I was delighted to be told that my letter to the Economist in response to their excellent article Suitably Dressed ( 18 December 2010) had been accepted.
The article refers to the (possible) 150th anniversary of the lounge suit. Interestingly, it is referred to in militaristic terms as the ‘battledress’ of the world’s businessmen.
Uniform dress fulfils a number of different purposes depending upon one’s profession, and for some this is more regulated than for others; from peaked caps and epaulettes to a mutually agreed dress code (I believe that the Swiss bank UBS has issued a 44 page guidebook to its 65,000 employees, male and female, on staff dress code at work – including the amount of cleavage allowed on public show!). While we may consider our clothes a vehicle for personal expression, what we need to wear professionally may have to be much more sobre and perhaps reflect the changing times.
It was interesting to note how the recent financial meltdown caused a reappraisal of dressing standards, and how the dress-down Friday was supplanted back to the well-cut suit and tie.
Perhaps you recall the hemline theory of economics that was tipped as a measure of stock market fluctuations?
Men in some ways have it easier. Their suit has been developed over some time and has become an accepted standard. Not so for women, and this was the point of my letter. For both sexes however, when a uniform needs to be a specific colour or style, ‘fit’ is of paramount importance and unquestionably an ‘edge-giver’.
The appellation ‘bespoke’ is often attached to a variety of objects and services. There are indeed many clothing outlets that lay claim to this mantra. Their authenticity however is somewhat questionable and it shows immediately in the fit of a garment. The real purpose of bespoke is to respond to the individual requirements of each person’s figure, to disguise the idiosyncrasies (don’t worry, we all have them!) and to address fit, proportion and balance. There are opportunities too, for a personal choice of accents or details which add an additional charm.