In our last piece, True Colours, we considered how blue and grey had become the go-to colours for most men’s suit colour choices. With six other colours in a rainbow to choose from, plus, the many, many variations on shade, we asked why men kept it conservative, not only with their first bespoke or made-to-measure suit but also on their second and third suits?
Click on Mr Brummell to read True Colours
Following on from our discourse on colour, we thought we would scour the internet for examples where colour knows no bounds. Copyright, as most will agree, is an important law. However, like truth getting in the way of a good story, copyright law has a similar effect here as it limits what we can share with you here. Every effort has been made to put the best images in the body of the blog. Where examples exist behind the ramparts of copyright, design and patent we will provide a very safe, and legal, link to the site in question.
American couple, Michigan Avenue, Chicago, circa July 1975
You would be forgiven in thinking that colour was invented in the 1960 or 1970s, but it goes further back. One only has to look at the Georgian era. It was a time of expanding the empire (by any means) while looking fabulous in the process. The desire for world domination was matched only by extravagant colours and styles of the time.
Captain Crimson & The Purple One
Take these beautiful examples here, via The Los Angeles County Museum of Art. On the left is a three-piece velvet suit dating from around 1755. It’s always tricky to determine, ahem, True Colours when viewing online but the cloth appears to be an autumnal red erring on the crimson. Either way, it’s a magnificent example of, on this occasion, French fashion. On the right, they also have another flamboyant example of clothing which could belong to a distant relative of Prince Rogers Nelson. This fine example of late 18th Century British tailoring was made from purple silk trimmed with sequins and metallic-thread embroidery.
Made in Britain with wool, gilt & metal
Next, a bit of blue on gold anyone? This wildly extravagant example is part of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s collection in New York City. It’s a British suit dating from around 1760 and its made with wool, gilt and metal!
¿Te pones amarillo?
We say farewell to the 18th Century with a rather splendid example of Spanish dress: a man's 3-piece suit (coat, waistcoat, and breeches), from 1785. There are two points to make here: firstly, one would love to have a command of the Spanish language, and secondly, be a fly on the wall during the conversation that took place between the customer and tailor. ¿Te pones amarillo? (via Google Translator so apologies to our Spanish readers if this is in any way incorrect).
It’s Only Rock n Roll.
The birth of rock ‘n’ roll: Bill Haley
Not wishing to be unkind to the 19th and early 20th Centuries; it was, however, a horrific time for colour. Weighed down by industrialisation and war, it was not a time given to fancy hues of any kind. Colour retreated during this time only to return riding the coattails of rock n’ roll. This proved to be a turning point for Western men’s fashion and suiting. With the 60s, 70s and 80s just around the next few corners, it was going to get very colourful indeed with The Beatles and The Stones leading the way.
There are many cultures across the world who have embraced colour as part of their dress but not even the wildest extremes of the 70s and 80s could truly match a movement originating in two cities in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Republic of Congo: Kinshasa and Brazzaville. It is called La Sape, which is an abbreviation based on the phrase Société des Ambianceurs et des Personnes Élégantes (Society of Ambiance-Makers and Elegant People).
For more information on this fascinating movement, please click on the following links:
This concludes our Epilogue. We hope you, our dear reader, have enjoyed our investigation into colour. Our hope is when its time to order a new bespoke or made-to-measure suit, your choice of colour is, well, less pedestrian.