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Suits: Articles of Interest #10

2020-05-26 | 🔗

Menswear can seem boring. If you look at any award show, most of the men are dressed in black pants and black jackets. This uniform design can be traced back to American Revolution, classical statuary, and one particular bloke bopping around downtown London way back in the 1770s.

Articles of Interest is a limited-run podcast series about fashion, housed inside the design and architecture podcast 99% Invisible. Launched in 2018 by Avery Trufelman, the show encourages people to rethink the way we look at what we wear and what it says about us.

This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
I think, because I was getting married, some of them years ago now re to terror had to go to a wedding. It was time to dress up and re needed to look good because their date was in credibly stylish. At a time I was newly dating my partner who, really variants joy and getting dressed up four things in a way that I did not relate to and really wanted to. Experience like if I partners putting on like a velvet floor length, grass. Unlike dammit. That's good Ray, normally where's kind of androgynous casual close. You know, like genes, hawaiian, shirts, grace sweaters. But by and large formal, where is still so starkly gendered for his wedding, ray realize there are gonna have to get a suit. I knew that I
we needed a suit because I didn't feel comfortable wearing anything else. For me and when I had to get dressed up Ray was not excited about wearing a suit. It honestly seemed kind of boring and intimidating. When you contrasted with the thrill and excitement of floor length, velvet dresses are jumpsuits and make up and heels. Ray watch their partner in awe I just like, while whatever that is sick whatever. That is, I need that it just seemed It was going to be really hard to get that special dress up feeling from a suit Like sometimes I'm almost underwhelmed, when I'm getting dressed, there's just a narrower range of self expression available to the people who shop in the men's department, we look, sort of sort of plain unaware, yeah we're pants every day and they are the same as the Panza were yesterday to second Navy pants, and then I feel it. Playing on the outside and the like, a complete freak on the inside and there's a pie.
Give me that is tempted to bring the way I feel in to hide actually address myself, as re would find out. Expression is possible. It's just that men's. Where doesn't shout it whispers. And you have to lean and close to hear it articles of interest a show about what we, where he's into people, don't realize it's fantasy is always the sting that you have to work hard to do so. No one dresses like a king and how you really love there are lots of things that we take for granted. The word once have been considered luxuries.
Listen, I love fashion made all broadcast about it, but for a long time I did not get men's where specific thickly suits like they are neither useful nor interesting. You know what I mean the jacket doesn't, keep you warm the ties just kind of a shitty scarf the pocket square. As a handkerchief. You don't use and yet they all more or less the same, and that All men are allowed to where you know during award season fashioned journalists will highlight the best dressed and it always includes a bunch of men. He got Brad Pitt anymore, LEO Dicaprio and for the most part they are all just wearing taxes. I mean it's nice, it's nice, they look nice, but it's a black jacket and black pants on the red carpet.
This world of infinite possibilities where women can come in wearing a swan. These famous guys are loaded for wearing a black jacket and black pants mentor is hopelessly boring sorry it is. I dont want to use the word boring either, but it's meant to be that way. This is iconic men's where writer G Bruce Boyer. It's meant to be a unit. Warm. You know, uniforms keep people in key people out because of the uniformity of seats. Tiny differences make a big statement like it matters. If the threading on the button is a certain color, if you have cleats, suits quietly secretly contain this infinite ever shifting world of tiny details, some are useful, Some are purely decorative they're. All very subtle fish are ten made trousers, the pocket is now On the shame slanted forward, because that way each year they get your hand must be
wouldn't noticed that, but that happens to be Orton little detail, how important a little and important Other important little detail the buttons on the sleeve. He bought a fancy seared the buttons are actually functional you can actually bought in the and unbuttoned you can roll up their sleeves and wash your hands without taking your jacket lies. The little detail. Its ability can important little detail. So little detail lies, but that's the kind of thing the suit isn't Easter. Convert for tiny, nice and there's no way you Finally, eggs. Some of them are hidden very well. You see that that little chat but yeah, so little tat is basically keeps her collar from curling up in the heat. That's a very port little detail that nobody will notice success. You lies
we are not looking at Bruce's closet, although it feels like it, it's cool, in my home, away from home, we're in a store in the Tribeca Neighbourhood of Manhattan called the armor If I say you know what I'm gonna be in Manhattan today, my wife has shed you, minister, without the armory aren't Russia. Well, maybe I will she should gimme your credit cards. The armory is a shop, but it is also basically a club house for men's where nerds for gentlemen who understand the little clues that make this otherwise plain, looking clothing very expensive. What has special, if you're, looking from ten feet away, nothing it's when you get up, ocean. You notice that this. This is a really. These things are very subtle. I think quality is hard to describe. It comes with experience and in this way,
buying a suit is kind of like ordering a fine wine. The act of purchasing it is itself luxurious because it means you have the time and I meant to learn about what makes a wine good and learn what you like me. What we're talking about is quality in the product. You know, and that's right, To my mind, what luxury is it the understanding of quality in men where that understanding of quality invites a degree of machismo a lot of the fashion. Guys are all size each other up over these little details is your pocket slant. How many vents is. Your jacket have how's your pocket square Fold who made you shoes, it's a blood sport with them. It's it's a kind of one upmanship. That's they gonna size. You up right away. Part made like five boys, don't make it a com. It's a blood sport, although, unlike
