Menswear

   Menswear describes the category of men's clothing and accessories that includes men's sportswear, suits, shirts, neckties, hosiery, shoes, hats, outerwear, sleepwear, underwear, athlet-icwear, and performance apparel. Trends in men's clothing have historically moved much slower than for women's clothing and can be traced back to as early as the Greek and Roman himations and togas. Medieval mantles, tunics, and leggings for men lasted until the cotehardie (tight-fitting bodice, full sleeves, and short skirt) and houppelande (long voluminous outerwear garment) took over in the fourteenth century and lasted for the next 100 years. Inspired by increased trade between the Far East and Europe, men's fashion became extravagant during the Italian Renaissance and, by the late fifteenth century, men were wearing knee breeches with knee-length stockings and doublets with shirts made from exquisite silks and brocades. In 1633, Louis XIV of France issued an edict requiring simplified dress at the French court; ruffs, paned sleeves, and ribbons were outlawed in favor of plain linen collars and cuffs. With the end of the Thirty Years' War, men's fashions of the 1650s and early 1660s imitated the new peaceful and more relaxed feeling in Europe. In 1666, Charles II of England decreed that, at court, men were to wear a long coat, a vest or waistcoat, a cravat, a periwig or wig, and breeches gathered at the knee, as well as a hat for outdoor wear.
   A big shift in menswear followed the American (1775-1783) and French (1789-1799) Revolutions, when fashion became understated and "undress" was the popular opposition to the abundant adornments that defined aristocracy. While men continued to wear the waistcoat, coat, and breeches of the previous period for both full dress and undress, they were now made of the same fabric, signaling the birth of the three-piece suit. The early 1800s saw the final abandonment of lace, embroidery, and other embellishment from serious men's clothing and it became gauche to dress like an aristocrat. In Britain, Beau Brummell, a trendsetter of the time, is credited with introducing and making the modern man's suit and necktie fashionable. The Row, as it is commonly termed, became the center of traditional bespoke tailoring, primarily for men. This trend led to the trousers that are popular in menswear today as they have been for the past 200 years. What Paris was to women's fashion, London was to men's. After the U.S. Civil War (1861-1865), standardized sizing in men's clothing introduced the concept of mass production with less individual tailoring and the necktie was introduced by 1880.
   During the early 1900s in the United States, menswear took a less formal approach than in Europe with a trend toward brightly colored sportswear. The Norfolk jacket remained fashionable for shooting and rugged outdoor pursuits but, in the United States, the fashion was the Norfolk suit worn with knickerbockers, knee-length stockings, and low shoes for bicycling or golf and, for hunting, the same but with sturdy boots or shoes with leather gaiters. In the 1920s, students at Oxford and Cambridge violated, for the first time ever, the Edwardian practice of different types of dress for different times of the day wearing flannel trousers, tweed jackets, "Oxford Bags" (khaki trousers), and soft collar shirts. Jazz clothing consisting of tight-fitting suits was considered an expression of passion for jazz music. Phillips-Van Heusen introduced the first-ever collar-attached shirt, called Collarite. Also at this time in the United States, men's fashion magazines often featured styles and trends from London.
   The crash of the American stock market in 1929 marked a change in the worldwide economic situation and had a drastic effect on men's clothing. By 1931, eight million people were out of work in the United States. The garment industry suffered and the Edwardian tradition of successive clothing changes throughout the day finally died. Tailors responded by offering more moderately priced styles. In 1935, President Roosevelt's New Deal rebounded the economy and thus created a demand to redesign the business suit to signify new success. This new look was designed by London tailor Frederick Scholte and was known as the "London cut." Blazers also became popular for summer wear. Blazers are descendants of the jackets worn by English university students on cricket, tennis, and rowing teams during the late nineteenth century. The name may derive from the "blazing" colors the original jackets were made in, which distinguished the different sports teams. The zoot suit became popularized in Harlem nightclubs. It was an exaggerated look comprised of an oversized jacket, wide lapels and shoulders, with baggy low-crotched trousers that narrowed dramatically at the ankle. This 1930s "gangster influence" bore the image of a businessman because of the suits they wore; this did not include typical business colors and styles and, in fact, they took every detail to the extreme, featuring wider stripes, bolder glen plaids, more colorful ties, pronounced shoulders, narrower waists, and wider trouser bottoms. In 1931, Apparel Arts was founded as a men's fashion magazine for the trade and became the fashion bible for middle-class American men, later known as Esquire magazine. America began to successfully compete with long-established English and French tailors. However, the eruption of war at the end of the decade brought an abrupt halt to the development of fashion all over the world.
