1. The suit:
The first form of the modern suit is credited to George Bryan “Beau” Brummell. Back in the 1700s, it was created due to a combination of formal military dress and English country gentleman attire, and was centred around tailored pieces which fitted the body perfectly.
His idea of fashion was simple, sharp clothing which oozed class but not exuberance, cue the creation of the suit.
2. Suit Vents:
Whether it’s one down the back or two at the sides, most modern jackets, especially in men’s wear have vents in the back. The vent was created to assist with the jacket sitting flat when sat on a horse and became a feature that stuck.
3. Pocket squares:
The pocket square started out as a handkerchief and was initially invented by King Richard II of England. Its sole purpose was for personal hygiene and was soon adopted by other upper-class folk. For a period, it was a common sight to see those from upper classes using their handkerchiefs to cover their mouths when they walked amongst regular people.
The placement of the handkerchief in the breast pocket slowly grew in popularity and before long it was placed there purely for aesthetic purposes.
4. The tie:
The popularity of the cravat spread when French king, King Louis XIII, hired Croatian mercenaries during the 30-year war. Their uniform featured neck pieces which were used to tie the top of their jackets. Having taken a liking to these, King Louis took influence from these and adopted them as decorative accessories, and made it compulsory they be worn for Royal gatherings and named them “La Cravate”.
The cravat remained the favoured choice of neck wear for a considerable period of time, and it wasn’t until the 1920s did the emergence of the modern-day tie appear. The main reason for this was the fact that people were leaning towards more casual forms of dress which saw the somewhat showy cravat find itself out of place. The tie provided a simpler form of neckwear which appealed to the masses and saw it claim its place as the favoured choice of neckwear.
5. Shirt cuff:
The general consensus remains that your jacket sleeve should allow for around 3/4 inch of your shirt cuff to show from underneath. This actually originated from reasons which were centred around practicality over style.
The shirt cuff was initially left on show to prevent fraying occurring to the jacket sleeve. Since shirts were cheaper and easier to replace, it made sense to protect the jacket sleeve as much as possible by ensuring the shirt came out further. This then became a look which was widely accepted over time and today is seen as the fashionable (and “correct”) way of wearing a suit with it also allowing for accessories such as your cufflinks to remain on show.
6. Lapel hole:
The boutonniere hole, actually served more of a purpose than for occasionally holding a boutonniere. It initially had an adjoining button on other side which could be used to help keep wind and cold out. However, since the overcoat has now become a popular choice of clothing to wear during the colder months, suit jackets are no longer worn in such a way. You’ll actually often notice that some smart overcoats still have a functional lapel hole and button.
7. Working cuffs:
In the mid-20th century a man who removed his suit jacket would be frowned upon, making it a must for any respectable gentleman to keep their jacket on.
Therefore, those working in manual labour jobs, and even surgeons during the war, had to work with their jackets on. To avoid them getting in the way and getting dirty the buttons on the sleeve allowed them to roll their sleeves up.
These days many suit makers take shortcuts on the cuffs to reduce costs. Many buttons are simply stitched on or some give the appearance of button hole and buttons however aren’t actual working cuffs. Most high-end suits on the other hand maintain working cuffs which distinguish as being of superior quality. Often men who have had a bespoke suit made will leave the bottom sleeve button undone to “show off” that the suit is made to measure.
8. Bottom button:
According to the law of menswear, in the early 1900s King Edward VII started the trend of leaving the bottom button of a suit undone. Apparently, he grew so fat that he was unable to fasten the bottom button of his waistcoat and jacket. To not offend the king, those associated with him started doing the same. Even in the modern day, it is now deemed fashionable and “correct” to leave the bottom button of your suit undone.