97c8f848a782c66f0d9ffd5e49c48726A symbol of sartorial elegance in men, the suit has been a man’s closest companion for over a staggering century. It has always been a reflection of a man’s social establishment. It is and will always be a sign of an all-rounded, respectful and successful individual. It is an armour of success and confidence. It is ten decades old, constantly undergoing metamorphosis but still a must have in today’s high fashion. The BBC documentary presented by Alastair Sookie uncovers the story of the suit.

There is nothing like a suit which fits like second skin, a service offered by bespoke tailoring. One might be surprised to know that there are over 230 components to a suit and these tiny but vital components make all the difference. Even in these components such as a lapels, pockets, drapes there are several endless variations offered. Till date I never knew that a single suit could be spoilt by choice for a pocket. Some of the variations in the pockets include western pocket, Chinese pocket, frog pocket, flap or no flap pocket. There are infinite possibilities to the classic suit which makes it so versatile and alive till today’s date. The essence of a perfect suit is it’s ‘to the measure’ tailoring and fine craftsmanship skills. Bespoke Tailoring is an art all together.

The modern suit that we see as today underwent quite an evolution. In the olden times, it started off as a frock coat suit in Britain. It was worn right till the WWI by a certain class of people. It was formal, restrictive and a means of not standing out in the crowd. Whether you were at work, a party or even on the beach, a suit was a must. Suits in those times were made of wool. It was the same old mundane piece of clothing till Kier Hardie, a socialist and a labour leader came into the picture. He wore a classic lounge suit in the parliament and changed the way the suit was looked at.  This was a revolutionary step taken to bring life back into the suit.

Kier hardie

Kier Hardie

Duke of windsor one of the best dressed men of all time

Duke of Windsor, one of the best dressed men of all time.

Savile Row in London is blindly understood as the gates of paradise to a suit haven. The Duke of Windsor of 1894 also transformed the lounge suit as an acceptable dress code in society. This was in opposition to the overtly formal clothing sense of his father King George V. These were earlier instances of rebellion which were displayed through clothing.

Come WWII and clothing became washable, water and stain resistant. Over 60 years ago efficient machinery came into place which catered to the high demands of the masses. Even though we rely heavily on machines for production, there is still great attention to detail paid during the assembling process. It is evident in the lining of the inner pockets and the cuffs. Despite being however technically advanced as it is today, it can never substitute bespoke tailoring. The feel of it is entirely different.

In the 1960s the only influence of men’s fashion was through Hollywood movies such as Dean Martin and Ocean’s eleven. It brought about the sex appeal factor while maintaining a relaxed yet confident look. It was a stark contrast to the earlier times. Psychedelic colours soon came by launching the peacock Revolution in Men’s Clothing. This also brought about experimentations by designers in terms of materials used.

david Bowie Bryan ferry wearing anthony jacket

In the 1970s there was a domination by the ‘casual denim culture’ which restricted the suit to work wear and occasional celebrations. A change in the suit trends was brought up by Anthony Price who designed clothing for popular pop culture icons such as David Bowie and Bryan Ferries. For him the suit meant success, success and success. Influence of the Italian fashion also was brought about by Armani. Set up in 1975, Armani suits were all about luxury and manhood. It upped the desirability factor. The brand image grew wider than the suit itself. People could just pick up any suit and feel confident about themselves. It was all about power dressing and making an impression.

Soon the American culture of ‘Dress Down Fridays’ made its way into corporate wear. When the presenter Alastair Sookie asked a few corporate honchos on their take of Friday dressing, I was surprised that they did not feel as productive and authoritative without their suits. This further engraved it to my mind that the suit really means a lot to the big boys in the biz.

After visiting several bespoke tailoring stores, Alastair atlas lands up in the house of Britain’s king of menswear, Paul Smith. A designer for over 40 years he is the trendsetter for suits, designing over 26 collections a year and exporting it to over 56 countries. He has glamourized the world of suits and breathed in freshness to a century year old tradition. According to Paul Smith, “It makes you feel good, important, sexy and tall”. According to Paul Smith a perfect suit is like “When you close a car door, if it’s a nice car, there is a solid sound about it” or to put it in other words making a subtle impression effortlessly. It should have the solidity about it and equal craftsmanship.


It was a well presented and insightful documentary tracing the routes of the English suit. Alastair Sookie really went far and wide to explore the nitty-gritties of the suit and what makes it thrive. With his good sense of humor, he made a topic like suits for a girl like me (only concerned with women’s wear) a rather interesting one. I recommend this documentary to every fashion student and MAN out there to watch this brilliantly cohesive documentary by BBC.

Watch the documentary here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TdTD0K66f8o

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