The world of work has a profound effect on what fashion designers create and do. Through the centuries, clothes designers looked at the world of industry and tried to develop practical and stylish clothes. The demands of the working populace can also heavily influence designers as to what they come up with. What is interesting to note is that much of what we wear now was at one time just workwear. Let’s look at some clothing items that were once used for a very different purpose than the fashion and leisure fun that we do now.
- The Kilt. There are many myths and legends about the Kilt. The Kilt we have today is mainly for ceremony purposes such as weddings and military tattoo’s. It’s rarely seen on the streets, and when it is, it’s the dress kilt that is worn. This is just the skirt part. However, it was once a long and all-encompassing garment that was of deeply symbolic and practical use to the Highlanders. It could be a blanket or adjusted to come up to just waist height only. Fashion and dress kilt is an invention by Sir Walter Scott. There is some thought that as the planet warms, the Kilt may make a comeback. A utility version is already used widespread.
- The Suit. In terms of Business wear, the Suit is the staple. It is the constant theme of clothing choice for the white-collar worker, and anything else is frowned upon. Even the blue-collar worker would have had a suit in the wardrobe ready for his Sunday best or if he needed to attend any Births, Marriages or Deaths. The Suit has changed colour and style over the years, but the blue pinstripe seems to have shown the most staying power. We have started to demand more colours and embellishments, but essentially the feature of a single or double-breasted jacket with straight-leg trousers has remained a stable choice. The suit itself harkens back to the ones of armour worn by knights in battle. If you have ever watched an episode of Suits, then you’ll know that this could be entirely true.
- The cloth cap. Made famous again by the Peaky Blinders series (which has also gone some way to popularising the Suit and waistcoat again), the working man’s cloth cap is just one example of hardy workwear becoming a fashion item. It was initially intended as a cheap way for men to keep their heads warm. Its design was easy to sew for the wives and girlfriends or Mothers whose job it was to do it!
- Denim. Denim is by far the most exciting example of how workwear can become a fashion item. When Denim was first introduced into the American West, it was designed to be a form of hardwearing workwear for the North American Miner, Navvie and Cowboy. The rugged cotton and riveted brass could put up with all the stress and strains that late colonial American workers could throw at it. The Dungaree was based on what French rural peasants wore. Now we are more likely to wear some nice Mens Tommy Hilfiger Jeans from www.ejmenswear.com/men/tommy-hilfiger/jeans for leisure purposes.