The 3rd year students at EHC are studying men’s tailoring in this Term, and have been introduced to the styles and protocols of what and how to dress men appropriately; the importance of which can not be overstated for future tailors. Where did all these rules come from? As the curator at the Lougheed House pointed out in a recent newsletter, Edward VII – King of the United Kingdom and the British Dominions and Emperor of India from 22 January 1901 until his death in 1910, had allot to do with it:
Spring is here! As we transition from winter to spring with thoughts of summer and this year’s theme [at Lougheed House – National Historic Site in Calgary] the Elegant West featuring a fashion show with menswear, recalls an earlier era when Edwardian etiquette manuals reminded “it is a duty one owes one’s friends to dress well and it is absolutely true that the tailor makes the man”. Furthermore, these manuals warn “if a man commits flagrant errors in costume he will not be invited out very much, of that he may be certain”. Edward VII was a stickler in matters of dress, and was not above scolding his friends, such as Prime Ministers and foreign dignitaries, if they appeared in anything less than the correct attire. These expectations kept an Edwardian gentleman such as Senator Sir James Lougheed, as much on his toes as it did his wife, Lady Lougheed. Nevertheless, basic guidelines for full dress were a silk top hat, black dress coat and trousers, white shirt, waistcoat and tie.
Modern Etiquette in Public and Private (1903) ensures us:”Plain and simple as the dress is, it is a sure test of a gentlemanly appearance. The man who dines in evening dress every night of his life looks easy and natural in it, whereas the man who takes to it late in life generally succeeds in looking like a waiter”.
While the manual Good Form for All Occasions (1914) reports: ‘For men the proper costume for late dinner (at six o’clock or after) is regulation evening dress. At stag dinners and small informal occasions the dinner-jacket replaces the swallow-tail coat and is accompanied by a plain black-silk tie”.Ian Rogan – Curator
So what about today? The rules regarding the well dressed man are much the same as they were, however are interpreted in contemporary fabrics with tweaks to some details.Lets show a comparison of yesteryear and today:
Photo #4: English male supermodel David Gandy headlines the Fall/Winter 2011 campaign of German menswear retailer Anson’s. Men in black suits are in the League of Fabulously Dressed Gentlemen brought to you by Anson’s.
Photo #5: Alexander McQueen gave this tough guy a chic look that had a posh twist with incredible tailoring, perhaps a skill he learned from his training at Savile Row. The exceptionally tailored suit was made with Harris Tweed and had an Edwardian style touch cut very slim to sculpt the body, and of course Alexander presented his art in a highly entertaining way that no one would actually wear, but you get the idea.
The tailor makes the man, knows what the rules are; the man breaks the rules by not knowing them; the tailor guides the man; the man bends the rules when he knows them; and then they both win…J