Other blood sports like cars are fine wines or whatever deeds can turn into a dick measuring contest men's. Whereas this strange x factor splits a truer threats, datura, yes, good spreads, datura italian go figure means a studied carelessness. It's a concept that you're not supposed to look like you put a lot of effort into the way you dress, even though you probably did because it's not cool for men to care about how they look, that's the description sure of life. You know, you'll see a guy, Is it well? The buttons of his shirt aren't button. He knows that he knows that you're not telling him anything real men's whereabouts will say you know one of the two crisp and clean and buttoned up. Otherwise, you look. You slick, like Europe, Butler something give it a little sprats Arturo. If his tie is crooked. He put it that way.
You know if he left his sleep buttons. Undone, he did on purpose. He knows that not telling him anything. Believe me. The idea he wants to get across to you is that he looks fabulous. And if he cared just a little bit, if right and this time, if he buttoned his buttons, it would really look terrific. He knows that he knows that, It shows a strength held in reserve. And so there's this illusion that well dressed men are the chosen ones who are just effortlessly. Elegant like there. You have the right stuff or you don't so, out of men. Don't really try many of them grow without learning how to shop foreclose without taking the time to figure out their taste and their bodies, because again they weren't supposed to care, and this
all of this everything about men's. Where, from the uniformity to the world of tiny details of this whole culture of spreads datura, a lot of it can be traced back to one man. One man. His name was Bow Roma It was a joy to talk about Burma in Kelly is a historian, screenwriter and playwright he's, also, by the way, an accomplished actor anxious I do play mine is father in the Harry Potter move his. I think you ve insight click on the mind towards ever academic credit. I might have had no, no! No! No it's so impressive in Kelly is absolutely about academic. Cried! This muddle wrote the definitive biography of Bobo, who is bobbing around London at the turn of the nineteenth century before, oh men and women at the highest echelons of the European Court systems used to dress and kind of the same way? everyone had white powdered faces and wigs and dig lazy, collars and high heels dripping with rich fabrics and rare gemstones,
Everyone, men and women were decking themselves out elaborately and amorously and then there was a massive shift. What fashion historians called the great renunciation of the greens. Male renunciation, the moment when men's fashion four goes pretty much. Wherever lace silicon feathers and wigs and make up an colouring goes for something quite pared down. And this renunciation in many ways started with a bow simplest. I should say Bobo his the begetter off the suit the suit. As we know it did not exist before BO rumble. I know you thought I was being reductionist. History podcast her when I was like it all began with one man, but it's really true, but Brummel change everything. Arguably
important single figure in the whole history of fashion. What Adam Smith was the economics, but Charles Darwin was to biology PLO. Brummel was to fashion, although, unlike other founders of the modern era, bow was wildly unqualified, he wasn't a fashion designer, he wasn't a tailor he wasn't even a nobleman. He was for want of a better word, celebrity your kind of famous for being famous. Today we would Carbo Brummel an influence her. He was rich. She was funny he was charming. He was good looking. Hence both foe was his nickname, but before he grew up to be hot, he was born George from off in seventeen. Seventy eight and his parents were servants. His parents working for North north too,
used to go down until very recently has the least successful prime minister in british history now with somewhat stiff competition, but he famously lost the american colonies, both Father with Lord nor its private secretary and made an unusually large amount of money in that job. It was well known in the eighteenth century speculation which, having now we call embezzlement and so brow, grew up around well, he was accustomed to it. He went to fancy schools, he knew all the right people and when his parents died when he was teenager, he inherited the family fortune mostly spent his days gambling and going to the theater and is being handsome and witty famously surely for being the richest man in London. We his quoth, I dont know if I would call him witty as much as I would call him mean. To give you an idea, is a classic Bo Brummel singer, so both comes up somewhere on the street and asks
What are those things on your feet? This Lord, of course said their shoes bow reply. He thought they were slipper. I thought that was slippery burn Currently this kind of insult humor whenever very well and though roam the streets of London, just dispensing clever insults and looking great cut but Bow Brummel style was shockingly simple. He wore the same thing every single day, a white shirt, a dark jacket and tan pants. This look was the grandfather of the suit and as conventional stuffy, as we may think of the suit today. Both look was absolutely rebellious and unprecedented. For one thing, pants we're pretty wild that issue of full length, cylinder of cloth from crotch to floor
was very unusual before Bobo. I propose menus too, where things that kind of look like shorts, or maybe pedal pushers socks or stockings. Just these bottoms, I have multiple layers imparts to them, both long shapely legs were accentuated by one uninterrupted piece of cloth and bows pants I really really tight, really type bo required, an assistant to get his pants on There is this fashion in the wake of both Romo of wearing, punishing the tight, usually rather pale trousers, and indeed in an hero, went gentlemen. Do not wear undergarments of any sort for fear of what I It is known as visible panty line these early Bo Brummel pants made man look nearly naked, like they were Donald ducking, and this was intentional. It was inspired by this wide Brad obsession with Greco roman statuary. Fascination.
