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The Tailor's Art



Creation of the Man’s Suit
The Suit in the 19th Century
Men’s Dressing Gown and Waistcoat Fabrics
Men’s Accessories in the 19th Century
Neckties and Cravats
Men’s Accessories in the 20th Century
Tailoring for Women
Appropriating the Dandy
Contrast Between the Modern Suit and Feminine Fashion
Mid-Century America: Conformity in Suburbia
Mid-Century Humor: Conversational Textiles
Counterculture Menswear
Contemporary Tailoring for Men
Menswear Fabrics - A Glossary



Originally associated with the English country gentleman, the simple wool suit gradually replaced the ornamental silk suit of the French court. During the 19th century, this tailored suit became the uniform of Europe’s rising bourgeoisie.

Though the slim and body-conscious suit of the late 18th century looked very different from its voluminous 17th-century predecessor, both were colorful and lavishly trimmed. The uniform of courtiers throughout Europe, the suit was often made of silks ornamented with embroidery and lavishly accessorized with lace cuffs and cravats. Today, ornamentation is regarded as “feminine,” but the decorated man was then a symbol of both masculinity and power. Along with the original 18th-century suit, the exhibition also includes two later versions – a 19th-century “rococo revival” example made of wool, and a contemporary woman’s suit made of leather by Roberto Cavalli.

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All photographs by Irving Solero, courtesy of the Museum at FIT, unless otherwise noted.