why are we all wearing suits?

June 30th, 2007

The suit is, with astonishing regularity and unbridled universality, the mode of attire for "significant" social occasions. Sorry, for males. Dare I ask what merit has granted this style of clothing the unquestioned acceptance and unique adoption? Is it the aesthetic quality? Is it the economic feasibility of acquisition compared to richer local traditions which value craft and ornamentation? Is it some kind of great compromise where disputes over our regional values have produced a lowest common denominator?

brad_pitt_suit.jpgSignificantly, Hollywood has given the suit an image outside weddings and funerals that represents top class fashion and coolness. More so than anything, it suggests to us that given the choice, Hollywood characters would choose to wear a suit. Why would suave characters whose plot does not dictate unto them a dress code choose to wear a suit, a style of clothing associated with private family occasions and tedious business meetings? Exactly, it doesn't fit. And I think Hollywood, not necessarily by itself, but certainly as a medium, has helped create that image of the suit as desirable clothing. It's mythological. Most people don't look anything like Brad Pitt in a suit.

Why do we wear a suit? It's not the least bit comfortable. It's not cheap. It doesn't make you feel liberated in any way (despite James Bond running around roof tops in it). It's a huge hassle to clean, because you can't just wash it. And it's the world's least customizable bit of clothing: every suit looks exactly the same. It leaves zero room for individuality. And we don't even look good in it. Unless you have a tailored suit, most people look rather awkward in a suit, and far removed from their normal style of clothing and their natural unrestrained motion. Like these guys...


What about women? They are doing much better. They don't have this narrow mindset of one outfit that must be worn. Ask yourself this, in any formal social context, who is more interesting to look at, with respect to dress, the men? Who all look the same? Or the women?

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2 Responses to "why are we all wearing suits?"

  1. erik says:

    Agreed. The suit sucks

  2. RockyRoad says:

    Ah, the indomitable suit! Yet for over a hundred years, probably close to three hundred, the suit on men has been (and will continue to be) the absolute best attire. Why? Because women are whimsy. They dress according to the fashion fads to suit their personality--it's a match. But not so staid and grounded men! They own the world (regardless of what women say), and they can remain comfortable without being punctilious. Do I like wearing 'em? Not necessarily, except for the compliments I get when I do. Then it's well worth it.