The Evolution of Men's Formal Wear: The Past, the Current and a Forecast for the Coming Year

The Evolution of Men's Formal Wear: The Past, the Current and a Forecast for the Coming Year

Just like other facets of life, such as technology, men’s formal wear was totally different five decades ago. Through the years, there have been noticeable changes in formal wear for gentlemen. In essence, the intriguing history and development of formal attire to what it is today reflects cultural changes, the influence of iconic figures, and fashion trends.

 

Much has happened since the Renaissance period and the 17th century, when high-ranking men wore the doublet, a snug-fitting jacket worn in formal events, to the Modern Tuxedos and black-and-white tie dress codes.

 

In this article, we’ll examine the defining moments of formal men's wear. This will help us understand how we got here and better inform us of what to expect.

 

So, What Exactly Is Formal Wear for Men?

Regarding gentlemen, Formal wear means a particular outfit worn on occasions, such as formal dinners or parties, business functions, weddings, or galas. As the name suggests, formal wear is way dressier and more formal, with some unique and mostly strict rules to follow. 

Some features that distinguish formal wear are its level of sophistication, elegance, and attention to detail. For men, a standard formal wear may include:

  • A suit
  • A dress shirt
  • Tie or bowtie
  • Waistcoat (optional)
  • Dress shoes
  • Accessories such as cufflinks

The History: What Are the Origins of Men’s Formal Wear?

As mentioned earlier, specific types of clothing for special occasions worn by people of higher social class can be traced back to the 17th century. At this time, ornamented doublets and matching breeches (knee-length trouser-like garments) were staples to the royalties and the rich men in the society.


The Victorian era marked significant changes that would set a base for the modern suit.

The 19th Century and the Victorian Era

Unlike many people, the Victorian era wasn’t all about great power and wealth for Britain; it was also a period when there were critical changes in what was considered formal wear. Looking back, this turning point would later shape today’s formal dress code.

During this time, the frock coat was invented and adopted as a formal garment. It was a black knee-length coat with a single vent at the back that resembled today’s overcoat.


As time passed, the frock coat evolved into two different designs: the morning coat, which kept the tails, and the lounge coat, which didn’t have the tails. The morning coat was considered more formal and was the staple for royal weddings. Even today, the morning coat is a common sight in English formal functions. All over the world, it is also a good choice for men who appreciate and look dapper in the classic style.

It is important to note that the frock coat, morning coat, and lounge coat were mainly worn with pants that matched the coat in color, texture, and fabric. This was the birth of the modern suit.

The Influence of Beau Brummell

We cannot discuss the history of formal wear without mentioning Beau Brummell (1778-1840). He was a close friend of Prince Regent, who later became the king. Beau Brummell is remembered for his impeccable sense of style and influence on men’s fashion during his time and even today.


Brummell is also credited with simplifying men's formal wear by inventing finely tailored, fitted garments and moving away from the flashy and colorful attire of the past towards more understated and refined clothing. He is also credited as the inventor of the modern men's suit worn with a necktie.

Formal Wear Today: What Are the Features and Trends of Formal Wear Today?

As we have seen, formal wear for men has evolved significantly, reflecting changes in fashion trends, societal norms, and technological advancements. Today, Modern formal wear embodies a blend of classic elegance and contemporary style, with several notable features and trends shaping the landscape of men's fashion.

Increased Sophistication in Tailoring

One of the defining features of formal wear today is its emphasis on tailored sophistication. Modern Suits are perfectly tailored, with slim-fitting silhouettes and sleek lines that exude confidence and refinement. Tailoring techniques have evolved to accommodate many body types, ensuring a customized fit that flatters the wearer's physique.

Versatile Color Palette

While traditional colors such as black, navy, and charcoal gray remain popular for formal wear, there has been a growing trend toward embracing a more versatile color palette. Earthy tones, muted pastels, and even bold hues make their way into formal ensembles, allowing men to express their individuality while maintaining a polished appearance.

Innovative Fabrics

Another notable trend in modern formal wear is the use of innovative fabrics and materials. Performance fabrics with moisture-wicking, stretch, and wrinkle-resistant properties are gaining popularity, offering comfort and functionality without compromising style. Sustainable and eco-friendly materials such as organic cotton, recycled fibers, and plant-based alternatives are also incorporated into formal attire, reflecting a growing awareness of environmental consciousness in the fashion industry.

Statement Accessories

Accessories play a crucial role in elevating the look of formal wear today. Ties, bowties, pocket squares, and cufflinks are no longer just functional elements but are used as statement pieces to add personality and flair to the ensemble. Bold colors, patterns, and textures are embraced, allowing men to experiment with different accessories to create a unique and memorable look.

Casual Influence

The lines between formal and casual attire have become increasingly blurred in recent years, with casual influences making their way into formal wear. Relaxed silhouettes, unstructured jackets, and mix-and-match separates are becoming more prevalent, offering a contemporary twist on traditional formal attire. This fusion of casual and formal elements allows men to create versatile ensembles seamlessly transitioning between different settings and occasions.

A Forecast for the Coming Year: How Does the Future Look Like?

Looking ahead to the coming year, the future of men's formal wear appears dynamic and innovative, with several exciting trends on the horizon. Here's a glimpse into what we can expect in the realm of formal fashion:

Tech-Infused Fabrics

At the extreme level, advancements in textile technology are poised to revolutionize men's formal wear with the emergence of tech-infused fabrics that offer enhanced performance and functionality. From moisture-wicking materials to temperature-regulating fibers, these innovative fabrics will provide unparalleled comfort and versatility in formal attire.

Sustainable Practices

Sustainability will continue to be a driving force in the fashion industry, and men's formal wear is no exception. Expect a greater emphasis on sustainable practices, including eco-friendly materials, ethical manufacturing processes, and transparent supply chains. Brands that prioritize sustainability will shape the future of formal fashion.

Versatile Designs

In response to changing lifestyles and evolving fashion preferences, men's formal wear will embrace more versatile designs that blur the lines between formal and casual attire. Tailored separates, convertible pieces, and unique accessories will allow men to create personalized ensembles that effortlessly transition from day to night and from the office to special occasions.

Digital Integration

As technology continues to permeate every aspect of our lives, expect to see greater integration of digital elements in men's formal wear. From virtual fitting tools and personalized styling services to wearable tech accessories, digital innovations will enhance the shopping experience and offer new ways for men to engage with formal fashion.

Conclusion

At HolloMen, we believe the past educates the now, and the now shapes the future. We look into the history of formal wear to create a perfect fusion of the classic and the contemporary.

At the same time, we stay open to the possibilities and all the magic that the future can bring. Check out our Collection today to find outfits that will bring out the sharp and statement-making looks that will leave you with profound comfort and soaring confidence. 


If you need any assistance, don’t hesitate to Contact Us.

 

 Written by Emmanuel Isaac- Content Writer and Editor at HolloMen

Emmanuel is an experienced freelance writer specializing in fashion. Combining research skills and creative storytelling, he crafts engaging content that's both insightful and stylish. Known for his unique mix of analytical depth and creative flair. ( emmanuel.writes1@gmail.com) 

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