the fashion of Men and its comfortable sameness of control

Since the end of the 19th century there can be traced an unmistakable resemblance between generations of men’s suits. Sure, they were under different names and titles, fabrics and uses but still that persistent cut and drape follows itself through the decades of “trends.” Before the English Drape and boxey cut and those adamant lapels of the suit arrived, men were quite the peacocks of fashion. Their decoration of yards of fabric, plumage galore in feathers, satin, ribbons and…heels? It’s like every day was a wedding in the 18th century. And so, it must be questioned: Did men find the comfort zone with their fashion (for which perhaps women are still searching)? Or did the spool finally end its roll with a fine habitual taste for sameness (in other words: they’re stuck and won’t get out)?

I found this charming piece of design news from 2007: Tom Ford wins the Person of the Year for the DNR Menswear Awards. December 10, 2007 issue article headlines: Anchored in traditional tailoring, his new collection brings sex appeal and a fashion edge to classic men’s wear. To that I agree. Wow do these fit male models look like a mine of black gold in a suit that is like an equally lavish dinner where prices are not listed. You bite it, you buy it. And I admit that a well fitted and tailored suit on a well fitted and styled man has been a favorite look in my album. Perhaps it would be insulting to expect more of a men’s line other than a line of [handsome/sexy/expensively embellished/etc] men?

Tom Ford’s debut brought a level of excitement to men’s fashion not seen in years.” [Colavita, p.19] And the excitement was (drum roll)…more of what the market has seen (more or less solidly) over DNR’s century-long coverage—maybe minus the 70s. It would be pleasing (to me) if it were admitted that so little alters in the world of men’s suits that the price tag is the only real change: “Oh, another zero? Yes, that is trendy,” says the elite male who has bought a mirage of the same suit since 1991 yet is at the height of style each time. And it’s like magic, or rather fashion.

I continued reading through this issue of DNR to find Dolce & Gabbana one of the style icons of the year (of course!). And what was then quoted slightly altered my thinking of centuries-old apparel.

“[Men’s wear has] changed in every possible way. Men love fashion. They love themselves and they aren’t afraid to show off.” (Gabbana)

“Men’s is really about style.” (Dolce)

“Yes, but it’s also fashion. It’s a different kind of fashion than women’s because it’s…based on more details.” (Gabbana)

Perhaps the expectation isn’t about how much of a suit can change, but how much of the details can be controlled. And by manipulating the details to produce more or less control, the more of a man the suit has styled, or rather the style then suits the man. Slight spoiler: Next year’s men’s wear line will feature the suit, for the image has become the man of today…and tomorrow.

Quotes and news from DNR Monday, 10 Dec 2007, pp.19 & 22. Articles written by Courtney Colavita, www.dnrnews.com.

[Conversation of men’s wear courtesy of my friend known as Gwen.]

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~ by theroomfor on July 23, 2010.

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