The art of the ancient and in particular with sculpture, think of Jane Austen moving spread, men around BO grumbles time, curled their hair and pinned it back low and more simple white gowns tat made them look like statues of grief, goddesses, botch, greek and roman male structures will almost invariably nude parties, the ones that work. Considered of artistic import. The origins of is born strain. In an election of a sort of a new treaty tale It was also an emulation of a military look. The suit jacket was derived from a writing outfit, because Bo Brummel had served in the Cavalry the monochrome. The simplicity has its allusion to military uniform, but also the idea of uniformity having a uniform allows people to feel part of some larger cause or part of a club and so went bow dressed in the same way every single day he amassed followers and they proudly
called themselves dandies dandy didn't mean how we think of it today, then, it meant edge and minimal and extremely heterosexual this manly cohort of men who slavishly followed, bow and dressed just like him. He said, the central personality cult. Really the dandies of the west, who began dressing in the strict pared down the true monochrome, but bear in mind both wasn't dressing like his own country's military This is, after all, in the wake of the american Revolution. The Brits had fought and lost wearing their bright red coats with flashy gold, buttons and long tales and fancy hats, the rebels, the victorious underdog colonists or clad in muted, blues and grace. Bow was dressing like the rebels, the dress down ass, you off Obama and his friends with
sometimes taken is looking. Insupportable or an allusion to american rubber. Missionaries or french revolutionary is very dress down very being a man of the people. What sort of look because the trajectory of what created the suit and withdraw this fashion, for it has always been the need for more. Democratic, simpler grass down relate. Above all close, this is Derek Guy one of I favour fashion writers and editor for the website, put this on if the brutes didn't take over the world and if Brummel had never Would we still have the suit without rumble, I think? Undoubtedly? Yes, the great mill renunciation kicked off with Brummel for short male renunciation, but Brummel was channeling forces larger than himself and sentiments that work brewing long before he was born, think about it for centuries, western monarchs and upper crest courtly people looked like goddamn aliens. Elizabeth
first dressed in a silhouette, the almost made her look like an insect. She had a voice, very. Very narrow corset made Well bones having her, many were made out of wood? Baling velvets? These kind of like gauzy silks that would float around her head, look like dry ice and idea of that dress at the time, was to establish her position on the throne, the institution of monarchy itself. This look was other worldly intentionally saying I M not like you if you would at any point thought that this person was just a human being like you, then what justifies their rule over this entire kingdom, but things started to change after Queen Elizabeth during the Reign of Charles, the first Charles. The first also had a very extravagant wardrobe. The difference at this time is that you had the rise of the printing press
The printing press was around and Elizabeth and Times, but it really started take off under Charles the first, which meant royal subjects could and did print pamphlets making. Charles look absolutely ridiculous in his big lacy collars. Basically, they made political cartoons yeah political cartoons exactly so what you think is an extravagant hat. They would show as a silly hat and it opened up the doors for other criticisms when people start criticising your clothes and they start criticising your character and you're spending habits. Sure enough, Charles is key Is he closed, led parliament to question all the other ways he had mismanaged. His funds, which had turned out were manifold that has to do with, the growing ideas of liberalism at the time. How would these people be walking around wearing gold when the merchant class in that society was rising, gaining power and start questioning
Why are you wearing all that stuff? What are you doing with my money and in this way, men of wealth and power, slowly realized it was best to keep their cards close to their rests to not risk looking ridiculous or frivolous in the rising tide of liberalism power. And wealth became about restraint and distance and Brummel Suit, fulfilled this desire perfectly because it was democratic on its surface, but it quietly ooh used wealth. Nor can we rely on going to establish your status and has to do with perfect detail and the details were various and the details were expensive. The suit required lawless tailoring and you had to hire a valet to help you and your type pants and both started the trend of wearing a crisp white shark. Under your
I get this interesting signalling of wealth and privilege through clean white linen it was impossible to dry clothes and eighteenth century London without getting them covered, insect, get white, shirts and Croats truly clean, Bow had to say his laundry out to the countryside, so the issue of just having clean white linen is signifier of what and attention to detail. Men were fascinated by both world of tiny details and to understand new way of dressing. Actual crowds would gather at both house every morning to watch. Go, get ready. Such a celebrity people come to watch him dress. He possibly had some sort of oecd issue in that he took several hours to address an hour or more of it naked in front of his assorted friends. Completing the prince of Wales, I cannot emphasise, are crazy. It was the prince of Wales was watching Bow Remo.
