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Menswear: History and Tendencies

For a long time, fashion and dressing modes have changed from periodically. Clothes have long been used as a means of classifying individuals. Even in the modern-day, some individuals still utilize pricey brand-name apparel as a way to stand out from the crowd. Dressing modes separate different genders, classes, professions, and other classifications of individuals. Some individuals place a great value on fashion while others do not. Long-term, however, fashions usually change from old to new. This paper will discuss the history of menswear across time.

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It is not yet clear when men or generally human beings began wearing clothes. However, anthropologists believe that humanity began to wear garments for the first time about a hundred thousand years ago (Degler, 61). Animal skin, fur, bones, and shells were used to make the earliest clothing. Sewn leather and fur clothing from 30,000 years ago have been discovered thanks to rudimentary needles constructed from animal bone (Levy 10). Neolithic societies learned that woven fiber was superior to animal skins, and therefore clothmaking became one of humanity’s most essential technologies based on basketry. The history of textiles is closely linked to the history of clothing. Humans invented all of the tools and processes required to create garment textiles.

Menswear started in various forms and developed through different stages. It may have begun to take precedence over clothing’s primary function in Ancient Egypt (Ashton 20). Using style to frighten and persuade those lower in the social hierarchy was a great success for the king. Soldiers and all Pharaoh’s commanders were given uniforms. Wearing jewelry and other priceless objects by individuals became an increasingly common approach to demonstrate one’s social standing throughout time (Ashton 21). Tunic and kilts were common as the kingdom was old to modern (Gaspa 41). There were only a few who could afford these accouterments. This continued through Assyria, Greece, Rome, and the Middle Ages.

In the eighteenth century, further changed were witnessed relating to men’s fashion. For outerwear, males in the 18th century used a coat, a knee-long linen garment that served as nightclothes (Gaspa 43). Tricorns, or three-cornered hats, were also a common sight in public. Etiquette and manners were critical factors in clothing codes to divide the aristocracy from the commoner. During the 1730s, the English created an alternative for the working man that was more fashionable and practical (Williamson 150). The dress was more comfortable to wear while riding than other clothing. Tailcoats were already standard attire for anyone who went out to dine or drink at night (Gaspa 43). Etiquette in social groups made cutaway jackets more basic and elegant for some time.

In the 1800s, tunics and togas were the most common garments worn by Romans, with cloaks used as outerwear. Soldiers wore armor and boots instead of the more common sandals. People in positions of power and wealth tended to dress in brighter, more flamboyant outfits. Most males in medieval times wore plain clothes, except for royalty, throughout this time. The impoverished wore coarse textiles and basic flat hats to show their social class. Satin and velvet are popular choices for well-off guys. Feathers, ruffles, and other adornments, like brocade and embroidery, were also common in the attire of wealthy men. One of the most significant events in history, the Industrial Revolution, impacted men’s fashion by the middle of the 1800s (Jin & Daeun 3). For the sake of showing their seriousness and respect, men sought to appear as though the occasion was significant and significant. Because of this, the most potent individuals were required to dress casually at night.

The tuxedo, often known as a dinner jacket, evolved during the industrial revolution. Because of this, it didn’t matter if some people preferred the tailcoat and the morning coat over other options. People of a younger, more current generation emerged from the shadows and prepared for the jazz period and the 1920s (Mellard 130). The tailcoat was initially designed for nighttime use. It was quickly adopted as a formal evening costume. The introduction of the automobile made it much simpler to go on informal trips. This is what the dinner jacket was built for. As a result, ease and comfort quickly took over many other aspects of everyday life.

The tailcoat was soon replaced by the dinner jacket, much as in the past. When it came to dress codes, the new generation of men defied their elders’ traditions. Rebels liked having fun with their friends and dancing the night away to new music while their dads drank brandy and chatted about how nice things used to be. The United States has suddenly become a fashion capital. Many of the garments were influenced by the fashions of England, Italy, and France. As a result, their creators considered how Americans would receive the garments.

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Modern fashion’s conveniences and luxuries have become second nature to the globe. For the rural gentleman, hunting coats gradually became business suit jackets. Tuxedos were the most popular jacket of the evening. The suit jacket has become the most sought-after piece of clothing of the day. It was a popular notion in the United States in the 1950s that men no longer worked to live but instead lived to work. The mode of dressing was perceived as an important aspect of the business character of an individual.

To maintain with their fathers’ legacy, many American businesspeople continued to wear suits as their go-to work attire. The Hawaiian Fashion Guild began a new style in 1962 (Miller-Davenport 148). It was hoped that presenting Hawaiian shirts to the rest of the world in New York, Washington, and Los Angeles would encourage more individuals to wear the shirts to work. Suits were the standard throughout the 1940s and 1950s. Aloha Week in 1942 was when sailors wore them, and the designers thought young businesspeople would follow suit (Cox &William 365). The suits became more commonly regarded as business wear, with the fashion industry more focused on designing more suits than other clothes.

