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Why are suits still so popular?

You may not have known this or maybe never thought about it, but did you know the suit that many of us snazzy men and women wear today, actually dates back to the mid-1600s? According to a brief history provided by Mens USA, the trend began when King Charles II required that the men at the time be dressed in long coats or a jacket when in assembly. Granted, the style has changed dramatically since then (for the better in my opinion). Nevertheless, this is where it began and as evolution took its course, we have transformed the once fashion obligation into one of the most desirable wardrobe choices of the modern society.

Thomas Hewart after Hendrik Danckerts, John Rose, the Royal Gardener, Presenting a Pineapple to King Charles II, c. 1676, oil on canvas : 113 × 120 cm. London, The National Trust, Ham House and Gardens, inv. 1139824.

The highly adorned wardrobe of King Charles II is not necessarily one that would be revered in today’s world. The statement that it made in those days, however, is still a statement that remains true to this day, the representation of self-respect and integrity.

A variety of mens suits from the 1890s-1900s. Photo by Bettmann/Getty

Its arguable whether or not modern suits have even the slightest resemblance than those of the 1600s. Especially when you compare it to the three-piece suits transformed by Beau Brummell in the 1900s, which is where the current trend really started to come alive.

It’s quite baffling at times to think that one single form of fashion has become a standard across nations, but why? What benefit does this serve us as a society? Why does one wardrobe change speak such volumes to its audience? Well, I’m sure many of us just can’t explain the heart melting sight of a perfectly chosen bespoke suit. However, that doesn’t mean there isn’t a science to the madness of this delectable fashion trend. Check out this study: The Cognitive Consequences of Formal Clothing where five studies were conducted in which their results state “Wearing more formal clothing was associated with higher action identification level (Study 1) and greater category inclusiveness (Study 2). Putting on formal clothing induced greater category inclusiveness (Study 3) and enhanced a global processing advantage (Study 4). The association between clothing formality and abstract processing was mediated by felt power (Study 5)”.

Of course, not every man or woman wears a suit for the same reason and not every suit is appropriate for every occasion. In modern society, who wears suits and why? Once you ask yourself this question, you might find yourself spiraling down this list of multitudinous reasons to wear a suit. Getting married? Most men, not just the groom, will most likely wear a suit. Interview? Definitely suit! Zoom interview? Maybe just a half a suit (hopefully the top half). Corporate job? Suit. Funeral? Suit. Date night? If you care enough about your date, then yes, you guessed it, suit!

Suit from SuitmanUSA

Putting aside all the fashionable reasons to wear a suit, let’s not forget those who serve our country day and night not just dressing to impress, but dressing to protect. With great suits comes great responsibilities and for our police officers, security guards and armed professionals out there who wear specially tailored suits made for their tactical requirements, a suit is surely much more than just a suit. Once again, why did they choose suits? Well as common as they are, they’re exceedingly versatile, very personable, and quite discreet. Let’s face it, if we must be in a uniform, why not make it a tasteful suit?

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