Order to learn how to dress like a commoner to learn to dress, as though he did not care about dressing. The audience watched as both famously tied and retired, his Croat over and over again until it appeared ass, though he had just title briskly and effortlessly. As one of bows dandy, followers wrote my Neckcloth cost me some hours a flurry to make it appear to be tied in a hurry, because real men dress down and real men dont care? The burdens? Those dandy ISM had a grip on the London seen until eighteen twelve, when his insult comedy one step too far. He publicly, and so TAT, the Prince of Wales, with the wrong. Fabulous line to a mutual friend of theirs in front of the Prince Regent, who's, your fat friend who's, your friend, the principle
as with sensitive about his weight- and this was pretty nasty even for bow. He felt a favor with high society quickly and then Britain went through a serious recession and Bo Brummel was in a lot of debt, and so he fled to France, where he went mad and died of syphilis which actually heightened the mythology of him. As this tragic glamorous figure. Oh Brussels influence was profound as Brummel, so concisely said to be cool. One, should not be noticed This is more or less the rule of law and men's. Where now, but the whole ship didn't happen, within Bo Brambles lifetime, as you, EL from living in the world. Some people follow trends. Some people doubt the great male renunciation didn't fully to. Called until nearly a century later The figure who, in a lot of ways was quite similar to Brummel Oscar Wilde,
Wild story and gray when it was first published in France, was reviewed and written off as a parable about, though Brummel or a powerful about syphilis. Oscar Wilde was obsessed with Burma and Like Bobo, Oscar Wilde was also a witty man about London, frequenting, the theater and bending about clever retorts, but he was emphatically unlike Brummel in the most important way: Oscar Wilde really flamboyant dresser. He wore caves These huge hats, velvet from you, just very extravagantly and he used at the time clothes as a way to build up his press and characters. When he would go on tours fur for plays, for example, the dress up, both onstage and in private life, and the press would write about him, which, of course, help to advertise is place.
Oscar Wilde was suspected of being gay and then famously was put on trial for it, and he was sent to prison for two years for his sexuality. This, through a bucket of cold water on flamboyant dressing. There were real stakes now, if looking like, Oscar Wilde could be taken for a ride, rhyme. Why risk it Derek argues that it was the trial of Oscar Wilde that in many ways sealed the fate of the great male renunciation. Maybe it was best to not be noticed, two, not care about clothes, so that what you wear doesn't call attention to the way you spend your money or who you're having sex with. Perhaps it was smart for men to dry, In gray and blue and black, and to express themselves only in small details, this has been the rule well in the west. For so long, this mythology seems impossible to break out of
when there was a time on style form, which is an online forum for men who are interesting clothing, where, through The late arts minarets were people would routinely post. Is it ok for me to wear a picture. Does it make me less manly that, unfortunately, I think, as part of this long shadow, Oscar I'll trial and how and are very worried about what an inch concluding means for how people perceive their manliness, of course, throughout the history of hence fashion. There have been notable exceptions like the Peacock Revolution of the nineteen, sixty cents, these when men were in psychedelic patterns and chunky high heels, not the mention the many varied and exciting versions of men's, where that persist beyond bows western european model. And now there are these modern trailblazers, like Billy, Porter and Harry Styles, who are really trying to have fun with clothes men.
