Clean Clothes That Suit

In 2010, the business suit almost as we know it, celebrated its 150th anniversary.

How is it that men have been wearing the same ‘uniform’ for business for all of that time?

I have a friend who (jokingly, I think?) refers to his business suit as his ‘slave suit’ and curses the unwritten rule that prevents him from wearing his comfy jeans and a t-shirt into the office.

But if it wasn’t for an Englishman by the name of Beau Brummell, he could conceivably be wearing a long coat, waistcoat, cravat, breeches and a wig into the office every day!

This was what was favoured by England’s King Charles II in the 17th century and he dictated that all men of his court must wear these items. Interestingly, Charles made the ruling in order to promote an image of austerity after a plague outbreak and the Great Fire of London. Previously the elite had marked their position in society by metres of lace and frills. Although still using lavish fabrics, this new court uniform was considered understated and modest by previous standards.

During the early 1800s, George ‘Beau’ Brummell befriended the future King George IV. Brummell stood out from the crowd in many ways. He was fastidious about his teeth and daily bathing, which was highly unusual in those days. His wit and style of dressing also attracted attention. While taking a leaf out of the style book of Charles II, Brummell downplayed the taffeta and brocade fabrics of Charles II’s court, instead wearing coats tailored of broadcloth and linen in muted colours—often wearing the same coloured trousers in stockinette or chamois leather. Little did he know that matching the colour of his pants and coat would become the norm, and not the exception, for centuries afterwards.

The sporty Victorian era that followed Brummell’s Regency period is said to have influenced a streamlined version of the suit that would become the modern business suit or lounge suit as we know it today.

While the fob watch pockets and hare pockets of suits that were designed to hold the birds and rabbits felled by Victorian gentlemen have been replaced with mobile phone pockets … the suit—apart from trends in cut, colour and button position—has changed little since.

Despite Beau Brummell’s fastidiousness on hygiene, neither he nor the Victorian gentleman who followed him was likely to ever clean their suits, apart from having the odd spot sponged out.

Today however, Ainslie Laundrette can return you to sartorial splendour (and have you smelling much better than those Victorian gentlemen) with our one-day suit dry cleaning service. Drop off at 8:30am and pick up after 3:30pm or ask us about delivery.

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