How the Suit Has Evolved Over the Decades

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The origin of the modern men’s suit is credited to Beau Brummel, a fashion pioneer and one of the most influential men of the 19th century. Before Brummel, menswear was largely influenced by the French Court and revolved around elements such as silk stockings, velvet fabric, and knee-breeches. Brummel rejected this idea and instead introduced full-length trousers with matching as well as contrasting jackets. He popularized the less ornamental style and laid the foundation on which present-day designers create suits.

Now you have tons of options in men’s suits. You no longer have to conform to strict rules of this formal wear. Depending on the occasion, place, and social circle, there is a great variety you can choose from, and style according to your comfort. For example, if you don’t want a very formal look, you can opt to wear your blue suit jacket with khaki pants. The combination is extremely versatile and fits well in diverse contexts.

However, the key to looking stylish is to follow the fashion trends. Over the years different designers have presented their own take on men’s suits and thereby played their part in the evolution of this ever-popular men’s garment. Let us take you through the rather interesting history of men’s suit fashion over the last 50 to 60 years.

The 1970s

While the 1960s men’s suits were rather basic with some unique features in jacket and collar shape, the 1970s was a decade of experimentation. Designers played around with possibly every color, cut, and fabric to come up with new styles of suits. Therefore, if you look at the pictures and movies of this era, you’ll notice men in rather flashy suits. This showy or expressive look was referred to as the peacock style. Although these were three-piece suits, they were not formal at all. They were more a part of the disco culture prevalent at the time. An example in this regard is that of John Travolta in the 1977 super hit movie Saturday Night Fever.

The 1980s

The 1980s popularized the concept of the power suit. It was typically an oversized suit with broad shoulders. In the business sector, there was a preference for pinstripe suits and men would usually pair them up with a tie, shirt, and suspenders.

Fashion pioneer Georgio Armani developed this style and showcased it in the Richard Gere movie American Gigolo. To create Gere’s desirable look in the movie, Armani chose to rearrange the jacket’s lapels and gorge to produce a silhouette that draped elegantly from the shoulders and was fluidly at the hips. Armani emphasized the concept that the softer the suit, the more masculine and stronger the body look. This encouraged the people to work on their physique which is why the gym-fitness culture also thrived during this time.

The 1990s

The 1990s were a rather low point in the history of men’s suit wear. Single-breasted jackets had three or at times even four buttons while double-breasted ones had up to six buttons. And only the button on the bottom was buttoned up. This made the proportions go off.

The pants on the other hand were a bit too long, baggy, and puddled around the ankles. Overall, it was a forgettable decade in the history of men’s suits.

The 2000s

The early 2000S marked the return of slim-fit cuts in suits. It was more of a nod to the minimalist style of the 1940s. Some even felt it was reminiscent of the 1960s suit style.

But the suits in the 2000s not only went slimmer but also shorter. Besides, the buttoning also went higher which was in total contrast to the trend of the 90s. The jackets had narrow lapels while the pants were usually hemmed short. Thom Browne was one designer who designed extremely short pants and jackets during this period. Other designers such as Tom Ford did have slimmer cuts but they did not take on an extreme approach. This is why Tom Ford suits found a larger audience and people wear those pieces even today.

The 2010s

The 2010s gave rise to the trend of higher buttoning points and shorter as well as slimmer jackets. Some designers even came up with suits that barely covered the backside. Also, owing to the advancement in internet technology online made-to-measure services became very popular. This gave people the ability to customize their suits themselves without taking the hassle of going to a tailor.


In early 2020, the world went into lockdown owing to the Covid-19 pandemic. Work-from-home became a norm and social distancing was the need of the hour. The demand and interest in suits, therefore, began to die down.  But now, the pandemic situation has eased and lockdowns have lifted. People however are now more inclined towards comfort dressing (thanks to the work-from-home trend). This is why a relaxed oversized suit look is trending in 2021. So, if you’ve put on some extra pounds during the lockdown, this suit trend would surely cover up for it.