   In 1942, the U.S. Government War Production Board issued regulation L-85, which regulated every aspect of clothing and restricted the use of natural fibers. In particular, wool supplies for civilian use were cut from 204,000 to 136,000 tons in order to meet military requirements. All countries turned to the production of man-made fibers. Viscose and rayon (derived from wood pulp) were the most common. Stanley Marcus, the apparel consultant to the War Production Board, said it was the designer's patriotic duty to design fashions that lasted for multiple seasons and used a minimum of fabric. Men's suits were made minus vests and pocket flaps and trousers lost their multiple pleats and cuffs. McCall's produced patterns for transforming men's suits into ladies suits, since the men were at war and not wearing the garments. The end of the war and rationing brought a dramatic change in fashion. Men's style after the war favored full-cut, long clothing as a reaction to wartime shortages. Long coats and full-cut trousers were a sign of opulence and luxury, available in a full spectrum of colors. One of the most extreme changes in postwar men's fashion was the adoption of the casual shirt. In 1946 and 1947, Hawaiian shirts were first worn on the beaches in California and Florida. In 1949, Esquire magazine promoted a new look by labeling it "the bold look." Its characteristics were a loose-fitting jacket with pronounced shoulders.
   By the 1950s, Europe looked to the United States for trends as American designers left their mark on the world with the concept of sportswear. In 1953, the gray flannel suit began its reign and fashion trends were being set by younger people. California surf culture spawned streetwear, the surfer look consisting of faded Levis, hua-rache sandals, Pendleton shirts, and baggie surf trunks. The preppy look was also fashionable—a look adapted from clothes worn by students in private or prep schools, such as Ivy League shirts, chino pants, loafers, and crew-cut hairdos. Other trendsetters were American singer Elvis Presley and the British Teddy Boys.
   The early 1960s saw a renaissance in the refinement of men's fashion, influenced by such Italian designers as Brioni, Nino Cerruti, and Ermenegildo Zegna. The "British invasion" and the Beatles also had a sweeping influence on menswear when, in 1962, the Beatles pioneered the mod look of Pierre Cardin with tight-fitting suits, Nehru jackets, tight and hip-hugging trousers, turtleneck sweaters, long hair, and sideburns. The mods proved that men could care about the clothes they wore. This attitude allowed for changes in men's fashion as the decade progressed. Narrow pants were worn by the fashionable young with "winkle picker" shoes (long, pointed-toe shoes). In 1967, the Beatles adopted the psychedelic look wearing flower-patterned shirts, epaulette jackets, and flared bell-bottomed trousers. Jewelry collections were also launched for men. Burton, the largest tailoring franchise in England, actually introduced a line of clothes called 007 during actor Sean Connery's heyday as James Bond.
   The 1970s introduced unisex dressing with both sexes wearing tie-dyed shirts, "unisex" bell-bottoms, and secondhand military attire—an ironic-yet-stylish comment on the Vietnam War. The movie Saturday Night Fever popularized disco style throughout the world and had a huge impact on men's clothing. The mid-1970s saw punk style popularized with chains, piercings, crazy-colored spiked "Mohawk" haircuts, ripped T-shirts, bondage trousers, and Doc Martens workboots as the uniform. By the end of the decade, the fitness craze took shape in the form of jogging suits, sneakers, and message T-shirts.
   By the 1980s, baby boomers were into adulthood and enjoying financial success. Consequently, the 1980s was the decade of excess. The marketing term YUPPIE (Young Upwardly Mobile Professional Person) defined the time when the economy moved from cash to credit, giving more spending power to consumers. The movie American Gigolo (1982) brought Giorgio Armani's relaxed elegance to the masses and designer labels and branding gained force. Brand names became status symbols for sports gear and sportswear, perfumes, electrical equipment, cars, and fashion designer goods such as clothing, bags, luggage, scarves, and spectacles. The television show Miami Vice created the look of pastel T-shirts under dinner jackets with loafers and no socks. Break-dance fashion became mainstream with flat-soled Adidas, Puma, or Fila shoes with thick, elaborately patterned laces and colorful nylon track suits.
   Almost as a backlash to the seemingly bad taste of the 1980s, the next decade represented the clean, pared-down era, and a time when menswear returned to beautifully tailored suits in classic colors from Helmut Lang, Ermenegildo Zegna, Hugo Boss, Nino Cerruti, Giorgio Armani, and Ralph Lauren. The term metrosexual was coined by British journalist Mark Simpson as the trait of an urban male of any sexual orientation (usually heterosexual) who has a strong aesthetic sense and spends a great amount of time and money on his appearance and lifestyle. Italian suits were the basis for luxury and high-quality dressing. The Armani suit dressed the businessman throughout the decade until "business casual" took over in the mid and late 1990s. Other trends went in and out of fashion during this decade including grunge style, a return to punk—although this time it was known as cyberpunk—and hip-hop style, inspired by street youth culture. In an ironic move, the preppy look made a comeback in the late 1990s, closely associated with the Tommy Hilfiger clothing line, which emulated the more expensive preppy look pioneered almost a decade earlier by Ralph Lauren.
   The new millennium began with a retro influence, a mixture of the best elements of all previous fashion eras. Once the first major American corporation, Alcoa, sanctioned casual office attire in 1991, it wasn't long before "casual Friday" was replaced with "casual everyday" as most companies loosened their dress code restrictions with the exception of the legal and financial professions and those requiring uniforms. Sports and performance apparel continue to play a major role in men's clothing, as do men's designer labels.