The twentieth century marks a significant turning point in the history of fashion. Long pants replaced knee-length shirts, and the hat turned out to be the preferred headwear. Vests replaced long overcoats. Rather than drape loosely, garments were tailored to the wearer’s body shape. In addition, mass-produced clothes were developed in the 20th century, allowing men to have more than the two to four garments they had in decades before. This twentieth-century fashion was more closely related to the current clothes worn today.

In the subsequent time, new trends emerged in the world of menswear. Sportswear became fashionable, but there was still a distinct divide between daily and nighttime attire. At night, men wore tailcoats and top hats, but they wore loose pants and sweaters for a more casual image in the day. From the boater to the fedora, men of all ages wore hats. The suit’s shoulders were widened, resulting in a more prominent appearance, while the waist was narrower. For decades, men wore hats with double-breasted suits. The new trend lasted for a longer period than older fashions; even today, many men still embrace it.

In contrast to earlier decades, the last two decades were marked by a dramatic shift in men’s fashion. The arrival of hippies and flower children brought fringe, leather, suede, and polyester to the fashion landscape. Suits for men went from baggy to slimmer as the fringe set adopted long hair and huge glasses (Lee at al. 5). A conservative guy may look good with a cardigan and thin pants, while a flamboyant one could wear sports shoes, a pair of jeans, and fringed jackets. Color became very significant because there were no longer strict limitations about what kinds a man might wear.

Men’s suits returned to their strong forms in the 1980s, despite certain less fashionable trends (such as neon and acid-washed jeans). Navy blue pinstripes with jeans and shoes were the most popular casual attire. An overall shift to more casual attire occurred as baseball caps took their place. Men’s fashion choices have expanded significantly since the 1990s, and they no longer have to adhere to as many rigid guidelines (Lee et al. 27). The business suit is still the norm, but it now has a more relaxed fit and drape. From t-shirts and jeans to khakis and polo shirts, casual fashion covers a broad spectrum of styles.

Flip-flops were popular among men in the early 2000s, coinciding with the growth of the Abercrombie and Fitch set. Flip-flops, one of the least accepted fashions in the society previously, became the standard wear with jeans and a t-shirt (and in some cases, a button-down). Skinny ties were first popular in the 1950s, but they have become a fashionable accessory for young men in recent years. Soon after, the neckwear was introduced into menswear with various tie types being designed. Even though skinny ties are becoming less fashionable, people still wear them nowadays.

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Traditional analog wristwatches have been resurrected after the demise of digital timepieces. The analog watch regained its status as the worldwide standard of upmarket men’s wristwear when the digital watch became linked with a more casual and athletic design. Slim-cut denim has been popularized in the 21st century by bands like The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, and The Beatles (Domney n.p). This decade was a time of designer attention for men’s slim-cut jeans, with almost every high-end label producing a pair.

Men’s fashion has evolved in various ways throughout time. Many scholars have been able to link the gaps that had been there initially in the history of garments worn by men over time. Consistency is notable in the sources that discuss this clothes history. Many of the fashions evolve into new trends that repurpose elements of the past to spur progress. All of them, however, will only last a short time. The way people used to dress has changed throughout the years. Suits have been a staple of American fashion for a while, despite the many changes. Change is constant on the menswear topic, as is in many other disciplines.

Works Cited

Ashton, Sally-Ann. “Ptolemaic Alexandria and the Egyptian tradition.” Alexandria, Real and Imagined. Routledge, 2017. 15-40.

Cox, J. Halley, and William H. Davenport. “VII. DAWN OF A NEW ERA.” Hawaiian Sculpture. University of Hawaii Press, 2021. 363-378.

Degler, Carl N. In search of human nature: The decline and revival of Darwinism in American social thought. New York: Oxford University Press, 1991.

Dobney, Jayson Kerr, et al. Play It Loud: Instruments of Rock and Roll. Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2019.

Gaspa, Salvatore. “3. Textile production and consumption in the Neo-Assyrian Empire.” Textiles in the Neo-Assyrian Empire. De Gruyter, 2018. 40-105.

Jin, Byoungho Ellie, and Daeun Chloe Shin. “The power of 4th industrial revolution in the fashion industry: what, why, and how has the industry changed?.” Fashion and Textiles 8.1 (2021): 1-25.

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Lee, Hoe Ryung, Jongsun Kim, and Jisoo Ha. “‘Neo-Crosssexual’fashion in contemporary men’s suits.” Fashion and Textiles 7.1 (2020): 1-28.

Levy, Janet. “The genesis of the textile industry from adorned nudity to ritual regalia: the changing role of fibre crafts and their evolving techniques of manufacture in the ancient Near East from the Natufian to the Ghassulian.” The Genesis of the Textile Industry from Adorned Nudity to Ritual Regalia (2020): 1-338.

Mellard, Jason. “4 The Vanishing Texan. The Party of the Fathers Realigns.” Progressive Country. University of Texas Press, 2021. 125-170.

Miller-Davenport, Sarah. “5. Delicious Adventures and Multicolored Pantsuits: Gender and Cosmopolitan Selfhood in the Selling of Hawai ‘i.” Gateway State. Princeton University Press, 2019. 146-181.

Williamson, Tom. “The “three natures”: Culture and cultivation in 18th-century England.” The Culture of Cultivation. Routledge, 2020. 148-172.

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