The Museum at FIT   About MFIT   Educational Programs   Press Release      

The Tailor's Art



Creation of the Manís Suit
The Suit in the 19th Century
Menís Dressing Gown and Waistcoat Fabrics
Menís Accessories in the 19th Century
Neckties and Cravats
Menís 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



As menswear grew increasingly utilitarian, accessories became an important indicator of personal style. Hats were an expensive but necessary component of the male wardrobe, because to be seen hatless in public was socially unacceptable. The preeminent masculine accessory of the 19th century, the top hat, was in perfect harmony with the increasing simplicity of menís dress.

Boots were preferred to shoes, since they conveyed masculine strength and a military panache Ė and military influence, due to a rise in nationalist sentiment, dominated the early 19th century. The two most popular boots were the Hessian and the Wellington, both variations on the high, leather riding boot. These styles were later eclipsed by short, ankle-length boots, such as the laced Blucher and the high-button Balmoral, popularized by Prince Albert.

The late 19th century was characterized by sartorial formality. Cleanliness and a neat appearance were prized, with an emphasis on spotless shoes, gloves, and collars. Hence the importance of spats and the detachable collar, both of which could easily be replaced for laundering.


< Previous

Next >

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