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18 Nov

History of British Menswear Style

three piece suit

Famous elements of Britain’s style history continue to appear in current trends all over the world. Whether it is a pair of Doc Martens boots in a street style photo from Japan, a three piece suit worn by an actor on the red carpet in Cannes or a Burberry trench coat featured in an international menswear fashion shoot, it seems the eccentric European look is here to stay.

three piece suit

Three-piece suit via Flickr

British style is very much influenced by the history of the country’s fashion cliques and sub-cultures. From punk to mod to dandy, these looks are still showcased in modern menswear, but maybe not quite in the same way. Here we are going to examine some different elements of Britain’s style history and how it has influenced fashion’s current tastes and trends.

The three piece suit was both invented and first made in England, way back in 1666. Adding a vest or waistcoat to the traditional tailored jacket and trousers made buying a suit even more extravagant, paving the way for work wear to be sharp and slick but most importantly – fashionable. Savile Row, the famous street in Mayfair, central London, also adds to the British flair for work wear with its history of housing the best tailors and suit-makers, using premium fabrics and designs to create original and bespoke jackets, waistcoats and trousers. The street is renowned worldwide as being the place for premium tailoring.

Moving quickly on to the sixties, Carnaby Street in London was full of elaborate and unique street style reflecting the ‘Mod’ movement. Mods focused on menswear that was flamboyant and eccentric, with unique novelty details designed to make them stand out from the crowd. Slim-cuts were introduced and exciting fabrics like velvet and prints like paisley embellished the plainer suits from the past.

Carnaby Street

Carnaby Street had many shops with “mod” clothing. Credit: Flickr

At the same time, the more radical style of punk was also being re-invented on the street. The DIY-ideals of the movement saw heavy, rough fabrics and accessories being worn to give a gritty, urban feel to menswear. Tartan, statement cotton tees and leather were the trends of the moment, continuing British fashion’s love of mixing textures, prints and pattern but with more of a street edge.

Contemporary British fashion still continues to showcase elements of these past trends. Menswear is a huge part of their fashion industry, and it continues to be styled in an eccentric and unusual way with hints to their vibrant past. Colours, fabrics and prints are brought together to liven up the most basic of outfits, and men’s workwear is given a breath of fresh air with quirky detailing.

Duchamp London products

Quirky shirt and pochette from Duchamp London

To work some of the famous British quirkiness into your own menswear look, try and collect pieces that have exotic or colourful prints to team with plainer basics for a pop of dandy style. Check out British designer brands like Duchamp with a range of menswear as seen above. They make premium quality suits and shirts, but also exciting accessories in creative colours and patterns that are easy ways to nod to the country’s inimitable style.