Are slowly learning to get more comfortable with self expression, but its delicate. You know, even at the armory that store clubhouse for competitive men's, where nerds, the close foresail. There are all pretty subdued. Its view a traditional clothing but its there's something very interesting about it all. Don't you think I do, but of course you know part of me thanks oh man, we should liberate men from this from this realm of of small details and let them where Purple Zeus suits. You know well yo That may be true. That may be true. I am I'm not sure I would even want to argue with that. I mean I could go the other way with you and say you know, get away from the tyranny of fashion. Little bit I mean come on you get a chance your hold silhouette from one season. To another I mean, let's even talk of but the environment, to shape
guess my answer to the subtlety would be the train, your eye, a little bit your little blatant you really have to knock me out with the topless backless red. Thing that you're wearing I get a priest. Speaking hypothetically, I was not wearing a topless backless red thing, but we could have a little subtlety and dry to write to me. I think that kind of thing works both ways, but I will not be with him about none another really to playing Bruce's bright suit is time you can really invest in one and where it over and over again- and I love that, but I just cringe because suits- have traditionally represented this version of macho boring dressing that I've always resented, and I guess the thing is that so much of the power of the suit eyes in who is wearing it and how well it fits them.
On one hand. Of course it's the garment of power but, on the other hand, is kind of like putting a suit on means that I can tap into that power to. If I want that's rare Tara, who had to get dressed up for that wedding ten years ago and in their hunt for that special dress, up feeling re ended up finding it in a suit, it's kind of like when Dorothy Relays she could go home all along after a yellow, brick road journey. Ray learned about the world of cut and fit, and tiny details has dedicated their lives. Work to spreading this knowledge around suits be other, so ray is now a partner. Vindelin keep a spoke Taylor in when whose motto is suits for every body common grams, its re ray, is very good at their job and instantly plucked the suit off the rack that fit me perfectly
I was totally smitten Lu Lu. So why does it fit? Why should I love it? Some what's going on? I first thing is: if it's your shoulders, pretty well, of course, a well fitting suit is a privilege and a luxury, but there's a reason. This style stuck around since bow goddamn Brummel. If you get one that fits you, everyone can look great in a suit. Your also liking it because the button is closer to the narrowest point. On your torso, I mean that's proportional to you and that's why you like it
I liked it a lot. I just hope that we can move to appoint society were more people feel truly comfortable expressing themselves ass, loudly or as suddenly as they would like to, which would be a big shift, but you know, look a beau brummel. It might only take one extremely well dressed person to change the entire paradigm. Again palm peace Words. Yesterday, there's poetry, painted on the
Articles of interest was written and performed by every truffle edited by crisper. Obey scored by RE royal that checked by Tom Collagen, with additional backtracking by Graham Asia makes integrity. Stand by Sharif Youssef, with Edition mixing by Catherine Raimondo are open in closing songs are buys a Sammy inside support at its from the whole money, namely a team include Joe Rosenberg Emmett Fitzgerald Vivian, lay Genral, Abbe, Madden, Kirkwall Stead, Delaney Hall in Haiti, mingle, special thanks to fancy author and podcast or Roland. Who first told me about Bo Brummel in an amazing twitter Fred. Follow them at underscore, Alex Rowan and thanks also to men's where designer Brace Patterson of the black tux voice talents. This episode, we're Patmos City Miller. The great male renunciation, Tilby a couple and Bow Brummel, was played by Felix trudge people.
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dot. Slash invisible talk to a therapist online and get help when you want in wherever you are before the great male renunciation. So many things that mean I'll think of his feminine, were once masculine, like high heels first worn by men, because the hills were useful for writing. Stirrups same thing with diamonds like Any kind of feminine flourishes. Diamonds were actually warned by men before they were warned by women. An author Rochelle Bernstein, as that about forty years ago, the diamond industry tried to get men back into it. They created a series of very high the ads in the eighties, you're. So on the nose they hired sports stars to say things like my diamond: make We feel masculine is protesting a little too much, but then outside it industries, purview, something happened which they really didn't anticipate, which was that wrappers
our aid wearing diamonds as a symbol of their success, prominent men of color, their own accord, injected new life into diamond industry on you know, new mental level. It showed guys that wearing gemstones could be cool, that it actually is something aspiration on something that shows off status, which is, of course, what were, all told we're trying to do with our gemstones? But you know not all gems bones? Necessarily I'm gonna sound so way when I say this, but bling meant a specific thing: it didn't mean sapphires or emeralds or Opel's your next. Articles of interest are diamonds.
Transcript generated on 2020-06-10.