The Suit: Form, Function and Style

Author(s): Christopher Breward


For over 400 years the tailored suit has dominated wardrobes the world over. Its simple forms, inspired by royal, military, religious and professional clothing, have provided a functional and often elegant uniform for modern life. But whether bespoke or tailor-made, on the street or in the office, during times of celebration or of crisis, we typically take the suit for granted, ignoring its complex construction and many symbolic meanings.The Suit unpicks the story of this most familiar garment, from its emergence in western Europe at the end of the seventeenth century to today. Suit-wearing figures such as the Savile Row gentleman and the Wall Street businessman have long embodied ideas of tradition, masculinity, power and respectability, but the suit has also been used to disrupt concepts of gender and conformity. Adopted and subverted by women, artists, musicians and social revolutionaries through the decades - from dandies and Sapeurs to the Zoot Suit and Le Smoking - the suit is also a device for challenging the status quo.
For all those interested in the history of menswear, this beautifully illustrated book offers new perspectives on this most mundane, and poetic, product of modern culture.


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'In its long history the suit has been both a symbol of adherence to mainstream authority as well as a weapon of rebellion. In this book Christopher Breward masterfully traces the suit's influence in modern and contemporary cultures with thorough scholarship and vivid writing. The Suit is a magical tour of the corporeal terrain of the garment that continues to intrigue us as it reflects the ever-changing economic and cultural contexts in which it is found. A triumph of scholarship and a joy to read.' -- G. Bruce Boyer, author of True Style: The History and Principles of Classic Menswear, Rebel Style, and Gary Cooper: Enduring Style 'Spirited and well researched, The Suit: Form, Function and Style is a thoroughly informed examination of the ubiquitous garment that is a staple in every man's life. Combining both substance and style, it provides a journey into the evolution of the suit and its cultural influence through the ages. -- Ed Burstell, Managing Director, Liberty. 'Breward climbs into every armhole and measures every inside leg. He stops at nothing to decode the enigmas of men's tailoring.' --Simon Doonan, Creative Ambassador for Barneys New York and author of The Asylum: True Tales of Madness from a Life in Fashion

Christopher Breward is Principal of Edinburgh College of Art and Professor of Cultural History at the University of Edinburgh. He is the author of The Hidden Consumer (1999), Fashion (2003), and Fashioning London (2004).

General Fields

  • : 9781780235233
  • : Reaktion Books, Limited
  • : Reaktion Books, Limited
  • : April 2016
  • : 240mm X 156mm
  • : United Kingdom
  • : May 2016
  • : books

Special Fields

  • : Christopher Breward
  • : Hardback
  • : 391.47309
  • : 256
  • : 100 black and white illustrations