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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



Tailoring is one of the most important elements in the history of modern fashion. An immensely technical craft requiring the precise measuring, cutting, and sewing of fabric in order to highlight the idealized human form, the tailorís art has had a profound impact on the aesthetic development of fashion for 250 years.

Since its genesis in the 18th century, the dark woolen suit Ė the quintessential tailored garment Ė has remained the modern fashion ensemble. The modernist tendencies of the suit come from its sleek, understated silhouette, stripped of superfluous ornament. This reductive elegance has made the suit less prone to the rapid changes of high fashion, and it has rarely been swayed by the constant revisionism that dominates womenís dress.

The Tailorís Art is a historical overview of the modern suit, based on objects in the permanent collections of The Museum at FIT. In addition to a selection of woolen suits for men, the exhibition also explores the influence of tailoring on womenís attire, while simultaneously presenting colorful dresses that illustrate clear gender differences between male and female clothing. Also included are elements of menswear that are anything but dark and somber, such as ornamental waistcoats made from elaborately woven silks and dressing gowns of boldly printed cottons, and textiles commonly associated with the male wardrobe Ė tartan, worsted woolens, and shirting fabrics, for example. The diversity of tailoring is emphasized by the inclusion of counterculture style, including rhinestone-studded western wear. These tailored garments stand alongside a selection of surprisingly varied accessories and textiles.

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This exhibition is an interdisciplinary collaboration organized by Patricia Mears, Fred Dennis, Joanne Dolan Ingersoll, Clare Sauro, and Lynn Weidner.

The Tailor's Art is sponsored in part by Elle Magazine    and Redken  . Additional Support is provided by the members of the Couture Council.

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

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