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Origins of Style – A Brief History of the Pinstripe Suit

The pinstripe suit came into being around the end of the nineteenth century and has been in fashion pretty much ever since. Originally made famous by stylish Brits, the suit would become increasingly popular throughout the globe as men (and later, women too) wanted to project an image of sophistication and class through their choice of suit.

Where did the pinstripe come from?

As with most sartorial origin stories, there is a degree of controversy over how the pinstripe suit came into existence. In fact, the only thing that everyone is able to agree on is that the pinstripe was definitely an English invention. Beyond that, two schools of thought emerge, one that suggests the iconic suit began life in the world of banking, the other that prefers the notion that it actually became popular after its use in popular sporting activities of the day.

The banking theory has it that the pinstripe was a kind of uniform for English Victorian bankers and that the difference in the thickness and distances between stripes was a way of indentifying employees from different banking institutions. The sporting hypothesis sees the pinstripes as evolving out of the striped uniforms worn by men who liked messing about on water. Boating was an extremely popular pursuit in the 19th century, as was banking, so neither theory is unreasonable.

The rise of the pinstripe

The popularity of pinstripe suits grew rapidly once it had spread across the Atlantic, taking American culture by storm in ’20s, ’30s and ’40s. The suit became the unofficial uniform of the Prohibition era, beloved of the ultra-stylish and anoyone who wanted to stand out from the crowd and make a bold statement. Naturally then it was popular not only with film stars and jazz musicians, but also with gangsters, the most famous of which of course was Al Capone.

After Prohibition the suit became even more mainstream when huge stars such as Clark Gable and Cary Grant continued to popularise it. It is said that the pinstripe suit that Clark Gable’ wore in Gone with the Wind influenced the emergence of the flamboyant, flared-trousers, padded-shouldered zoot suit.

The modern pinstripe

These days the pinstripe is everywhere. It is still a part of mainstream sartorial culture and is one of a myriad of style options available to the modern man, or woman. In fact, the pinstripe has definitely crossed the gender divide and has become a basic component of women’s clothing, particularly in business, where it remains especially popular with both genders.

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Stay Stylish this Christmas and New Year

It’s that time of year again. Christmas jumpers are in abundance, after-work drinks and parties seem never-ending and the jury will be out on who will be the biggest embarrassment at the office Christmas party. Of course, you don’t have to follow the crowd. Christmas and the New Year may be a time when you let your hair down, but it doesn’t mean you should compromise on the fashion stakes. On the contrary. The festive season throws up many events and occassions where looking sartorially elegant is what any discerning male should aim tro achieve.  For example:

The office party – don’t wear that suit you’ve been wearing all year. Wear a suit that’s a different colour and cut or combine a tailored jacket with smart jeans and a crisp open-neck white shirt. Office parties tend to be informal affairs so tone-down your outfit and keep it smart casual.

Formal occasion – if you’ve been invited to a black-tie event for New Year’s Eve then make sure you adhere to the black-tie rules. Not dark blue or dark grey. It should be black and pay attention to the detailing – white shirt, matching black trousers, black bow-tie, black socks and black formal shoes.

A smart dinner party – smart casual or suited and booted is the order of the day here. It really depends on how smart the dinner party is. If you’ve opted to go to a very chic Michelin-starred restraurant then I would recommend a tailored suit in a neutral colour such as black, grey or navy and then inject some colour with a silk tie and pocket square. Elegant silver cufflinks and a showpiece watch will complete the look.

Whatever you’re doing this Christmas and New year, have a wonderful time and keep it stylish. Remember, those photos of you on social media never really go away, so make sure that when you’re caught up in a group photo, you can at least be proud of your attire!

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Origins Of Style – The History Of The Shooting Jacket

A shooting jacket is an item of practical rural attire specifically designed for hunting and other shooting sports, such as clay pigeon shooting. As well as oversized front pockets that allow for the carrying of cartridges and other gun-related paraphernalia, the shooting jacket also has special cuts at the shoulder to allow for easier movement and the ability to lift a gun high to shoot high-flying targets. Many shooting jackets are also waterproof with a breathable liner to cope with adverse weather conditions, and many also have concealed zips to avoid the sctratching of the gun.

The Theory of the Duke

As for the origins of the shooting jacket, the most commonly cited theory holds that the style was originally invented in the mid-to-late 19th century (sometime in the 1860s to be slightly more precise) by one Henry Fitzalan-Howard, who just happened to be the 15th Duke of Norfolk. Hence one of the jacket’s alternative monikers, the Norfolk jacket.

Having been conceived by the duke, the jacket is then said to have been popularised in the 1880s by the then Prince of Wales, who was later to become King Edward VII. As royal fashion was in those days commonly revered and imitated, Edward VII also made the Homburg hat a hit.

Although this theory sounds reasonable enough, there is not a lot of evidence to support it, and other theories are also in existence.

The Theory of the Earl

Another theory holds that the Earl of Leicester, one Thomas William Coke, was more likely the first to wear this famous hunting garment as he gadded about his 43,000 acre Norfolk estate, killing things. Coke was well-known for entertaining England’s nobility at his country pile in the 1820s, where they hunted partridge, pheasants, and doubtless, anything else that wandered into view.

The Earl and his posh pals, including the then Prince of Wales and future king, George IV, allegedly adopted the jacket with a wide belt, box pleasts and more spacious patch pockets for the carrying of hunting knickknacks. The belt apparently improved the line of the jacket, as well as keeping out the cold air.

Again, there is little solid evidence to support this theory, but it’s not implausible.

As far as verifiable facts are concerned, the shooting jacket was definitely worn by the Rifle Corps of the Volunteer Force in 1859 (which rather spoils the first theory). It also appeared in fashion magazines for young boys’ outfits in the same year. We also know for sure that it originated in Norfolk, became popular in 1860s and over the following couple of decades, became increasingly popular with the general public, as rural activities such as fishing and hunting became more widespread. Furthermore, by the 1890s, we know that stylish young men had started wearing it around town, without their gun, because it just looked so damned good.