business leaders and law makers. At its most classic, the suit is respectable.
In Sharp Suits we examine the fascinating history of the evolution of the modern suit from the days of 19th century bespoke to the mass industrialisation of the early part of the 20th century. We see how the uniform of the ruling classes became the utilitarian outfit of the worker. In a series of thematic chapters, we also illustrate how the universal staple of a man’s wardrobe can play many different roles and, chameleon-like, can mean different things in different situations. Retro or futuristic, subtle or outrageous, the suit is the ultimate flexible friend. Movie stars and rock stars, heroes and villains, philanthropists and gangsters – all these men and many, many more have dressed to impress in a matching jacket and trousers and have found that a suit very much suits them.