Historical Dictionary of the Fashion Industry. .

Look at other dictionaries:

  • menswear — mens‧wear [ˈmenzweə ǁ wer] noun [uncountable] clothes for men; used especially in shops and manufacturing: • the menswear department * * * menswear UK US /ˈmenzweər/ noun [U] COMMERCE ► used in stores, advertising, etc. to refer to clothes for… …   Financial and business terms

  • Menswear — may refer to: men s fashion Menswear (band) This disambiguation page lists articles associated with the same title. If an internal link led you here, you may wish to change the link to point directly to the intended article …   Wikipedia

  • menswear — [menz′wer΄] n. clothing for men: also men s wear …   English World dictionary

  • menswear — [[t]me̱nzweə(r)[/t]] N UNCOUNT Menswear is clothing for men. ...the menswear industry …   English dictionary

  • menswear — mens|wear [ˈmenzweə US wer] n [U] clothing for men used especially in shops ▪ the menswear department …   Dictionary of contemporary English

  • menswear — noun (U) clothing for men: a menswear shop …   Longman dictionary of contemporary English

  • menswear — n. clothes for men. * * * men s wear, menswear see man n.1 23 …   Useful english dictionary

  • menswear — noun Date: 1854 clothing for men …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • Menswear — Menswe@r waren eine kurzlebige Britpopband, die Mitte der 90er Jahre aktiv war und aus Camden kam. Menswe@r unterschrieben ihren ersten Plattenvertrag nach ihrem fünften Auftritt und erschienen auf dem Cover von Melody Maker bevor sie einen… …   Deutsch Wikipedia

  • menswear — /menz wair /, n. 1. See men s wear. 2. cloth, esp. wool, used in making men s and often women s tailored garments. [1905 10; MEN + S1 + WEAR] * * * …   Universalium

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