Dressing Up, Dressing Down

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1957.483 full
1945 wool suit (1954.801)
suit 1954.962
suit 1997.16
suit & shirt 1980.370 & 1985.204
suit 1998.165
suit 1984.443
1984.385.jpg
Vivienne Westwood suit 2004.58

The typical matching two or three piece suit still worn by men today developed during the eighteenth century, and specifically from about 1800 when trousers replaced breeches. Women have also worn suits since the 1890s, and on many occasions have deliberately looked to this masculine pattern, as in this wartime suit in green wool worsted, retailed by Brenner Sports. Women's fashions in wartime often give a patriotic nod to masculinity or to military detailing. Such manifestations are usually influenced by men's uniforms and can include braiding and frogging, flapped pockets and broad belts, wide padded shoulders and waisted jackets, and even as in this case khaki-type colours. This suit was made at the very end of the Second World War, when fabric was very scarse and when governmental control of civilian clothing retricted the amount of material that could be used in any garment.

The other images below show earlier and later suits, starting with a man's silk example of about 1770, then four men's suits of the 1960s and early 1970s when the "peacock male" was again in vogue, a stylish 1960s tie, a woman's fitted suit from the 1950s, and a strikingly similar Vivienne Westwood "retro" woman's suit of 1999.

Full item descriptions:

"suit" [1957.483], Donellan, Michael, Lachasse
"suit" [1954.962]
"lounge suit" [1997.16], Take Six
"lounge suit" [1980.370], Stanley Adams
"lounge suit" [1998.165], Nutter, Tommy
"lounge suit" [1984.443]
"tie" [1984.385], Paul John
"suit" [1954.801], Brenner Sports
"suit" [2004.58], Westwood, Vivienne

Related Themes:

Waistcoats
Shirts
Sexuality